Project Flight Plan Blog

Thoughts on rowing

So while I am stuck here in harbor waiting for weather which will not kick my butt I thought I would post some of my thoughts about this whole rowing business.  From the start it was never really about rowing, it was the opportunity to get bird conservation in front of the general public to raise awareness for the issues – and let’s face it taking on a row to Hawaii was certainly something which generated attention.  In fact I was probably one of the most unlikely ocean rowers out there.  I was a bit of a couch potato if I was not working, and you absolutely would never have caught me in a gym.  The thought of having to go to a gym just made me cringe.  Yet I had a passion for something, and the passion was so strong that I was driven by it.  Because of that anything was possible.  So I did what I had to do and surprisingly I did it willingly and happily.  As a side benefit I got my butt into shape and I personally was better for it.

So it was about birds, but what about the actual rowing?  Well quite honestly I knew I could do it, but what I did not know was the effect it would have on me.  Hawaii was not to be this year, but I still wanted to row so down the California coast I go – still a significant row.  And what I have discovered has shocked even me.  I kind of like this rowing business.  Sure it can be frustrating when you are rowing against everything and getting half a knot if you are lucky, I am constantly getting sunburned despite my best efforts, my hands are covered with blisters, and when I finish rowing I have to pry my fingers from the claw position from gripping the oars, but this is actually fun.  It is oddly calming being out there rowing, taking what can seem like an eternity to get to your destination, and at the mercy of Mother Nature herself.  But it also gives a sense of achievement because you are where you are based on your own power to get there.  There are no sails or motor to propel you along, it is just you.

I think rowing on the ocean also teaches you respect and patience.  You have to have patience to survive (or at least I think so) and you have to respect the ocean and anything it throws at you.  If you don’t respect the ocean and watch and listen to what it is telling you you are potentially in trouble.  It requires a level of awareness which appeals to me.  Pay attention or suffer the consequences.  In many ways this part of it is just like the campaign to raise awareness for bird conservation.  Pay attention to what is happening to these birds and react, or suffer the consequences of their loss.  In my mind it is a very similar principle.

So what about rowing?  Where does that rank now in the big scheme of things?  Well this is still first and foremost about birds, but rowing is coming in a close second.  This is something I want to do and I have learned a lot.  This is not a one off deal and I don’t see this as going away at all. Already there is another row in the works for this year and maybe two.  Then there is that Hawaii thing.  Well that is not off the cards yet.  I set out to row to Hawaii and that goal is still there so it will get done.  And as always all this will be for birds even though rowing is now up there as something which is important to me.  Rowing has helped me discover a whole other world which I may never have found without it, and I like it.  From couch potato to someone who is capable of rowing extended distances, this has been a life changer.


Adventure is not planned

Well the last week has certainly been action packed.  From Redondo Beach to an unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles, then Newport Beach and on to Dana Point.  I’ve been doing some rowing!   And conditions have not always been optimal – especially considering I am closer to the coast than I would normally be in an ocean boat.  One day rows have become 3, and I even found out that Dippers can go faster than 3.2 knots – without any assistance from me or anyone else!  And my list of visitors out on the ocean has expanded.  It is all part of the adventure though and I would not pass it up for anything.  I have met some amazing people along the way and I absolutely know that I am going to know these people for a long time to come.  In fact a lot of them are about to continue the journey with me in just a few months time. 

Some highlights from the last week:

The unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles: My row from Redondo Beach to Newport Beach was always going to be a challenge, and I was hoping to try and avoid stopping in the Long Beach area – primarily because I was nervous about the shipping channels.  I just had not been around a lot of large ships before, and given I am a small 19.5 foot boat who can move at a top speed of just over 3 knots (or so I thought), the idea of being in an area with large container ships just did not inspire me.  If I was not making good time though, Long Beach was a stopping point.  I came down the coast and was making good time, but it was already 4pm and the thought of being in an area with shipping channels at night was more scary than the option of stopping, so I planned to stop at Long Beach.  If I just get inside the breakwater I would be fine.  All was good until I rounded Point Fermin and headed for Long Beach.  There were some really strong winds in the area that afternoon, and when I came around the point Dippers took off at 4.7 knots without me even touching an oar!  Now I would have been happy with 4.7 knots out on the ocean, but when you are right on Port of Los Angeles, the boat is going 4.7 knots, and headed right towards the breakwater wall, that is not so good.  Still trying to get over my shock that Dippers could move so fast I tried rowing against the winds pushing me towards the nice rock wall.  Ok I could maintain position if I was literally standing on the footplates to push off, but I could not gain any ground away from the wall.  Time to call Boat US Vessel Assist because I could only do this for so long.  Unfortunately for me there had been another incident that afternoon and Vessel Assist, Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard were all out dealing with that, so it was the LA Port Police who came out in their boat to tow me out of there.  And that was how I ended up with an unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles.  Here I was trying to avoid container ships and now I am in the industrial section of the harbor with goliath ships all around.  Well I guess I am going to work out how to navigate these ships whether I want to or not.

