Dictated by Roz at 20.42 and transcribed by her mother Rita Savage.

Position:  -08.44295S, 153.37978E

I seem to have chosen a lot of audio books about apocalypse and its aftermath. I don’t think that this was a conscious decision. Maybe it just means that there are a lot of post-apocalyptic books around at the moment.  Or maybe my subconscious was playing tricks. Either way, it has resulted in some very interesting listening.

What were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Was it war, famine, plague and something else – things have been pretty much covered in my listening programme anyway.

Plague was covered in Pat Murphy’s “The City, Not Long After.” Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Mars Trilogy” touched on over-population and flood which naturally led to war and famine. And today I started listening to “Dies the Fire” by S M Stirling in which everything electrical or mechanised suddenly stops working worldwide at a single moment in time which is very bad news for the people who happen to be in aeroplanes. Add in Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road” this rapidly leads to food shortages, anarchy and violence. But “Dies the Fire” is, so far at least, less bleak than “The Road”,  given that “The Road” is out there at the far edges of utter bleakness and despondency, this almost goes without saying.

There are many cultures that predict that some dramatic changes will occur in 2012 – some of them good, most of them bad. I don’t really want to comment on those one way or the other, many previous rumours about the end of the world having been greatly exaggerated.  But it is interesting that so many different schools of thought have homed in on that particular year. Why this preoccupation with the end of the world as we know it? Is there a general sense that something has got to give, that we can’t sustain so many exponential curves all at once: population, consumption, financial growth, CO2 levels and so on. That we are going up and up and up the wave, and unless it flattens out soon we are going to topple off it?

I don’t know any more than you do about what is going to happen. But I do know that no matter what happens to the world at large, one day (hopefully distant if I don’t go swimming again) my personal world is going to come to an end. It was partly this realisation that got me out of the office and onto the ocean – the knowledge that I did not have an infinite supply of tomorrows, and if I was going to do something worthwhile with my life, I had to get on with it.  I suppose that if the whole world does go to pieces a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean is probably one of the safest places to be; although it would be a bit miserable to come back to dry land and find that everybody was dead and the bar was shut.

Other Stuff: Today was hot and calm until a downpour just before sunset.  So I wriggled my hot, weary way west as much as I could.  I have been trying to make a bit of north as well to get away from Woodlark Island. Pretty name, but I am not keen to go there in a rowboat. Every time I stop rowing the current pushes me south again.  I don’t really want to go head to head with the current. In my experience current usually beats rower. So I am hoping that as I head west, the current will swing around in my favour, as predicted.

I was taking a short break between rowing shifts today when something large head-butted the bottom of my boat. I looked over the side and thought I caught a glimpse of a large grey shape in the water. A shark? I don’t know. Any suggestions about what kind of creature might behave this way.

The battery life of my GPS (Garmin 276 T) seems to be in a terminal decline. On a day like today as I inch my way across the ocean, I like to take the GPS out into the cockpit and watch the numbers clicking down. It is very motivating, but the battery which used to last for up to six hours now hits its limit at about two and a half, even if I turn the brightness down.  I’ll need to get a new one for the Indian Ocean anyway as they no longer sell the charts that are compatible with this one.  Any recommendations for a marine GPS? I like the Garmin for its size and low power consumption, so something similar would be good.

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22 Comments

  • As we are on the topic of apocalypse and personal mortality, I thought I would share with everyone this wonderful passage from James Lovelock’s book ‘Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth’:

    “The Second Law [of Thermodynamics] states unequivocally that the entropy of an open system must increase. Since we are all open systems, this means that all of us are doomed to die. Yet it is often ignored or deliberately forgotten that the unending death-roll of all creatures, including ourselves, is the essential complement to the unceasing renewal of life. The death sentence of the Second Law applies only to identities and could be rephrased: ‘Mortality is the price of identity'”.

    Wonderful!

