18 Aug 2008, The Brocade
If I had a dollar (or pound) for every time I've been asked if I've read The Life of Pi, I wouldn't be needing to ask you to vote for me in the Amex grants scheme (hint!).
But although I had read it, it was quite a while ago and at the time I didn't really GET it. Today I've been listening to it as an audiobook, and if I was ever going to get it, it would be today..
The hero, Pi, finds himself on a lifeboat on the Pacific with only a tiger called Richard Parker for company. His lifeboat is almost exactly the same size as the Brocade, so as I've been rowing along and listening to his life as a castaway, his life has seemed very close to mine (although fortunately the only animals I have on board are of the stuffed variety). There is mention of sea anchors and water rationing. He even encounters a garbage patch.
Not surprisingly, the book really made sense to me today. The way author Yann Martel described the ocean and the skies really struck a chord - but even closer to home were the descriptions of boredom and terror, excitement and despair, often coming almost at the same time. There is even a line in the book that says, "The Pacific is no place for rowers"!!
But my favourite passage is Chapter 56 (I think), which starts:
I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know.
Wise words, of which there are many in this intriguing book. I'm very glad to have given it a second try.
Position at 2100 17th August HST, 0700 18th August UTC: 22 38.295'N, 150 02.297'W.
It has been a very pleasant day's rowing - a few squalls and a brisk cool breeze, but they are a welcome relief from the hot tropical sun. The Life of Pi has occupied my mind, and was the perfect length to accompany a day's rowing. Whenever I find myself getting bored or impatient with rowing, I tell myself to "Go into the book" and refocus my attention on the story and away from the boredom. Or I promise myself I won't look at my watch until the end of the next chapter. It's all in the mind.
And I have crossed 150 degrees West - woohoooo!!!! Waikiki lies just this side of 158 degrees. I am now into the last 500 nautical miles. Too soon to say that the end is in sight, but it's definitely drawing nearer.
Yesterday I switched over to Hawaii Standard Time, and got rather caught out when the sun abruptly set at 1830 and I hadn't even started getting my dinner ready. Today I've succeeded in getting the hang of the new time zone. I was up at 0500 to start rowing at 0530 to make the most of daylight hours. At the time of drafting this blog it's 1830 and I'm just sitting down to my dinner (a rather grand way of saying: I'm sitting in my cabin typing this while I wait for my freeze-dried food to rehydrate in boiled water). Then a couple more hours under a nearly full moon, and that should be a fine end to a very satisfactory day.
Please try to vote on the AMEX project if you have not yet done so. BUT please don't vote more than once! We still need to push the total a bit higher.
It is easy to vote:
1. Go to the Members Project box on the right, click on Additional Information.
2. Half way down the right hand column is the invitation to be a guest - sign up.
3. Go to top right of the page and vote.
We appreciate your help, Rita Savage.
Purchase the Life of Pi from Amazon or from Audible.com
Follow the voyage of JUNK as they head towards Hawaii.
Click here to view Day 85 of the Atlantic Crossing 24 February 2006: Click the Links - Rita trying to keep people interested when there is no news from Roz.
17 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Following on from yesterday's blog about my aft cabin, here's the detail about the "living area" - which could best be described as compact. Or maybe "bijou" in real-estate speak.
Between the foot of my bunk and the exit hatch to the cockpit I have just about 20 inches of space. At this end of the cabin the ceiling is just high enough for me to sit upright, although due to unfortunate placement of my EPIRB emergency beacon I have to hold my neck cricked forwards while I am sitting writing this blog. To be remedied before the next stage.
On one side (pictured) I have the control panel and a set of wall pockets, and a fair amount of stuff on the cabin floor. On the control panel, from the top and going down the middle: Battery monitor Chartplotter (not currently in use as the GPS antenna isn't working) VHF radio (stopped working about a month ago - I'm now relying on the handhelf VHF) Stereo Then on the left, the two boxes of the Sea-Me - a radar enhancer which also tells me when another vessel is in the vicinity with a flashing red light and an alarm And on the right a switch panel which controls various things including the watermaker (not working)
You can also see in this picture a mug holder (being used for my jar of tahini, which I mix with beansprouts and nuts for lunch) and a stainless steel mug. Sprouting above them is the bendy arm of a small halogen light - the main light source in the cabin, by which I am typing this.
Below the control panel is a switch box which controls the flow of power from solar panels to charge controllers to batteries, so that if any component of this system fails I can route the electricity around the defective unit.
The wall pockets hold various items, including the Flip Marker I use on the whiteboard to cross out each line of longitude as I cross it. Plus pens, pencils, WD-40 and the day's ration of Larabars.
On the cabin floor beneath has accumulated quite a pile of stuff. It's not good practice to have it unstowed - if I capsized all these items would fly around and make an awful mess (and I speak from experience) but conditions at the moment mean that capsize is unlikely, so I'm taking the risk for the sake of convenience. In this general area I have: Video camera - handheld (in a waterproof case) Tomtom GPS (in a waterproof case) Satphone (in Pelican case) Inverter (converts DC current to AC current for some rechargeable items) Main recording deck for video cameras attached to boat (not currently working) Wet wipes in a ziplock bag Bag Balm Chart protractor Eyeglasses Notebook Kayak bag containing various dry food items - mixed nuts, tamari sunflower seeds and almonds, nama shoyu sauce, Larabars, buckwheat crackers, jerky etc.
