Day 72 - rough sunset

It was a beautiful night to be rowing. Conditions today were tricky – a
changeable wind and a strong north-flowing current presented me with
difficult choices to find the least of the navigational evils. I decided
to push west and try and get out of the strongest of the current,
although without knowing how far the current extended this was rather a
leap of faith.

But whatever the wisdom of my strategy, the long day at the oars has
brought some compensations. After sunset the skies cleared and the moon
shone clear and bright, highlighting the billowing upper contours of the
scattered cumulus. The wind had dropped away to not even a whisper and
the ocean was silent and calm. The gently lapping waters reflected the
moon in a bright path of ripples to the horizon.

When I looked over the side of the boat as I was brushing my teeth, I
saw something I’d never seen before – a shoal of a hundred or so fish,
each about 6 inches long, slowly synchronized-swimming alongside my
boat. They were only visible while their bodies reflected the moonlight,
so when they entered the moonshadow, or swam too deep for the moonlight
to reach them, they seemed to disappear like shy ghosts.

I would say it was a magical night – but alas the magic does not extend
as far as a miraculous change in the current. It’s still pushing me
north.

[photo: sunset over rougher seas – taken last Friday]

Other Stuff:

CONGRATULATIONS, SARAH!!! Today my friend Sarah Outen made landfall in
Mauritius after becoming the first woman to row across the Indian Ocean.
The crossing took her 123 days. Huge congratulations to Sarah on a job
superbly well done. I know how much hard work she put into the
preparations as well as the row itself, and she thoroughly deserves her
success. Check her out at sarahouten.co.uk.

Congrats also to her meteorologist, Ricardo Diniz, for bringing her in
safely. Ricardo was briefly my weatherman for my Atlantic crossing
(until my satphone broke and I couldn’t receive forecasts any more) has
emailed me a few times recently to ask about various aspects of ocean
rowing, all the better to advise Sarah, and I know she has greatly
valued his support. Well done, Ric!

I continue to be amazed by the quality of the poems submitted for the
award scheme. What a lot of talented Rozionados we have! Thank you for
all the submissions so far. I’ve just proposed to Nicole that we put
them up on the website so they can be appreciated by all. I’ll keep you
posted.

Weather report:

Position at 0030 HST: 03 06.876N, 175 59.708W
Wind: 0-15 knots, S-SE
Seas: 1-4 feet
Weather: light overcast most of the day, occasional sunshine, occasional
showers

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com

Latest Roz tracker reported your position as: 03 06N 175 48W as of 03Aug
0238HST.

As of Monday morning 3 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there is
SE winds 0-8kts in your area with moderate to light rainshowers. South
of the equator, more of the same. Wind direction should to shift more
ENEerly 5-15kts today then, SE 5-15kts on 01 Aug becoming light and
variable and possibly SW 5-15kts.Uncertainty remains in the forecast, as
previously discussed.

According to satellite imagery, there is moderate convection with heavy
rainshowers and squalls overhead and to your north. Minimal cloud
activity to your south.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy. Scattered heavy rainshowers, squalls,
and possible thunderstorms.

Forecast (low confidence due to extreme variability in equatorial
regions and naturally occurring small scale fluctuations in
direction/speed in the Doldrums)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
03/1800-04/1200 SE-E 5-15 2-5
04/1200-04/1800 E-NE 5-15 2-5
04/1800-05/0600 NE-E 5-15 2-5
05/1800-05/2100 E-SE 5-15 2-5
05/2100-06/0600 SE-S 0-10 1-4
06/0600-07/0000 Light and Variable 1-4
07/0000-08/0000 SE 5-10 1-5

Next Update: Thursday, 06 August

11 Comments

  • Roz, an article just went across the wires about a scientific study embarking from California on the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – I know you can’t read links from your boat, so here’s the text from the article…

    “LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of miles (km) of open sea dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

    A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego.

    The expedition will study how much debris — mostly tiny plastic fragments — is collecting in an expanse of sea known as the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, how that material is distributed and how it affects marine life.

    The debris ends up concentrated by circular, clockwise ocean currents within an oblong-shaped “convergence zone” hundreds of miles (km) across from end to end near the Hawaiian Islands, about midway between Japan and the West Coast of the United States.

    The focus of the study will be on plankton, other microorganisms, small fish and birds.

    “The concern is what kind of impact those plastic bits are having on the small critters on the low end of the ocean food chain,” Bob Knox, deputy director of research at Scripps, said on Monday after the ship had spent its first full day at sea.

