Update on Commencement Speech in Tulsa
On Saturday I gave the commencement speech at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma (as mentioned in a previous blog), in front of several thousand students, friends, family, and faculty. It was my first commencement speech but not, I hope, my last. I really enjoyed the opportunity to give the benefit of my ocean-earned wisdom, such as it is, to the graduating students – the leaders of tomorrow. To condense a 15-minute speech into a few words, the 3 main messages were:
a) be mindful of the stories you tell yourself about who you are – they will define what you achieve
b) determination, dedication and discipline can get you a heck of a long way, and you won’t get far without them
c) there are two kinds of fear – one kind that will help keep you alive, but also a second kind that stops you doing the things you want to do – so let go of the fear of failure if you want to live fully.
The video will be available soon here.
I also had the chance to meet the University of Tulsa women’s rowing team (pictured above with their coach Kevin Harris, and wish them all the best in the C-USA Rowing Conference Championships next weekend.
Being the daughter of two Methodist preachers, it strikes me as ironic that I occasionally find myself in a not dissimilar occupation. In fact, thinking back on the little I recall (or even listened to) of my father’s sermons during my childhood, many of them seemed to be motivational more than religious. I’d like to think that my speech on Saturday would have made him proud.
St Johns, Newfoundland
On Sunday morning I got up at 4am to catch a flight to St John’s, Newfoundland, and arrived around 23 hours later. Sadly, my luggage didn’t, and is still wandering around somewhere in the system, but I live in hope. Luckily I’d put the really vital stuff into my carry-on. Forget underwear and wash bag – the vital stuff was the satellite phone and two brand new Optimizer Accesspoint units that will turn Bojangles into a mid-ocean wifi hotspot.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon getting it set up, with a few phone calls to OCENS tech support along the way, and now have it all working perfectly. I’ve managed to send emails from both of my iPhones (!) and my iPad. This is how I plan to blog from the ocean. I will email my blog posts to my wonderful mother, who will copy and paste them into WordPress. Various other organisations will also be reposting content from my site from time to time, including One World One Ocean, United Nations Environment Program, TED, Mission Blue, and Fitocracy.
Do check out the Fitocracy website. I met a member of the Fitocracy team, Jared Cocken, at the EG Conference in Monterey a few weeks ago, and again in New York last week. I love the concept of using software and social media to help encourage good habits – be they fitness-related or environmental.
Why not come up with your own fitness quest and keep us virtual company as we row the North Atlantic?
Yesterday I also spent some time at the garage workshop where Bojangles currently resides. Andrew (aka Mos) has the bit between his teeth on the boatworks, and is busy tying off the last loose ends on our trusty vessel. A few final fixes and enhancements have also been added to the job list. Reassuringly for me, Mos is a real perfectionist. Even the paintwork is being airbrushed into perfection, although in retrospect maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to wield an airbrush while he was wearing expensive designer jeans….
Last night we had a team dinner in St John’s. In attendance were Mos with his two children and his parents, Naomi Coe our project manager, Harry and Diane (and one of their sons) who are hosting Naomi and me, and Greg Jamieson who has been such an incredible supporter, connector and maker-of-things-to-happen.
To satisfy my curiosity, Greg ordered the moose soup just so I could see what it looked like. I confess to being just a little disappointed that it looked just like a chunky meat broth, and did not have a big pair of antlers sticking out of it.
We are now getting daily weather updates from our weatherman Lee Bruce with a view to determining our Estimate To Depart. It’s not looking too promising at the moment, for the next 5 days at least. We need a little bit of west in the wind to help us clear dry land, and relatively light winds while we cross the notorious Grand Banks, where waves reaching the sudden shallows of the continental shelf can pile up into rough and messy sea conditions. For now the extra time on land is welcome, but if we are to arrive in London in time for the Olympics, we won’t want to wait for too long.
Safety remains paramount, so we won’t leave until and unless the conditions are right. Better to arrive late than not at all.
Requests for Help
If there is by any chance anybody who is flying from the UK to St John’s in the next few days, please let me know. We already have a compass mounted in the bulkhead above the hatch to the aft cabin, a few feet from the rowing position, but being slightly optically challenged I’d like to have a Silva 70UNE compass mounted between my feet but haven’t been able to find a supplier who can ship it to arrive in Canada by 14th May – but we could arrange for it to be delivered to a UK address if there was someone able to personally courier it to us. Any help much appreciated.
We are also looking for a support vessel (or a relay of passing vessels) to accompany us for the first couple of hundred miles as we cross the hazardous Grand Banks. If you know of anybody who will be crossing the North Atlantic in the next couple of weeks, please let us know.