11 Aug 2008, The Brocade
No rendezvous with the JUNK today. Several times today we have checked in with each other by satphone to compare positions, and they are slowly but surely gaining on me. Maybe tomorrow.
So, in the meantime, back to the guided tour of the Brocade and her cabins. Today, the fore cabin - and another one of my dodgy drawings. Hey, I'm a rower, not a Picasso.
This cabin is deep and pointy and not very high, so it's a bit of a limbo dance to get in there. So I use it mostly for things I don't need very often, or if I do use them often, they are stowed near the hatch so I can reach them without having to go inside.
Starting from the top right in the drawing..
1. The MarineTrack beacon, mounted on the bulkhead. This, in theory, should send back my position at regular intervals. Last year it worked a treat, and enabled us to locate and retrieve the Brocade a week after my unfortunate airlift by a US Coast Guard helicopter. Without the tracking beacon it would have been impossible to find my tiny boat on the huge Pacific. But this year it hasn't been working quite so well, particularly since I turned westwards. This is a problem with the orientation rather than the unit itself, which is NOT at fault - and the MarineTrack mapping software that you see on this site is still super-cool!
2. Spare buckets
3. Two Daren drums containing my stash of dehydrated buckwheat and flax crackers. Daren drums are often used by kayakers and cavers to keep gear dry - I got them from a caving supplier in the UK, and they're ideal to stop the crackers from getting crushed.
4. Toolkit. I've also got a load of tools in the aft (sleeping) cabin.
5. Another bucket, containing spare rowing shoes, spare seat, etc.
6. Bucket containing SeaCook propane stove when not in use.
7. Pelican case (very sturdy and very waterproof) containing technology spares - spare rechargers, startup disk, cables, etc.
8. Spare sea anchors, drogues, and waterproof bags containing a few clothes in case I get to Hawaii before my mother arrives with my suitcase! My ocean-going clothes are not going to be very presentable by then. In fact, they're not now. Grubby, salty, rust-stained - it's a tough life for everything out here; clothes, electronics, and humans alike.
9. Hatch to large locker beneath deck level containing one marine battery (to which the MarineTrack unit is connected, powered by solar panels on the fore cabin roof) and half of the water ballast, contained in 4 x 10 litre Dromedary bags. The other 4 bags are under the aft cabin.
This fore cabin is only about half full. If I was planning a really long voyage - like if I'd decided to do the Pacific in one fell swoop from Peru to Australia - I could fit a LOT more stuff in there. We could install hatches to allow access to the remainder of the under-deck areas, and also stow plenty more food above deck level - although it would have to be carefully organized so the first things to be used were nearest the hatch.
Oh, and one other thing I have in the fore cabin. my fishing rod, generously given to me by Mike Dale. So far not used due to various reasons - no water to spare for cooking fish, no time to spare for filleting fish, a residual squeamishness about having to cosh the fish on the head, and a concern that, like Erden Eruc on his Pacific row last year, I might inadvertently catch a fish that proves to be inedible, and suffer the consequent guilt pangs for having taken a life needlessly.
But no doubt, if I miss Hawaii and run out of prepackaged foods, all these reasons would dwindle into insignificance if it was a matter of survival. but let's hope it doesn't come to that. I'd hate to miss the Hawaii party!
Position at 2145 10th August Pacific Time, 0445 11th August UTC: 23 02.943'N, 146 06.852'W.
Again, a real mixed bag of weather today. After each squall there is a period of spooky calm, when the ocean seems hushed and subdued, before it recovers its spirits and the wind starts to blow again. Between rainclouds the tropical sun has been intense. Definitely getting further south!
A quick roundup of messages - hi to Jacquie Barone and gang - great to hear from you (but no babies for me, thank you!), Jim, Gene, Erin, Louise, John, Sandi (loved the UK analogy for my remaining miles! I've got a good friend in Exeter..)
Click here to view Day 78 of the Atlantic Crossing 16 February 2006: The Big Wuss Principle.
American Express members' project is giving away 2.5 million dollars to 5 causes. Please vote for Roz - guest members can do so.
We are trying to raise funds to pay for 3 documentary films about my solo crossing of the Pacific. I have been nominated for the American Express project - sharing 2.5 million dollars between the top 5 causes.
Please read and act on the following links: http://www.membersproject.com/about/
Also, the following is a link to Roz's Project. http://www.membersproject.com/project/view/GUMBK6 where you are allowed to vote as a guest member if you are not a member of AMEX.
The closing date is September 1st. Please help. Thanks, Rita.
10 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Today has been an odd day. After so many days at sea, I had got into quite a routine, which swung along easily without requiring too much mental energy or concentration. But today the weather, and circumstances, have been conspiring to shake things up around here. This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.
