Today has been a strange day. The sea has been rough, really rough.
Chastened by the news of Sarah Outen's capsize on the Indian Ocean
yesterday ( I've been very careful.

But more than that, I've felt a little off-kilter, and have struggled to
figure out why. It seems strange, but the most likely cause appears to
be the death of Michael Jackson. I wasn't even particularly a MJ fan.
Yes, when I was 13 my best friend and I spent hours practicing the dance
routine for "Thriller" – but hey, who didn't? ('Fess up – surely my
friend Helen and I weren't the only ones?!)

My overwhelming feeling is one of sadness – not so much about his death,
but more about his life. He was so talented, so successful, so rich –
and yet apparently so unhappy.

Of course, I didn't know him. And I don't read the celebrity mags
(except at the dentist's, when nobody is looking) so I don't even have
those facts / factoids at my disposal. But my assumption is based on the
radical way he changed his appearance, from the cheery little black boy
who sang "ABC" with the Jackson Five to the strange, gaunt, pale ghost
of his final years. What does it say when you have such an uneasy
relationship with the man in the mirror?

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rights of every
American. But why does it have to be the PURSUIT of happiness? All too
often the pursuit seems to involve conspicuous consumption and cosmetic
surgery – and as routes to happiness these seem sadly superficial and
ineffective. Isn't it better just to BE happy, regardless of what you
own or how you look?

Again, I'm aware that I'm not an American, and I don't want to sound
critical. I think the same ethos has spread worldwide, including the UK
– we just haven't ever codified it in quite the same way as the US. And
it concerns me. There are values much more important, much more
conducive to true happiness than the accoutrements of celebrity – values
such as integrity, strength of character, right livelihood and empathy –
and I'd love to see these values prized more highly.

In many ways, Michael Jackson epitomized the American Dream, but his
dream seemed to go sour. I hope we can pass on rather different
aspirations to the next generation – aspirations that will lead them
towards TRUE happiness and fulfillment.

[photo: on a different subject entirely – I took these stills from a
video shot over the side of the boat this morning. I can't identify the
fish. Can anybody help me?]

Other Stuff:

Thanks for the comments on my last blog. I'm glad you didn't mind
indulging me and my favorite movie scenes. And honestly, I will get back
to talking about rowing again soon.

Eco Champion of the Day! DrKatyLancaster via Twitter: "Love the blog!
The car stays at home far more often as a result."

Thanks to Gregory for the quotes – I just love good quotes. Especially
like the ones from Tin Cup and Dead Poets Society.

Sinead and Cheryl – well done on the running, and I'm happy to provide
some inspiration. And you inspire me back too, so we're all happy!
Cheryl – thanks for the reminder to "Keep Faith, Expect Miracles"

Vern – great to hear from you. Hope our paths cross in the autumn.

Amyran – thanks for the hypothetical ship's log if you were to row an
ocean. Made me laugh! Totally agree on the Starbucks – oceans are
lamentably lacking in coffee shops. Amongst many shortcomings this is
surely the most egregious.

Rob Moir – thanks for the update on the Climate and Energy Bill. Good
news. I have some comments in response to the debate that seemed to rage
on this blog following my call to action, but will hold them back for
now in the interests of balance. When the time is right…

Weather report:

Position at 2000 HST: 11 56.402N, 169 02.011W
Wind: 20+ knots E
Seas: 7-9ft E, steep and rough
Weather: mostly overcast

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June


  • Mmmmmm… The mahi-mahi looks delicious.

    Regarding Michael Jackson, I was surprised to hear close personal friends and family describing him an an eternally happy man, always laughing, who liked to play practical jokes on his friends. That's not how I pictured him. They say he realized early on (childhood) that his image was his brand, and the attempts to change his look was nothing more than a misguided effort to keep his image current and popular. Perhaps freinds and family are sugar coating him now that's he's gone, or perhaps this is a case of not being able to judge a book by it's cover. Who knows?

  • Hello Roz, I truly admire you. For everything that you are doing and able to do. And you can write, in rough seas. I'll be following your journey and I do have to read more to fully understand your course and mission.

    As for MJ, like it or not, he was a tiny part of our lives gone.

  • It's a simple matter of logic. Government cannot ensure that you are happy, it can only leave you free to your own pursuits.

