Niu Hae Akala avoids atollsUPDATE (9/7, 1pm HST): Niu Hae Akala seems to be doing a great job of avoiding islands! After nearly slamming into Abemema Atoll a few days ago before taking a last-minute turn to the north to avoid landfall, Maiana Atoll loomed large on the horizon. But yet again, the island pushed the floating drifter to the north and around the small island. Interestingly, it then headed south as if it were trying to do a lap around.

This morning, however, has brought a change. Niu now appears to be returning to its typical northwesterly path. Perhaps the wind that picks up during the day is taking over. Or, to be completely non-scientific and start anthropomorphizing this sensor, perhaps Niu misses Roz and wants to go to Tarawa! Don’t we all?

Roz Savage in Honolulu with Niu Hae AkalaAs you may know, Roz deployed a floating ocean drifter device called “Niu Hae Akala” on the equator a few weeks ago (it was a stow-away on her boat since Honolulu). As one of the centerpieces of Project Niu, it is designed to teach students around the world about marine debris and how it is carried by ocean currents (since it floats just like plastic garbage). Since then, Niu Hae Akala (which has a satellite modem and GPS for remote monitoring) has headed due west for over 350 miles.

If you saw that Roz came within two miles of Abemema Atoll last night, then you’re already familiar with this area just southeast of Tarawa. Well, Niu Hae Akala and is now only 10 miles from landing on Abemema Atoll (as of 2:25pm HST on 9/4/09). Its next position update will be at 2:25AM HST on 9/5. Hopefully by then it will have “steered” north of land. Of course, this personification is inaccurate… it’s a buoy, it cannot steer!

Back here in Hawaii, those on TeamRoz that did not head to Tarawa this week are monitoring this situation closely. We just sent this message to Hunter and Nicole, hoping they’ll get it in time, or that Niu Hae Akala will avoid landfall…

To Hunter and Nicole,

You guys might need to plan another boating trip soon. Niu Hae Akala is headed **DIRECTLY** for that atoll that Roz nearly hit last night. It’s 10 miles away as of a few minutes ago, and is approaching at 1.3 miles per hour “steering” a perfectly straight course of 264 degrees. The drama begins as an expensive computer floats into an atoll…

Check out the Project Niu Tracker
(Niu Hae Akala is the pink path)


  • That atoll is far from uninhabited. Keep zooming in on the tracker satellite view and you’ll see a road from one end to the other, an airstrip and heaps of houses. So if the ‘drifter’ washes up it’s very likely to be found.

  • It does look like the float is going to crash into Abemama, and it’s not an uninhabited island. According to Wikipedia, it has an estimated population of 3,608. Maybe they can contact someone on that island to retrieve it. I think Nicole and Hunter have more important things on their minds right now, and if they can convince someone with a large boat to go out and wrestle Roz back to safety, I’m not so sure they could convince the same boat owner to make a second even farther trip out in the other direction to retrieve a floating computer. 🙂

  • Imagine that ,,, You mean if you drop something that floats in the ocean on the equator,,,it will actually be pushed by that current until it hits an island on the equator. WOW !
    Hey I have an Idea… why don’t we ask Roz to follow it to make sure it never lands? Yeah you could call it project Coocoonut !
    Better yet ,, since it cost so much you want someone to make a 150 mile round trip to fetch it ,, why didn’t you put a digital receiver and controller in it so you could really ” Steer ” it if it was not going where you wanted.

  • Colin – This is an educational project for middle school and elementary school kids to make science and technology more interesting, so that topics like ocean currents, marine debris, and satellite communications don’t have to come just from a textbook. If the science being taught in this project is obvious and not interesting to you, then please feel free to ignore it. And there’s no cause of concern, should retrieving it be necessary, it is not going to risk Roz’s safety. We might even re-deploy it with people (hopefully kids) in the area if they’d like to take part in distance learning initiatives.

  • Colin, you are an extremely negative and hostile person. Exactly the type of person Roz Savage is not. Please try to be a little bit more positive around here. This blog and it’s comments are unlike most of the other forums you find on the internet. We’re happy people, and we support positivity. Try to turn your attitude around and say something positive. Thanks.

    Even, having the local children re-deply it is a wonderful idea, and probably simpler than attempting to retreive it. With over 3,600 people on that island, I’m sure there would be intrest, especially from an island community like that whose lives depend on the ocean.

  • Thanks Evan. Well put. Here, however, is the profound concern for Roz’s safety and SUCCESSFUL completion on this leg of her journey. Therefore I sincerely hope Nicole and team secure an ocean going motor launch to guide and/or tow (rescue if necessary) Roz AND Brocade.

    Have consulted with Brian, and can still see slim opportunity for Roz to enter Lagoon at Betio. Sitting on spikes and fighting the urge to open the bottle of Cognac before me. -Achates

  • Her latest position and heading is also falling off the goal of passing Maiana Atoll on the East.
    8 hours from now (unless the wind shifts dramatically) , she will pass the south end of the atoll and be fighting the currents and wind carrying her to the Western Pacific.
    The smart thing to do at this point would be to get some sleep and deploy the sea anchor. This will slow her passing the South end until daylight and get her the rest she needs to try to take advantage of eddys in the current tomorrow,, on the lee side of the atoll that may help carry her north ,,,if she stays close (but not too close) to the reef and the lee (west) side of Maiana. If she does not rest tonight she will not have the energy she needs for tomorrow and she will be at the atoll when it is dark,, and too dangerous to get close enough to catch eddys on the lee side.

