Day 81 - compass

Oh boy, this is going to be another short blog. 10.30pm already, and only just starting to write…

I was pleased today to hold my own against a very brisk wind coming out of the southeast, which was threatening to push me north again, but actually has allowed me to go almost due west. I really don’t understand how these things work – other southeasterlies have had me zooming northwest at an alarming rate of knots, but this one has been relatively benevolent.

So that’s the news regarding where my body is at. As for where my head is at, today I’ve had to work harder than usual at being present in the here and now. My thoughts keep wanting to take off into the realms of panic. Usually it’s will-I-ever-get-out-of-here or the great Tuvalu/Tarawa debate. But today there was a new one. Today it was the I’m-going-to-run-out-of-food panic. Of course I’m not going to run out of food – or only if I get well and truly marooned in the ITCZ. I’ve still got enough food for another 50 days or so, but try telling that to my mind once it gets into one of its loony-loops. I must have mentally run through my full inventory of food about ten times today, until I just wanted to hit the Off button on my brain.

But as the day went on I got more successful at countering those Negative Nellie voices in my head. Every time I caught myself spiraling into a tizzy, I would pull myself back and focus on just being present in the here and now – admiring a cloud, listening to my audiobook, enjoying the contrast between a blue wave and a white foaming crest… until 5 minutes later it happens all over again – but that’s brains for you. I don’t try and fight the thoughts (well, not much) but simply to reduce and reduce the amount of time between when the spiral starts and when I notice it’s happening – and then to stop the spiral, breeeeaaaathe, adjust and refocus.

I also keep humming “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and reminding myself of my little Zen Dog. I’ve quoted him before, but I’ll quote him again for newcomers to the blog:

He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide
It’s not the destination
It’s the glory of the ride.

[photo: My compass (and rowing shoes). The wind is coming at the boat broadside on the port beam, i.e. the right hand side of the picture – so you can tell it’s coming from the southeast]

Other Stuff:

Thank you for all the great comments on my spiritual blog yesterday. I’m glad it provoked some thoughts and feedback rather than an embarrassed silence – so I feel justified in baring all before you. Thank you!

Laurey Masterson – thanks for your lovely message. Good to find out more about you and your life. I’m sure I will make it to NC in the near future. Nicole’s granny is moving there soon too, so I have many reasons to visit!

Robert Gandy – good for you!

Steve Maskell – great to hear from you, and I love that image of my oarstrokes spinning the world beneath me – maybe a bit like the Native Americans believing that it’s their job to make sure the sun rises every morning. So, in that case, I’d better carry on rowing then!

I missed the meteor shower! Only just got the comments about it –and it was last night, darn it. I was rowing until 11.30pm so must just have missed it. Boo!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 02 13.327N, 177 25.169W
Wind: light this morning, then 20 knots SE-ESE for the rest of the day
Seas: 4-6 ft SE
Weather: some overcast this morning, then generally fine and sunny with high cirrus clouds

Weather forecast courtesy of

Latest tracker reported your position as: 02 39N 177 05W as of 09Aug 2335HST.

As of Monday morning 10 Aug 2009.  According to measured data, there have been Eerly winds up to 7-12kts and little significant rainshower activity in your area. 10kt Eerly winds extends to 01 30S then increase to Eerly 15-20kts then shift to SEerly 0-20kts. Winds continue to be very shifty next couple of days becoming Eerly 0-15kts by 1500HST 11Aug. Then shifting to SEerly 0-20kts by 12Aug 1200HST. Uncertainty remains in the forecast, as previously discussed.

According to satellite imagery, there remains widespread areas of low level clouds amongst scattered areas of deep convection. There is a significant area of deep convection south of the Equator centered near 03 00S 175 00W. Rainshowers, squalls, and thunderstorms in areas of deep convection.

Sky conditions:  Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered moderate 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
10/1800-10/2100            E-SE 0-20          2-5
10/2100-11/1800            SE-E 0-20          2-5
11/1800-12/1200            E-SE 0-20         2-5
12/1200-14/0600            SE-ENE 5-20     2-5
14/0600-15/0000            ENE-SE 0-20     2-5

Next Update:   Thursday, 13 August


  • Dear Roz; it’s these kinds of trials and tribulations that make your trip an actual adventure and keep your followers steadfast. If it was easy, no-one would be interested. The pressures you are under, and the ways you respond, are important to us but also to you as you overcome them. Your next book will be at least as exciting as your first. As always, you will overcome anything that gets in your way.

  • Hi Roz,
    Ah, the human mind. It seems you’re being reminded of where the theme for Loony Tunes originated! And
    as your favorite quote-maker – Sir Winston C. – once commented, relative to such a mind as yours today, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
    And as Steve Maskell has commented concerning spinning the world beneath you, it stems from Native American runners, who amazed the Spanish conquistadors with their running distances to warn the next villages. They visualized being in one place and moving their legs to spin the world beneath their feet. I do the same for long drives, just sitting in the car and letting it spin the earth beneath my wheels while I just enjoy watching the scenery go by.
    As Sir Winston MIGHT have said, “The present is a presence – and a present.”
    Enjoy our meteor show again this night. They’re not through showing off yet.
    Carry on, as we all send you the best possible yummy virtual food supplies. We’re with you! – Doug S.

