Okay Rozlings, this is it. Tomorrow is the big day, the one we’ve all been waiting for. I apologize for the radio silence from me…the lack of a decent Internet connection has been maddening, especially in such a critical time. I tried uploading Tweets and Facebook updates yesterday to keep you looped in on all the great developments, but to no avail.
So, here’s the scoop:
Yesterday was a hugely successful day at the office. My top priority since we arrived was finding a reliable boat that would be willing and able to go a good distance out to sea (just in case) and help escort Roz safely in to Tarawa. As I mentioned in my last blog, things move slowly here and I was never discouraged, but knew we were running short on time.
Following a lead, Conrad and I headed over to the Tarawa Sports Complex and pretty much hit the jackpot. The US Navy was wrapping up a 2-week humanitarian project (called the Pacific Partnership 2009) with a closing ceremony. We’d met several of the American, Australian and Canadian soldiers since we arrived – after their work was done each day, some of them would head over to our hotel for dinner and a beer before heading back to their ship. They were all really wonderful guys, and the Navy doctor is the one who gave Hunter the eye drops he desperately needed for his conjunctivitis. In any case, we went to their closing ceremony and the President of Kiribati was there! We could hardly believe our good luck. After the ceremony was over, the Australian High Commissioner introduced me to the President and I was able to tell him that Roz would be arriving in the next few days. I told him about her mission – raising awareness for climate change – and he was so pleased, as this is an issue that is of the utmost importance to him. He was warm and welcoming, and delighted that Roz is coming to Tarawa.
After the ceremony, we were invited to drinks at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence. We had heard through the grapevine that the High Commissioner of New Zealand is a world-class champion rower and that he had a boat that might work for us, and we were eagerly trying to connect with him throughout the day. Lo and behold, he was at the party, so we were able to chat with him and he graciously offered up his boat to help escort Roz in safely. We were then introduced to a lovely guy named Emil who also has a large boat, and he offered up his time and assistance as well. Both gentlemen gave me their phone numbers and said all we’d need to do is call. Hooray! Mission accomplished. Uh, well…not quite. We still need Roz.
Today at 10 am, Roz phoned in to give me her update. She was really struggling with the currents. They were whisking her hard and fast to the west, making it increasingly difficult for her to head north to Tarawa. Not good. I gave her the excellent and just-in-the-nick-of-time news about the escort boats, and she was both delighted and relieved. She said the winds were due to change to south easterlies and wanted to carry on trying for Tarawa, but thought that most likely, she wouldn’t be able to get north of Maiana, which is just 20 miles to the south of Tarawa. Roz thought the most prudent thing to do was to schedule a rendezvous point on the south west side of Maiana, and asked if we could arrange that for 9 am tomorrow. Still hoping those south easterlies would kick in, Roz and I agreed to speak again at 4:30 pm to course correct if necessary.
At 4:30 Roz called and gave the final confirmation. Yes, let’s rendezvous at 9 am tomorrow in Maiana. It’s a bit surreal. Roz has been at sea for 104 days now, and as she hung up she said, “thanks so much for everything Nicole – I’ll see you in the morning.” Wow. It’s rather funny to hear her say that after so long!
I called Emil and Rob – the gentlemen who have offered up their boats – and they conferred and decided Emil’s boat would be the best option, all things considered. We will all meet tomorrow at 7 am at Bairiki Harbour and set out to rendezvous with Roz. She and I will speak again at 7 am to get her latest coordinates (we have GPS on the boat, too) and we expect it will take about an hour and a half to reach her.
I just spoke with Ricardo, Roz’s weatherman in Portugal—the south easterlies that Roz needs have kicked in over the past hour, so he seems to think that she’ll be able to row all the way in to Tarawa under her own steam. I know that’s what she’ll want, and if she can, super. We’ll be there, right alongside, just in case. If she needs a tow, we can do that too. All our bases are well and truly covered.
Tomorrow is a very big day indeed. It’s very late here, but I’ve still got quite a lot more work to do, so I’ll sign off for now and just say a massively huge and very heartfelt thank you to all of Roz’s supporters for following along and encouraging her the past 104 days. Please know that your positivity and enthusiasm means the world to her and helps keep her going through the rough times.
I also want to thank those of you who have also been so supportive of me, especially the past couple of weeks. This has been a wonderful project to be a part of for the past 2 years – and the moral support I’ve received from family and friends (and even some of the Rozlings!) has been amazing and oh-so-necessary. An extra special thank you to my Granny, my brother Brian, the Yellin Family, my favorite aunties Aenor and Melinda, Ian Tuller, Hunter and Traci Downs, Nancy Glenn, Ellen Petry Leanse and Evan Rapoport.
Good night everyone! We’ll put up photos, videos and other updates of Roz’s arrival just as quickly as we can.