You know what an omnivore is – it eats anything and, in some cases, everything. Well, I’ve just coined a new word – the omniviviphile. (Latin scholars, please do not throw up your hands in horror. Just go with it and forgive my poor Latin – my one grade C amidst a happy cloud of As and Bs.)
It means All + Life + Love. More or less, loving everything about life – and wanting to do it all. Usually all at once. And this presents me with dilemmas such as the one that I need to resolve by the end of today.
The question at stake is: how best to travel from Asia to North America for the start of my speaking tour in September?
I was fascinated a year or so ago to hear about a friend-of-a-friend who never flies any more, but hitches ride on container ships as they ply the world’s oceans. It is not a particularly cheap alternative to flying, although when you factor in the cost of food for the duration of the voyage, it’s not bad value either. And of course its main attraction to this green-at-heart ocean rower, yours truly, is its lower carbon footprint. It is claimed that flying produces 36 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than sea travel (presumably excluding oar-powered sea travel, which produces infinitely less carbon dioxide).
As a result, I now have sitting in my email inbox an invitation to join the Hatsu Courage from Hong Kong to Long Beach, sailing on August 19 and due to arrive 16 days later on Sept 3. I really want to do this. But my speaking tour is due to start in Asheville, NC, on Sept 8. In my experience nothing involving boats and oceans ever goes according to schedule – although this year, after my anticipated 100-day voyage took a mere 46 days, schedule variations don’t always involve being late. Just usually.
In fact, the container ship that was due to take my rowboat from Madang to Melbourne has just been postponed by a month. In that context, 5 days is not a very comfortable margin of safety.
So here are my thought processes so far, in weighing up the pros and cons of sailing versus flying:
- makes a statement that there ARE alternatives to flying that DON’T involve rowing!
- good opportunity to work offline and start work on the Pacific book
- unusual experience – and I’m all about experiences
- find out what actually happens on the bridge of container ship – may be useful for future safety when I am back in my rowboat
- could miss the start of US speaking tour, and only refunded if the sailing is cancelled – no refund if delayed
- 2 weeks out of the loop at a crucial stage of tour planning (the ship may have internet, but I have not received a response to this question. I can, of course, take my satphone, and send/receive SMS messages on that, so I won’t be totally incommunicado)
- 2 weeks that I could spend doing interesting things in Asia
- more expensive than flying (about $2,100 vs $900, although it does of course include 16 days of board and lodging)
The first pro and the first con are the biggest factors as far as I’m concerned. I really want to show that a lower-carbon lifestyle can actually be fun and feasible. But I don’t want to cause my amazing team of volunteer event organisers to have nervous breakdowns if I am delayed on the ocean. Our plans for Asheville are already well formed, largely thanks to the energetic response of Laurey Masterton, and it would be a tragedy if I was late for my own speaking tour.
It’s a terrible dilemma. So I decided to share it, in the hopes that the Rozling community might come up with some input that would help me make up my mind – or even information about some other low-carbon alternative.
So… over to you! What do you think I should do? Let me know as soon as you can, as I need to decide today!