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.
Day 7: Land Looming Large Again
18 Aug 2007, The Brocade
There is a distinct air of uneasiness hanging over the Brocade tonight. The wind has been pushing me east, so that I am now back to the same line of longitude that I crossed last Tuesday. I have made fair progress south, but that matters little to me right now. What does matter is that I can see land looming again, about 40 miles to the east, and this makes me anxious.
[Comment: To put it mildly! 40 miles might sound like a lot of room for manoeuvre, but if wind and/or currents are pushing you that way, land can loom large awfully fast. I’ve never actually shipwrecked, but believe me, when you’re in an unpowered rowboat, you’re definitely much happier when there’s no visible land to bump into.]
All day today I have battled to make progress into a headwind, trying to increase the safety margin between me and the California coast. At times I was rowing hard just to stand still. My speed over ground (as opposed to speed through the water) varied between 1 knot at best, and negative distance at worst, i.e. even though I was rowing west, the wind and the current were more than counteracting my efforts. It has been like trying to go the wrong way on a moving walkway – a very long moving walkway.
[Comment: this situation is the bane of an ocean rower’s life – rowing hard and going nowhere. No matter how slowly you run – or walk – a marathon, at least the ground doesn’t start carrying you backwards!]
I’ve now put out the sea anchor, in the hope that it can prevent too much more eastwards drift overnight. I am exhausted with rowing and need a break.
Even more worrying, strong winds and large waves are forecast for tomorrow morning. The weather front is due to pass quickly – hopefully before it sweeps me ashore. Compared with this threat, even this morning’s close shave with a container ship (see photo) has paled into insignificance.
[I’ve just been looking at the 36 comments that were posted on that day back in 2007. What wonderful words of wisdom, understanding, sympathy and encouragement. You can view them here in x-journal, the blogging tool I was using at the time. It’s hard to describe just how much strength I have drawn from my online audience over the years. Just amazing!]
Featured photo: In San Francisco before my launch, with Mike Klayko, then CEO of Brocade, my title sponsors. I saw Mike again earlier this year in San Jose, just a few weeks after he stepped down as CEO. We caught up on old times over a martini (or was it two?!).