  • Don't forget the other two "Icons" that passed this week.

    Ed McMahan, the eternal "straight man" for Johnny Carson. Mr. McMahan was not only a TV personality, hosting his own shows (Bloopers and Star Search), but he was a decorated Marine fighter pilot in WWII.

    Farah Fawcett, the short lived star of Charlie's Angels, and the blond in the red swimsuit. She let all of us into her life as she fought, and lost, her battle with cancer.

    RIP: Ed, Farah and Jacko.

  • Michael did make great music and revolutionize music videos with the Thriller Album. He was living a dream life yet seemed so unhappy with himself. He definitely needed counseling for his emotional problems and it is sad he died at what should be his midlife.

    Roz on your next video shoot show us your Michael Jackson dance steps.


  • I hope that the world does not judge the average American by what the celebrities are doing. The real people I know value honesty, integrity, laughter, kindness… The media does a horrible job of representing the average Joe!

    As for Michael… a great talent. I was a fan of his talent. But what about that 'other' side… You know, the one that got him arrested. Settled out of courts.

  • Roz. Before you comment on other's comments on the bill you will have read it won't you? or at least understand its full implications and costs for us Americans. Especially you being English wont have to pay.

  • Hey Roz, Maui Bob here,(EVA&MARLENE bob)Thats a big fat Mahi in the pic. A few words on that and keep in mind that I've crossed all the oceans your trying multiple times in boats smaller than Brocade, so I speak from experience. There is nothing like catching one of those beautiful fish, bringing it onboard, giving thanks to whom ever you give thanks to, frying it up to a golden light brown and chowing down. You get a kind of energy, physically and mentally that you can get no other way. Your spirits soar and can give you a satisfaction that gives you reason to power on, its truly quite remarkable. Row on baby bob

  • When I heard that Farrah Fawcett died, I felt sad for her. She tried her best to beat cancer, and my impression of her was that she was a very nice person, and it's so sad how much she suffered. I love how she didn't want to get "married", shows how smart and independent she was! Too bad she gave in to her parent's pressure to get married.

    As for MJ, I don't feel sad one bit! My first thought was "thank goodness, now his kids might have a shot at a somewhat normal life". And "now he can't hurt children anymore". I find it truly amazing at the collective consciousness of mass media, his supporters, hollywood stars, and famous singers seem to have amnesia, and choose quite deliberately to look the other way at his brazen abuse and manipulation of little boys! And I'm SO sick of seeing his mutilated face! I think it's very shameful how Farrah Fawcett's death has been eclipsed by this creature! And I'm very disappointed in Deepak Chopra, he's really sold out, it's disgusting.

    Another question! Have you had any cosmetic surgery, Roz? Or anyone else here? I haven't, but it is getting quite commonplace.

  • Hearing about famous people dying is melancholy because they're part of the mental milestones we unconsciously use to map our life span. Even people who've written Micheal Jackson off as a mutant will feel it to some extent. (He was brilliant once.) You feel the same way when a building you've known from childhood gets torn down. There's nothing for it except to understand it, maybe say a prayer, and get back to business – whatever your business is.

  • Greetings! I've just spent the last two hours pouring over your blog, reading, laughing, frowning, thinking over your ideas and thoughts, and although I realize that I just spent quite a long time on my rear-end not doing a darn thing… I somehow feel I've accomplished something. I know, I know… how very selfish of me to look at all you've done and feel as if I'm the better for it. You truly are inspiring, I have no idea how you get up in the morning and -do- so much. I can only hope that in continuing to read your posts and 'follow' your journey I can get some motivation to try and do something (even if it is minuscule) good.

    Thank you for posting all of this, thank you for sharing your life / thoughts / struggles / etc, with us.

  • I think you might misunderstand the meaning of "the persuit of happines." And I probably just misunderstood you, like I often misunderstand people. Please forgive me if I did ;.; Not that I know much about it myself, but to me the phrase means that until the world is perfect, there's always room for improvement. If we claim we are completely "happy", then there's no reason to change, right? But the world isn't perfect yet. Really, Roz, which part do you like better, rowing over the ocean, or being at the end of the journey? A little of both I figure, but I really don't think the end would be as much fun if you didn't work so hard like you do. I found your blog on Blogger Buzz and I HAD to check it out and follow it! I think the problem is not the pursuit of or journey to happiness. I think it's what people label as "happiness," and that many are impatient to find happiness NOW, and they don't want to sacrifice anything. If you want muscles, you have to tear them up first, right? Happiness to me is continually becoming a better person.

