Project Flight Plan Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Feeling like a castaway

Well it was an interesting row yesterday.  15, hours, 30 miles from Santa Barbara, CA to Ventura, CA.  It was always going to be a long row, but I wanted to make it in one day so off I went at 6.30am from Santa Barbara Harbor.  The sea was like glass all morning which was a refreshing change to the conditions I had faced in Monterey.  Hey I could actually row out of the bay without circling around for days on end!  The only downfall to glassy water with no winds is that I get to do all the hard work.  I didn’t do too bad though – 1.6 knots on average.

At lunchtime the winds and currents picked up and while it was harder to stay on course I was now getting 2.6 – 3 knots and surfing the waves.  I have to say that wave surfing is kind of fun not to mention that I go faster for the same amount of effort on my part.  I did find it kind of amusing though that the winds were pushing me west when I really wanted to go southeast.  When I was in Monterey Bay I was wanting to be sucked out to sea, but no such luck.  Now here I was wanting to stay within a few miles of land and I was being sucked out to sea.  Just can’t win sometimes.

But I rowed against wind and made it to the entrance of the Ventura harbor at about 8.30pm – only one more mile to go.  Right as I was turning to enter the harbor I saw a boat coming directly for me and I am thinking gee I hope they see me.  I had the navigation light on but still I am a small boat which is almost invisible to others in a swell.  All was ok though because it was Harbor Patrol coming out to find out what on earth I was.  Was I a capsized boat, or was I the ocean rowing boat which a fellow rower Daryl was searching for?  They were not quite sure.

So Harbor Patrol pull up beside me and realize there is someone on board and they were stunned that I was rowing into their harbor.  Where was I going to stay they asked?  Well I don’t know I said.  I need to find a slip.  No problem they said.  Just row into the marina and come to the Harbor Patrol dock.  I could tie up there.  Awesome!

About an hour later I arrived at the Harbor Patrol dock and they were there waiting for me.  They helped me tie the bow and stern lines and then out of the boat.  I’d been rocking all day so I had my sea legs, so the minute I got out of the boat I almost fell over.  Amazing how fast that happens.  Anyway it’s 9.30pm, I’ve just arrived and the two guys from Harbor Patrol had come back to shore and apparently prepared for my arrival.  They had been out and got food (they had got one vegetarian meal as well – just in case – good choice), had antibiotic ointment ready for the blisters I would likely have (again a good choice), showed me where the showers and bathroom were, and gave me a space to use my laptop.  Did I look that much like a castaway?  Wow – I have been adopted!  Who would have thought?  All of this was perfect though because I had not eaten much as I had rowed for 15 hours straight, I needed a shower and yes I had some lovely blisters from the day’s rowing.  Amazing.  Only thing I needed now was some of that precious Diet Coke I love so much.  How close is the 7-Eleven?  Oh too far for you to walk at 11pm at night.  Let us drive you up there.  And off we went.

I can not believe the amazing welcome I received at Harbor Patrol in Ventura and quite honestly I feel like a bit of a castaway.  I have food on board, albeit dehydrated food, and I was going to have to use a makeshift shower anyway going across the Pacific, but this is just wonderful.  After a long row it was so nice to come in and everything was just there.  There are some good people in this world and sometimes you find them in the most unexpected places.

Castaway Mary

Rowing out

Race update

RACE UPDATE – On June 18, 2014 I set out from Monterey Bay as part of the Great Pacific Race, and for anyone watching you would have seen the tough conditions trying to get out of Monterey Bay. I actually rowed 40 nautical miles within the bay just trying to get out against winds and currents. My hands and the blisters on them are testament to the effort required just to do so. On June 21 I had finally made it out of the bay and was just off Point Pinos when I received word of strong winds coming in which would have pushed me onto the rocks overnight. I was advised to row back to safe harbor which I complied with for safety reasons. With 2 US Coast Guard Rescues of other rowers and conditions worse than expected it was the only logical choice to make. On June 23 race organizers advised remaining rowers that they would no longer be able to support further boats leaving as part of the Great Pacific Race – meaning that any row to Hawaii would be totally unassisted if attempted. It is a heartbreaking announcement as rowing to Hawaii with support is one thing, but unassisted is totally another. What does this mean for me and for the project? Well it means that any row to Hawaii this year is totally out of the question. Common sense and safety have to come into play no matter how much I want to do this.

So even though a row to Hawaii is totally off the cards, I am not prepared to give up on the project and my commitment to raising awareness and funds for bird conservation. This is too important and the world needs to know that these animals need help – and need help now. I just won’t give up on them. I hope you won’t either.

The last two days have been spent planning a row down the California coast to San Diego to continue doing what I was doing with the row to Hawaii. The format will be slightly different, but I am planning stops at various ports along the way to promote and talk about bird conservation. This is still an awareness and fundraising campaign and I fully intend on making the most of the situation which has presented itself. I hope that if you are situated somewhere along the California coast between Santa Barbara and San Diego that you can help out by maybe organizing a speaking date or even for your bird club to come out and meet me along the way. It is time to rally and I hope you will help.

I have put my heart and soul into this over the last 2.5 years and words can not describe how disappointed I am, but again I will not give up on these birds. As soon as I have a firm date for a Santa Barbara launch I will let you know. For those who have adopted miles as part of this race they will be converted to miles as part of the new row. As always all funds raised will continue to go into the pool of funds to fund grants once the row is complete.

So I will keep everyone up to date as I have details. If you are looking for a story of pure determination to do something good for the endangered bird species on our planet then you have it.