Do you find that your house, or your car, or your body, sometimes goes through a bad patch? No problems for ages, and then a multitude of niggles all at once? Sedna seems to have hit just such a patch.

Nothing serious – just a number of things that aren’t quite as they should be, and the accumulation of outstanding issues makes me feel a bit unsettled and anxious. I’ve made a list of them, and will gradually get them sorted out as time and circumstances allow. But until then the anxiety is hanging over me like a squall cloud.

Still, a little fishy soul had reason to be grateful for one of my problems. It was a rough, rough night last night and I knew the footwell would be full of water this morning. Normally I would just flick a switch from inside my cabin and the bilge pump would take care of it. But I’d fixed the Sunsaver Duo problem shortly before sunset last night, and the batteries hadn’t had time to recharge and were low, so I didn’t want to run the bilge pump.

As I was dealing with the footwell the old-fashioned way – with a bucket – I found a sizeable flying fish floating upside down way down in the bilges. I thought he was a goner, but then noticed a feeble wiggle of his tail. I plucked him out and threw him back into the ocean. He righted himself and swam off. I don’t know how long he will survive in his weakened state, but his chances out there are better than in Sedna’s bilges.

If I’d have run the bilge pump as usual, I would have left him high and dry (or damp-ish, anyway) and he would definitely have been an ex-fish by the time I found him. So it isn’t all bad.

A couple of hours later, I was boiling up water for my Coco-Compote (my raspberry and coconut and pumpkin seed breakfast-type thing) when I saw an exciting piece of plastic marine debris. I immediately jumped up, but unfortunately by the time I had found a safe place to put down the Jetboil the debris had already passed me by and disappeared from sight, to my immense disappointment. It looked like a yellow plastic pyramid, of the sort used to warn customers of a wet and slippery floor. Although obviously I would prefer that it wasn’t out here, I was really bummed not to have grabbed it as it floated by. It would have been a brilliant bit of evidence for plastic pollution in the oceans.

Today I was listening to “Buyology“, by Martin Lindstrom, a marketing specialist. I had chosen it because I suppose I am trying to “sell” something too – that something being a message about environmental responsibility. Here is what I have taken away from it so far: when we use our re-usable grocery bags, or coffee cups, or water bottles, in public, our actions most definitely have consequences beyond the immediate saving of some “disposable” plastic. “Mirror neurons” mean that other people have a tendency to imitate behaviour. The more prevalent that behaviour becomes, the more likely they are to imitate it. So our good green deeds become contagious!

Also, when using your non-disposable alternatives, please endeavour to look as cool, sexy, confident and attractive as possible. That helps too, and makes imitation more likely. It may also have other, unintended consequences, such as random strangers inviting you to dinner, but I leave that to you to deal with!

Martin Lindstrom presents a lot of information about what makes us buy things. He is mostly writing with a view to helping marketing professionals to sell more, but as a “consumer” (although a decreasingly active one) it just makes me feel like I’ve been suckered. And makes me happier than ever that I’ve (at least partly) opted out of the consumer society. Unfortunately it seems to be managing pretty well without me.

You remember the last book I read was “The Brief History of the Dead“, in which the last human left alive was busy dying in Antarctica while everybody else had been carried off by a plague? I rather enjoyed it that the original vector for the plague turned out to be Coca Cola. How the publishers managed to get that past Coke’s legal department, I have no idea! But having read what Martin Lindstrom has to say about Coke’s marketing tactics, it seemed somehow appropriate that they turn out to be the bad guys in a sci-fi book.

Other Stuff:

Jess – yes, I have read Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, (but not the others). I was very deeply affected by it. It had a huge influence on the way I see the relationship between humans and the world. I haven’t been quite the same since – nor have I wanted to be. I would absolutely recommend that EVERYBODY read it!

Fiona – huge congrats to the Bradford Grammar School rowers! I used to live near Durham (in Bishop Auckland) – what a lovely part of the country. I hope they had a great time at the regatta. Please pass on my best wishes for continued success this season. Are they going to Henley?

