It's crunch time. I need to decide which way to turn: Tuvalu or Tarawa?

Originally I set my sights on Tuvalu – mostly for environmental reasons.
It is one of those unfortunate countries being most impacted by rising
sea levels, and has already started to relocate its population to New
Zealand. What better way to illustrate the impact of climate change?

But unfortunately Tuvalu has significant drawbacks apart from the
obvious one that it is disappearing. With a population of only 10,000
and limited infrastructure, it is difficult to get to or away from, and
the chances of finding anywhere satisfactory to store my boat are
minimal.

Tarawa, on the other hand, while hardly a seething metropolis, does have
reasonably good flight schedules, and rather more in the way of
infrastructure. It is also where Jason Lewis and his crewmate dropped in
on their way from Hawaii to Australia, which gives me some faint
reassurance that winds and currents might allow me to get there.

Because this is the deciding factor: which is the safest option
navigationally? Both are tiny targets in a very, very big ocean, and if
I miss landfall it's a long way to the next possible pitstop. The worst
situation would be to dither and procrastinate and end up falling
between two atolls. That would be just plain embarrassing, not to
mention extremely inconvenient.

It would have been nice to get south of the Equator on this leg, but at
1 degree and change north of the Equator, Tarawa is at least below all
the tricky stuff of the ITCZ and the counter current – just about –
hopefully leaving me a clear run for Stage 3. So I may just have to
celebrate crossing the International Date Line on this leg, and leave my
Equator crossing until next time around.

So hopefully by this time tomorrow, after a final round of consultation
with weatherguy, I will have a decision.

[photo: This morning a load of these fellas were chirping noisily near
my boat, swooping for fish. I see them most days, and I've never yet
seen one catch anything. But they seem to be having a good time anyway.]

Other Stuff:

Today was a slightly odd day weatherwise. I was woken by the sound of
rain pounding on the cabin roof, and treated myself to a lie-in while
several showers passed by. I don't mind if a shower soaks me once I'm
out and rowing, but it's not nice to be on a wet seat cushion from the
get-go. For most of the rest of the day there was barely a breath of
wind, and when it revived it was coming from a new direction – northeast
rather than the east. This was rather disorienting – I've got so very
used to the east trade winds.

It was this that focused my mind on the Tuvalu/Tarawa decision. If I'm
about to enter the mysterious world of the ITCZ, I need to be absolutely
sure which way I want to go. If the weather is going to be all over the
place, somebody around here needs to know what's what.

Quick bit of blowing my own trumpet – Nicole tells me that in this
month's edition of Outside Magazine (American publication, very popular
with all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts) I have been chosen as one of the
Top Five Twitters, alongside the likes of Lance Armstrong and Michael
Phelps. Honored, I'm sure.

But don't worry – I won't get big-headed. Two things keep stop me
growing out of my hats.
1. My Dad. He died 5 years ago, but I can still hear his voice.
Like any true Yorkshireman he was never over-impressed with anybody's
achievements, his own or anybody else's. Or not that he let on, anyway.
2. The ocean. The Pacific couldn't care less about Adventure
Twitterers, 8-time Olympic gold medal winners or 7-time Tour de France
winners. To the ocean, we're all just flotsam.

Eco Champ of the Day:
Ocean Girl: "Our household had been on reduced plastic bag but after
following your blog, we moved to NO plastic bag completely."
FANTASTIC!! Thanks, OG. Let's hope after reading this a few other people
will do the same.

Joan – thanks for the tips on viewing the eclipse. Hmmm, the arts and
crafts locker – let's see!

And thanks for all the other great comments and gruesome grub stories –
all very entertaining!

Quick answers to quick question:

Q: What is your degree from Oxford in Roz?
A: Jurisprudence (aka Law). But in fact I really specialized in rowing
and drinking beer.

Q: Any insects out there?
A: No – bliss!

Weather report:

Position at 2115 HST: 07 29.366N, 174 24.380W
Wind: 5-8kts E this morning and afternoon, 5-20kts NE this evening
Seas: 5-8ft
Weather: variable – see above

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Monday, 06 July 2009. The easterly trade winds have turned more
northerly still around the 15-20 kts range with periods of lighter
winds. Wind speed gradually abates beginning 08July to become 5-12kts by
10July. As the winds abate they shift to ESE-SEerly direction, which may
make it harder to row southwards in headwinds. Seas abate to 3-5ft.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy with low level clouds. Isolated
rainshowers.

