Roz_NicHONOLULU, HAWAII

“Whatever I say in the next 10 minutes, please promise me you’ll still be my friend…that you won’t hate me?”

When you hear such a plea, you just know that whatever follows will be some pretty serious news. The fact is, I knew it was coming. Wednesday’s rowing conditions were so wretched for Roz that I was certain she’d call me very soon to discuss a different strategy.

The call came the very next day. Roz agonized over the decision, but with a broken water maker, leaky reserves and dwindling food supplies, attempting the Herculean effort necessary to hit Tuvalu seemed to be far too dangerous. We just had no way of knowing how long it would take for Roz to push far enough south and east, or frankly, if it was even possible. Beyond the safety issues, Roz’s very first book tour is just around the corner – and come on, she just can’t miss that!

Yes, truthfully, I was a bit crestfallen to hear the news. I wanted to see her reach that goal of getting as far south of the equator as possible on Stage 2, because I’ve learned just how important that will be for setting her up for a successful Stage 3. I suppose it’s selfish to admit, but I was bummed that we’d have to start from square one – especially because after so much time and effort, things had finally just fallen into place with Tuvalu. The country was positively buzzing about Roz’s impending arrival. She was to be given the warmest of welcomes along with safe haven for her boat until Stage 3. But that’s how these things go. It really only took me a few seconds to get over the disappointment. I didn’t have time to mope about it, anyway – there was far too much to be done!

The minute I hung up with Roz on Thursday morning I hopped on Skype with her weatherman, Ricardo, in Portugal. He informed me that with the currents and winds now totally in Roz’s favor, she could easily average 40 miles each day and make landfall as early as September 5th. My stomach twisted into knots and my palms started to sweat. I had little more than a week to get Conrad the cameraman and myself there and make all the necessary arrangements for Roz’s arrival. That may not sound like such a big deal, but with only 2 flights each week into Tarawa, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy…

Today (Friday) was unbelievably hectic. I managed to find flights for us after all, on Air Pacific, the only airline that flies to Tarawa. After much rather enjoyable back and forth with a heavily accented Fijian named Alex, I was able to book the seats just before the office closed for the weekend. Hooray!

At noon, I met up with a former Peace Corps volunteer named Darin, who lived on Tarawa for three years and is now married to an I-Kiribati woman. What an amazing font of knowledge he was! I took copious notes, the details of which I’ll share with you tomorrow. Trust me when I say that the information gleaned from Darin is worth a blog on its own…

Shortly after my meeting with Darin, I raced over to Bank of Hawaii before the close of business to collect all the Australian currency I’d ordered the previous day. We need to take loads of cash because there aren’t any ATMs on Tarawa, and in fact, none of the businesses there even accept credit cards. As the teller counted out the rainbow colored bills (it looks remarkably like Monopoly money) I started to exhale. Things were falling into place…at last.

I must say here that ever since Thursday, I have been thanking my lucky stars (several times a day) for J. Maarten Troost. Maarten’s first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, is about his life on Tarawa. He was there for two years while his wife worked for a nonprofit organization. He is a brilliantly funny, exceptionally talented writer – I can’t recommend his books highly enough. If you’re a regular to Roz’s blog, you may remember that earlier in the voyage, she listened to an audio book called Getting Stoned with Savages. After reading her blog, Roz’s friend in California decided to contact Maarten and let him know that Roz just might end up on Tarawa, and perhaps we should all connect. Lo and behold, he replied! I’ve been picking his brain ever since. He’s been so gracious, not to mention an absolutely priceless resource for Team Roz. He’s made invaluable introductions to people living on Tarawa that can help me arrange logistics for storing Roz’s boat, and he’s given me very helpful tips on dress, social norms, telecommunications, and transportation around the island. Please join me in sending a huge thank you to Maarten!

One last piece of excellent news: the Team Roz contingent on Tarawa is rapidly growing! Hunter Downs, CEO of Archinoetics (the company that developed the RozTracker) will be accompanying Conrad and me on Sunday morning. What a relief…his wife Traci, COO of Archinoetics, will join us a week later. The entire Archinoetics family has been an absolute rock for me and Roz the past couple of months. Their unwavering support of time, resources and most importantly, a whole lot of love, is so gratefully appreciated. Rounding out our happy little team is Ian Tuller, our dear friend from San Francisco. He was here with us in Hawaii before Roz’s departure in May to oversee the refurbishment of the boat, and will resume his role as director of boatworks. We absolutely could not do this without this amazing group of people…and it certainly wouldn’t be nearly as fun, even if we could!

