My right buttock has had more adventures this trip than some people have
in a lifetime. Having been featured on this blog at the peak of the red
rash / baboon bottom crisis, it then went on to fall victim to my one
(literal) slip-up of the trip, when I lost my footing and sat down too
suddenly on the round-topped pin of a seat runner, puncturing the skin.
Then, today, in its worst indignity yet, my derriere was attacked by a
mystery creature from the deep. Let me tell you my sorry tale (tail).
This morning brought a complete change in the weather conditions. After
the incessant 20 knot winds of the last 12 days, today has been dead
calm, the ocean eerily silent, the red ensign hanging limp. I decided to
make the most of the quiet conditions by catching up on some
housekeeping. Boatkeeping. Whatever.
First I cleaned out the galley locker. Its lid isn’t 100% watertight,
and after the regular deck-lashing waves of the last couple of weeks it
was getting a bit swampy in there. So I took everything out, mopped and
dried, and put everything back in.
Then it was time to go overboard and scrub barnacles. I hopped in – a
welcome relief from the sweaty heat. As I was working my way around the
boat with the plastic scraper, I became aware of a few tickling
sensations. I assumed it was the pilot fish that usually hang out in the
shade underneath my boat. I didn’t really like being tickled. Even
though the water was relatively calm, it wasn’t calm enough for me to
see clearly what it was that was doing the tickling, so it was rather
disconcerting and not very pleasant.
Suddenly I got the distinct feeling that something had gone beyond
tickling. It had attached itself to me. To my right buttock, to be
precise. Not good. OK, I admit it. I freaked out. Whatever it was, it
wasn’t welcome. I wanted to get out of the water, and I wanted to get
With undignified haste, I put my foot in the grabline and hoisted myself
up. I looked over my right shoulder to see what was going on. Yup, there
was definitely something glomming on to my bottom. This was even worse
than last weekend’s aerial squid bombardment. Eeeuuwww.
I can’t tell you what the something was, because I let out a very girly
shriek and swept it off with the flat of my hand as fast as I could. My
impression was that it looked squid-like, but I only got the briefest of
glances, and maybe I’ve just got squid on the brain. But right then,
zoological classification was not uppermost in my mind. Getting rid of
the grotesque glomming critter was.
Are squid known to do such things? Or could it have been a jellyfish?
Whatever it was, I’m not wild about the idea of getting back in the
water any time soon. I realize we’re not exactly talking Jaws here, but
this really is taking “getting close to nature” a bit far.
[photo: it was so hot today with no cooling breeze, so I rigged up this
sunshade using a sarong and a couple of rhino clips. It helped.]
With the lighter winds today, I’ve been able to make some good progress
south – more SSW than WSW. Good news for chances of making landfall,
depending on how long these conditions last.
Thank you so much for all the comments, posted on the blog, Facebook and
Twitter. Lovely to know that although physically I am very far away,
there are so many people who are following along and wishing me well.
Thanks too for the great information about hotels, bars, and boat
storage in Funafuti and Tarawa. After however long at Hotel Brocade
(Brocade is my rowboat) I’m sure I won’t be too fussy about presidential
suites or hot running water. But good to know they have beer. Imagine
“Ice Cold In Alex” times ten!
Bikini Atoll – would prefer to skip that one. I think it’s still
radioactive after the nuclear tests there. I just want a cold beer, not
one that glows in the dark…
American Samoa – about a 1% chance I could make it there. The winds are
blowing E to W, and American Samoa is almost due south of me. You’re
right, it would be easy to fly to. But not to row to!
Joan in Atlanta – thanks for the appreciation. It’s true, there are many
nights when writing a blog is not top of the list of Things I Want To Do
Right Now – hitting my bunk usually being significantly higher. So it’s
very nice to be appreciated!
Tiny Little – you’re a legend. Lovely to hear from you. Looking forward
to joining you for a pint at the Alex as soon as humanly possible!
Lovely to hear from Hermione too.
Once in a Blue Moon – thanks for the lovely message. Amongst your
armchair adventures you mentioned swimming to Antarctica – presumably in
reference to Lynne Cox. I’ve met her, and she’s a fantastic woman.
Hoping she’ll write a blurb for my book.