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has quieted since last
report so maybe the passage through will be less dramatic. Convective
clouds have become fewer. The northern ITCZ edge has become diffuse but
the axis is along 170W to 180W between 03 00N and 04 00N. As of this
morning, winds south of 08 30N to the Equator between 170-177W were from
5-17kts with only isolated rainshowers of moderate strength.

Ocean Current: Still looking for the current to become Eerly flowing at
about 06 00N in the North Equatorial Counter Current. We will see how
this can aid your passage across the Equator.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
06/1800-07/1800 ENE 15-20 6-8
07/1800-08/1800 NE 15-20 6-8
08/1800-09/1800 NE-E 10-15 5-7
09/1800-10/1800 E-SE 7-12 4-6
10/1800-11/1800 SE-E 5-10 3-5

Next Update: Thursday, 09July

15 Comments

  • Tuvalu or Tarawa? That is a tough one Roz. Tarawa makes more sense traveling to and fro. Looking at it from an environmental point of view, future speaking appearance and book deals, Tuvalu might make a bigger impact with its impeding disappearance. Then again any atoll would be great due to the fact they are all disappearing. Tarawa would make more sense but that pick would make the 3rd leg a tad bit longer.

    Cheers, Roz

    Just think if each person in the world would produce 10% of their own electricity through wind or solar and not wait for the governments to mandate it. One better if each person would produce 100% of their own electricity like you Roz Global warming would come to a screeching halt.

    Where do you see yourself in 15 years?

  • Are you able to try to hit the Equator and the International Date Line at the same time? That would be one heck of a feat, and something interesting to see on the GPS receiver?

  • Roz,

    If I was you, I would aim to get as far south as possible (if you can). This will give you a MUCH better angle heading across the SE trades to Australia. I'm not sure when leg three will start but the ITCZ will shift North and South with the seasons (further North in July and further South in January). This also effects the trade wind belt below it (further North and stronger in July).

    When we were in Funafuti we met some great Australian Navy members and AusAid is there as well. I'm sure they could find a secure place for your boat. see http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/tuvalu/index.html for possible contact info. I actually felt much safer in Funafuti than Tarawa.

    I'm not trying to add more thoughts to the mix.. but our catamaran friends (with limited keels) had a hard time getting to Northern Vanuatu from Tarawa. The angle from N Vanuatu to Australia would kill you. I'm also assuming you want to avoid the Solomon Islands.

    Best of luck with your decision

    Chris

    SV Billabong

  • Roz, there is Good News from G-8 meetings in Italy this morning:

    Wong welcomes G8 climate deal – ABC News (Australia)

    "Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has welcomed a G8 leaders' agreement to tackle global warming, as a Government report shows the effect on Australia will be worse than first thought.

    "G8 leaders meeting in Italy have agreed to support a goal of an 80 per cent cut in developed countries' greenhouse emissions, and 50 per cent for developing countries, by 2050.

    "The leaders also said they recognised that global temperatures should not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    "Senator Wong says the agreement is a step forward and will provide momentum ahead of formal climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

    "But she says there is still more work to be done in the lead up to Copenhagen to get a binding international agreement. …"

    Canadian "The Globe and Mail" has this to say:

    Target found in G8's climate-change fight

    "Leaders of the world's eight foremost industrialized economies have established an aggressive new marker in the battle against climate change: holding the global temperature to a two-degree-Celsius increase.

    "To get there, the leaders agreed that the world's 32 industrialized nations should slash their greenhouse-gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050, though they did not agree on the base year from which the cuts would be made. …"

    Perhaps Nicole can find other comprehensive articles during the day and provide you copy. There is a lot of work yet to be done. Please google and read more.

    Now the haggling begins … 450 ppm? 400 ppm? 350 ppm?

  • While landing in Tuvalu would certainly make a very potent environmental point, the whole issue of transport and boat storage is shaky at best.

  • Each day I copy your comments and emails to send on to Roz. There have been some very good comments which include links to websites, or suggestions for Roz to Google. At sea she is unable to surf – the internet that is! – or go to links. I do check them out for her, and either save the information, or summarise anything she needs to know. Please just be aware of her own limitations regarding activity on the www.
    Grateful thanks for your contributions. Rita Savage.