Long Beach to Newport Beach: This was not a huge row and should have taken me a day to complete, but not everything always goes to plan.  This ended up being a 3 day row thanks to a southwest swell and winds which came through.  I had made it from Long Beach to Huntington Beach the first day so I was really quite close to Newport Beach, but rowing against everything meant that it was very slow going getting maybe half a knot if I was lucky.  I don’t think I could even walk that slow if I tried.  So after rowing all day and only getting to Huntington Beach I decided that I would stop and get some rest.  Just row west for a bit (again against everything) so I was away from land.  Then I could put out the sea anchor and get some rest.  I knew that I was still going to drift – even with the sea anchor out – so that night I slept in 20 minute increments.  Every 20 minutes the alarm would go off, I would get up, stick my head out the hatch and check if I was close to land, then go back for another 20 minutes sleep – ALL NIGHT.  Luckily I was not getting pushed into land as quickly as I was getting pushed up the coast, so I did not have to get out there and row during the night, but overnight I was pushed a full 2 nautical miles back up the coast – while on sea anchor.  Ugh.

Next morning I sleepily started rowing at 5am, but once again top speed was half a knot.  I was going to persist for as long as I could though.  I re-rowed the 2 nautical miles I had been pushed back, and then another 2 miles before I had another visitor for the day.  This time it was the LA Lifeguards coming to see what I was.  They were very nice, and incredibly sympathetic to me rowing and only getting half a knot.  You know there is a lifeguard buoy just a mile away if you want to tie up to it for the night and wait this out they said.  Bonus a buoy which would not move so I could actually get some sleep!  So I rowed to the bouy, tied up and got in the cabin.  I was very happy to be able to get some sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time.  I’d been snoozing for a few hours when I was awoken by a voice saying “Rower number 87.  Do you need any assistance?”  Where was that coming from?  I could not see any boats when I looked out through the hatch, it was not coming from the radio, what the???  So I opened the hatch door and found the source of the voice.  The LAPD helicopter was circling me overhead!  Seriously – my visitors are coming from above as well?  I was still kind of sleepy so not quite with it, but the police explained that they had been asked to check on me overnight (the lifeguards asked them), so here they were.  I gave them the thumbs up, they wished me luck for the row and off they went.  I am still stunned that they came, and I really wish I had been awake enough to think to grab the video camera.  Now that would have made good video.

Right now I am in Dana Point, and getting ready to row tomorrow to Oceanside – the second last stop in this row down the coast of CA.  I am getting closer to San Diego and have mixed feelings about actually completing this row.  My hands could use a rest, but I really do not want to stop rowing.  Usually I am someone who likes to plan everything out, but with this row it is somewhat take it as it comes – it is Plan B after all.  I have met some incredible people while doing this and the kindness and generosity of everyone I have met has truly touched me.  In every harbor people have looked after me and made sure I am ok – and Dana Point is no exception.  When I came into harbor there were no guest slips available for me to tie up to which meant that basically I could not stay.  I was tired and my hands hurt though so I went on the hunt for some space.  Enter the Dana Point Yacht Club who took me in with open arms – a spot for the boat, a buffet dinner, drinks at the bar, showers, laundry and bathrooms.  I can absolutely tell you that you will be hearing more about this yacht club in the future and it will be part of what I am doing to try and help the birds of the world.  Once again I have accidentally found a great group of people and I am so thankful for their help in hosting both Dippers and me.