The last couple of nights have been squally, making for little sleep and much bouncing around. Today the squalls spread into the daytime as well - winds variable, and bright sunshine giving way to dark grey clouds and onslaughts of rain. At times the rowing felt easy, at other times like rowing through glue.
I'd got used to looking at the figures in my logbook at the end of each shift to see roughly how many minutes of longitude I'd covered, and then figuring out a realistic target for the end of the day. But today it was so variable that it forced me into a more accepting way of being, not so goal-oriented. All I could do was carry on rowing, and the end result would be largely down to the weather. It would be what it would be.
This evening there were some other surprises - good ones. I spoke to the crew of the JUNK at 6pm Pacific Time to compare positions, and it looks likely that they will catch up with me tomorrow. The squalls have helped them along and they have been making good progress. So this evening I was quite a-flutter, getting ready for my first human contact since 26th May.
We are planning to exchange some goodies - they are short on food but OK for water, while I am short on water and have plenty of food. So I spent a while rummaging around in lockers to dig out some supplies for them - and turned up a few items I thought I'd run out of. It's amazing how things can get lost on such a small boat. I found a solitary remaining MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and ate it for my dinner - a real treat to have proper satisfying chunks of food rather than the little pieces of freeze-dried rubble.
I also found some more tamari sunflower seeds (I mix them in with beansprouts, tamari almonds, nama shoyu sauce and tahini to make a very good and nutritious lunch), and some dried apple slices - both very welcome additions to my larder.
I've got a generous stack of expedition meals and Larabars to give to the guys tomorrow. I thought about giving them some of my dehydrated flax crackers too, but I suspect that no matter how short on food they are, they may not share my more extreme wholefoodie tastes.
Position as at 2145 9th August Pacific Time, 0445 10th August UTC: 23 04.311'N, 145 36.282'W.
People are starting to ask for an ETA in Hawaii.. Well, what can I say? I don't want to tempt fate. In my experience, anything involving boats always takes longer than expected.. But OK. Tentatively, based on my calculations of average mileages since I crossed 130 degrees west, I hope to arrive on or around 31st August, which would be Day 99. Will I make it? Only one way to find out - keep watching this blog!
Thanks for the messages and questions passed on to me by Leo in our podcast this morning. Thanks also for the other messages coming in via my website. Special mentions to: Tiny Little - a constant source of inspiration. Hope to see you when I am back in the UK in November. George and Tori - congrats on completing the bike ride. Hope you raised enough money for Dave's hand bike fund - and that you've recovered from the saddle soreness! Diane (my cousin) - you crazy fell runner. Is it something in our genes? I thought I got it from Mum's side, but I may have to reconsider! Good luck in the half marathon. And say hi to Paul from me - glad you two are having so much fun together! Anke Altermann - wow, you really ARE paying attention! The speakers are mounted underneath the side decks, one next to the "garden" (the seed sprouter) and the other in the "bathroom". There are another two speakers in the cabin. Lesley Ewing - great to hear from you! I still wear the superb t-shirt you gave me - a constant reminder of why I do what I do.
Click here to view Day 77 of the Atlantic Crossing 15 February: Stealth Sedna - radar could not find her boat.
08 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Picture: JUNK Learn more -click for their website.
Today, after several days of failed attempts, I finally managed to make contact with the good ship JUNK, on her way from California to Hawaii to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans. Sound familiar?!
Navigator Joel picked up the satphone, and I spoke to him and to Dr Marcus Eriksen. I'd spoken to Marcus before, while we were both still on dry land. He works with Captain Charlie Moore of the Algalita, the two of them having visited the infamous North Pacific Garbage Patch to conduct scientific research. Marcus and I had discussed how we could combine efforts to the greater good of both our ventures, but then my departure date was brought forwards and we ran out of time. But it seems we were destined to meet - and it looks as if it might be sooner rather than later.
Today we compared latitudes, longitudes, courses and daily average mileage, and it appears that we are on converging routes. The JUNK is gaining on me steadily. We are going to try to rendezvous - most likely in 3 or 4 days time - but this is going to be VERY tricky. We are two small, not very manoeverable craft, trying to meet up amidst towering waves on a very large ocean.
But at least we do now have communication, which is a good start. And we want to make it work, which is a good next step.
If we succeed, theirs will be the first human faces I have seen since I passed the Farralon Islands on 26th May. I am now rather thinner, browner, and considerably saltier than I was back then. Time to dig out some clothes and try and make myself presentable!
I also saw an aeroplane today, for the first time on this crossing. It was heading northeast, maybe from Hawaii to California, the reverse of my route.
So after months of seemingly having the ocean to myself, it's starting to get kind of crowded around here!
