Day 87: The Fifty Dollar Question
Added: Wed. Aug 19, 2009 1:47pm
Posted in: Eco-Travel
Roz Savage is a British ocean rower, author, motivational speaker and environmental campaigner. After 11 years as a management consultant, she embarked on a new life of adventure by rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. Her unlikely transformation from office worker to ocean rower, described with humor and soul-baring honesty in her blogs, captivated a worldwide audience. Roz is now attempting to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific. This is one in a series of blog posts from Roz during her journey. To follow Roz's adventures, visit http://rozsavage.com.
You might be wondering what the latest news is on my selection of Island X – will it be Tarawa? Or will it be Funafuti in Tuvalu?
I wish I could tell you. The question is still being hotly debated in TeamRoz. It would be the million dollar question – except that our budget isn’t that big. It’s at least a fifty dollar question though.
Distance-wise, there is not much in it. 482 nautical miles to Tuvalu, 517 to Tarawa (approximately). But on the ocean not all miles are equal. Some are upwind, some are downwind, some are across-wind. Although the ocean may look flat, it is more accurate to think of it like a ski resort. Downwinds are like well-groomed ski slopes. Upwind I’d need a chairlift. Across the wind I’d be cross-country rather than downhill skiing. I’m not sure what the ocean equivalent would be for off-piste, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to try it.
On the one hand, I would prefer to go to Tuvalu:
a) because it would set me up better for making it to Australia next year, and
b) because it would be better for my climate change message – Tuvalu being the current “poster child” of climate change thanks to their recent announcement that they intend to be the world’s first carbon neutral country, with a target date of 2020.
From where I am now, I am doubtful that it is possible. Given that the winds are generally E-SE, I suspect that I would get pushed too far west before I could get far enough south. For example, see the RozTracker for the last couple of days. My bows have been pointed as south as they can be, but the best I can do is 90 degrees to the wind – and the wind has been from the south, so the best I can do is west. No nicely groomed ski slopes heading the way I want to go.
There is a fine line between being adventurous and taking unnecessary risks. If I got tempted into trying for Tuvalu, but ended up missing landfall altogether, or having to be towed some significant distance to make it into port – either of these would NOT be cool. I would definitely be off-piste (and piste off).
But then will I end up cursing myself next year – if I find myself heading for Papua New Guinea instead of Australia? Will I wish I’d tried a bit harder for Tuvalu?
So, when in doubt, postpone the decision until there is more information available. Even if I was set on Tarawa, my plan would still be to push south beyond the Equator to get south of all these tricky old currents and weather systems, and then to take a sharp right and row downwind to the west, before looping up slightly to get to Tarawa, which lies just north of the Equator. By happy coincidence, this is also initially what I would do to get to Tuvalu.
So I’m going to go south as much as I can, and see what longitude I’m at when I reach the Equator. By then I’ll have new weather information and can make a better informed decision.
Of course, this doesn’t make life easy for Nicole and the rest of TeamRoz who are planning to come out and meet me. The suspense continues. Meanwhile, I am heading rapidly towards tomorrow – the International Date Line is now just about 35 miles away.
[photo: My rather old chart donated by Captain Vince of the White Holly, printed back in the days when Tuvalu was still called the Ellice Islands. But hopefully they're still in more or less the same place, although they might be getting smaller as the seas rise…]
Thanks for all the messages from the Rozling community. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were all able to assemble, from all around the world, and get together in one room for a huge party when I finish this row? I would love that! Maybe we can figure out a way to do it in virtual reality.
Naomi – don’t worry about your knees. I try to take the strategy of NOT worrying about things – just preparing for them. Only time will tell if your knees will bear up. But do take some painkillers and anti-inflammatories with you just in case… and if your walk has to turn into a drive, well, never mind. It won’t be worse, just different!
I especially enjoyed this message, which I think also came from Naomi, although it was a bit difficult to tell from the way it was formatted in the email I received: ”I thought of you when I read this today on my FaceBook page: “The difference between “try” and “triumph” is the UMPH!” Isn’t that just a GREAT message?!
Hi to Carol, Greg, Sue, Brennan and Conor – thanks for your messages!
Position at 2300 HST: 01 23.451N, 179 25.178W
Wind: 0-20kts but generally around 15kts, S backing to E during the day
Seas: 3-6ft, SE, quite steep and choppy at times
Weather: mostly blue skies, some cloud – cumulus and cirrus. Could see some rainclouds around but they kept their distance several miles away.
Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:
Latest tracker reported your position as: 01 31N 179 02W as of 18Aug
As of Tuesday 18 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there have been SEerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some light rainshower activity. The heaviest of rain was north of 05N. Lighter SEerly winds are to your west to Tarawa with heavier and widespread rainshowers. South of the equator there are stronger ESE winds 17-20kts. The SEerlies shift to Nerly 5-10kts by late tonight. Then shift to SEerly and increase in speed to 15kt range with 20kts possible. Winds return to Eerly and abate to 5-12kts by the morning of the 21st.
Widespread clouds with deep convection are north of your position along the ITCZ axis. West and south of your position, skies are partly cloudy with minimal convection.
Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered, light to moderate rainshowers.
Ocean currents: No significant change from last report
Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
18/0800-18/1200 SE-E 5-12 2-4
18/1200-19/0000 E-N 5-10 2-4
19/0000-19/1200 N-SE 5-10 2-4
19/1200-19/2100 SE 7-15 2-4
19/2100-20/2100 SE 10-20 3-5
20/2100-21/0600 SE-E 10-15 3-5
21/0600-23/0800 E 5-12 2-4
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