Tonight I was out on the deck of my boat a couple of hours after nightfall, brushing my teeth. As I looked up at the Milky Way and around me at the dark ocean, the thought occurred to me that I could quite possibly be the most geographically remote human being on Earth – as in, the furthest distance from the next human being.

I am over a thousand miles from Perth (which, incidentally, is the most remote city on Earth), and it has been five or six weeks since I last saw a ship, or since the Sea-Me radar enhancer last blinked red to indicate the presence of radar.

There might be other solo ocean rowers out at the moment on other oceans, although it’s not Atlantic rowing season right now (that happens in the Northern Hemisphere winter, when the trade winds are at their most consistent) and I’m not aware of any solo rowers out on the Pacific. (Feel free to check out http://oceanrowing.com and let me know if I am wrong.)

There may, of course, be solo sailors at large on the oceans at the moment, but even so there are few areas of ocean as uninterrupted by islands as the southern Indian Ocean.

(Of course, this is hard for you to comment on, because you don’t know exactly where I am. Here’s a clue: if I dug from here straight through the Earth until I popped out the other side, I could be enjoying a cocktail and cigar in Cuba. Ah, if only!)

How does this extreme isolation make me feel?

First, best not to think about it too much, or it can get a bit freaky. Second, I’d rather be extremely isolated than around the wrong sort of people, for example. AK-47 toting pirates. Third, maybe just a little bit sad. Today I was listening to Corduroy Mansions: A Corduroy Mansions Novel (1) by Alexander McCall Smith, a sweet little story about the inhabitants of three London flats and their relationships with friends, families, and lovers. It describes conversations, touches, hugs, exchanges of glances – all those ways that humans communicate with each other and express empathy, friendship, love. Sure, I have my emails out here, but it’s not quite the same.

I don’t mean to make you worry, or feel sorry for me. I’m fine. I just mention this in the hope that it will make you appreciate and cherish those moments when you feel a connection to another human being, for at least a few hours after you read this blog. We are all connected, whether we are near or far, but there is something special about feeling that connection in person.

Other Stuff:

The electrical system survived the day. I still feel a flutter of trepidation every time I turn on the battery monitor to check whether the sunshine is getting to my batteries, but for now it is okay.

The weather is relatively calm after a blowy few days. Sunshine and fluffy clouds, and calm blue seas with only a few whitecaps. Not bad at all. According to the forecast, I have a few more days before the winds turn against me again, so I’m making the most of it while I can.

Martin Reader – thanks so much for letting me know about the Mike McCarthy article about the state of the oceans – and for emailing him about me. Aimee (who sends me a selection of the blog comments) gave me a summary of the IPSO report. Although I’m sad to hear that the oceans are in a worse state than previously thought, I am not surprised, having had so much exposure to presentations given by scientists intimately involved in ocean studies. I am glad to hear that the science is filtering through to the mainstream, and hope that it will lead to immediate action by all governments worldwide. There really is no time to lose.

Michael O’Hara – welcome to my blog. Thank you very much for your kind comment, and words of encouragement. It is nice to be appreciated! I can’t browse the internet from here, but have made a note to check out knoxshircore.wordpress.com on my return. As for Monty Python…. when in danger of getting too bogged down in thoughts of spirituality and religion, recollections of “Life of Brian” are a great antidote!

Pippa – please don’t be so sad about the pillow. It only has a few specks of mould – not bad at all. Many other things are faring much, much worse, so it is doing well, and is still much-beloved!

Philip Nixon – thanks for the great quote. What a good and healthy way of looking at things. You’re so right – duties can seem like privileges if only we look at them the right way!

The Raistricks – good to hear from you, Nicola! Would love to drop in the next time I am in Britain to compare salty sea stories. I stopped at the Azores when sailing from Portsmouth to the Canaries for the start of the Atlantic Rowing Race. As for the chickens, maybe you and Joan in Atlanta can trade tips, as she has also had a few teething problems with her brood. Can chickens have teething problems? Probably not, if things can be “as rare as hen’s teeth”! Anyway, you know what I mean….

And a lighthearted quote for the day, although be careful – it was when I figured this one out that I quit my job, and look how that ended…: “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in
it.” — Ellen DeGeneres

Photo: rainbow from a couple of days ago. Why do some rainbows arc low like this one, and others arc high?

Sponsored Miles: Special thanks to William Spinks and Rita Stenlund for sponsoring most of the miles that were reported two days ago as not being sponsored! Grateful thanks too to: Scott Bookman, Nicola Faith, Andrew Lueken, Nicola Tsang, Michelle Driskill-Smith, Brian Kirsch, Chris Ferreira, Wayne Batzer, Bruce Gervais, Brian Yates, Larry Grandt for recent miles covered.

27 Comments

  • cool post Roz, and remember what they say, you’re never alone when you carry someone you love in your heart:) keep up the great work! 