Position at 2120 8th August Pacific Time, 0420 9th August UTC: 23 09.417'N, 145 06.322'W.
After a rather frustrating day yesterday, it was once again too rough to row this morning. But this afternoon the wind slackened by a couple of knots and I was able to get back to the oars. Yippee! In fact, it turned into a fine rowing day with large swells and helpful winds. I rowed along contentedly while listening to a P.D James book, A Death in Holy Orders. Nothing like a good murder mystery in mid-Pacific!
Thanks for all the messages - encouraging, informative, and supportive.
Special hi to George and Astrid in New Zealand.
And to Bob and Jamie Craft - thank you for the update on the family. Great to hear the news of REAL lives! Hope to see you in DC (or St Louis) during my "lap of honour" of the US this autumn.
And special thanks to John H for the stats - although my weatherguy and I work in nautical miles, not statute miles, so you may want to switch over so we are talking the same language! But my daily mileages definitely sound better in statute.
Louise - wow, what an adventure! Sounds very exciting. Good luck with the new life in Cowes, and with the sailing.
Rog Dodge - good luck with the preps for the Indian Ocean race. I will be watching it with interest!
Richard Dib - good to hear your family is cutting down on water bottles. Congratulations! Unfortunately I can't browse the internet from here - only send emails (which is how I do my blog) but will check out your song when back on dry land.
Melissa - lockers, hatches, holes under the decks with lids on top. whatever. Sorry if I'm getting my nautical terminology wrong. Don't blame me - I'm just a dumb rower! On my boat, the round ones have screw lids and the rectangular ones have hinged lids with pivot handles to secure them closed. All lids are white plastic and opaque. Does that help?! Part 2 (fore cabin) coming up tomorrow. Now just try to contain your excitement..!
Click here to view Day 76 of the Atlantic Crossing 14 February 2006: Ultimate Valentine Greeting - a vist from the Royal Navy!
07 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Tomorrow the Olympics begin - in fact, given the time difference between Beijing and my own personal time zone 800 miles east of Hawaii, maybe they already have begun. I'd like to take this chance to wish good luck to all the competitors, and also to reflect on the spirit of competition.
A friend of mine who knows about these things once told me that the original meaning of the word "competition" implied a coming together of athletes in the pursuit of excellence - through pitting themselves against each other they would spur each other on to ever greater heights of achievement. If an athlete broke a record, the other athletes would celebrate with him or her, taking their share of the credit for having pushed the standard to a higher level, and basking in the reflected glory of the group effort. The new record was the achievement of ALL the competitors, not just the individual who stood on the top step of the podium with the gold medal around their neck.
This contrasts sharply with the "I win, you lose" attitude that often seems to underlie present day competition. I've been as guilty of this as anybody - when I rowed for Oxford against Cambridge (in 1988 and 1989) it was all about wanting to beat our traditional rivals by as many lengths as possible, showing no mercy. Joint efforts were the last things on our minds.
I'm no longer so competitive, although it's an urge I still fight to resist. During the Atlantic Rowing Race I found myself in the discomfiting position of being competitive enough to hate coming last (although as the only solo female it's what you would expect) but not being sufficiently competitive to cut down on my already deficient sleep in order to row for more hours.
So I'm definitely happier in a non-competitive situation, just doing my own thing, as I am on the Pacific. The ocean is a tough enough adversary without adding other humans into the equation as well.
But I digress. Back to the Beijing Olympics. I hope that the older, purer attitude will prevail. Every athlete who has been selected to represent their country is already a winner. I've read autobiographies by athletes who have been to the Olympics, and it sounds like a wonderful and special experience that only the talented few will ever enjoy.
To pin "success" on a gold medal is a very black-and-white definition. I hope that the participants will find a more flexible definition of success, to enjoy the Olympiad for the unique opportunity to meet similarly dedicated athletes from all over the world, and to treasure it as a special experience, no matter what the outcome in terms of medals.
Good luck one and all.
Position at 2100 7th August Pacific Time, 0400 8th August UTC: 23 16.327'N, 144 37.356'W.
Very rough conditions today, with high seas and strong winds making it difficult to steer a straight course for Hawaii. This was rather frustrating after the sterling progress of recent days. But the forecast is for the wind to drop slightly after tomorrow, so hopefully conditions will get a bit easier soon.
Thank you for the ongoing messages of support and encouragement - and also for the kind donations. The next stage of my row is due to start in Spring next year, and the kitty is all but empty - far from adequate to replace the many items (mostly electronics) that have ceased to function since I left San Francisco. So all contributions, no matter how small, are most welcome.
Just like your contributions to a better planet, they all add up!
Click here to view Day 75 of the Atlantic Crossing 13 February 2006: The Perfect Adventure.