    Anyway, I'll stop. I love your blog. You give so much information and details that most people wouldn't even notice unless they went on the ocean like you themselves. Fiction is great (and I love it), but it just doesn't seem to compare to real life adventures 🙂

    Also, R.I.P. Michael Jackson. I didn't know that much about him, but I still feel kinda sad for him 🙁

  • Your fish pictures are so luminous!

    I've never been very far out to sea, but I have noticed that the water can vary a great deal in color in different places. What is the water color like where you are? Can you see very deep into it?

    One last question. I've heard a lot about the islands of junk out there swirling around. Have you had to tangle with any of these?

  • Hi Roz, glad you enjoyed the excerpt from Rosemary Mahoney's book "Down the Nile." Certainly a very different expedition than yours, but the similarities somehow catch my attention so again, if I may, I'd like to share a few more excerpts that I think you will enjoy and relate to.

    From page 121-122, just after she finally gets a boat to row and starts off (near impossible undertaking in Egypt by a foreign, non-Muslim woman):

    "Down the middle of the river I rowed, feeling that I was not floating, but flying. No one shouted at me because there was no one to see me. The river was delightfully empty. This was not like any other body of water I had rowed on. I knew how far this water had traveled through time and space, and what in the world it had inspired. Because the Nile idly, mindlessly slid down the incline of the African continent, human beings had been able to develop civilization; sitting on top of this water was like being reunited with my origins. Finally alone on the river, I felt I had come face to face with a famous ghost. I half expected the water to speak of a naked arm to reach p out of the water to grab my oar. I was so nervous that first morning of rowing that I noticed very little of what was around me. Every few minutes I looked over my shoulder to see what I was approaching downriver. Occasionally a small island of phragmites grass appeared, a slight bend in the river, the minaret of a mosque.”

    Page 130:
    “In all my time in Egypt, I had only once seen a woman swimming in the river. And never had I see a woman operating a boat, large or small. But that was nothing so new, for it’s generally true that just about anywhere in the world watercraft are operated chiefly by men. On an average Saturday in any average New England harbor, it’s just as rare to see a woman proceeding alone in a boat. Why that is, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because women don’t know that it’s fun. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know they can.” (can in italics)

    I think you and Rosemary would make fast friends. And keep writing Roz, one doesn’t have to be a poet to get what your journey is all about and your passion for it.

    Safe journeys,

  • Thank you! I wanted to make you laugh! If I were on a rough ocean right now…not that I would, but if…then I would want to laugh.

  • MJ was a genius in his earlier years, i try to block out the "wacko jacko" stage in his life. its the parts that he changed the music industry many of todays current pop artists wouldnt exist without jackson, its important to remember that part and forget the freaky parts

  • I just wanted to make a comment (very late, and probably no one will read it!) about the “pursuit of happiness.” Because I think that they are among the most brilliant words ever written, and I hope that after you have reflected about them a little bit, you will agree.

    What Thomas Jefferson realized was that we do not have a right to happiness. Mother nature is stronger than all of us. To take an example from your recent experience, you do not have a right to row to Tuvalu. But you have a right to try. However, you have to recognize that mother nature will decide whether you succeed or not. We do not have a right to succeed in any of our enterprises, but we have a right to try (and we ARE right to try).

    Too many Americans think they have a right to happiness. They whine and complain if gas prices are a little higher than they should be, or their food doesn’t taste right, or whatever. I think that this sense of entitlement is one of the problems that you have been trying to address. We aren’t entitled to “stuff.” We are only entitled to do the best we can to make our lives worthwhile and meaningful and to try to bring joy to ourselves and others. Isn’t that exactly what you are trying to do?

    One of your fellow countrymen, Mick Jagger, got it. He said, “You can’t always get what you want — but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” Your pursuit of happiness may not take you where you want. It might take you to Tarawa instead of Tuvalu. You might not even get to Happiness at all; you might end up instead at Disappointment, Frustration, Starting Over. But you have the right to take the journey, wherever it may lead.

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