  • Roz, National Public Radio's (NPR) lead story is:

    Big Economies Agree To Global Warming Accord

    "Morning Edition, July 9, 2009 · G-8 summit leaders have pledged to combat global warming. For the first time, the United States has joined European countries in seeking to keep average temperatures from climbing more than two degrees celsius above their pre-industrial levels. The leaders were less specific about plans to achieve that goal over the next 10 years or so. Some environmentalists complain the group hasn't gone far enough …"

    And here is the Associated Press story:

    G-8 leaders reach climate deal, tackle economy

    "L'AQUILA, Italy – Targeting global warming, leaders of the world's richest industrial countries pledged Wednesday to seek dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to slow dangerous climate change. They agreed for the first time that worldwide temperatures must not rise more than a few degrees. …"

  • Thanks Rita. Glad you are on top of this and I appreciate your reminder. By reference to Nicole above, I did not mean to overlook you, but in reality I did. Humble apologies.

    In the interest of saving space while conveying the central message so my post stands on its own, I try to paste a representative and essential paragraph, but hope Roz's readers will visit the URLs. Obviously, you and Nicole may want to send more complete articles to her. Thanks ;-D

  • I have a good feeling about Tarawa. Don't know why, just do. And I sort of have a knack for this. I predicted that Josh Beckett would have a good night a couple of days ago, he did and the Boston Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics after an embarrassing loss the night before. I thought Barrack Obama would win the election 10 months before the election- I was right again.

    Hope you don't do something horrible like injure your back. Good luck.

  • Whoa, I did not know about the situation in Tuvalu, that the rising sea levels are already happening. Thanks for bringing attention to it. That is very unfortunate, I feel sorry for the people of Tuvalu. Isn't it ironic how the oceans are expanding yet the fish populations are decreasing? Well, except for jellyfish.

  • Dear Roz,

    I think Tarawa might be more practical if the winds and currents don't change. But if they do, I think you should continue to try for Tuvalu. Not just because that was your original destination, but also because Howland Island is also on that same course. Howland Island is about 470 miles south-southwest of your current RozTracker position, and it looks like it would currently mark the halfway point to Tuvalu. It is a wildlife refuge, but it has a marker for another famous adventurer, Amelia Earhart! It was reported she went missing in 1937 near Howland Island, so a navigational day beacon was constructed and named Earhart Light. It's concrete and brick like a lighthouse, but with no light. It was damaged in WWII according Wikipedia, but was not repaired in the best condition. But if you choose to travel your original route, and can make a more southwardly course, then you will come upon this tiny island, maybe give a Salute from one woman adventurer to another.

    KPatrick, U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Doing a rough search and you tracker, you may be south of the Equator. Also found both Tuvula & Tarawa both have beer. Your course seems to put you closer to Tarawa, but that could change.

  • Roz, rosy was the news this morning, but now … thorns

    Ban criticises G8 climate efforts – BBC

    "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticised leaders of the G8 industrial nations for failing to make deeper commitments to combat climate change.

    "On Wednesday, the leaders, meeting in Italy, agreed to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, but Mr Ban said big cuts were needed sooner rather than later. …"

    Boxer and Reid delay Senate action on climate bill until September – GRIST

    "Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is now telling reporters that she won’t have a climate and energy bill ready for a vote in her committee until September, a significant delay for the legislation. …

    "“We don’t have to rush it through,” Boxer told reporters. “We’ll do it as soon as we get back [from recess], and we’ll have it at the desk when Harry wants it, when the leader wants it.”

    "She’s referring, of course, to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is also delaying the time frame for Senate movement on a climate bill. Yesterday he bumped his deadline for committee action on a bill back by 10 days to Sept. 28. By that date, he wants all six committees with jurisdiction to have concluded markup of their components of a climate plan. Reid said he pushed the date back to give legislators more time to work out differences over the bill.

    "Asked whether the delay would be a major setback for the the bill, Boxer was dismissive. “Not a bit … we’ll be in until Christmas, so I’m not worried about it,” she said.

    "There is, however, the looming deadline of international climate talks in Copenhagen in mid-December, by which time Congress needs to act if the U.S. is to demonstrate to world leaders that it is committed to emission reductions. …"

    Stay tuned. Oct 24 and COP-15 are just over the horizon.

  • 1. My Dad. He died 5 years ago, but I can still hear his voice.
    Like any true Yorkshireman he was never over-impressed with anybody's
    achievements, his own or anybody else's. Or not that he let on, anyway.
    Hi Roz, Tim from Cape Cod- look forward to your daily blog feed.
    My Dad was like your description. Sometimes people tell me I'm "too hard on myself". This can come from not hearing praise or pride from those close to us, i.e. parents and always searching for it.
    Perfectionism always leads me to depression. Its a challenge to make myself believe "I'm enough just like I am" but I try. I'm an artist so my perfectionism produces some good artwork but I have to remind myself that I'm worthwhile- regardless.
    Cheers and carry on!

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