Even in the Bible they only go off into the wilderness for forty days
and forty nights at a time. Yet here I am, in my watery wilderness,
forty days in and in all likelihood more than another forty to go.
Someone asked if time seems to pass more quickly when I am at sea – or
more slowly. It's hard to say. It's not so much a question of whether
the time is fast or slow. It's just different, very different.
Ashore, there is so much to do – a typical day in Hawaii before I left
would include maybe some email exchanges with my editor in New York,
planning for speaking engagements, a conference call with an
environmental organization, a media interview, some fundraising activity
for either the expedition or film project, a meeting with a local
technology company, as well as trying to keep my email inbox under
On the ocean, I row, eat, sleep, and blog. And not a great deal else.
It's a very different tempo, liberating in its simplicity. I can't
totally leave behind the cares of shore life – I'm still in daily
contact with Nicole, who is keeping everything ticking along in my
absence, and we discuss our plans for the rest of the year – but mostly
my world is sea, sky, and a little silver rowboat.
On the Atlantic, my first ocean row, I struggled to shift into this
different rhythm. I was desperately impatient to get to Antigua, and my
impatience nearly drove me crazy. My mind was racing ahead, yearning to
be back on dry land, while my boat crawled along at 2 knots.
To save my sanity, I had to learn to take it one day at a time. No point
thinking about all the miles ahead. I could only row one mile at a time,
and that was the next one. Just keep knocking off the miles, and
eventually I'd get there.
Now I often think back to that lesson when I feel daunted by the scale
of a task. I can only do the next step, then the next, then the next.
The biggest fundraising campaign starts with the first phone call.
Writing a book starts with the first page. And, of course, the longest
journey starts with the first step. Or oarstroke.
[photo: as a postscript to yesterday's blog – a photo of my onboard
vegetable patch, the beansprouter]
This morning I crossed into single digits – I am now less than 10
degrees north of the Equator. There has been quite a bit of weather
today – a couple of sharp rainstorms this morning – but I don't think
that these are symptoms of the ITCZ, as I still seem to be in the
consistent trade winds, blowing from the East, at 15-20 knots. So life
goes on. Winds blowing me west, I'm aiming south, and so we have a
strange kind of right-angled tug-of-war. A very interesting forecast
from weatherguy.com today – see the bottom of this blog.
Today's video (click on the latest YouTube icon on the RozTracker) is
about food. Following on from yesterday's blog, I show the contents of
the food lockers in my cabin. Enjoy!
Thanks for all the great comments. Mum is now home from hospital and
recovering well from her hip replacement and emails them through to me.
She has to send them before she goes to bed in England, which is a few
hours before I post my blog, so I might not get the later comments until
the next day. Just so you know! A few special mentions:
Frank, wife and daughter – thank you for your kind and eloquent message.
Re the children's book – I have a draft of one, but it's really not my
area of expertise. I've got a couple of options of proper children's
writers who might take on the project. To be pursued when I get back to
Christa – Things to make from Larabar wrappers – the idea would be to
auction off the item on eBay (as Karen Morss correctly guessed), so I
don't really mind what it is. Maybe a small purse? Or bracelet? Or
several bracelets even? I'll keep munching away and figure something out
when I get back to dry land.
UncaDoug – thanks for the entertainment and the New Moon update.
LeAnn – will be sure to take you up on the offer of dinner if/when I'm
in Houston. Thank you!
Lesley Ewing – great to hear from you. Thanks for the bake sale
fundraiser – and the donation. You're great!
Nancy – thanks for calling The Ellen Show on my behalf. Would be great
to put in an appearance!
Russell – haha!
Marcus and Anna – well done on finishing your epic JUNK bike ride! It
was great to be able to see you off from Vancouver. Wish I could have
been there to welcome you into Mexico. Hope you had a great time, and
I'm sure you had a huge impact in raising awareness of plastic pollution
in the oceans. See you again soon!
Quick answers to quick questions:
Q: Wondering what your sleeping arrangements are like? Is there a door
you can shut to keep out stray waves? But doesn't it get too hot? How
much headroom is there inside the compartment?
A: Enclosed cabin with waterproof hatch. Just about high enough to sit
up in. Yes, it gets darned hot during the day, which is why despite the
heat I still prefer to row in the day and sleep at night. Trying to
sleep in here during the day would be a very sweaty experience.
Q: When you arrive, what happens to your boat? is it flown back, or
perhaps put on a container ship and sent back to where you need it?
A: Where I need it is where I finish this stage of the row. In other
words, Stage 3 will start where Stage 2 ends. So the boat will stay
there. If I had unlimited budget I would ship the boat back to Hawaii or
over to Australia for refurbishment, but shipping is horrendously
expensive. In fact, I doubt it's even possible to send large cargo from
tiny sandspits in mid-Pacific…
Q: On the ocean, with a day of good visibility, how far away can you see
distant weather events, like storms? For instance, could you spot a
storm in the ITCZ when you're still a full degree of latitude away from
A: Interesting question, and maybe weatherguy.com can help. I can
certainly see big black clouds about 5 miles away, but am doubtful I'd
see them from a full degree (60 nautical miles) away. In fact, I often
look to the East to see what's heading my way – not that I can do much
Position at 2130 HST: 09 43.584N, 171 48.655W
Wind: 15-20kts E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: occasional outbursts of rain this morning, sunny and hot this
afternoon with occasional clouds
Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com
As of Thursday, 02 July 2009. The easterly trade winds have turned more
ENE still around the 20+kts. Expect brief periods of lower winds to
around 15-18kts, then abating to the 15kt range on July 6th. Seas abate
to 6-7ft. Winds south of the ITCZ are E to ESE 10-12kts or less.
Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with mostly low level clouds.
Isolated rainshowers. Convective clouds begin about 07 30N and that
means vertical development extending to 30-50,000ft. Increased chance of
rainshowers and thunderstorms.
ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
is now along 170W to 180W between 2N and 7 30N. There remain widespread
areas of wind 30-40kts in heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms. However,
last 24hrs, the ITCZ has become less active, but you will likely
experience squalls and thunderstorms.
Ocean Current: You are currently in a west setting current of about 0.2
to 0.3kts so that is not helping your southerly progress. The good news
is the current changes direction at about 06 00N to eastward flowing at
about 0.4 to 0.5kts; ie the North Equatorial Counter Current. That
should help in hindering your westward movement. The NEEC extends to
about 00 30S. In the lighter winds south of the ITCZ, it may be possible
to row/drift eastward. We don't quite yet know the full impact of the
current and the opposing wind on your boat, but hopefully it will
benefit your goal of getting south of the Equator before Tuvalu.
Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
02/1800-04/0900 ENE 17-22 7-9
04/0900-06/0000 ENE 15-20 6-8
06/0000-08/1800 ENE 12-17 6-7
Next Update: Monday, 06July