You can see ROZ’S ROUTE here. Each dot links to the blog from that day. Likely to arrive 3rd October.
I owe you an explanation. I’m not very good at making Announcements (with a capital A). Maybe it’s in the interests of Ultimate Flexibility (UF), but my plans tend to kind of dribble out into the public arena, and occasionally dribble back in again. So I never formally announced that I was going to do the North Atlantic in 2012 – it just appeared on the map on my home page – and I have never formally un-announced it either.
But you may have gathered, from a few passing comments under “Other Stuff”, that I no longer intend to row from New York to London next year. And it is time that I explained why. There are many reasons, each of them strong in its own right, and adding up to a very definite decision – or, at least, a very definite decision as far as the immediate future goes. UF Rules!
1. Mission Accomplished
When I first envisioned becoming an ocean rower back in 2004, I intended to row around the world. Turns out, that isn’t possible. Small rowboats aren’t allowed through big commercial canals like the Suez and the Panama, and southern capes are dangerous. Also, rowboats are very much at the mercy of winds and currents, which tend to go in circles within each ocean rather than conveniently linking up into a global conveyor belt, and there are too many cases of “you can’t get there from here”. So I settled for rowing across the “Big Three” oceans – Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. With a bit of luck and a following wind, I will very soon accomplish that.
The 2012 row was an afterthought that occurred to me in 2010. I have now thought better of it (after-un-thunked it?).
2. Sedna Solo (Retd)
It became apparent early on in the Indian Ocean voyage that Sedna is past her prime. Water is seeping into previously watertight lockers. The marine ply of her deck needs completely replacing. Not a single piece of electronic equipment is fully functional. Even the electrical system itself is working courtesy only of a few inches of electrical tape and a rhino clip. It would require a huge, costly, and time-consuming overhaul to make her seaworthy again.
3. Immovable Deadline
The point of doing the 2012 row was to arrive in London in time for the 2012 Olympics. It would be touch and go whether I could get there in time. I wouldn’t be able to leave from the US until after the spring storms, and the opening ceremony is on 27th July. Arriving late would defeat the whole purpose, and from what I have read about failed expeditions, tight deadlines make for poor decisions and increased risk. When I thought about it some more, the venture seemed excessively “do or die” – literally.
4. A Pearl In The Storm
When I called my mother on the satphone from the Pacific last year and told her about my bright idea to row the North Atlantic, I thought she would be quite blase about it, having already endured four of my voyages. But there was a resounding silence on the other end of the phone. Then, last Christmas, she gave me a copy of Tori Murden’s book, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the OceanMemoirs) which you may recall from my blog “Beginner’s Guide to Boat-Rolling”. The storm in question took place on the North Atlantic – as, indeed, did “The Perfect Storm ” The crossing from North America to Europe is notoriously rough, cold, and foggy – not to mention chock-full of commercial shipping traffic. It can be done, of course – Harbo and Samuelson did it, as did Blyth and Ridgway, Oliver Hicks, and Maud Fontenoy – but it’s just not nice.
5. Time Out
Globally, there seems to be a sense of accelerating change. I am already wondering how the world will have changed during the 5 months I have been at sea this year. I have sometimes felt a little frustrated at being so far removed from any news sources. It’s hard to keep your finger on the pulse when you’re quite possibly the world’s most remote human being [link to that blog]. I feel the need to be contactable and in contact with what’s happening in these fast-moving times.
Plus, this year, it troubled me when Mum broke her leg and I couldn’t be there. What if it had been something more serious, and it would be three months before I could get to her? She isn’t getting any younger, and if something bad happened I’d never forgive myself.
6. Time For A Change
After 6 years and 15,000 miles, I’ve probably taken this ocean rowing thing about as far as I can – both personally and “professionally”, i.e. in my environmental campaigning.
Personally, my steepest learning curve was during my first crossing – the Atlantic. Since then, each voyage has become progressively deeper inside my comfort zone. I am not learning as much any more. It is time to find myself a new challenge that will stretch me anew.
And “professionally”, I want to shift focus. I’ve done my rowing and I’ve got my sea stories – more than enough to fuel a lifetime of speaking engagements. I want to get more “hands-on” with my campaigning. I plan to spend 2012 tying off the loose ends of my ocean rowing career in a Maisie-Dobbs-like final accounting: finish editing the book, make the film, assemble the multimedia presentation – and then move on to more direct methods of creating positive change in the world. Alongside more focused campaigning, I fully intend to do more expeditions to provide material for blogs, books, and more, but they won’t take me way out into the middle of gargantuan bodies of water any more.
When the legendary British oarsman Sir Steve Redgrave announced his retirement after the 2000 Olympics, he famously said, “If you see me anywhere near a boat, shoot me”… only to come out of retirement to win his fifth gold medal in 2004. So I hesitate to say “never again”. I will merely say, “enough is enough – for now”. But stay tuned – I have a feeling that life is going to be anything but boring for the foreseeable future!
1000 blogs! Phewee. Makes me feel quite exhausted just thinking about writing 1,000 blogs! And I suppose that half of them have been written at sea – one for each of my 500 days out here
Quote for the day: “Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to.” (Harry Emerson Fosdick)
Sponsored Miles: Nick Perdiew, Alexandra Stevens, Bruce Gervais, Doug Grandt, Louis Girard, Gina Alzate, Jim@Fourth Element, Anthea Maton, Auntie Julie West – thank you for sponsoring miles; also David Cameron, Nick Perdiew, David Swenson, Jim@@ Fourth Element and Chris Lynch who sponsored higher numbers.