    Lets pray there is a boat on the way in the morning if not already..

  • Hi Roz,
    This is such an exciting moment. You are a true inspiration to all…thank you so much. Each of the men from my class at the jail have a copy of your interview with CNN; they send waves of encouragement and support.

    Slide ashore in pride and glee…..


  • I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas day to open the presents! I keep checking back for updates and twitters. Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!

    There was one comment somewhere along the way, and the person said they were blowing on their map, so that the winds might point you the right way. I thought that was so cute! So I’m blowing on my map too!

    You go Roz….you rock!

  • Brilliant! Prayers being answered. Roz, looks like you’re getting a nudge from the sea mount off your starboard aft quarter! Making better northing. Betio, here she comes!

  • The suspense is killing me. I actually woke up at 4:30am my local time on a Saturday morning to check Roz’s progress and updates. Looks like she’s going to pull off a miracle! If anyone ever could, of course it would be Roz (and her incredible support team)!

  • Well, just got your tweet Roz, only 35 miles to go and passing maiana atoll! Woo hoo! So excited for your arrival and looking forward to the celebration and good video that I KNOW will be broadcast. 🙂 I only wish I were there to welcome you.

  • It appears the tracker has stopped updating Roz’s position? (hasn’t moved for 3 hours). Please, not at this critical time!

  • This is really it!! Roz seems to pass the atoll on the right side.

    Wonderfull!! Marvelous!!

    Fingers still crossed – increasing pressure!

    bye from Hamburg

  • Well Roz, just the route I was praying for! Bathymetry, seamounts, tidal flow, surge, time o day, belated wind shift – this whole chaotic orchestra has now become a south seas lullaby. Hope to see you sleeping on clouds (or maybe a waterbed) soonest. -Achates

  • Roz is going to make it, a boat is lined up for intercept, and to top it off, Niu Hae Akala has somehow avoided Abemema. Miracles happening all over that island group today!

  • for the next part of the trip, I suggest constructing a lower deck with a 4 place rowing station. For oarsmen you can use grown chimpanzees. (each 5 X more powerful than a human) Just don’t bring any bananas since they are bad luck on a cruise. This trip has been all fouled up ever since you are banana cake back the start.
    As far as getting the chimpanzees to row, I beleive Brocade produces enough power to augment a positive and negative system of to educate the animals

  • for the next part of the trip, I suggest constructing a lower deck with a 4 place rowing station. For oarsmen you can use grown chimpanzees. (each 5 X more powerful than a human) Just don’t bring any bananas since they are bad luck on a cruise. This trip has been all fouled up ever since you ate banana cake back the start.
    As far as getting the chimpanzees to row, I beleive Brocade produces enough power to augment a positive and negative system of to educate the animals. This method would give the Captain many more hours to promote her causes and perhaps demonstrate green products for serious financial gain. One more item. Unless that boat is kept locked and under guard 24/7 until you are ready to go again. Otherwise the natives will steal every single thing in it or on it. Beware!

  • Roz, you are a wonder woman! This is exactly what separates the professionals from the amateurs. This kind of “pull it out at the end with a superhuman effort”!

  • Hey, Roz … you’re DOING it, girl! You’re about to complete the second leg of your SOLO ROW ACROSS THE PACIFIC! Just typing those words gives me goose bumps! I cannot imagine the mental challenge it has been for you to go 104 (possibly 105?) days without human contact (although some of us might actually welcome that if not in the best relationships, eh? … tee, hee), so I’m so happy that Team Roz will be there to MEET you and that Nicole & Crew not only lined up a boat to safely see you into land but also to film your arrival. YOU DONE GOOD, Roz! Cannot wait to hear your voice — I DO hope they can record something LIVE! — when you are once on terra firma.

    You continue to inspire — one oar stroke at a time. THANK YOU!


    PS: I forgot to say . . . wish I could physically be there w/ Team Roz at the shoreline of Tarawa. It would be so exciting! Maybe in Australia, eh? Now THAT will be the place for a full-on Team Roz blow-out celebration! (Except that the eco ‘footprint’ to GET to Australia probably would make that counterproductive.) Perhaps mini celebrations on all the continents where there are fans of your ‘work’? Yup. That’ll do. I’ll organize the one in NY!

    At this point you are probably down to only about a few miles from shore — heck, you may even be right on the verge of landing (as I have no idea of the time line; it’s 10:45 a.m. in NY) — so, Godspeed you on to land with hilarious joy and thanksgiving! (And SOMEONE, please manage to get this gal a beer, eh? There are ways …!) Those Haldane water jars are great for all KINDS of things!!


  • woooooooo!
    A toast of scotch to you,
    my dearest Rozita!
    Big hugs and kisses from Colombia!
    And lots of cheers for you,
    and of course for all the members of
    Team Roz, both material and spiritual, like myself!
    Alejo, from Colombia

  • Add huge cheers from Chicago to the celebration of Roz’s safe arrival. HOOOOOORAY! Can’t wait for more details and pix.

  • WOW you guys … just got your first set of pictures. Absolutely awsome & beautiful! I see it’s 10:15 AM on Tuesday, hot & humid again. Enjoy your rest and bask in the admiration of all of us on TEAM ROZ.


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