This afternoon, as the clouds of a squall passed away, I glanced over my shoulder and saw land – the first land I’ve seen since I rowed past the Farralone Islands just west of San Francisco. That was on May 26th, many miles and several watermakers ago. I was seeing the cloud-shaded outlines of Maui and Molokai, two of the Hawaiian islands that lie between the Big Island and my destination of Oahu.
In the aftermath of the squall the ocean was hushed and still, as often happens for a while after short sharp shower, before the weather recovers itself and the wind starts up again. Today that hush felt like a very special, quiet moment, a time for recollection and reflection before the end of this great adventure. I am now well into the last 100 miles and have just two or three days of solitude remaining before I make landfall.
I will take the quietness of the becalmed ocean into myself and bring it back to land like a secret souvenir. It is the feeling of strength and serenity that keeps me grounded when “real” life gets a bit crazy. Since I first found it – or first created it – during the Atlantic row, it has been there as a resource to draw on when I need it. Sometimes I forget I have it and get caught up in the frenzied busy-ness of everyday life, but then when I start feeling frazzled I remember it, and I feel inside for it and it reminds me of what is really important and what is not.
It is my pearl of peace, forged in the crucible of the ocean, formed around the grit and grind and hardship of my oceanic existence. And each time I focus on it, it acquires another layer of pearlescence – it becomes bigger and stronger and more robust, its patina deepening with age and usage. As it becomes more lustrous it becomes easier to remember it is there, its radiance harder to ignore.
And so tonight, as I look out of my cabin hatch and up at the hazy band of the Milky Way, and the multitude of stars twinkling overhead, and the sparkles of fluorescence as the waves break around my boat, I prepare myself mentally for the return to land, life, and people – and fold my pearl of peace into my heart.
Position at 2100 29th August HST, 0700 30th August UTC: 21 29.065’N, 156 25.950’W.
As I enter the final hours of my row on Monday or Tuesday next week, we’ll be updating this website on a frequent basis to give you up-to-the-minute news. I will be calling my mother with position updates every couple of hours, and she will be updating this web page so you can follow the adventure in almost real-time. Twitlive.tv is hoping to do a live broadcast of my arrival, so check that out too.
And I hope that, having shared my adventure with me, you will stick around for a few more days to bask in the glory of the celebrations on Hawaii. I’ll be posting blogs post-landfall to tell you what I’m doing and how it feels to be back on dry land.
Click to view Day 99 of the Atlantic Crossing 8 March 2006: The Atlantic has been Crossed. The Atlantic Rowing Race organisers had stipulated the longitude that needed to be crossed to qualify for a crossing of the Atlantic. There were no blogs for the previous two days as Rita had limited access to a computer on Antigua.