So buckle your seatbelts, kids! Off we go, to one of the most remote places on planet earth. (Really, before Roz, had you even heard of Tarawa???) Yes, we’ve had to scramble to accommodate the new game plan…that’s an understatement. But it’s going great so far, and no matter what, this promises to be one heck of a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I’m so glad you’re all coming along for the ride!

~Nicole

By the way, I’ll continue to send updates from our journey. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @nics_dolcevita.

[Photo: Roz and Nicole aboard the Brocade in San Francisco in 2007]

23 Comments

  • WOW!!! sounds exciting, and exhausting!
    looking forward to following you on this adventure!
    Roz sure is lucky to have you! 🙂

  • Tarawa was the location of an important WWII battle between the US and Japan. It will be very interesting to hear how Team Roz find it today. Glad she’s OK and over the agony of making a hard decision and also glad that you are so capable!

  • Dear Nicole,

    From what I have read, the people of Tarawa will be most gracious. Everyone’s flexibility is an integral part of this amazing journey….really awe inspiring. You are doing a great job!

    Cece

  • Nicole, so much to do, so little time … but you have hit the ground running! … rowing? I join you in sending a huge thank you to Maarten! I bought 3 of his books and will launch into them this weekend. Before now, I never heard of Tarawa, in fact — like Leo — I have difficulty pronouncing it. Funny: rushed to edit a comment yesterday as I was answering the phone, I misspelled it Tawara which is very easy to pronounce, but obviously wrong. Humble apologies to the people of Tarawa …

    BTW, I was looking at Niu Hae Akala and see that the little coconut (niu) and Brocade are within a minute or two (longitude) of each other, just west of 177.7 E. Niu Hae Akala is 31 miles north of the equator, whereas Brocade is 30 miles south of the equator … just a bit of trivia. Anybody wanna bet which arrives Tarawa first. My money’s on Roz. It won’t be long now, yeah yeah.

    Looking forward to learning more about Tarawa.

  • Great work Nicole and everyone who hands-on assists Roz in this endeavour. Though less heralded they are as important as oar strokes or a watermaker or any intention tested.

    Just so you know though it was mention before, Tarawa is actually a rather well know name to older Americans. One of it’s islands was the site of a brutal battle during WW2. A far cry from Roz’s purpose. It’s hard to imagine such different moments in time. Thousand of men in thousands of tons of diesel powered steel meeting at Tarawa to fight vs. one woman on the ocean without engine. I’m not judging either, just that it’s such a contrast.

  • Thanks for the very clarifying update, Nicole. You have exposed the conditions I suspected in my response message to Day 96 blog.

    A trip down memory lane reminded me that:
    Whenever there was an important job to be done,
    Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
    Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
    When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
    Everybody thought that Somebody would do it,
    But Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.
    Consequently, Everybody blamed Somebody when
    Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place.

    Then along came Roz Savage; she did it for Everybody
    And Anybody could support her.
    Now she is Somebody to Everybody, as Anybody can see,
    And Nobody has deserted her!

    That is why we love her so much. -Achates.

  • Hi Nicole,
    Our collective heart-felt thanks for your versatility and skills! You and the RozTeam were thrown a fast-breaking curveball and are succeeding in turning it into a homerun! As you round the bases towards Tarawa, congratulations to you, Rita, and all the RozTeam! You may all tip your caps to an enormously appreciative stadium full of RozFans! As you can hear, the applause is deafening!

  • Great opportunity for Roz to see the space station next week.
    3 Sep -3.5 18:20:37 10 SSW 18:23:29 63 SE 18:25:49 14 NE
    All times/dates local for Tarawa:
    September 3rd starting at 6.20pm comingout of the SSW horizon going almost right over the top of her location (63 degrees high)to the SE then heading off to the NE before dissapearing. Take a look for a very bright fast moving star Roz !!!!