  • Hmmm…apocalyptic you say, here, now? …yes, maybe…being “out there” as you are…leading you to choose the books you “read”…you are out on the edge from most of us…a unique and, sometimes perilous position, but one you have proven you can not only survive but thrive in…

    Roz, you give us all perspective, and something to lead us to self-reflection…dare I say apocalyptic? Interesting now coming to a reflection on your choices of books…yes we are in a major time of transition…and with those like yourself–out on the edge–prophetic in many ways…at least a new voice calling out, your reflections are directional for us all and a reason for us to pause…an apt description of the prophets of old…and today’s prophets revisiting the challenges we face in our time…

    To step back and reflect on your thoughts today, a snapshot of the edge we find ourselves facing environmentally, communally, and personally…a pause for us all to chose a new direction(s)…seemingly bleak, but the pain of new birth…while your voice cries out in a seeming wilderness of today’s murky and polluted waters, cleansing is beginning in the minds of hearts of many…so with the unknown of today, we dive in and grab some little piece of tomorrow and begin solving and renewing some the destruction we have created…

    Some thoughts on your thoughts…thank you for getting reflective as you maintain your daily chores of pushing against your current current…hopefully, you will find the current that will take you to your destination maybe today or for sure in the near tomorrows…

    Your actions speak for and to us all…thank you…

  • Hmmm…apocalyptic you say, here, now? …yes, maybe…being “out there” as you are…leading you to choose the books you “read”…you are out on the edge from most of us…a unique and, sometimes perilous position, but one you have proven you can not only survive but thrive in…

    Roz, you give us all perspective, and something to lead us to self-reflection…dare I say apocalyptic? Interesting now coming to a reflection on your choices of books…yes we are in a major time of transition…and with those like yourself–out on the edge–prophetic in many ways…at least a new voice calling out, your reflections are directional for us all and a reason for us to pause…an apt description of the prophets of old…and today’s prophets revisiting the challenges we face in our time…

    To step back and reflect on your thoughts today, a snapshot of the edge we find ourselves facing environmentally, communally, and personally…a pause for us all to chose a new direction(s)…seemingly bleak, but the pain of new birth…while your voice cries out in an obvious wilderness of today’s murky and polluted waters, cleansing is beginning in the minds of hearts of many…so with the unknown of today, we dive in and grab some little piece of tomorrow and begin solving and renewing some the destruction we have created…

    Some thoughts on your thoughts…thank you for getting reflective as you maintain your daily chores of pushing against your current current…hopefully, you will find the current that will take you to your destination maybe today or for sure in the near tomorrows…

    Your actions speak for and to us all…thank you…

  • Roz, Will, Brad and others who will follow, these are wonderful, provocative thoughts.

    We are all growing in all definitions and usage of the word.
    Thanks to Roz and everybody who expands on the seed that she plants.
    To me, there are a few different ways to interpret the 2012 milestone:

    End of the world?
    New age of Aquarius?
    Sharks lurk in the deep!

    Roz, please be careful and keep a look out for the edge … steer clear as you peer over …

    Happy growing, Roz

  • Yet another reminder about not buying kit with built in batteries or requiring ongoing proprietary software support (e.g., charts in non-open formats). Technology like GPS is wonderful but there’s a significant cost to its manufacture and we really need to stop throwing stuff like that away too often.

    Exchanging batteries in salt-water proof boxes is a challenge but one worth taking on I think. There are IP rated versions of the 8P8C connectors (often called RJ-45) typically used for wired LANs. Maybe an immersion-proof USB connector is possible and would help.

  • So Roz, what will you do if you arrive to find the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand? 😉

    If your Garmin is a 276 “C”, you can still get replacement batteries from Amazon and other retailers. According to the Garmin site, Bluechart G2 maps on Garmin data cards are also available.

    If you’re going to replace it, it would be worth stepping up to something that takes SD cards, like the GPSMAP 78 or 78s. They are rubberized, they float, have buttons instead of a touchscreen and a claimed 20 hours of battery life on 2 AAs (you could use rechargeables). If you’d rather have a lithium-ion battery that could charge in the unit, you might have to go with a touchscreen model like the GPSMAP 620/640 or Nuvi 500/550. I have no idea how well a touchscreen would hold up on an ocean crossing.

    Row on!
    Andy

  • Things that go bump in the night ….

    “Saltwater crocodiles are distributed over a wide area. They can be found on the coasts of northern Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. Because they are strong swimmers, saltwater crocodiles have been found as far as 1,000 km out at sea.”