Things to know about rowing an ocean boat

Well it was never going to be glamorous but a few things have surprised me a bit.  So here is a quick summary for your entertainment:

  • Sleeping in the cabin is a bit uncomfortable.  The boat was packed for a 3 month row to Hawaii after all so there is a lot of stuff in there.  Most of the dehydrated food packs are stored in the bow for easy access, but the snack packs are stored in the stern cabin where I sleep.  They line the sides of the 6 foot by 4 foot cabin (at its widest point) and were put there in case of a storm so I would still have food without risking my life to get to the bow.  So I get to sleep in amongst all the snacks, happily rolling on Snickers bars and crackers during the night.   The base of the cabin is a piece of foam which in hindsight is really not thick enough.  Either that or my hips are becoming more boney – which could actually be the case (see my clothes are too big).  And then there is the cabin environment itself.  The cabins are designed to be watertight, and so when you close the hatches and get in there for the night it tends to become very stuffy very quickly.  By morning condensation has formed in the cabin and invariably drops of water drip on your head while you are trying to sleep.  Oh the joys of sleeping on an ocean boat.
  • My clothes are too big.  And already my clothes are too big.  I am telling you that rowing is the best kept weight loss secret out.  Of course I am doing a lot of rowing but I am also doing a lot of eating – obviously not enough though.  Thank god for bike shorts which previously fit like bike shorts should, so now they look somewhat like regular shorts. My t-shirts are all getting bigger as well so I have started tucking them in so I don’t roll on them on the sliding seat.  Must eat more pizza when on shore.
  • Never send all your regular clothes home before a row.  So I did what I thought was the sensible thing and only kept rowing clothes with me for the row.  Should have been ok, but now I am on Plan B and only have rowing clothes with me.  Not too bad as I have bike shorts, t-shirts, long sleeve tops and leggings, but the only jacket I have is my foul weather jacket.  Great jacket, but I absolutely look like a sailor when I am out in it during the day and on land.  Not to mention the fact that it is covered with light reflectors in case someone needed to find me in bad weather.  It is a foul weather jacket after all.  See me at night and shine a light on me though and I will light up like a Christmas tree.  You can hardly miss me with all those reflectors.
  • I am not a poster child for good skin care.  Try as I may I just keep on getting sunburned.  I’ve been smothering my arms and legs in sunscreen every half an hour, but I seem to just keep on sweating it off and getting fried.  I tried rowing in long sleeves and leggings, but it is way too hot out there to keep that up – I’d be dehydrated instead.  So right now I have the most amazing skin peel I have ever seen going on.  Add to that some really funky tan lines.  By the time I am done I am going to have stripes all over me.  Oh and the “Great White Stripe” on the knee from having my knee taped is in fine form.  If you thought it was an amazing white stripe before you should see it now.  It’s blinding!
  • Working on the boat is interesting.  Most of you will not know that I am still working while I do all this.  Yes – I am the rowing remote accountant.  The cabin doubles as the office and with a quick change in set up my immersion suit which serves as my pillow also doubles as the desk.  The comforter doubles as a cushion to sit on while I work.  I mount the wireless modem up on the top hatch so I can get internet access.  It’s a cozy office environment but totally doable.  From someone who always needed the biggest desk possible, to an immersion suit acting as a desk, it just goes to show what we really need.
  • Using the “facilities”  Well we all knew that this was a bucket so not very glamorous, but rowing the coast presents some added concerns.  Now I have the very real possibility that there will be another boat or even plane around when the facilities are needed, so a quick scan of the horizon is in order to make sure that the “open air facilities” are actually private.  So far so good but I did have a scare the other day.  I saw a post on facebook where Arby Macaw saw me off the coast and snapped a photo.  My first thought – on no please tell me I was not on the bucket.  Phew, the photo was taken at a distance so I was just a white blob on the water.  Another thing to consider though.
  • Things I can live without.  Never thought I would see the day but I can live without a hairdryer and hair spray.  This one is truly shocking.

So this is the first installment of Things to Know About Rowing an Ocean Boat.  Believe me I have plenty more to come.  You are all going to be experts by the time I am finished.

