19 Aug 2008, The Brocade
When I was on board the JUNK the other night I talked with Marcus and Joel about plastic pollution - of course. Hard not to, when the raft beneath our feet was a monument to the issue, being kept afloat by 10,000 plastic bottles lashed together in cargo netting.
And we agreed that we are not against plastics per se. Plastics have many valuable uses - apart from keeping rafts afloat, plastic is used for many other things that could not easily be substituted with any other material. Looking around the Brocade, I have plastic waterproof bags, Pelican cases, sea anchor buoy, buckets, seed sprouter, food containers and most of my electronics.
No, what we are against is not the use of plastic, it's the ABuse of plastic, particularly for items that are intended to be disposable. According to the printed cotton grocery bag the JUNK guys gave me, over one million plastic bags are used PER MINUTE world-wide. And it can take over 300 years for them to break down. That leads to some scary arithmetic if you work out how many billions or trillions of plastic bags we could end up with.
As a parallel example, I was working in Information Technology in the run-up to the year 2000, and we were all obsessed with the so-called Millennium Bug. The fear was that all computer-based systems would grind to a halt thinking that 00 signified 1900 rather than 2000. We cursed the short-sighted predecessors who had somehow overlooked the fact that the year 2000 would inevitably arrive - or at least had counted on it not arriving until they were safely retired.
And yet are we not now guilty of similar short-sightedness if we think that we can carry on producing plastic goods indefinitely, and not eventually be up to our eyes in cast-off plastics? Will future generations look back at our era and curse us for our short-sighted stupidity?
Unfortunately democracy does not encourage long-term thinking at governmental level. Plastics (like cars) are so convenient, and so integrated a part of our lives - no politician who wanted to get elected is likely take a tough stand on widespread reduction of plastic usage.
So action has to start at the grassroots level. We all need to do our bit to make a difference - and plastic bags and plastic water bottles are a good place to start. Rather than relying on recycling, let's REDUCE the amount of plastic being generated - a much better solution with a smaller carbon footprint and overall lower environmental impact. Get your re-usable grocery bags (organic cotton or bags made from recycled plastic are best) and your water filter. And do your bit to save this wonderful planet of ours.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If we pull together, we can make a world of difference!
Last chance to get me into the top 25 for the AMEX list! I need to make the shortlist to have a chance of qualifying for a share of the funds - and further funding is crucial to the second leg of my Pacific row, and the environmental documentary based on my adventure. Having just said democracy is flawed. VOTE FOR ME PLEASE!!
Position at 2100 18th August HST, 0700 19th August UTC: 22 26.722'N, 150 31.022'W.
A hot and calm day today - not conducive to high mileage, but I kept plugging away, fuelled by regular bribes of Larabars and wild salmon jerky. For a while this afternoon there wasn't a cloud in the sky and over the calm seas I could see all the way to the horizon. Blue above, blue below. The ocean looked like a very big place.
Well done to Team GB for a promising start to the Olympics. Mum sent me an update a few days ago to say we were third in the medals table. Fantastic! Congrats to all the athletes - especially the rowers.
Thank you for all the messages - and for the donations that keep on trickling in. All very much appreciated. You are kind, wonderful and generous people!
Thanks especially to Sandi for my virtual trip from Lands End to John O'Groats. So I'm in the Peak District now? I must drop in on my friend Penny in Hathersage! I love the moors around there - thank you for conjuring up happy memories of long rambles and country pubs!
Thanks, too, to John H for the links to the following articles. The oceans really are in trouble. Quite apart from the plastic pollution, see what else is happening.
*Ocean 'dead zones' expanding worldwide: study*
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Oceanic "dead zones" where marine life cannot survive have been steadily increasing over the past five decades and now encompass 400 coastal areas of the world, a US-Swedish study.
The number of these areas, in which aquatic ecosystems disappear due to lack of oxygen in the water, have "approximately doubled each decade since the 1960s," said the study in the journal Science on Friday.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters and even off the East Coast - swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region.
The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere - from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region's prime destinations for divers.
Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp.
If you live in the UK and wish to make a contribution to Roz and don't wish to use Paypal, send a message from the Contact area of this website for details
Do look at the Books box Roz's latest recommendation is there, amongst many other books: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake - or purchase it from Audible.com
Day 86 of the Atlantic Crossing, 26 February 2006: No news, no blog.
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."