    http://creationwiki.org/Saltwater_crocodile

  • Roz and Rita,
    I was happy to read your balanced thoughts on plastics. I parallel your feelings toward the use of plastics and the human habit factor. Something for folks to ponder. The items in our lives that are the most troublesome to naturally break down and revert back to usable elements. Are the very ones that use the most energy to manufacture in the first place. A great read for gaining understanding how nature produces some of its amazing creations. Any book on biomimicry. Thought for the moment! What if every new product that is be patiened. As part of the process, where required to define, in detail how the “new whatever”, is be recycled. Yep- figure it out in advance! Is this positive or negative? http://en.wikipediadotorg/wiki/Biomimicry
    Your GPS model. I could not find any info on the Garmin 276T model. Plenty of info on the 276C model. Roz did not mention if her batteries where, one use, after market rechargeable or the original internal rechargeable batteries. Sadly they sound like the original internal type. Since the 276C model is from 2004 era. Garmin did / does offer firmware / software upgrades that improved original software bugs. The other challenge is the signal strength. The weaker the signal the faster the batteries get drained. Very similar to a cell phones signal challenge. Has anyone on your team ever mentioned- GSD 20 or GSD 21 Sounder Module? The short version- it turns your gps into a live sonar feed. You get to see everything below your boat. If you have not experienced it- you should. Page 90 from the manual gives a quick and dirty word demo. http://www8.garmindotcom/manuals/2905_OwnersManual.pdf Fish, depths , etc..

  • Hi Roz,
    Really sincerely hate to sound morbid here tonight,(as usually I prefer to look at the glass half full and not half empty) but the apocolypse of this planet may have already begun.
    The “Gulf of Mexico” oil spill is fast becoming the most severe and deadliest ecological disaster of the century.(Anyone who has tried to start and maintain a salt water aquarium can tell you how extremely fragile living coral and marine organisms are in even such a micro-environment as an aquarium)(Just not washing the minutist amounts of oil and contamination off of your hands before placing your hands in to arrange things like living coral or formations can kill your tank and everything in it)…
    If we all are going to survive on this big blue marble many more decades,we people(meaning every man,woman,child,young-adult, richman,poorman,celebrity,politician,world leader,large corporation,etc.) of this earth had better come up with a unified/workable plan of attack to preventing further contamination of all forms of/to this planets oceans,air and land or none of us will have to be concerned about it in many more years to come at the rate it’s being polluted and contaminated right now.
    Mother Nature has the abilities to clean,correct and stabilize naturally, given the chance to do so,but very soon it may reach a pollution critical saturation point that even Mother Nature will not be able to turn things around.
    And for sure not if humankind of all status does not accept the responsibilities for these and each of our own pollution disasters,Big or Small…
    I also believe there is time yet if the corrections will begin soon and very soon!!!
    All of us must take responsibility and get the word out and across to everyone we meet and make contact with, or soon “we all” may just not have to be concerned about it at all anymore, because we and most every living thing on earth will all just cease to exist……….
    Row On and Be Safe Roz,

    Dana

  • Hey Roz, if you haven’t already listened to it, “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart is a wonderful post-apocalyptic audiobook. Very wonderfully done and not as bleak as “The Road.”

  • I’m glad to see Roz putting more logic into her thoughts on ocean plastic.

    IMO those who wish to wage a war on plastic in general aren’t making effective use of their time and limited influence.

    Respecting the 80/20 principle, we should focus on the particular plastics that are most noxious.

    From reading a few articles, and watching a few videos, it seems that “nurdles” (plastic in a pelletized form shipped to plastic-using manufacturers), plastic bottle caps, fishing nets, 6-pack rings, plastic bags, and cigarette butts dominate the garbage whose density makes it so problematic. (Roz added yogurts pots to the list and, based on our beaches in northern California, I’d add douches.) I know I’ve seen a few studies that tried systematically to break the problem down to specific plastics and sources, but I couldn’t find them tonight. Perhaps someone else can point us to them?

    As a libertarian, I prefer bottom-up solutions, but I think this is one of those areas where only top-down law can make a significant difference. So long as bad products remain legal, bottom-up efforts will only shift the bad products to the worst actors. As much as I laud the readers of this list who gave up bottled water, I doubt that any of them were people who threw their empties into the creek to begin with. A workable solution must keep problematic products out of the hands of people who don’t manage their waste responsibly.

  • I agree with Christopher, (although not a Libertarian),the solution lies in keeping the products out of the hands of irresponsible people. To be fair, many just seem uninformed or confused. Perhaps with a stronger push towards educating and disseminating info those numbers would drop.

    But, as long as the products are being manufactured the dilemma will continue.It requires a change at the root of the problem, those who thrive on delivering the product to consumers.

    Of course, resistance to acquiring or purchasing the products is a solution, but without alternative convenient choices the majority of people will continue to use them.

