Am I overreacting to the battle of the boobies? I wondered to myself
last night as I tried to get to sleep, still very aware that my
uninvited houseguests were on board and speculating as to what state I
would find the boat in the morning. After all, I've endured much worse
things at sea. I've put up with injuries, capsizes, running out of water
and equipment failures galore. What's the big deal about an infestation
of large smelly, noisy birds?

But actually, I decided, my resentment of their intrusion was justified.
After all, this boat is my home. And how would YOU feel if three
complete strangers barged into your living room without so much as a
by-your-leave, and proceeded to argue loudly with each other, shoving
each other around and bickering endlessly. Oh, and these rude strangers
are also doubly incontinent, and relieve themselves copiously all over
your furniture.

I suspect that you wouldn't be too happy about the situation. And
neither am I.

This morning I was not much happier, as I scrubbed bird poop off the
deck, the strong ammonia smell making me gag. The situation was even
affecting my appetite – and normally nothing comes between me and my
food. But it's hard to work up enthusiasm for your breakfast when your
surroundings smell like a public toilet.

I was at my wits' end. It was clear that I was never going to be able to
get it through the boobies' thick birdbrained skulls that they are not
welcome. Repeatedly hitting them with the dustpan had no effect
whatsoever, other than a fleeting sense of satisfaction as I sent them
somersaulting into the ocean. But they just came back again. Nor do I
have any way to physically prevent them from landing on the boat, other
than what I had already tried with the ropes.

If I'd had a gun on board they might have been in real trouble. I
entertained dark thoughts about trying to shoot them with a marine
flare. I seriously considered trying to catch one and wringing its neck,
but eventually decided it was excessively harsh to kill them when they
are just too plain stupid to know any better. So I seemed to have run
out of options. Would I have to put up with their antisocial behavior
for the next 800 miles? I felt rather despondent.

But by this afternoon I had arrived at a more philosophical state of
mind. I realized that I can't get rid of them, so I either have to
accept the situation or drive myself crazy. So I've given up blatting
them away with the red dustpan. They only come straight back again, and
it sets off another round of rowdy squawking as they repeat their
jostling for prime position. The fore cabin is filthy, but I can't reach
it to scrub it. I'm even gradually becoming immune to the stink.

So I have more or less accepted that for the foreseeable future I will
have to tolerate my unwanted hitchhikers. It really is amazing what the
human animal can adapt to when (written with gritted teeth) she really
has absolutely no choice.

[photo: Booby completely oblivious to my anti-booby measures, standing
proudly in his own mess. Smart? I don't think so…]

Other Stuff:

Maybe my zen acceptance is partly due to my choice of audiobook for the
day – James Herriot's Vet in Harness.– beautifully told stories of the
travails of a young vet in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930's. All very
earthy, with lots of muck and blood to put my current issues in
perspective. Also made me feel, unexpectedly, rather homesick. Resolved
to spend more time in English country pubs when I next have the

Made better rowing progress today. The wind spent some time in the
northeast, which was welcome. Got another email from Jason Lewis which,
while giving me invaluable information, also fed my lurking anxiety
about what might happen between 6 and 3 degrees North. But there's no
point worrying about it. It will be what it will be. At least the battle
of the boobies has provided me with some distraction from the rather
more substantial concerns that lie ahead.

As I write this blog there is a torrential downpour going on. I hope it
washes away some booby poop.

Karen Morss, you are a legend. So J Maarten Troost wrote back to you –
unbelievable!! Can't wait to hear what his thoughts are on Tuvalu vs
Tarawa – although ultimately it will probably be the ocean, not me, that
makes the decision.

Thanks for all the other comments – on boobies, plastic pollution,
everything. All much appreciated.

For those who have written to say you are giving up using plastic bags –
THANK YOU!!!! This is such a big win. If you check out the store at there are some super eco-friendly re-usable bags, made
from recycled plastic and themselves recycleable, and bearing the

Weather report:

Position at 2120 HST: 06 10.727N, 175 32.155W
Wind: 5-20kts, E-ENE
Seas: 3-6ft
Weather: mostly sunny and hot, some clouds. Towards sunset several
rainstorms visible around me.

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday, 09 July 2009. Expect widely variable wind speeds and
direction while in close proximity to the ITCZ. NEerly trade winds
continue around the 10-15 kts, but veer to ENE 10kts by tomorrow
morning, then back to NE 10kts by tomorrow night. Periods of lighter
winds. Seas to 2-6ft.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy with low level clouds. Isolated
rainshowers, squalls, and possible thunderstorms. Wind speeds in these
systems 40-50kts.

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has heated up just
south of your present location. Convective clouds have increased
producing squalls and thunderstorms. The axis of the ITCZ is centered on
05 00N between 170W and 180E/W. The northern ITCZ edge is about 06 30N
and the southern edge near 02 00N. As of this morning, winds south of 07
30N to 03 00N were from the NE direction at about 7-22kts. In squalls
and rainshowers winds were 40kts.