    The 170-foot vessel New Horizon is equipped with a laboratory for on-board research, but scientists also will bring back samples for further study.

    Little is known about the exact size and scope of the vast debris field discovered some years ago by fishermen and others in the North Pacific that is widely referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

    Large items readily visible from the deck of a boat are few and far between. Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images.

    The debris zone shifts by as much as a thousand miles north and south on a seasonal basis, and drifts even farther south during periods of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures known as El Nino, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Besides the potential harm to sea life caused by ingesting bits of plastic, the expedition team will look at whether the particles could carry other pollutants, such as pesticides, far out to sea, and whether tiny organisms attached to the debris could be transported to distant regions and thus become invasive species.

    (Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Will Dunham)”

  • The current is pushing you north? Maybe someone is trying to tell you something. Have you tried rowing out of the current, or is that not an option? I will flush a vermin down the toilet for you, it get the Red Sox to beat the Rays last year… But then they lost the series 4-3, hmm, maybe not. Besides, I’m hoping not to find any more mice going after my peach trees. But if I do I want them dead. Hang in there.

  • Roz: The harder your struggle the greater your achievement. Your Atlantic crossing was a mighty achievement, your ’07 “float-test” was also. Pacific Stage 1 was, comparatively, easy. Now your accumulated experiences come to bear on a frustrating situation of which you had prior knowledge – you knew that the Equator would be difficult and communications patchy because of the satellite tracks. Wherever you make landfall counts as success; the spirit with which you respond to your experiences on the way will be your achievement. Godspeed. John & Patricia

  • Hi Roz, I wanted to add on to Lauren’s comment. There was an article in today’s Honolulu Advertiser about a group that just returned from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Here is some of the text:

    Joel Paschal, a crewman aboard the California-based marine research vessel Alguita, spent the past seven weeks sailing through a floating trash dump.
    Advertisement

    “We’re analyzing the (marine life) samples and looking in their stomachs to see which fish really eat plastic,” said Paschal, 33, of Waikiki. “This time, we saw mahimahi with plastic in the stomach. That was the first time we’d ever seen that.”

    The Alguita is in Honolulu following a survey trip through what has become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a band of floating trash north of Hawai’i. Swept loosely together by ocean currents, the patch has been estimated by some scientists to be twice the size of Texas.

    “Most people think it’s an island that you can just walk across, but it’s more of a diluted trash soup,” Paschal said.

    Here’s is a link for your followers to read: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090804/NEWS11/908040327/Ocean+is+choking+on+trash

    It is a sorry state of things in the Pacific! Thank you for rowing for such an important cause!

  • I’ve been following Sarah’s row too, and I cried today looking at the pictures of her landing. Good tears, happy tears! It was just too beautiful, and I was so proud of her, and I don’t even know her. I love reading your blog and it’s my little bit of adventure/excitement to check in on you out there rowing in the ocean. It’s a huge motivator during my marathon training runs to stick with it through the heat when I imagine you rowing all day long in the same heat. Hang in there!

  • Hi Roz,

    Toward the end of the day here in EDT…that makes it about 2:30pm at your Lat-Long. From the RozTracker I see that you have turned south and have made about 12 nm in Lat and a few miles west in Long from your Blog-posit the night before. Thank God for a calm night and a strong day rowing. Bravo!

    Q: Of what time zone is the date-time stamps on your posts…HST?

    Rozta’ Bill

  • Hi Bill,

    That’s correct – Roz’s positions on the RozTracker are posted in HST.

    We decided before she left that it would be easiest for our team if she kept HST throughout Stage 2. It makes arranging calls, etc that much simpler.

    Best,
    Nicole

  • Roz, beautiful full moon on an unblemished deep blue sky with fast-fading red-orange glow on the horizon here in Sacramento. We’ll hand it off to you in a few. Enjoy! Wishing calm flat water for you tonight … and energy to pull an all-nighter if you so desire. Congrats on crossing 3degN.
    Happy days indeed! Now have a happy night ;-D

  • Roz, just sharing a comment from one of my colleagues; I had been talking about the ‘pulling together’ aspects of your environmental message and my colleague said that she had a momentary mental image of you rowing hard with your oarstrokes not pushing the boat, but actually moving the world beneath you whilst the boat remains stationary! If the power of combined ‘pulling together’ can move the world, then it’s a very powerful force, let’s hope so!

    Regarding wonderful sunsets, we’ve had a few really nice ones here in Dorset recently and your followers might like to see them on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejm2009/sets/72157619289382202/ Best wishes.

Leave a Reply to UncaDoug Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *