Day 106: The Longest Voyage

Photo by J Messersmith

This is now the longest voyage I have ever undertaken. In decreasing order, it took me 104 days to row from Hawaii to Tarawa (in the Republic of Kiribati), 103 days to row the Atlantic, and 99 days from San Francisco to Hawaii. Last year’s jaunt from Tarawa to Madang (in Papua New Guinea) was barely a day trip – a mere 46 days, thanks to some big strong friendly currents.

Does it get easier as time goes on? No, not especially. It would be like saying to somebody at the end of a marathon, “Look, you’ve run 26.2 miles already. What’s a couple more?” You would probably get a very rude response consisting of two words, the second of which might well be “off”.

Having said that, physically and mentally I’m feeling fine, buoyed by healthy mileages in the right direction for the last few days. Looking forward to a good hot shower and a decent square meal, and the company of somebody besides Woody the Pirate (and I’m sure he’d say the same about me), but generally just getting on with it. It’s the equipment that is beginning to fall off the pace.

An ocean rowboat is a uniquely challenging environment for kit. Everything is closer to the water than sailing yachts, more in the water than on it. And because I am out here for so many months at a time, rust and mould have a golden opportunity to flourish. And flourish they do.

What I am leading up to, needless to say, is that the electrical system has crapped out again. The red LED of death has probably been triggered by the temperature sensor, which is looking decidedly the worse for wear. But it could also be because the cabin was like a sauna after I’d been confined to quarters for a couple of days, pumping out body heat. I’m airing it out as much as I can, given the rough conditions – trying to let in fresh air while not letting in water. And hoping that by tomorrow the electrical system will have rallied once again. The sooner we come up with some miracle power source that doesn’t require wires to transport it, the happier I would be!

Photo: Shortest voyage, biggest welcome. Madang 2010.

Other Stuff:

The high winds and waves were due to abate today. They have done so, marginally. By the 18th it should be much quieter, and I can hang out my sleeping bag for a much-needed airing. I am doing my best to maintain cleanliness and dryness in extreme adversity.

Cynthia – thanks for the book recommendation. Noted.

Jay – erm, I still have a mistrust of the microwave oven and cellular phone. I usually use a hands-free headset, and never knowingly eat something that has been microwaved if I can possibly avoid it. It’s not just the zapping, it’s that I can’t imagine wanting to eat anything that could be prepared in a microwave. I don’t like any of the values that a microwave represents. But that’s just me. And proves exactly your point, that we all have different belief systems. I would also have to dispute your comment: “Roz, time will tell whether you are amazing or not.” To take this away from me, and apply it generally – time will tell whether a person achieves results or not. But their results have nothing to do with their amazing-ness. A person can be amazing right here, right now in the present moment – simply by deciding to be. No time required!

Tom and Rick – thank you both for your thought-provoking comments last Philosophy Friday. Tom, great question. I wish I had a great answer. And Rick, I shall certainly keep my mind open to the possibility that the far side of the moon could be made from green cheese!

Kristian – sing a long a Grease sounds brilliant fun! Hope you had a fabby evening.

Thank you all for letting me know how you variously celebrated the solidarity sunset on Saturday. All very much appreciated. And Rico – your homage to Neptune seems to have worked – I have been enjoying good mileages and good direction for the last few days. As you seem to have some influence with the great god of the sea, please ask him for more of the same!

Quotation for today: “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand.” [note by Michael Moncur, September 01, 2004]

Sponsored Miles: Doug Grandt, Colin McWilliam – thanks for miles sponsored.

  • John H

    Instead of a joke today, science at work:

    Lab yeast make evolutionary leap to multicellularity

    23 June 2011

    by

    Bob Holmes

    IN JUST a few weeks single-celled
    yeast have evolved into a multicellular organism, complete with division
    of labour between cells. This suggests that the evolutionary leap to multicellularity may be a surprisingly small hurdle.

    Multicellularity has evolved at least
    20 times since life began, but the last time was about 200 million years
    ago, leaving few clues to the precise sequence of events. To understand
    the process better, William Ratcliff
    and colleagues at the University of Minnesota in St Paul set out to
    evolve multicellularity in a common unicellular lab organism, brewer’s
    yeast.

    Their approach was simple: they grew
    the yeast in a liquid and once each day gently centrifuged each culture,
    inoculating the next batch with the yeast that settled out on the
    bottom of each tube. Just as large sand particles settle faster than
    tiny silt, groups of cells settle faster than single ones, so the team
    effectively selected for yeast that clumped together.

    Sure enough, within 60 days – about
    350 generations – every one of their 10 culture lines had evolved a
    clumped, “snowflake” form. Crucially, the snowflakes formed not from
    unrelated cells banding together but from cells that remained connected
    to one another after division, so that all the cells in a snowflake were
    genetically identical relatives. This relatedness provides the
    conditions necessary for individual cells to cooperate for the good of
    the whole snowflake.
    Impressive!

  • Anonymous

    Glad the wind has settled a bit … thanks to Rico and Neptune ;-D
    That first word “buzz” … right!?

    Keep your chin up, Roz.

  • Anonymous

    bah! made me spit out my latte! but only just the first sip… Oh Roz, those were rhetorical statements at best and yes, my point is differing viewpoints over time and how they change.

    In the late 50′s and early 60′s several states had enacted (the beginnings of) laws agianst playing fm/am radios when they were originally invented to go into cars. They like other items now, were deemed too distracting for the average driver back then.

    Cars often backfired back then causing many inadvertant fires and vapor flashes (motorcyles were worse, until the spark arrestor and better engine technology) Motorcyles were never garaged for that reason and the entire town knew the home of the rebel with the arsonistic bike. And hence the misconception that motorcyles are not to be triffled with by the average person. But next time you read ”Please turn your engine off.” at each pump, know it had different emotional content to our parents or their parents.

    Your distaste for the microwave is preferential rather than health conciousness, value rather than outright danger. In otherwords rowing oceans so that the masses will understand the dangers of microwave ovens and discard them asap, is not part of the itinerary. Eating healthy still is!

    Same with the cell phone, I am willing to educate the general public and continue to go out of my way to stop people from using plastic bags (I decided to call them “toxic tumbleweeds” and plastic one-use-permanents. But I rarely pay attentiont to the blue tooth stuck in their head or thier jabbering away… much different than my actions, let’s say, if a child were in danger.

    Now as far as you being amazing… Wow, perhaps you meant that as a good defence to others… but certainly not me. Your legacy, as I have shared with countless friends and strangers has and will, “Stand the the test of time.” This, I am more than sure. My news article in Sacramento in The State Hornet:  Dated 8 September 2010 Compares you to the below adventurers.  I quote myself happily, “Roz is way out of the realm of adventuring.”

    Amy and Charlie were gifted and courageous but still, they sat on thier butts and flew over storm clouds on their powered crossings. Ferdinand and Chistopher could not sail across Lake Tahoe without a crew. Tenzing was a great boost to Sir Edmund. And if Neal sneezed onto his facemask all of NASA and half of the Air Force would have wiped it off for him. This is not true for THE AMAZING PERSON that I know. And besides that, as if this story could get better, your friendship is a badge of honor! *You are welcome read all of my verbs as in the present tense!*

    Row Roz Row! *C*o*N*g*R*a*T*u*L*a*T*i*O*n*S* again today!
    get plenty of rest, both emotionally and physically…

    Would anyone like to join me for Whimiscal (next) Wednesday? light
    hearted levity and innocent funniness for Roz?

    Row Roz Row!

  • Marie

    Glad to know the winds are subsiding a bit…I keep thinking of a phrase a friend of mine always says:

    “It’s amazing what we can endure when we don’t have a choice…” 

    For the record: You ARE amazing at all times: resilient, authentic, persevering and dedicated to your purpose.  Cheers to you from Carmel Valley, CA. 

  • Anonymous

    As A thank you for helping her out with Roz Solidarity Sunset, I am posting these two videos by mutual friends at National Geographic.