Ocean Current: Still looking for the current to become ENE or Eerly
flowing at about 06 00N in the North Equatorial Counter Current. This
current extends to about 01 00N. There are periodic fluctuations in
these dimensions.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
09/1800-10/0000 NE 10-15 4-6
10/0000-10/1800 ENE 7-12 3-5
10/1800-11/0900 NE 7-12 3-5
11/0900-13/0000 E 2-7 2-4
13/0000-14/1800 ENE-NE 5-10 3-5



  • The bird poop may compromise the efficiency of the solar panel. On your third leg of the pacific row you need to pack a telescoping scrub brush to clean the hard to reach solar panels.

    Stay strong and focused Roz

    ~ Gregory Johnson

  • UltraSonic or sonic "Bird Repellers" may be the trick for the third leg of the pacific row. A wind sock may also help.

    Here is the company info
    "New Super BirdXPeller protects up to 10 acres (4 hectares)
    of offshore and marine areas using the distress calls of
    two different types of gulls!

    Features and Benefits:

    * No chemicals, nets, fences or firearms
    * Automatic unattended operation
    * Weather-resistant
    * Maintenance free, solid state electronics.

    ~ Gregory

  • Roz – I think you need to reconsider who is the invader in this situation. You are the one rowing through the middle of the boobies' home. Granted it is unreasonable of them to turn your boat into a toilet, especially since you are working hard to raise awareness of the threats to their habitat and food source. In their defence, I doubt that they have access to the internet to check out your website.

  • Roz,

    Sorry to hear about your continuing struggles with the boobies.. I could go on and on about all the stupid things they have done on our boat(like flying into our wind generator, trying to land full speed on vertical sails, or pushing their neck THROUGH the upper lifeline while standing on the lower one flapping their brains out and wondering why it's not working). One day I gave up and let one have the run of the foredeck, THAT was a HUGE mistake.. be careful their poop also stains the gelcoat/paint.

    On a lighter note, you might attract more readers when the news picks it up.. "Naked Ocean rower attacked by boobies while approaching the equator".

    I'm SURE you'd get some more site visitor with that headline!!


  • Maybe harassed would be better..

    "Naked Ocean rower harassed by boobies while approaching the equator"

    Sorry, that's it, I'm done cracking myself up!!

  • I so thought this was a breastfeeding…good luck with the boobies..may they find a different place to land and soon!


  • sounds like something my mom used to say-"I didn't work this hard to be living in a booby hatch." Oh my.

  • I lived for several years on the banks of a river, where the plentiful geese and swans would periodically attack humans. It was a territorial thing, they viewed "us" as infringing on "their" property, while we humans got tired of getting nipped by the birds. We tried just about everything (fences, ultrasonic devices, chasing them with brooms) but none of it really worked. After short periods of time, the birds would adjust themselves to both physical barriers and the annoyance of ultrasound and even our threatening gestures, and just go back to their original behaviors. What finally worked the best (and has already been mentioned here by others) were "super-soaker" water guns. The birds really didn't like getting blasted with gushes of water. These things only cost about $10 or $15, and are available in most toy and novelty stores, and we should ensure you have some onboard for the next leg of the journey.

    Richard (Austin, Texas)

  • You've heard the expression 'raining cats and dogs'? Well, I'm praying that the downpour will drop a giant-sized kitty on your deck to take care of your boobie problem!

    Just in case it doesn't work, try naming them. Doesn't get rid of them, but does make them more tolerable if you think of them as pets. 😉

  • You are continually reminding me of Yann Martel's book, Life of Pi, about a boy trapped in a boat for months with a Bengal Tiger. At one point a Booby lands of the prow of his lifeboat, and he catches it and eats it raw out of desperation for food. I am currently dealing with a catbird who continually meows at me (hence the name catbird) to get away from our berry bushes, of which he believes himself to be the sole proprietor. thankfully, we have a cat that drives him away for us… for about ten minutes. I am also wiping Barn Swallow feces off my car every time I go riding, but they are my friends, because they eat bugs, aren't pesky, and harass the barn cats in the most amusing manner.

    I agree with MzzLily. We have a number of animals that like to take advantage of us, and I have named a number of them (Tabasco the Rude Red Squirrel, Chewy the Catbird, Sheba the Deer, Dive Bomber the Blue Jay).

  • Here's a thought…

    Maybe when you get to 05 00N the birds will spin around and fall off! (of course, miraculously leaving Brocade on a straight course!)

    On a more serious note — Googled Tuvalu –found this UN Job post:


    The application deadline is 31 July, and the 30 day contract start date is 17-08-09

    If you do land at Tuvalu, and they have their consultant on board, might be an interesting person to meet. Some contact info is contained in job post.

    All best as you complete day 50! You're doing great!

    Woodland Hills, CA

  • Roz, following your adventure has caused my family to make some life changes to reduce our impact on the Earth. Along with the things we've read about on your website like getting reusable shopping bags and water bottles, we have also stopped using our electric clothes dryer. We now dry our clothes on a line. I was shocked by how much we were spending to run it. We now give the money we're saving to our 10-year-old son in exchange for hanging the clothes on the line and taking them down. He loves the extra spending money, and we love the outdoor-fresh smell of our clothes, all while reducing our impact on the Earth. It's a win-win-win solution.