  • There is a short documentary on hulu.com that some of you might find interesting. Called “Return to Tarawa”, it focuses on the WWII battle through the eyes of a veteran, sometimes in fairly graphic detail. Toward the end, it addresses some of the issues around pollution, plastic and otherwise.

  • To piggy back on Buck, Tarawa had HUGE significance in WWII and it’s name is synonymous with the word Heroism. I think landing there has great significance with what Roz is doing. I had never heard of Tuvulu, but Tarawa? Sorta like saying, have you heard of Pearl Harbor?

  • As of now according to the RozTracker she’s done 43.5 miles in the past 24 hours.. and she’s still heading west southwest to line herself up.
    Once she turns northwest she could be there as early as Sept 3rd.
    Your possibly going to have a harder time of it than Roz at this point … LOL Good Luck

  • Satman said: Take a look for a very bright fast moving star Roz !!!!

    I agree, it is a rare opportunity. I happened to be outside in the waning light of dusk, when — in my peripheral vision — a streaking BRILLIANTLY GLEAMING object caught my attention low on the northwestern horizon. Transfixed, I watched for about a minute as it flew low SSE off the California coast, grew faint and disappeared on the southern horizon. The NASA web site confirmed my suspicion; it was the space station and it was about 200 miles offshore. SIMPLY AMAZING. BEAUTIFUL.

    Nicole, please give this gift to Roz on our behalf. Thanks, Satman!

  • Thank you, Ron in Vancouver BC, that’s very apt (I wish I’;d thought of it!).

    And thank you, too, Nicole. Roz is so very fortunate to have you on her team.

  • What an amazing feat of logistics management, and all that – YOU GO NICOLE

    And OMG, I am stoked. Roz may make landfall on my birthday (9/4), or our 20-something wedding Anniversary (9/5).

  • TeamRoz inspires us as individuals to work together for our watery world and make
    wise decisions for our future. There is no point in ignoring reality. Thank you Roz, and TeamRoz!! You go girl, row Roz row!

  • Andy, thanks for telling us about Leon Cooper’s documentary. I just watched it … it’s enlightening and poignant on several levels. The last few minutes will be of special interest to Roz, but she should see the entire film. Maybe Nicole can arrange that.

    Return to Tarawa” – graphic visuals and passionate, heart-felt, “salty” narrative by Leon Cooper in his quest to sanctify the hallowed sands of Tarawa before the waves of the Pacific engulf the island.

  • Awesome, Nicole! I told Roz that I came to Hawaii to see her, but would not make it this time, so say “Hi” for me, I am really glad she decided to live so that we can continue to be with her in spirit!
    Go Roz!!

    John H

  • Wow…I’m not sure who’s doing the harder work: Roz rowing all day and night, or you coordinating and working miracles all day and night!

    What an adventure this must be for all of you on the Roz crew. I’ve been simply rapt reading this from day one. Usually, I read books written by adventurers from days past, but this has been a highly unique experience of reading the journey *live* as it happens. The excitement is palpable.

    Cheers to a great journey, great adventure, and an amazing crew!

  • Nicole,

    so much energy in your blog, sounds like you are just the whirlwind of activity that Roz needs to get everything lined up for her so she can concentrate on rowing. Looking forward to your tweets and blogs over the coming days.

  • Good job, Nicole on coordinating everything to fall into place. I know everyone in Tuvalu is probably bummed she won’t be there. Tarawa here we come!! Special thanks to Mr. Troost and all those at Archinoetics and to the rest of Team Roz. Thanks Nicole for keeping us updated. -Sindy

  • Wow, sounds like a gigantic ball has started rolling, well been blasted in another direction by a rocket and you’re having to keep up.

    Not to say Roz’s blogs aren’t interesting and have you on the edge of your seat but this had me on the edge of my seat. Hope everything is falling into place nicely.

    Also hope that Leo can get Dane out too as I think that was the plan, he wanted a nice long holiday payed for by Leo.

  • Hi all,

    You never know… There is something positive in everything – if you look for it. Roz had to make a difficult decision – she went offline for a while. And we now have the chance to learn more about all the work “backstage”. So as always, big goals are best achieved in a team. So here is the chance to meet the crew. Please Nicole, go on. Your “behind the scenes” information is so important.

    Bye from Hamburg

    Claus.

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