Today, with the Equator so tantalizingly close, everything seemed to slow to a snail’s pace. A snail with a ball and chain attached, even. The wind was in the southeast (not helpful) and I’m still in a north-flowing current (also not helpful) so the oars felt heavy and every stroke felt like a weight-lifting exercise.
Truth be told, I was getting pretty fed up with the whole business. Progress is very motivating. Lack of it is not. It’s a bit like trying to lose weight, and when the scales are being cruel the temptation is to say “forget it” and have a cake to cheer yourself up. But of course the only way to make progress – whether it be losing pounds or rowing oceans – is to keep the faith and carry on.
Morale was given a boost mid-afternoon when I picked up a text message on my satphone. It was from Ricardo, my new weatherman, saying “GOOD EFFORT GIRL. I CAN TELL YOU ARE TWEAKING YOUR COURSE AS MUCH AS POSS. GOOD AVG SPEED ALSO. RIC.” His assessment was maybe too flattering, but just then I needed those sweet little lies. Sometimes it’s just good to know that there are people watching, and that my efforts are being recognized – especially when my course on the GPS screen looks so discouraging.
This is a funny thing, because under normal circumstances I would have said that I don’t care too much for the opinion of other people. Of course, we all want to be liked, even approved, but generally I now steer my own course in life without considering whether it will please others. I just do what I do and they can like it or lump it.
But even the most independent-minded of us still appreciate some positive feedback from time to time, and that is why I cherish the comments and Tweets of the Rozionados. It’s good to know I am not alone, and that my every mile, my every effort, is monitored, appreciated, and commented on.
Meanwhile, during breaks from the oars, I’ve been getting ready for my Equatorial celebration. With less than 15 miles to go, I hope it’s not premature. I’ve dug out the mysterious yellow drybag labeled “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 0 LATITUDE”. It was given to me by Nicole and Liz before I left Hawaii. I’m dying to take a peek but am resisting the urge – although I have given it a few squeezes, like an impatient kid with a Christmas present.
My gift and my sacrifice are at the ready, and in the absence of a crewmate or captain to represent Neptune, I have pressed Squishie the Dolphin into service as his representative. I didn’t happen to have a trident on board, but a fork makes a passable quatrent (or whatever it is called). I think Squishie looks rather regal, and look forward to paying him homage when I reach the magic Latitude Zero, which, with a bit of luck and more slogging, might be tomorrow.
This afternoon I saw a shark swimming alongside my boat. A proper Jaws-type shark, rather than the blunt-headed, vegetarian whale shark I saw a few weeks ago. But this one was just a tiddler – about 3 feet long – so I didn’t feel too apprehensive that he might eat me/my boat/my oar.
Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response to my decision to try for Tuvalu. Good to hear I’ve got you on the edge of your seats. Me too! I do wish I had a crystal ball so I can see how all this is going to pan out. Or there again, maybe it’s just as well I don’t…
Marv asked if there is a backup plan. Of course there is. I always have a Plan B! First, if within the next couple of weeks it becomes evident that Tuvalu will be impossible, I can still change course for Tarawa. Second, if I can get close to Tuvalu but not quite make it, there is a research vessel due to be in the Tuvalu area in early-mid September, and they have offered to assist if required. Pushing on to the Solomons or Australia are not really options – not without a functioning watermaker, although I still hope to resolve that problem. Also, as it has taken me so much longer than expected to get through the ITCZ, I would require a resupply of food if I was to extend my voyage all the way to Australia. And I would have to cancel my book tour – and possibly all our plans for Copenhagen. So I very much hope it won’t come to that. It really IS Tuvalu or bust!
Will – for sure, I will give it my bestest. In fact, I think that is what I would want to be able to say on my deathbed – that I always did try my bestest. Nobody can do more than that. Thanks for giving me the word!
Tom B – your wife might just be right! But I hope that the eventual result will speak for itself. The Richard Byrd book sounds really interesting. I always love reading about people having a worse time than I am!
Christa – thanks for the info on Tuvalu. Only 6 prisoners? Mind you, I don’t suppose there’s much mischief you can get up to on a sandspit – and making a getaway would be quite a challenge too!
To Richard, my minstrel. Funny that recently I’ve been listening to books by George R R Martin, set in the court of some imagined medieval-ish place and time. So jesters, troubadours, singers and minstrels are very vivid in my mind right now. And you perform the role admirably – I very much appreciate your contributions to the Rozling community, as well as your thoughtfulness in considering how best you could enhance our enjoyment of the adventure. Thank you!
Donna – great questions. I’ve made a note of them for a future blog – and/or they are answered in depth in my book, Rowing The Atlantic, due out Oct 6. Available for pre-order on Amazon, and if you send your Amazon confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org you can claim your special, limited edition Larabar bookmark, made from the wrapper of one of the many Larabars I am munching my way through on this crossing!
Position at 2300 HST: 00 13.624N, 179 27.693W
Wind: 15kts SE this morning, backing slightly this afternoon. Dropped to 9kts briefly after a squall, then revived to 15kts E.
Seas: swell from SE-E about 4ft
Weather: morning sunny and hot. More cloud this afternoon. Couple of passing rainshowers.
SUNDAY EVENING WIND WILL DROP AND BACK TO SLIGHTLY NORTH OF EAST WITH SPEEDS OF 3 TO 6 KNOTS. AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABLE, HEAD 170. THIS IS MY SUGGESTING AT A HEALTHY COMPROMISE BETWEEN WIND ANGLE AND EFFECTIVE SPEEDY COURSE TO TUVALU- WHILST STILL KEEPING YOU IN A SAFETY NET. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU ABOUT 40 MILES FURTHER EAST BEFORE WE START CONFIDENTLY CURVING YOU AROUND TOWARDS TUVALU. THINGS WILL BE GREAT UNTIL TUESDAY AND YOU SHOULD MAKE GOOD PROGRESS DURING THAT TIME. WED/THU NOT IDEAL AS WIND WILL GRADUALLY INCREASE TO 9-11KN FROM EAST AND THEN FROM ABOUT 110 DEGREES (SE). FRIDAY AND SATURDAY HAS A 30% CHANCE OF PROVIDING YOU WITH NE WINDS 12 KNOTS. IF THEY DO MATERIALISE,
THEY SHOULD STAY AROUND FOR AT LEAST 4 DAYS.