    Thanks for opening our eyes to environmental responsibility, Roz. We're spreading the word to all of our friends and family.

    My son Kevin has a quick question, if get a chance to reply:
    How big do your muscles get from rowing across the ocean?

  • RE the boobies, sounds as if they've adopted you for now. You may as well name them and get to know them–and who knows, you may come to appreciate their company at some point. Companionship comes in many forms. Too bad about their sloppy habits, though. What a pain. Ammonia is a vile smell.

    RE plastic bags, we eschew them as much as possible. Our car is filled with reusable bags. And I've got three loads of laundry hanging on the line.

  • If a water soaker works as msny of your readers have suggested, why not grab a bucket/cup/bailer/ whatever you have handy on the boat, scoop up some of the beautiful ocean you are on and fling it at them. Granted it wont be exactly like a super soaker at 25mph, but with the rowing muscles you've been getting, I bet there could be a good force behind it.

  • Well according our resident Sage if Misinformation and General Creepiness,Texino, your solar rig is a threat to the environment- so it's just as well that the boobies are shutting it down!

    Go Roz! Godspeed!

  • Sorry about the bird bath. Quick question – no doubt already asked – how do you prevent the boat from drifting when you are not rowing? How do you not lose the "ground" you have already made? I cannot imagine that there is a lot to which to anchor.

  • Roz,

    I guess you really are stuck with these stupid things if they don't react to getting thumped by the dustpan. The only thing left is finding some chemical aboard they hate and throwing that at them. Good luck!

  • Despite Al Gore’s imperious declaration that the matter is settled, the accumulation of climate data continues as does the number of actual scientists in the appropriate disciplines who find fault with his and his follower’s interpretations. Science is not a subject for political debate but of continuing research. The arbitrary dismissal of contrary expert opinion because one objects to the messenger displays an attitude more akin to religion than science.

  • Earlier Roz mentioned that the water maker produced enough and to spare.

    Perhaps one could borrow the output to harass the boobies sometimes?

    Or, perhaps, use a plastic bag like a bagpipe bladder to power a makeshift water gun?

    Or (free associating here…) download some bagpipe music and play that on the stereo! 😉

    I was surprised to learn that my son can hear up to 17.4 kHz "mosquito ringtones" through my iMac's built-in speakers a room away. I can (barely) hear 14 kHz at full blast, but my son says it sounds even louder to him.

    (These are useful for teenagers who don't want adults to hear when they are getting incoming text messages.)

    Perhaps your stereo speakers can do (near) ultrasonics too. Maybe the booby repeller company would let you download their sound sample and try it.

    I read that in England they use such repellers to keep teenagers from loitering outside convenience stores.

    Hey, Roz said she was desperate!

  • Hi Roz! Been following you since last year's row. FYI, although we can't tell you in advance, SpaceX is due to launch their Falcon 1 rocket from Kwajalein Atoll at 10:30pm EDT tonight (Monday), which would be about 5:30pm Hawaii time. That looks to be due west of you by a few hundred miles, and since they are launching eastward it would pass above you or at least over you.

    If the launch is successful I wonder if you will notice it or see it? It will be daylight so it may not be as obvious as in the evening, plus if your sunshade is up you may miss it. Let us know if you saw anything (assuming the launch goes as planned).

  • Hello Roz! Keep up the great work, you are amazing! Ay yay yay, you've gone from bottoms to boobies… what a vogage!Regarding your unwelcome guests, here's another thought: Could an oily substance, like baby oil, applied over the surface of the boat where the boobies typically land, do the trick? If they slip and slide and can't keep their footing, they might give up on the idea. Also, any poop they deposit might not dry and harden as quickly. Of course, the thing is, DO YOU have any such substance with you? Also, could it damage the solar panels in any way? Too bad the boobies can't read, because you could have put a sign out that read: "Chez Roz's. Today's Menu: Boobie pate, boobie tapenade, boobie soup, boobie salad, followed by boobie roast. And for dessert, a special surprise called 'Boobie Trap'." But seriously, you are in their territory and they're just… bird brains!
    Nancy, Hollywood FL

  • I love James Herriot! He's wonderful to read when there's an animal bothering you, or if you just need a good story. I used to not understand what the big deal about cows was. Okay, I admit it, I HATED cows. I still don't like them very much, but Mr. Herriot helped me, er, appreciate them better.

    Those weird boobies . . . are they really that dumb? They sound so annoying. Hopefully your acceptance will rub off on me, like James Herriot's animal-loving nature did, or I'm afraid those boobies will have a few rants from me (obviously unheeded) about their stupidity . . .

    When you talked about thwacking them, I at first thought you were hitting them with your oars. Then you said dustpan. I wasn't sure whether to be glad you hadn't knocked them senseless and therefore drowned them when they fell to the sea. I mean, in cartoons they always get back up again, and sometimes even leave you alone. I don't think a paddle to the head would have the same effect in real life, though. Pity.

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