  • Rainbows position is all relative to the angle of the sun and the distance of the rain drops reflecting (although that is less important as the angle is the real determinant of position of the portion of the arc that you are seeing). When flying and the sun is high and you are just over a cloud deck, you see a complete circle rainbow and the shadow of the aircraft you are in, in the exact center of the colorful circle. Or possibly it is has something to do with unicorn mood rings…. I am fairly certain it is the angle of the sun and not the unicorn theory.
    Hope that made you smile. Have a great day Roz, you are a true inspiration. Love the quote by Ellen that you wrote, it gives you a perspective doesn’t it.
    Steve in the corn.
    Pure Moxie du Jour

  • Hi Roz,

    Rainbows are low when the sun is high (the sun is at your back and the raindrops are where the rainbow is), high when the sun is low, and round from an airplane! I took a photo of a round one while flying on one of my 1005 flights in the past 5 years, it actually was a double one.

    The angle of the sun’s rays to the top of the rainbow is 42º, so, if the sun is high you only see the very top, when the sun goes down you see more and more of it. Lets say the sun is 45º from the horizon, there would be no rainbow seen, but say the sun goes down to 22º, you then can see the top 20º, (42-22), when it goes down to 12º you can see the top 30º, when it is at 2º (almost setting) then you see the glorious huge rainbow!!

    Glad your electrics are working!

  • Roz, It just occured to me that I use a “grease/paste” on electrical connections where copper contacts aluminum and a special kind is used on all new car wiring to prevent problems such as you are having. (run to the parts store and get some! )
    Also, I have mentioned this before, but I have a friend who works hard every day and still works out and runs every evening and he says there is no way he could do what you do for 4 hours, let alone the 10+ hours you row every day! 🙂 And he’s not even pretty like you!!!

    • But we should mention to use this carefully on a rowing boat. It can cause a short easily on a solar controller. And it contains most likely “silicone”, which is best never used on a boat. Not for sealing o-rings, not for saving wires from corrosion. The reason is simple: A boat depends a lot on PU and Epoxy sealings. Silicone is the greatest problem you can face if you want to seal something with adhesive or marine PU sealant.

  • I have often thought that you have gone to the greatest lengths and effort, just to ‘swim’ in the middle of the great oceans…where no one else has dared.  Plus the swim down in the Antarctic…! This will be a record second to none.  Hmmm….the North Atlantic ought to be thrilling, quick !!

  • “First, best not to think about it too much, or it can get a bit freaky. Second, I’d rather be extremely isolated than around the wrong sort of people … ” Well said!

  • What struck me was that as much as you may be the remotest person, you are probably not the loneliest. I was thinking how ironic that many people in a city or town can feel completely isolated and remote from humanity….yet you on an ocean retains some kind of serenity and connection….clearly it is not tangible people who make you feel not lonely but intangible feelings. I wonder….do you feel more alone on the ocean or say on travelling on a tube in a strange city kind of thing! 
    Keep going girl xx

  • I’m glad that you are enjoying Corduroy Mansions, Roz. I very much enjoyed writing it and I think that all the characters – Freddie de la Hay and the rest – would wish you all the best in your venture. With warmest wishes, Alexander McCall Smith

  • All this talk about “remote” … makes me conjure up a bad haiku:

    she’s the most remote
    of all of us on earth … and
    can’t find the remote

    Row manually, Roz ;-D

  • Roz, you are amazing!! Glad the solar charging is holding up after yesterday’s tinkering. Keeping my fingers crossed the wind and swell hold out a little longer in your direction. And-I LOVE this day’s blog!! Relationships with friends & family, food, beer, wine, oh yea ice-cream, boards and boats. What more do you need?? Oh yea, and adventures to share!! Btw-love that photo you dug up from the archives!! Thanks Roz, for pulling for the ocean, the planet, and all of us-especially our kids. This planet is, after all, their inheritance.

      • Yeah Rita…there are currently six folks on the space station–3 Russians, 2 Americans and 1 Japanese…maybe someone can ask them to “flash” Roz a “hello” when they pass over… 🙂

  • You are a tremendous inspiration. Thanks for what you do. I’m not a big Ellen fan but that is really a great quote.

  • Hi Roz, hopefully you will be getting these comments relayed to you. Just wanted to say “hi” and to tell you that I and other OceansWatch folks here are following you. I will be at sea myself soon (Vanuatu, Solomons and PNG), back to civilisation in November (Cairns). We have a new boat by the way 🙂 A Wharram Catamaran. Best of luck with the rest of your trip.
    With love, Chris Bone.

  • I hope the Somali pirates won’t be shooting any back azimuths on Havana…nice post…we haven’t had many night skies lately in my corner of the world. Too much overcast. The night sky is all about the human connection.

  • A thousand miles from no where and yet surrounded and supported by many friends, what more could a girl want?
    Heading from Chiangrai to BKK right now.
    People if you ever get the chance check out the “WhiteTemple” near Chiangrai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Rong_Khun
    It’s the work of one major Thai artist who now has 80 students. Entirely built and supported through the sale of his art works.
    Jim Bell (Chiang Rai, Thailand)

  • Hi Roz –

    your posting today I found to be very touching.  Thank you for the reminder to relish the day to day contact that we have with other human beings, intimate or not.  Even a good hug with a cat or a dog is deeply rewarding. 

    I am sending a hug to you across land and water.

    Thinking of you, Susan fr Vancouver

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