Day 6: You Don’t See That Every Day
17 Aug 2007, The Brocade
I had visitors this afternoon. I was rowing along, minding my own business, when I noticed a rather large grey ship about half a mile away. I rather hoped they wouldn’t see me. I was well into my rowing rhythm and I didn’t want to have to interrupt my stride to go and put clothes on. But the ocean was flat calm so there was no chance to hide behind the nearest wave. It seemed they had spotted me, as they changed course to come over and investigate. I hurried to make myself decent.
I couldn’t get any reply from them on my VHF marine radio, but a loud voice hailed me from the deck. “I assume you’re OK,” the disembodied male voice said. “I’m just fine, thank you,” I yelled back. They were close enough to hear me, even over the noise of the engines. “Where are you going?” asked Disembodied. “Hawaii,” I replied. “Where are you going?”
Disembodied told me that they were the USS Momsen, bound for Seattle. And with that we had more or less exhausted our mid-ocean small talk.
“Fair winds to you,” Disembodied boomed in a friendly, genuine way (rather than a “you must be barking mad” kind of a way). And with that they turned and cruised off into the blue yonder.
[Comment: Long-time followers might remember the first time I had an encounter with a ship at sea – the HMS Southampton as I was crossing the Atlantic in 2006. They showed up on Valentine’s Day, on a rough and windy day. Despite a superstructure bristling with antennae and radar dishes, I still spotted them before they spotted me, emphasising just how invisible I am on the ocean. They were kind enough to launch a small RIB and four men came over to say hi and give me a Valentine’s card. No chocolates, alas, as that would have disqualified me from the race. But despite its chocolatelessness, it was still an amazing Valentine’s Day to remember!
See featured photo for an image of HMS Southampton.]
Other stuff (posted in 2007):
Progress has been slow today. I’ve been trying to go almost due south, to Aim Point 7 down at 40’N, 126’W, but by late afternoon my pace had slowed to a dispiriting 0.5 knots. It was strange – a beautiful, calm, sunny afternoon, but with a fierce current taking me rapidly the wrong way. If I wanted to go east, I’d be laughing – I can go east at 2 knots without even rowing. Many good things lie to the east, but not Hawaii.
[Comment: I’ve been following the progress (or occasionally the lack of it) of Sarah Outen, attempting to row solo across the North Pacific. She’s been having a tough time with contrary winds and currents – makes my trials and tribulations on the mid-Pacific look mild by comparison! Please go to her website and post a supportive comment. It’s an enormous challenge she’s taken on, but if anyone can do it, Sarah can. Go, girl!]
My first batch of sprouted seeds was finally ready to be harvested, after one and a half days of waiting. The Beanie mix, donated by Sproutpeople of San Francisco, had sprouted beautifully and I was eagerly looking forward to my first fresh vegetables since eating the last of my avocados (yes, I know they’re actually fruits) a couple of days ago. But at a crucial stage of the harvesting process, just as I was rinsing the sprouts in a sieve while holding it over the side of the boat, the Brocade lurched and I lost two-thirds of my harvest to the deep. Rude words were uttered. But the remaining third was good, and at least I’m back in the swing of my onboard gardening.
Other stuff (posted in 2013):
I’m off to Ireland today for the West Cork Literary Festival. Tonight I’m introducing distinguished academic, author, and ocean advocate Callum Roberts, who I first met at TED Mission Blue in 2010. Tomorrow I’m speaking at 3.30pm at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry, and on Thursday at 10am in the Bantry House Tearoom. I’ll be catching up with longtime Rozling Stan Miller, usually of Washington State, who happens to be visiting Ireland at the moment. Feel free to come and say hi! Or if you can’t be there, check out Callum Roberts’s fantastic talk on the state of our oceans. Although the content of the talk is often bleak, he has a positive and cheery way of delivering bad news that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!