On the subject of my book, Rowing The Atlantic, it’s available for
pre-order on Amazon. As of now. Just so you know! We’re also planning a
book tour. Details still to be confirmed, but hopefully taking in New
York, Seattle, Portland OR, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston,
between Oct 6-20.
Quick answers to quick questions:
Q: Are you going to row around the Cape Horn?
A: No. I’m adventurous. Not suicidal.
Q: Do I anchor at night?
A: No. To anchor to the bottom I’d need an anchor chain over 2 miles
long. I drift. Old Man’s response was absolutely spot on.
Q: What kind of beer would I like to be my first drink?
A: Actually, despite going on about it a bit recently, I don’t often
drink beer. But in these hot climes it seems much more appealing than
wine. I’d make a point of drinking local if possible. English beers
taste great in England – probably not so good in the South Pacific. Not
sure what they’d serve in Tuvalu/Gilbert Islands/wherever. So long as
it’s really, really good and icy ice cold, I’m not too fussy!
Position at 2200 HST: 10 27.594N, 170 51.116W
Wind: 5 knots E
Seas: 4-6 ft E
Weather: mostly sunny, some cloud
Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com
As of Monday, 29 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds 20+kts hanging on
a little longer. Expect a brief period of lower winds then back to
20+kts. Seas abate to 8-9ft.
Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with multilayered clouds of low
to mid level. Very isolated rainshowers.
ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
has drifted westward to 175W between 2N and 8N. There are widespread
areas of wind 30-40kts in heavy rainshowers have been measured. These
systems are often times accompamied by thunder and lightning. You may
observe these conditions. There are some holes in this activity of
Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
29/1800-30/0600 ENE-E 17-22 8-9
30/0600-30/2100 ENE-E 12-17 6 -7
30/2100-04/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-9
Next Update: Thursday, 02July
I am glad your boat is now "ship shape" with the cleaning of the galley locker. I never thought the bum would be talked about so much on this journey through the pacific. How is the shoulder? Will you cross the Indian Ocean in the future?
"Real athletes row. Everyone else just plays games."
Sounds like a wetsuit would come in handy for those barnacle-cleaning expeditions! You were right to be freaked out. And if was a jelly fish, you could have had some serious problems sitting after being stung! Glad you got it off!
That might have been the mysterious and ephemeral bootie-fish, an endangered species whose population has dropped precipitously with the passing of James Brown. Do all things to a beat, and on the One.
Also, Bikini is apparently not as radioactive anymore as we might all think nuclear war might have made. A Science Channel documentary did a remarkable documentary on even how the warships blown up there had been reclaimed by our Mother Nature and there was very little trace radiation.
The IAEA's Bikini Advisory Group preliminary findings issued in 1996 contain the following statements with regard to background radiation on Bikini:
"It is safe to walk on all of the islands…The Advisory Group reaffirmed: although the residual radioactivity on islands in Bikini Atoll is still higher than on other atolls in the Marshall islands, it is not hazardous to health at the levels measured. Indeed, there are many places in the world where people have been living for generations with higher levels of radioactivity from natural sources – such as the geological surroundings and the sun – than there is now on Bikini Atoll…By all internationally agreed scientific and medical criteria…the air, the land surface, the lagoon water and the drinking water are all safe. There is no radiological risk in visiting the lagoon or the islands. The nuclear weapon tests have left practically no cesium in marine life. The cesium deposited in the lagoon was dispersed in the ocean long ago.
"The main radiation risk would be from the food: eating locally grown produce, such as fruit, could add significant radioactivity to the body…Eating coconuts or breadfruit from Bikini Island occasionally would be no cause for concern. But eating many over a long period of time without having taken remedial measures might result in radiation doses higher than internationally agreed safety levels."
So, I'm sure a brew and a breadfruit, should you stop there, wouldn't hurt a bit. Now that bootie fish..
Roz, since you probably don't get many "human interst" stories in your daily download, other than Roz readers raves, reprimands and replies to those of your own making … hoping this entertains you:
NPR (June 30) http://is.gd/1jG0n – Yesterday the winner of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest ("where www means 'wretched writers welcome' ") was announced. It's David McKenzie of Federal Way, Wash., who came up with this:
"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the Ellie May, a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."
Actually, I think your 'bottom' blurb may 'top' that ;-D
Personas como tú nos ayudan a seguir creyendo en nuestro sueño. Desde Galicia (Norwest Spain) gracias y saludos Roz.
Let's give 'er a whirl … a hypothetical opening sentence to "Brocade Bombardments, Barnacles and Bottoms":
"Suddenly I got the distinct feeling that something had gone beyond tickling, had attached itself to me, to my right buttock, to be precise; yup, there was definitely something glomming on to my bottom, worse than last weekend's aerial squid bombardment and I could not suppress a very girly shriek as I swept it off with the flat of my hand as fast as I could because my impression was that it looked squid-like, but I only got the briefest of glances, and maybe I've just got squid on the brain — hence a zoological classification was not uppermost in my mind — but, later, brooding over a pint, I mused of Alex, 'What has become of dear Alex?'"
Roz: Spanish to English translation of Maismar Comment:
"People like you help us to continue believing in our dream. From Galicia (Spain Norwest) Thanks and greetings Roz."
I'm probably one of gazillions… I read everyday but don't often comment because I don't have anything as worthy to say. Just dropped in to encourage you and tell you how much I enjoy your daily updates. I would probably have nightmares about the butt thing! You are a great inspiration to a lot of us that are taking on our own 'oceans'. Thanks.
You ever feel that the world (ocean) has it out for your behind? I am sorry to hear that you almost were eaten by a small ocean creature but I have to admit I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the next adventure your behind will go through. 😀
I'm with you, Roz. Remove beastie first, ask questions later! Thanks for the wonderful posts, and letting us all share in your adventures in a small way.
From Rita Savage looking on the internet for squid bites: 2002 Message: Can anyone tell me how severe a bite from the beak of a squid could be and also does the ink contain anything that is harmful, say if it got into an eye?
Dave. A bite from a squid can take a finger off in non time and the arrod squid is even more aggressive in their bites and will try to fold themselves backwards to take a bite at you. This isn’t the case with southern squid but nonetheless will give you a nasty bite.
I was watching the Jon Stewart Show, the other day, and he was making fun of the Northern Korea leader. Apparently he threatened to fire a missile at the US on July 4. I wonder if you'll be on its flight path (if the threat is true)? Keep an eye out for us!
I wonder what was on your bum? If it was a jelly fish, Portuguese Man O' War, you would definitely know it. So maybe a squid. A squid that wanted you for dinner this time around, with a squeeze of lemon! haha, joking.. Interesting what comes up on this part of the Pacific row. I'm looking forward to shark sightings (with you safely onboard of course).
I'm sorry to say Roz but I laughed so hard at your most recent Bum misadventure (capitalized B as you made it a character in it's own right :-).
Especially the part where you screamed in the middle of nowhere a 1000 miles from anyone ear. I can so see the scene: You, far from any civilized world, naked with a scrub in one hand, frown of discuss and anger nurtured by good British societal traditions –
How dare you invade my derriere!? – LoL
In fact that squid – for lack of better culprit (which I doubt it was nore Jelly Fish – It would have hurt more) – may be a benefit.
During WWII, Japanese prison camps were especially brutal. Wounded military prisoners had little if any medical care (If I recall my #s correctly, military prisoners had a death rate of 37% in Japanese hand vs 5% in german prisons)(not withstanding the horror both nations equally imposed on civilian population Worldwide.) One way these survivors treated their infected wounds was to linger (when time allowed) in nearby rivers to have fishes eat their damaged or dead flesh and putrified areas. Maybe that guy was "cleaning" off your dead skin?
Anyway good riddance.
You may not feel like it, cleaning the boat, drying the equipment, day dreaming of beer, but you're awesome and inpirational – daily drudgery – in the right context – still makes for great adventure.
I'll pre order the book and have my 13 year old son read it (after me) and we'll both wait with great anticipation for your lecture in San Francisco.
Best of row!
Sebastian from San Francisco
Squid and jellyfish and bottoms, oh my! Thanks for the giggles. If it's any consolation, I too would've screamed. And screamed. I don't know much about rowing, or the ocean, or ocean-dwelling creatures… but I do know that nobody wants a mysterious thing latched to their bottom in the middle of the ocean. Amen to that.
I've been reading your blog since Day 1, and it's really an inspiration – and a wonderful chance at escapism from my desk every day. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Butt barnacles – only you Roz, only you – LOL. Glad it didn't sting or bite you!
Hi Roz… Nicole and I are conspiring … hopefully I can send you a treat when she comes to meet you! Being the science nerd that I am, I am wondering what attached itself to your bumm? I was thinking remora, and hoping not a cookie cutter shark… they make holes.. I am sure you don't need one of those in anything much less your bottom! So… ALOHA for now… and we miss you!
just wanted say how in awe I am of your adventure. I read your blog each day on the bus to work, (much better than all the usual depressing news.)
Sometimes in the middle of the night I'll wake up and imagine you out there in the inky blackness bobbing on the water, snoozing in your bunk or perhaps doing a little night time rowing, and I'm stunned and grateful and amazed. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for the inspiration. Keep going!
Sounds like a title for the book on this leg of the Pacific row might be starting to take a line towards a title. 'The Bottom Adventures of the Brocade", "Rowing by the Seat of your Pants", "The Back end of the Pacific". Okay book titles are not my area of expertise. I know your bottom misadventures are no laughing matter, it hurts, but it adds a new angle to your blogs. I love it.
Actually Bikini atoll has been abandoned because of the contaminated food grown on the island and the fact that importing all their supplies would be too expensive. So don't swing in there for a beer. Nobody is home.
Its amazing what you are doing.
thanks for the info on your book, i hope it is a huge success and you make the talk show rounds to really spread the word. i trust you have it coming out on kindle too? there is a great bookstore for authors in marin, just outside of SF, called book passage bookstore, i hope you can do a signing there~
i laughed when you said you knew lynne cox, OF COURSE all adventure girls must know each other, you both are rather at the apex of your sport ;- ) !
do you travel with a snorkel mask to check out your molesters? still so hard for me grasp i am asking mundane questions to a stranger just rowing across the pacific… but it sure won't stop me! i am just overwhelmed at the thought of you out in all of that, alone… such an incredible journey, just a little to hard to fathom as i relax in the a/c after a tough day of errands and try to wrap my head around you rowing, rowing, rowing, while i dread even having to walk upstairs to go to bed! dare i say it … different strokes?!
wishing you safe travels daily~
Sitting here in our climate controlled home reading your blog, I can't help but be drawn back to sea. I've never rowed across any great expanse and there's little chance I ever will, but I gotta say you make me want to.
The human mind can't help but "compare" what's heard or read to known experiences. I have had many, many oceanic experiences, but there IS no comparison here.
When you spoke of a new topic, the mind went into comparison mode on autopilot. Your squid adventures, NO comparison.
Your flying fish experiences, Had them fly all over the boat, but they didn't bother the vessels power source (wind or engine depending) nor did the source of the vessels power so much as take notice.
Long story short, you not only provide inspiration on many, many levels and in even more ways, but you are providing a very unique point of view. It all makes those little dreams we all have hidden back in our subconscious seem not only more likely, but perhaps more important.
As read here, a grand number are inspired by your daily adventures and by your chronicling them for us all while still out there doing it all every minute of every day. I'd like to thank you for that, but I'd also like to thank you for inspiring so many young ones to see a better world than any television screen could show.
Fair winds and following seas Roz. Be well and be.
(conglomeration post by Frank, his Bride and Daughter)
After reading Freaky Frank's entry, it seems like a children's book of your adventures would be a great inspiration for the younger crowd. I see wonderful illustrations of flying fish and torpedo squids, not to mention the mystery creature that goosed you yesterday! You could wow them with all the crazy things you're seeing and doing while spreading your message on the environment.
Glad you're seeing many more creatures than on the last leg. Hope you're enjoying the company!
SC in Boston
Hey Roz, it was probably a bottom dweller 🙂
Holy Crap.. You must be on one long journey.. I suppose you have alot of thinking time. haha i think that would be an amazing experience!
Yes, a bottom dweller! Cheeky bastard nibbled your bum without so mutch as buying you a cold beer first.