    As mentioned earlier, those who are trying to make a difference with their responsible habits are lauded. But, as a group it is bit like spitting on a fire trying to put it out.
    As long the glut of toxic products continue to proliferate, the fire remains fueled.

  • Hi Roz! I haven’t touched base in awhile and you seem pretty damn close to Cairns. My projects at work are really encroaching into all aspects of my life. Also, I’m finding it difficult to stay away from plastic as it’s used in every form of packaging! I try and reduce the amount of plastic I use by buying bulk products and reusing bottles. However, the bulk products (like shampoo) still come in plastic!! One thing though, is how can I trust the recycling place I take my plastics don’t just take it to a landfill? And what are they supposed to do with the plastic?

    Reisenthal make a great shopping basket and Acme make great shopping bags. And yes, I’ve stopped drinking water out of plastic bottles ages ago. I utilize the RO units at work with glasses or mugs. For my project teams I provide paper cups to drink from. It makes me upset to see people just go for the plastic bottles without a thought of waste ramifications.

    I’m rambling now. Not keen on apocalyptic books or films. I’m not sure those books don’t have impact on your psyche, Roz. Especially when you don’t have too many other distractions to dilute those words. Maybe your blue, solitary reality on the ocean distances you from the books? I just finished the Stieg Larsson audiobooks (Girl w/Dragon Tattoo). They were fantastic. The best narrator, Saul R., does the books from the UK. So I downloaded them from audible.uk.co. Not easy to do, and the US hasn’t released the 3rd book yet.

    Row On Roz! -Sindy

  • I googled “sharks bumping row boat” and it seems that ocean rowers do get bumped around by sharks in the atlantic and pacific. No one’s died though, so that’s good, but it can drive the rowers crazy, ie: Ralph Tuijn’s row across the pacific apparently caused him to lose sleep for 5 nights. He landed in PNG and not Brisbane as he had hoped. Sharks are amazing, they seem to know that it’s a boat and they will bump it one side then the other trying to tip it, I would have thought they would think the vessel is an animal.

  • Keep up the good work Roz! You continue to inspire us to look for new ways to reduce our plastic consumption.

  • Hi Roz,

    2012. An interesting year. If only for the fact that it seems to be the last “Last” year. As a child of the ’60s I’ve been tracking the Apocalypse dates my whole life. The first was when Uri Gellar predicted mass UFO landings in 1975. Even as a school kid I was kind of dubious. Since then there’ve been numerous planetary alignments and weird stuff. But once this is done, we’ll be free and clear. Of warnings at least.

    As a teen I was fairly convinced WWIII would start in the eighties and joined the service. I figured since I couldn’t afford a bunker in Idaho, I’d at least have a front row seat. I was absolutely flabbergasted when the Wall fell. So was everyone else. Military Intelligence forever contaminated any respect I had for them by predicting it was a commie ploy even it was blatantly real. In my 20’s I briefly got into drawing with colored inks. In about ~95 I started to draw pics of the World Trade Center, two dark huge monolithic skyscrapers, juxtiposed with a vivid multi color sunset. I had no idea what these drawings meant and still don’t exactly. But I know that 9/11 and its consequences felt spiritually apocalyptic. I feel like I’m part of a timeline that went completely wrong and that someday someone like Captain Kirk and Co. will fix it. Or not. Or perhaps we must do it ourselves (where DID I put that damn sonic screwdriver?).

    I’ve no clue. I visited Honduras a few months ago and toured Mayan ruins (very cool). The tour guide, a Mayan decendent, went into his spiel on 2012, with a question to us about it. But it was more than just a spiel to him. When I answered 2012 was “a great time to make high interest, short duration loans”, that went over like a lead balloon. They take 2012 VERY seriously in Honduras and southern Mexico. But the guide admitted that he didn’t have any better idea of what it entails except all the recent events may be lead ups. In some New Age circles some believe it may be some spiritual awakening. Oddly, I’m still in the Army (don’t retire until after 2012), and my preparation isn’t really different than it was in the eighties. Except I hope that I’m in a position to help, rather than just watch.

    Anyhoo, I’m seriously guilty of keyboard babbling and would completely understand if I get edited. But I hope the Garmin holds up and the currents carry you straight. And if it wasn’t a Kraken or Cthululu that bumped the Brocade, I’d guess it was a Nurse Shark. They’re big, dumb, and slow moving. They’re also totally harmless (according to Jacque Clousteau).

    Cheers,
    Eric

  • Pretty very good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have very enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing for the feed and I hope you write-up once more soon.

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