Beneath the hatch is secured a small case containing knives, forks and spoons. Above the hatch are a fire extinguisher, diving knife, and stereo speakers.
On the other side of the hatch is my "dressing table" - a washbag fixed to the bulkhead, containing toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, hand cream, lip salve, and various things that are supposed to help alleviate the spots caused by prolonged exposure to salt water. Also a very small mirror that allows inspection of aforementioned spots (which are generally in places not easily seen but all too keenly felt), weatherbeaten face, unwashed hair etc. This mirror is not my friend.
And that's more or less it. Generally in my little world I can put my hand on anything as I need it. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Except for the things that aren't.
Position at 2130 16th August HST, 0730 17th August UTC: 22 46.711'N, 149 31.091'W.
If you haven't yet voted in the Amex grants then please do. If I don't place in the top 25 by the 19th then I don't make it onto the shortlist. and that has to be the top 25 overall, not just the top 25 in the environmental section. Every vote counts - so please pass the news on to all your friends. Let's go viral!
Thanks for all the comments and messages. Always good to hear from you.
Special hello to Ruth Crewe (Crewe surely a great name for a rower!) and all at my old club OUWLRC.
Martine - thanks for your generous words, but au contraire, YOU inspire ME! You have coped with so much, really tough stuff, and you just keep on going. I have it easy.
Caroline - hope you enjoyed your retreat as much as I did, and got out of it whatever it was that you went in search of. see you in the UK in November, I hope!
I hear from Mum that the JUNK Males put up a great blog about our Great Pacific Get-Together. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Am still basking in the good memories of the encounter - and looking forward to catching up with the guys when I get to Hawaii.!
Click here to view 23 February 2006 After missing one day, Rita wrote "Substitute Again."
16 Aug 2008, The Brocade
The next part of my series on what lies where on board the Brocade, today we get to the aft cabin. If the rowing seat is my place of work, then this is my home. I've even got into the habit of calling out, "Honey, I'm home!" when I come in from the final rowing shift of the day and take my baseball hat off. Sad, I know, but it makes me smile.
My drawing isn't quite to scale. The bunk is actually a bit wider - a whole 18 inches or so. So the spaces alongside it are correspondingly narrower and the various wall pouches press hard against the two leecloths (actually the webbing that you use to stop stuff falling out of the tailgate of a pickup truck) that run down either side of my bunk.
Anyway, apologies aside, here we go.
1. The control panel, and .
2. The area of the boat where I keep all my most-used stuff. I'm going to come back to these two in another blog, as there's too much to include in this one.
3. First aid kit, packed into a big blue fabric suitcase
4. Mesh wall bags containing Squishie the Dolphin, Chirpy the Robin, and Quackers the Duck, as well as a crash hat, spare rowing gloves, baseball hats, and other items of clothing.
5. Pelican case containing PC and various leads
6. Pelican case containing Mac, mobile phones, passport, and money - my technological ditch bag. If I'm abandoning ship the Mac comes with me!
7. Small Pelican case containing blood pressure gauge. I use this daily to send blood pressure and heart rate to my medical advisor, Dr Aenor Sawyer, so she can assess my health.
8. Locker containing water ballast
9. Locker containing toolkit, electrical kit, various useful bits and bobs like string, Velcro, tape, spare batteries, etc.
10. Locker containing two marine batteries - the ones that power most of my electrical system.
11 and 12. Lockers containing Larabars (originally several hundred, now down to the last 100 or so), mixed nuts, and tamari almonds.
13. The "bathroom cabinet" - locker containing toiletries: wet wipes, tea tree oil, sun lotion, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo etc.
The next and final in this series will cover the control panel, most-used items, and the various pockets and pouches mounted on the walls around the hatch to the cockpit. I really hope this isn't too boring - to me it seems the equivalent of describing the contents of somebody's kitchen cupboards - but I guess my home is a little unusual so maybe I can be excused for inflicting this description of the minutiae of my surroundings.
Position at 2330 15th August Pacific Time, 0630 16th August UTC: 22 55.842'N, 149 00.145'W.
It's been a long day. I really, really wanted to get to 149 degrees West today to give me a realistic chance of reaching Hawaii before the end of the month. But after my dalliance with the JUNK I had my work cut out today. It was a brutal last shift - rowing in the dark in squalls and strong winds - but I made it and I'm quietly proud. And very wet.
Hi to Sue and all at Green People. Thanks for the Amex votes - and for spreading the word.
And a special hi to Trish, Moe, and all in the Gorge. Hope to see you later this year.
And thanks to all the other people who have voted and/or written in. I'm having to step up the rowing for the final 500 nautical miles so I'm not going to have time to acknowledge all messages, but I do read them and appreciate them and derive great strength and encouragement from them. So do keep them coming!
Click here to view Day 83 of the Atlantic Crossing 21 February 2006: Food for thought. Posted by Rita Savage.
Do visit the JUNK website.