To herald the publication of my next book, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific, I am revisiting some of my blogs from the Pacific crossing, adding a postscript either with additional details or a kind of “if I’d known then what I know now….” comment.
I seem to have got a bit confused on my chronology around this point – Day 3 and Day 4 both have entries on 15th August, 2007. So I include them both here – let’s just count it as a bonus in a time warp!
Day 4: Take It As It Comes
15 Aug 2007, The Brocade
I knew even before I finished rowing the Atlantic that I wanted to do the Pacific. I just wasn’t sure why. Every time I thought about being confined to a tiny rowboat in the middle of the ocean I would get a huge feeling of dread and trepidation in the middle of my chest – a feeling I hadn’t experienced since I worked as a management consultant, 7 years and a lifetime ago, and had to give client presentations. It was a mystery to me (and to my long-suffering mother) just why I needed to repeat what had been the most uncomfortable experience of my life.
As time has gone on, I have managed to come up with some plausible reasons for rowing another ocean. I needed to find out that I had truly learned the lessons that I had figured out by the end of the Atlantic crossing, about how to tackle a major challenge. I needed to redress the balance – the Atlantic had well and truly whipped me, and I wanted to, as the Americans say, “find closure”. And horrible though it had been, the ocean still seemed more appealing than the office.
So here I am again, and so far it seems that my trepidation was mostly unfounded. (Isn’t it always?) The Pacific has been living up to its name – the seas have been calm, the weather has been benign, and any minor pangs of seasickness have passed.
[Comment: Oh no! Hubris! This serenity was not going to last long – not long at all!]
But if I learned anything from the Atlantic, it is that weather and oceans can be fickle things, so I am not allowing myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Nor am I allowing myself to extrapolate from current status in order to guess at the future. As the turkey found out, life was great until Christmas came around..Next week could be totally different. So I’m just taking each day as it comes.
[Comment: Better. Maybe I had learned something after all. Isn’t it an interesting thing, though, how humans generally have short memories? We tend to assume that trends will continue. But nature is cyclical, not linear. What goes up has to come down, and vice versa. One of the most important things I learned on the Atlantic is that everything changes. It’s just a matter of time.]
Featured image: Brocade publicity shot from 2007
Day 3: Over The Edge: Dolphin Encounter
15 Aug 2007, The Brocade
Today I rowed out over the edge of the continental shelf, and into the deep ocean. This is an area especially rich in marine life, and I was delighted to see about a dozen whales at various times – surfacing to spout sprays of water from their blowholes.
But even better, at one point I found myself totally surrounded by dolphins, arcing and leaping through the waves. Some were even jumping clean out of the water, as if jumping for joy on this glorious sunny day.
My camerawork is a bit wobbly a) because my boat is very tippy, even on a calm day, and b) because I was rather over-excited!
Other Stuff (posted in 2013):
Thanks to Trekity for listing me amongst their Kick-Ass Collection of the World’s 125 Most Inspiring Women Travelers. There are some legendary names on there – from astronauts to advocates to authors to explorers. Check them out. And yes, I kick ass and I’m not sorry!
You’ll see the first woman on the list is Amy Lehman, founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Clinic, which provides me with a useful segue into my next piece of news – I’m now a patron of the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust, which is renovating an old hospital ship (the Chauncy Maples) to provide health services to the people who live around Lake Malawi, one of the poorest regions in the world. My mother was born and raised in South Africa, so I feel an affinity with the continent.
The Trust is organising The Big Row, a rowing/fundraising event in September this year to raise the final £1 million they need to complete the refurbishment and fitting out of the boat. They are looking for teams of 10-20 rowers to row 10,000 miles in an hour to raise funds. The main Big Row event is in Spitalfields in London, but if you can help raise the funds, you can take part wherever you are. Or even consider making a straightforward donation. All for a good cause! And spread the word – find them on Facebook, Twitter, or at their website.
Have a great weekend!