    On Vimeo as a movie trailer for “The Island”- la palma time lapse video

    http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/15/new-astro-timelapse-video-the-island-showcases-astronomy-haven/

    On Youtube titled Amazing Northern Lights Time Lapse

    http://youtu.be/FcfWsj9OnsI

    Cheers all!

    Please keep sending her good vibes and well wishes!

    Keep Rowing Roz!

    ~jay

  • Anonymous

    My dear Roz!  of course the moon is made of green cheese!  Mssrs. Wallace and Grommit discovered this fact  many years ago on their manned spaceflight to the moon.  “Cheeeeese Grommit Cheeese.”          Cheese, ooops I mean Cheers Roz,    Stephen

  • Anonymous

    Well, congratulations, and , it’s all downhill etc. etc.,
    Another thought for the day from burnard Moiteassier…”
    “My real log is written in the sea and sky; the sails talking with the rain and the stars amid the sounds of the sea, the silences full of secret things between my boat and me, like the times I spent as a child listening to the forest talk.” (from “The Long Way”)
    Well, you don’t have any sails Roz, but maybe the rest? Row well.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jerrycritter Jerry Critter

    “The sooner we come up with some miracle power source that doesn’t
    require wires to transport it, the happier I would be!”

    We may be closer to that than you think!

  • Rico

    Neptune and I go way back.  We’re pals from another life.  So, “yes”, I certainly will ask him to send you mild seas, gentle winds, and good weather for the remainder of the journey.  But you know these gods.  They also have a cranky side.  So even though they might throw a fit from time to time, remember that it is NOT directed at you.  Neptune might be just having a temper tantrum at the world in general.  Just take his occasional demonstration of tough weather in stride, and know that he likes you personally.  From this end, I’ll keep flattering him (which he loves), promising him food as an offering (which he also loves), and telling him how wonderful you are (which he already knows).  Between all of this, and some straightforward prayers for your welfare, you should be perfectly alright for the remainder of the transit.    :)

    Rico

  • Anonymous

    Roz, I’ve been charting my sponsored miles in Excel, and it is apparent that you are doing quite well, distance-from-Perth-wise…. Analyzing the expanding concentric ripple pattern emanating from Perth across the expanse of the Indian Ocean, I reckon you could reach land at any number of places on a date that has lots of ones and zeroes (and a two or two) in it, precisely :) )

    Row outstandingly expanding, Roz!

    (and if you can make sense out of that, you’ve been at sea too long :) )

    http://bit.ly/Sponsor_A_Mile

  • Anonymous

    This video of Bucky, in my humble opinion, fits right in with our current conversation.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaj8Z1PLXYk
    Cheese everyone,  Stephen

  • Bruce

    Hi, I thought I would share this clipping my aunt recently gave me. I particularly like the one about worrying less and working harder. I tend to worry about things (can you blame me–there’s a lot to worry about!), and working hard does really help. -Bruce 

    The Ten Commandments of HealthDoctor Kenzo Futagil M.D., used to give his patients and disciples these commandments for health:Eat less and chew well,Ride less and walk often,Have fewer clothes and launder often,Worry less and work harder,Waste less time and continue to learn,Talk less and listen more, Frown less and laugh often,Speak less and act more, Blame less and praise others,Take less and give a hundred times over. He lived a hundred years. 

  • Anonymous

    This is in reply to Jerry Critter
    Here are two TED talks regarding the use of power in the very near future.
    You are welcome to form your own opinion… I prefer to try to think of good ways to use technology to promote ocean ecology and planet sustainability.

    Harald Haas: Wireless data from every light bulb
    http://www.ted.com/talks/harald_haas_wireless_data_from_every_light_bulb.html
    Sustainable seafood or organic information directly from grocery store lights to your phone. Headlights communicate to avoid collisions. Or weather information from the led of street lights.  

    Eric Giler demos wireless electricity
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html
    saving one-use-permanent batteries and ability to seal electronic items completely.  

    You and Dr. Sylvia Earle are still my favorite TED presenters!