  • Heyya Roz!

    I think this is an awesome adventure and I´m glad your doing it!
    It´s a special kind of life to take part in the”real” world and many people miss the boat (no pun) lol.
    Your cause is also very important to me.Being an ice climber I´m amazed how the environment is changing up here in Norway warmer winters, later season every year.
    Well Good luck I know you will reach your goal!

    Jerry G.

  • Hey Roz,

    When the wind is blowing really hard, do you remain steering on a southerly course and just compensate a few degrees?, or do you turn directly into the wind to lower your aspect to it, thus lowering the effect it has on your drift?

    Jonathan Grimaldi

  • Wondering if your support crew is using NOAA’s OSCAR to evaluate your situation in relation to real time surface currents. ou are certainly in the area of the warm westerly surface flow in the WESTPAC near the equator. The website is:
    It has real time monitoring of the surface currents world wide and might help your team decide Tarawa or Tuvalu. w@noaa

  • Hey Roz. When I get those worry/worry moments, especially in the middle of the night, I sit up, and start counting breaths, relaxing muscles. after a while the numbers take over from the triggering thoughts (sometimes I may have to count into the hundreds!) but eventually the thoughts give up, I am relaxed and ..thought-less. Then I can sleep. Illustrates that the fear is between the ears, not outside. Best to you. It looks like you are making headway, slowly, and resolutely. Cheers.

  • Dear Roz,
    Going around in circles in that stupid ITCZ is enough to give anyone loopy loops, panic attacks, and just plain frustration. But think what a beautiful day is coming when you finally break through, head for your island of choice, and swig down several pints while eating a lovely hot meal. That day is coming soon, and much love, and good rowing seas be with you.

  • Hi Roz,
    Where you want to go (to the EQ and south) UH has the wind predicted to be very steady easterly at 10kts. Where you are now, it’s easterly to NEerly at about 5kts. The closer to the EQ you get, the more steady the wind is predicted out of the east at 10kts.

    Please forgive my boldness…it appears to me (sitting in my comfortable chair in my air-conditioned den, with my fast internet connection, studying your situation) that you get to the EQ and IDL at the same time with a course of about 225T (heading about 210) in about 10 days. From there, the winds would favor you for Tarawa. A course of 290T (heading 300T) for about about 20 more days will get you to a fresh pint.

    Or, due west m’lassie with the wind in your face as it rounds your aft cabin will take you a bit straighter to that draft, maybe 25 days. (May the Life Force be with you!)

    Rozta’ B

  • Hello, dear Roz – missed reading you for a few days while away at rowing camp and am glad to reconnect with your progress. Told everyone (including out head coach, Olympian Jim Dietz) all about you and everyone at camp is cheering you on. Really missing you and sending all best thoughts. Loved your spirituality post; you expressed big and complex thoughts very well. With heaps of love, encouragement, admiration and good wishes…Ellen

  • Okay, first time commenting, though I’ve been following your journey for weeks now. First, your thoughts on spirituality reminded me of things I’ve been forgetting lately in the particular loopy-loop of life I seem to be mired in myself right now, and second, thank you so much for today’s techniques for dealing with Negative Nellie (she is VERY loud in my head these days) when I very much need to be using the Law of Attraction instead! How you are able to engage in the kind of mental and physical challenge you have taken on and still have time for profound and witty blogging absolutely takes my breath away! What you are working with is very, very humbling to me in my own life. Finally, I’ve taken to bringing Larabars to work for snacks on the days when I eat dinner late and I have to say, the effort it must take to unwrap the bars while preserving the wrappers for laminating is beyond me! When my copy of your book and my bookmark finally arrive I will have true appreciation for the beauty of the latter, as I continue to shred my own wrappers! And I can hardly wait for the book!
    Please know that you have a devout fan here rooting for you and eagerly staying up too late to ensure I read your blog each evening–it’s the highlight of my day!

  • Love the port and starboard shoes!!
    Also yesterday’s explanation of your spiritual beliefs. You were able to put into words what I’ve come to believe. Thank you.

  • Dear Roz,

    Yesterday morning when I woke up for my more and more “normal” 3:30 am loopy loop mind chatter .. I decided to get up and write before trying to get back to sleep (which usually takes me a few hours). I too go off on this crazy notion of all the perceived problems and worry of something that is not existing in this present moment. When I can finally get a “virtual” massage meditated in my mind long enough to drown out the loopy chatter I fall asleep.
    But two nights ago as I began to drift back to sleep I had a vision. I already know I am on this journey that won’t let me go “backwards” to any road that keeps me in a box. Like your road right now is a big huge ocean, mine is a single track trail surrounded by a big huge forest. In my vision my road was looking mighty full of scratchy vines and I could barely see the path (thus the worry). But then I realized that the spiny vines (that scratched at me as I blazed trail and moved ahead in the direction of a dream) were covered with wild raspberries! …
    Ah, the loopy loop of worried thoughts about future eroded to leave me to slumber with the present thoughts of eating the fruit along the way …
    Loved your spiritual journal as well Roz – I am so with you! Thank you for sharing! Much love, warmth and may you feel all of your followers reaching to you with big hugs!

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