I’d been looking forward to doing some science, in my very amateurish way, while at sea. I’d asked around to find out what I could usefully do, constrained as I am by time, space, and ignorance, and was assigned three missions. Alas, I have to confess, I have utterly failed so far in two of them.

One, at least, I knew I could do. Following on from last year, I have been making cloud observations for NASA, as part of the NASA S’COOL project. As their two satellites, Aqua and Terra, circle the Earth, taking photos of clouds from above, at approximately the time that they cross my position I take photographs of the clouds from underneath, and note the temperature, barometric pressure, my latitude and longitude, and descriptions of the clouds.

I quite enjoy noting down these details in my little yellow notebook. As well as giving me an excuse to stop rowing a couple of times a day, it makes me feel a bit like Charles Darwin or one of the other great voyager-scientists in my own humble way.

However, my other attempts at science have been less successful.

Daniel Pauly, esteemed marine scientist and good guy, asked me to take pictures of birds. This I have dismally failed to do, even though I see those pretty white-bellied birds every day. My reactions are slow, and the reactions of my digital camera even slower, so I end up with pictures of nothing but sea and sky. Like I didn’t have enough of those already.


But probably my most embarrassing failure so far is the sampling of ocean plastics. Dr Marcus Eriksen of 5Gyres made two very handsome trawls, a main and a spare, and shipped them to Australia along with a full complement of envelopes for the resulting samples.

I had my first doubts when I opened the box in Perth. The trawls, although beautifully made, seemed huge in relation to the size of my boat. June’s pertinent comment when she saw them was “let no good deed go unpunished”. I had to agree.

With some difficulty, I found space to store the trawls in the storage cabin, and there they stayed until a few days ago. I felt very guilty about not having tried them out yet, but was using my lack of forward progress as an excuse. Eventually, after they started intruding on my dreams, such was my guilt, I decided I really did need to at least try to make good use of them.

I deployed one of the trawls from the side of my boat as instructed, and went back to the oars. Oh man. Every stroke was like weightlifting, and the already slow progress of my boat all but ground to a halt. This was just not going to work for me. I persevered for about half an hour and then gave up, my only catch being a few dozen fish eggs.

I have now confessed all to Marcus, and he has been most gracious about my dismal failure. I believe the trawls would work very well off a sailboat, but not so well off a human-powered boat. If I spend time on the sea anchor in the future I will most definitely try the trawl again – in fact, it would work pretty well as a sea anchor in itself.

Meanwhile, I’d best just stick to my photos of cirrocumulus and altostratus. And bits of sea and sky where a bird just was.

Other Stuff:

Today started grey and I thought it was here to stay. But then it cleared and there was a lovely display of fluffy altocumulus this afternoon. Then the clouds with legs reappeared, and by sunset were marching all around the horizon in a squally mass. Progress continued slow and steady.

I’m really enjoying my Richard Russo book, Bridge of Sighs“. Like many of his books, it touches on topics dear to my heart. Are humans products of nature, nurture, or free will? How much are we in control of our destiny? Is it better to challenge everything, or to accept it? I am already sad that sometime soon the book will have to come to an end.

A very special hello today to Max Gotts, 9-year-old son of my old Oxford crewmate Natalie, recently relocated to Mill Valley, CA. Natalie tells the full story in her blog, but in case you’re reading this offline, here is the crux of it: for World Oceans Day, Max (aka Superhero Ocean Warrior and Turtle Rescuer) organized fifty-two 2nd and 3rd Grade children and teachers in a competition to collect as much rubbish from school property as possible. He’d explained to them the importance of looking after the oceans and the significance of the ocean’s health on other animals’ and humans’ health. Good for you, Max, and keep up the great work. Turtles are my favourites too!

Hello also to the Einreinhof family – Mark, Heather, Michael and Kaitlyn. Mark very kindly replaced the beloved G-Shock solar watch that I lost overboard on the Pacific. Mark, I use my watch to set alarms for the times each day that the NASA satellites are going overhead, and think of you with thanks every time I do so!

Thanks to Claire in LA for the beautiful Oceans Day visualization, and also to Tim Ray’s family for letting me know that his ashes have been scattered at sea, where he is now exploring all its wonders. Both are wonderful ways to picture the oceans, the lifeblood of our planet, and to feel connected to them. Thank you.

Thanks, Pippa, for the news on Keith Whelan. Glad to hear that he is okay, and that they picked up the boat as well, albeit slightly damaged. If he needs a good fibreglass guy in Geraldton, I can highly recommend Shane Donegan, who fixed Sedna after her damaging encounter with the crayfishing boat. He did a superb job.

Martha K – thank you for the laugh! I enjoyed hearing about Goldin’s hypothesis that: The “whoosh” sound of the ocean “brings up feelings of relaxation and tranquillity.” I can only conclude that she was talking about the sitting-on-a-beach kind of ocean whoosh, rather than the here-comes-a-capsize kind of a whoosh!! Still, if it increases people’s appreciation of the ocean, even if not relevant to my personal experiences, then it’s all good.

A quote to set you thinking today: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Sponsored Miles: Today’s thanks go to Kristian Ruggieri.

Latest Podcast now available: http://rozroams.squarespace.com/podcast/2011/6/9/episode-35-one-tiny-pin.html

17 Comments

  • “…Max (aka Superhero Ocean Warrior and Turtle Rescuer) organized fifty-two
    2nd and 3rd Grade children and teachers in a competition to collect as
    much rubbish from school property as possible. He’d explained to them
    the importance of looking after the oceans and the significance of the
    ocean’s health on other animals’ and humans’ health.” Three cheers for Max! Hope somehow he sees these Blogs from a few days ago when we were all discussing what we can DO to make things better – especially as a team/school/neighborhood/community when it comes to clean-ups of beaches, and river, bay and waterway shores and banks…

    • P.S. Stupid idea I guess for both Roz’ causes and for those working towards them like Max above… What about one of Roz’ graphic-artsy Rozlings creating a “Rozling Of The Month” Award Certificate… Maybe we could each vote for people here on it? I vote “Max” gets the first one!!!

      • Moving On – good idea.  Perhaps http://ecoheroes.me/ does the trick. Click the link or click the EcoHero icon at the top right of this page (see icon images attached below) … have patience as it takes several seconds for the page to appear.

  • ” If I spend time on the sea anchor in the future I will most definitely
    try the trawl again – in fact, it would work pretty well as a sea anchor
    in itself.” That’s a good idea… You will collect samples that are floating by “Naturally” in the currents that way, rather than rowing through them – which would skew results of this science! Such a brilliant woman Roz is!

  • @UncaDoug:disqus I like it… I guess I just wondered if it could be something a bit more personal – while still being easily produced monthly. A Personal Thank-You from Roz for the great work that her Rozling has done, printed on nice paper, “Suitable for framing” or inclusion is a resume or the like, signed by (scanned) signatures of Roz and Her Support Staff – including their Titles if any “Founder” – maybe with Roz’ picture top-center, “Logistics”, “Meteorologist”, and the like… Never mind, Now that I think of it, even with Computer Graphic Design Programs, This is probably more work than I think it would be – not being a “graphic-artsy Rozling.”

    • Moving On, I think you are on to something that could take off. It just needs a central location (and somebody other than her http://bit.ly/poor-long-suffering mother) to process the applications, print the award certificates, packaging and mailing (Roz is never quite stationary enough to be considered in a “central” location). 

      Your idea could become a reality if her Ripple Effect Foundation were to materialize as she envisions. 

      Check out her introduction of the Ripple Effect on May 5, 2010 … http://bit.ly/RozPac3-Day17 … I think sponsoring miles during this Indian Ocean row would go a long way toward making Ripple Effect a reality. http://bit.ly/Sponsor_A_Mile

      • @UncaDoug:disqus MAYBE it could GROW INTO the Roz Savage/Sedna Scholarship Trust… $500 Going into the Trust for each Rozling Monthly Winner – when they win, Paid directly to the college/university of their choice, as a scholarship, when the Rozling Winner enters college to major in their choice of the various Environment Studies or Law Programs around the world… The Interest Earned by the Trust, until the Rozling enters college, would fund A LOT of Roz’ other goals in the meantime.

        • This ought to be interesting… Statistically, Some of Roz’ Rozlings HAVE to be attorneys – and this is “Addressed” to those Rozling Attorneys… IF Roz and her team like this GENERAL idea being discussed here, And IF they would like to set-up some sort of Trust like this, To Do Something Like This, To generate her “Ripple Effect” by rewarding Rozlings Of The Month, who work wonders for The Environment, with a small ($500) scholarship to go to the college/university of their choice to study some form of Environmental Studies or Environmental Law, Would you offer your Legal/Trust services, Pro Bono, to set this Trust up for her/them – to get this rolling? I think it is a fairly standard and easy Trust to set-up for an attorney with such experience. Let us know here if you would be willing to do this… It could help LOTS of people, The Environment and Our Planet overall

  • Hi Roz,

    If you really want to catch up with the science, try making a hypothesis for why something is the way it is. Then gather data to prove/disprove it. Even if it’s BS in the end you can at least say you narrowed the possibilities. Much as Edison found 10,000 ways not to invent the lightbulb.

    Cheers!
    Eric

  • Hi Roz, Greetings from Durham Regatta  where your fans, Bradford Grammar School 8 , won their race and are very happy ! Their science is all about fitness, like your’s … and how to drink  a sip of Champagne… 

  • I like that you are trying your hand at citizen science, Roz. You are like Darwin. You are a pioneer in an age that is in dire need of a shift in thinking.  A revolution in thought is coming. You are one of the first to walk away from old thinking and embrace new thinking. Have you read these three books: Ismael, The Story of B, and My Ishamel by Daniel  Quinn?  You would LOVE them.
    Peace, Love and Waves of Azure,
    Jess Reese

  • Amen, Jess!

    Roz, yesterday there were some poignant statements that made me take note:

    – We tend to dread change out of all proportion to the reality of it. “Oh no, we couldn’t possibly do without….”, when in fact we very possibly can. This is one of my arguments in favour of a simpler, less environmentally impactful life.

    – Wouldn’t it be good if we made those changes as a matter of choice, while we can still select what we keep and what we can do without, before those decisions are thrust upon us?

    – We might surprise ourselves what we can manage without, and how quickly we would adapt to our new “normal”.

    Well, I just read a piece by Thomas Friedman (NYTimes, June 7, http://nyti.ms/EarthIsFull) which validates you and ends with this, which I think you will be interested to read:

    As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.

    ”We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

    Sounds utopian? Gilding insists he is a realist.

    “We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”Row simply, Roz!

  • What a wonderful ideas written down de last 20 hours. It’s Whitsuntide and that reminds us, nearly 20 centuries ago the spirit unveiled itself among ordinary citizens and everyone spoke to each other in their own language, which was understood.

    Roz, you wrote “…dear to my heart. Are humans products of nature, nurture or free will?” Well, all of them, but the last is most important: By free will your deeds are creating the future, both for next generations on this earth as for your own path in the afterlife.

    We all ‘know’ that somewhere unconscious, because in the moment of our birth we are veiled with the ‘veil of Isis’ for not being hold back to explore why we are here. Know that the creatures around you like birds and whales know more about who you are.

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