UncaDoug – thanks for the quote from Paul Gilding, about the need for a happiness-driven culture rather than a growth-driven one. I couldn’t agree more. Roll on, that happy day!

Apropos the Great Disruption, here is a quote for today: “Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.” (Edward Teller)

Let’s try to use our intelligence, and head off the catastrophe before it happens. Start today! Say no to disposable plastics and SMILE!

Photo: my camera isn’t working today (one of the multitude of problems) so I’m using this as an excuse to dig out an excessively flattering picture from the archives – taken in Antigua the day after I arrived after rowing the Atlantic in 2006

Sponsored Miles: Thanks to you Carol Jones, Brian Kirsch, Bruno Detillieux.


  • Not that I don’t like your photo, Roz, but I do hope you can get your camera to work again. Hopefully some sunshine will help dry things out.
    Can you see the results of the Volcano eruption in Chile? Flights have been cancelled in Australia & NZ (& obviously other places that our local news broadcasters don’t bother mentioning) due to ash clouds.

    I wish someone would write a sci-fi book demonising smoking & the big tabacco companies!

  • Excellent thoughts about “mirror neurons”,  I especially the idea of looking “cool and sexy” which I shall endeavor to do as I run my errends with my reusables.  Heck, I might even put on lipstick!

  • I can’t remember exactly when I overheard you say, “There will come a day when using single use disposable plastics will be equivalent to using racial based explitives.” Basically equating the use of these plastics with the evolution of a movement where education and knowledge lead to behavior changes.  I paraphrase, as I cannot remeber the exact words or time. But I have to let you know, that those were very powerful words for me to hear.  Thanks again. Row Roz Row!

    The link to Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

    “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

  • I’ve been following your epic row, but I cannot find any reference to your present/past locations. Is there any way to track your progress? Or can you send out a (current or past) Lat/Long from time to time?
    ‘twould be much appreciated…!
    Regards and all the best!!

    • Sorry, Globalhawk. In the interest of Roz’s safety we are not at present making Roz’s position public due to piracy in the Indian Ocean. However, watch this site in days to come!  Rita.

      • Hi Rita! Of course we marvel at what Roz can do, day in and day out. She is simply amazing, and an inspiration to those of us mere mortals. But may I say hail to you as well! You just don’t miss a thing, you must be nearly sitting on Roz’s shoulder, stroke-by-stroke. You must feel the exhilaration and the agongy along the way. So, from one mom to another, I say thank you, and I look forward to whatever the next day brings!  Many thanks…

        And Roz…I live in Marin County in Northern California, home to Bolinas, Stinson Beach and Jacqueline Winspear. I say we need not miss the Oprah Book Club when we have you! I am reading “The Mapping of Love and Death” currently. You of course will know this is a Maisie Dobbs novel. I need only follow your blog to find my next book!

  • Roz, great work .. get tired just hearing about your efforts each blog post .. me I’m thinkin hibenation is the way forward .. you are  lucky your not off the NSW coast at the moment ! … cheers Dave [eco divers]

  • There is an excellent op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman, that originally appeared in the NYT on June 7 called “The Earth is Full”.  It’s a bit long, but I think it might be of interest to people:


    Earth Is Full
    Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, June 7, 2011
    really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the
    first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices
    soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and
    droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened
    by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did
    we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some
    growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?
    “The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the
    veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a
    new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the
    End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” “When you are surrounded by
    something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think
    and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait,
    the bigger the response required.”
    Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network,
    an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to
    sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area
    we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using
    prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a
    rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be
    sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global
    growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather
    significant problem,” says Gilding.
    This is not science fiction. This is what happens when
    our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in
    Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana.
    Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water,
    within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives
    at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.
    “If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of
    trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you
    change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the
    Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more
    things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves,
    with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this
    is high school science.”
    is also current affairs. “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the
    conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,”
    China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently. “The depletion,
    deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological
    environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s
    economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says
    Gilding, is that “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and
    putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of
    limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller
    in terms of physical impact.”
    will not change systems, though, without a crisis. But don’t worry, we’re
    getting there.
    We’re currently caught in two loops: One is that more
    population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices;
    rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads
    to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more
    instability. At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are
    needed in every factory to produce more stuff. So if we want to have more jobs,
    we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global
    warming, and that is where the two loops meet.
    But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. 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
    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
    “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.”


