On my previous voyages, the RozTracker has been one of the most popular pages on my website. It made it easy for occasional visitors to see at a glance where I was, and for the regulars to see whether I had had a good day’s mileage or… not.
So it was with great reluctance that this year we decided not to post my position online. And with great delight that I can announce that from now until the end of my Indian Ocean voyage my position will be posted several times daily on this website.
The reason for NOT posting my position was safety. Back in January, when I was busy with the planning stages of Eat-Pray-Row, terrible stories were coming back from the Indian Ocean. Pirates were running rampant, rapidly expanding their area of operations and becoming increasingly aggressive. Four Americans were shot and killed. A total of over 300 people were being held hostage. The situation was serious.
I sought advice from maritime organizations and shipping companies. The experts said, “Don’t go.” That wasn’t the advice I wanted to hear, so I proposed a compromise. I would go, but not advertise my position online. They agreed that, if I really insisted on pursuing my plans, this would be a sensible precaution.
I also had to change my route. Initially, I had intended to row to Mumbai in India, but this would have taken me through the Arabian Sea, the most dangerous area of all. So I investigated other options – Zanzibar, Madagascar, Goa, Cochin. But they were all within the area dominated by pirates.
My mother has been remarkably phlegmatic about my ocean rowing exploits over the years, but this was too much even for her. After she had received a phone call from a man at the UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trading Organization, during which he had terrified her with dire predictions of what awaited me, she wrote me an email that ended, “As if rowing across oceans wasn’t bad enough, now this???” My mother is not given to excessive panic nor excessive punctuation, so those three question marks meant that she was far from happy. A compromise solution had to be found.
Ultimately I decided to stick to the safer waters of the southern hemisphere, but to leave Mumbai on my website’s home page as a decoy. My destination has been a closely guarded secret, known only to a handful of people.
But now, nine months later on, as I near the end of my voyage, we have decided after much deliberation that it is safe to go public. The pirates have not continued the expansion of their operations, confining themselves mostly to the area north of the Equator, with only a few forays to the south. And I am now so close to land that they are unlikely to find me before I make landfall.
Yup, just like everybody else who rows the Indian Ocean (with only a few exceptions), I am aiming for Mauritius, a beautiful island off the eastern coast of Africa. I am now about 368 miles away, and hope to make landfall in early October.
I am aware that the Woodvale crews were not so coy about their destination, also Mauritius. Good for them. Each crew has to make their own decision, based on the information available to them. Sarah Outen was also open about her destination, but that was two years ago, before the rapid increase in pirate activity. I consulted the experts, and based on their advice made a decision that was acceptable to them, myself, and my mother. We will never know what might have happened if I had decided otherwise.
So now you know, and I hope you’re getting as excited as I am for this final countdown. It feels like forever since I parted company with terra firma in Australia’s Abrolhos Islands on 4th May, and my feet are yearning to feel solid ground beneath them once again. I also have a feeling that they may well propel me in the direction of the nearest bar soon after landfall!
On the one hand, it’s hard to believe that this is almost over – that my world of sea, sky, dorados and yellowfins will soon be just a memory. On the other hand, I CAN’T WAIT!!!!! 🙂
You can see ROZ’S ROUTE here. Each dot links to the blog from that day.
Making good progress. Conditions benign.
I hear from my mother that our fundraising campaign to raise her airfare has been a fantastic success so far – thank you all so much! I think we now have almost enough to cover her costs. The next segment goes towards a full-body massage as a treat for me (and oh boy, do I need it!), and after that any further sums go to charity. You’ve been absolutely fantastic. I’m sure I speak for Mum as well when I say that your generosity has made us feel very loved.
I finished listening to “Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change
Quote for the day: “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
Sponsored Miles: Thank you to : Mark Dyson, Megan Lutz, Bonnie Sterngold, David Cameron, Nick Perdiew, Alexandra Stevens, Jeffrey Green, Peter Lisker. Sponsored beyond Roz’s destination: Megan Lutz, Sally Phillips, Rolando Cuadrado, Chris Ferreira, Wayne Batzer and Gail Brownell.
A very special thank you from Rita for the loving generosity shown by Roz’s friends donating funds for me to travel to be there when Roz arrives. Sorry I have not been able to acknowledge them all individually.
Special mention to Poppy (8) and Joseph (5) for the joke they sent along as well: Why did the Dinosaur cross the road? Because the chicken hadn’t been invented.