    Roz, I cannot wait for you to hit land and see this video. Based on your last few days of blogs, I am sure you would enjoy this wonderful video. Please note how much netting they are removing from the whale.
    (Roz’s last few day’s blogs have been about whales and ocean conservation)

    Row Roz Row!

    • This is spectacular Jay! I posted on my Facebook page. 
      What is the sound of one “hand” clapping … SHEER JOY

    • It is amazing. That animal is experiencing sheer joy at another chance at life. It looks like my black lab on a hot day when you hose him down with water. Relief and gratitude. 

  • Read it, loved it. Sad how it ends. You should read “Collapse”, by Jered Diamond. Less a novel, equally compelling.

  • Hi Roz . . . have you read “What We Leave Behind” by Derrick Jensen & Aric McBay?  It is a very good examination of what we call waste and what it is doing to the planet.  The authors start out by first pointing out that what we call waste and what true waste in nature is are two very different things.  In nature “waste” is part of the cycle of life, death, and nourishment . . . everything cycles through and is used again.  What we call waste is something to put out of sight and bury that quite likely will never contribute to the cycle of life at all . . . that it probably will never break down.

    They began the chapter on Plastics with this quotation . . . 

    “To desire immortality is to desire the eternal perpetuation of a great mistake.”  ~~Arthur Schopenhauer

  • Hope your charger keeps working, were you able to determine if the battery temperature probe was the problem?
    Glad you found the flying fish before it began to decompose, not pleasant when they do!
    That yellow plastic pyramid must have been scooting along! Was it being driven by the wind? I am gld you do not find very much out there. Have you tried making a smaller trawl yet?


  • Roz, yes that photo is flattering but not, as you say, ‘excessively flattering.’ It’s looks hot in my newsfeed on facebook for sure! 

  • Hints for boat maintenance while At Sea:

    Remember to scrape off your binnacle, reset your barnacles and re-rig your rudder. Shroud your shrouds and bend your port sheets (use a sheet-bend). Stem the stern, shorten your starb’d sheets with a sheep-shank (or use a whole sheep).  Reeve in your rode, unbundle your bimini, bow to the bow on your bow and bellow down your bilges. Batter down the hatches, pipe down your pintle and give your hat hitch the old heave-ho.
    Re-cock your cotter pins, spoon your oars and check the backslide of your backside slider. In case of wind tie your kangaroo gloves down, always keep your keel cool and try not to broaden your beam.
    Always dog your hatches and never the other way round. And don’t confuse the poop-deck and fo’c’sle.
    Grab rails, and always count your contact points. A good row before breakfast clears the air for the rest of the day. Remember the old saying: Keep your ship in shape and your bristols in fashion. And if things get too much for you, take a deep breath and shout “Ro’locks” at loud as you can.

    • John, I think this crystal-clear tidbit of wisdom and sound advice should be meticulously adhered to while on land and while tree climbing as well. Don’t you? :0)

  • Hi Ross,

    I doubt the Coca-Cola lawyers worried too much about it. They know Americans know Coke. It’s highly acidic. Generations of American parents and school teachers warned children steak and teeth left to soak in Coke can dissolve in a few days. US police sometimes use it to clean bloody crime scenes. I myself witnessed Coke dissolve paint off an industrial metal shelf after two weeks. So there’s almost no chance of any kind of bio hazard in Coca-Cola. Obesity and tooth decay, however, are another thing entirely. Water is better.



  • I had intended to post this earlier but got trapped in a vendor meeting … at this exact moment (1:30 PM PT), the lunar eclipse is just about 100%.  The eclipse peaked at 20:14 GMT or approximately 3:30 AM +/-) in the area where Roz is now. Here in the U.S. we cannot see the eclipse because it is on the other side of the earth in the shadow of earth itself.

    In U.K. and Europe, you might see a bit according to the chart that Brad posted yesterday … 

    But, as suggested yesterday: Let’s all virtually hop aboard Senda Solo with Roz and watch the red moon eclipse, or at least the full moon at the most convenient time in our local time zone. Give Roz some company and watch the moon Wednesday night.  Tell her what you see here on her blog.

    Enjoy the night, moon or not!
    Row “m00ningly” Roz!

    • Pictures of the lunar eclipse
      This is what Huffington Post had to say about the event …

      The first total lunar eclipse of 2011 — and the longest in nearly 11 years — wowed spectators across the world on June 15. The moment of “totality,” when Earth’s shadow completely covered the moon, lasted 100 minutes.

      Although it wasn’t viewable in North America, thousands still watched the stunning lunar eclipse live online.Don’t worry if you missed it, we’ve rounded up some of the best photos from the rare event below — vote for your favorites!

    • Unca Doug, hopping on board Sedna to see the eclipse would make it impossible to get a good picture – constant movement of the boat would make it impossible to use a tripod or get a time exposure. When I first saw your two pictures, I thought you were playing some game of dominoes!

  • One Man’s Trash…..Black
    kites, a type of raptor, have been found to decorate their nests with
    the equivalent of “no trespassing” signs that warn other birds to stay
    away, according to a scientific study conducted in Spain. In a
    recyling success story, kites who used pieces of white plastic in their
    nests before laying eggs and raising young did not have to fend off
    interlopers as often as birds that did not use as much or any plastic at
    all in their nests, said the study. Scientists observed 127 kite nests
    in Spain’s Donana National Park.

  • Thanks for answering. It’s so cool to read your blog and know that somewhere in the great wide ocean, my thoughts are being considered <3
    I HIGHLY recommend The Story of B… It's my favorite of the series.

    • Jess and Roz et al, I really enjoyed “Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure” Have had good intentions, but haven’t yet read “Ishmael” … thanks for the motivation ;-D

  • Coincidentally to today’s blog topic, an extended debate arose today on my local freecycle about the discontinuation of plastic bags in local grocery stores. One contributor posted the following video in response to the discussion. Beautifully narrated and all of four minutes:

  • Roz, I just now left my nearby coffee shop where I access wifi (sound familiar?) and happened to catch a glimpse of the full moon peaking through the treetops … 9:23PM PT … worthy a haiku ;-D

    purple black blue sky
    nine twenty-three precisely
    balmy warm cool moon

    Hoping you caught a glimpse too, Roz!

    • Can’t match your haiku Doug, but did step out my door of my floating home on the river and looked up at the full moon glowing and shimmering its reflection out across our river…thinking of the millions, and of Roz, who may have had a show if her cloudy skies might have parted for an hour or so…

      • Shimmering on the river … reminds me of a pre-dawn drive to work in the east bay (Oakland) viewing the moon and reflection on SF Bay … spectacular … envy your floating abode ;-D

  • Inspired by your travels I am reading The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss which I bought when I saw his boat, the Tilikum, in the maritime museum in Victoria, BC. He ate the flying fish that landed on his boat and said they were tasty!  He also told a sick mate to drink a cup of seawater each day as a cure for seasickness – the sea must have been a bit cleaner in the early 1900s.

    Amazing tales and incredible writing style.  He bought his boat as a dug out canoe, then put masts and sails and some boards in side. 
    Meanwhile – my husband always says “Don’t borrow worry from the future”. Various versions for anyone who wants to read it at the Internet archive:

  • wow. I guess I really need to put down the Vonnegut (in an attempt to stop reading the depressing ocean non-fiction stuff) and read Ishmael. I promise!! by the time you hit India, I will have read it!! (sort of an unequal challenge, huh!!! heehee!!)

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