Channel Islands Harbor to Marina del Rey

Yesterday I rowed 19 nautical miles (about 22 regular miles) from Dume Cove to Marina del Rey.  Part of a 50 mile row from Channel Islands Harbor, this one took me 3 days.  The first day I rowed about 20 miles from Channel Islands Harbor to just south of Point Magu where I stopped for the night.  As there were no decent places to anchor in the area I put out my para anchor for the night and hoped for the least amount of drift as possible.  I was in an area which was only a mile or so offshore, and one which had lots of rocks, so I was very cautious about the amount of drift I was going to get.  The para anchor would slow it down, but I still did not want to be drifting towards the rocks, so that night was spent “on alert”.  I did sleep but set the alarm for every hour so I could get up and check where I was.  I am not bad at sleeping in one hour increments but it was a bit of a pain after rowing all day and fighting currents most of the way.  The other concern was other boats – although I had not seen many.  Needless to say the navigation lights were on all night just in case.

Day 2 was a shorter row of 11 miles to Dume Cove.  I did want to get further than the cove, but when I rounded Dume Point the seas turned choppy and wind and currents were going against me again.  It was quite the struggle to even get into the cove, but when you have no choice you just do it.  I made it into the cove avoiding as much kelp as possible and found a suitable anchoring spot.  Now for the next challenge – how to anchor.  I have never actually had to anchor this boat before so there I was bobbing around in the cove trying to remember what I had learned in seamanship classes about anchoring.  Do you let out 5 times the line you need, 7 or 10?  Oh man what was that number?  Well I figured that too much was better than not enough, so I dropped the anchor and let out all the line.  Seemed to work – at least while I was watching.  Lucky for me though I had been told about an anchor alarm setting on the GPS which would set off an alarm if you drifted a certain distance from an anchor point.  So I found the setting, set it for 0.1 nautical mile and then calmly got a good nights rest.  No alarms during the night.  Bonus!

And for the final leg it was a 20 mile row from Dume Cove to Marina del Rey.  I had woke up early in the morning so decided to head out while the seas were still calm and glassy.  At least I would be able to get out of the cove easier than I got in.  I managed to get the anchor on board although I did have to fight a lot of kelp to do it.  It was tangled all around the line so as I heaved the line on board I cut off all the kelp.  Just glad the anchor came up relatively easily as pulling on the line was not doing much for my blistered hands – even with gloves!  So anchor up and off I go across the bay to Marina del Rey.  I made good time in the morning but then of course around noon the seas came up again and made for some hard rowing.  Of the 20 miles the last 7 were the most difficult with the boat rocking around and rowing against everything again.  In what seemed like the slowest row ever past Santa Monica I was treated to several pods of dolphins jumping through the water which made the row a little more pleasant but still this was hard.

Finally I could see the breakwater entrance to Marina del Rey and was so relieved that I would soon be inside the breakwater and the hard rowing for the day would be done.  When you are rowing with everything you have got and you are going less than one knot while not every stroke makes it in the water it is a little disheartening, but the breakwater was just ahead.  Now to get in there.

Getting into the marina was quite the challenge.  Not only was I being pushed to shore where I did not want to be, but I tend to attract some attention when I am rowing in.  People out on the yachts and powerboats come by to ask where I came from which is great – happy to talk – but they also bring with them extra swell which means I have to row even harder.  I was literally standing on the footplates to get the extra power I needed to get in the breakwater and not end up on the rocks.  All was good though and I made it into the marina ready for a well deserved night of rest.

In the marina and the first task was finding a store to get some more Diet Coke.  I swear this habit will be with me for life.  Found a Ralphs and got my fix so the next stop was the showers.  After 3 days rowing I was looking forward to a real shower rather than the baby wipes I have on board, and I have to say that this shower was one of the best I have ever had.  Makes you appreciate what you would normally have every day.  Oh a warm shower – the best thing since sliced bread.

So the next stop will be Redondo Beach and today I planned out that row.  It’s a shorter row but it will be a good stop before I have to negotiate the shipping lanes of Long Beach.  Now that will be the real challenge.



Happy 4th July!

So it looks like I will still be celebrating this 4th of July on the Pacific.  The next leg of the row to Marina del Rey is about 50 miles so it is probably going to take me 2 days to get there.  With no harbors to stop at in between it means that I will be out there on the night of the 4th.  I am hoping that I will still be able to see the celebrations though and maybe even have the best view there is.  I’ll be getting photos if I can and maybe I’ll eat my astronaut ice cream sandwich to celebrate.  I was planning on having it for my birthday but this seems like an appropriate time to try it out.

Given that it is the 4th of July tomorrow I’ve decided that I am going to row the next 50 miles in honor of one of the most endangered birds on this planet – and a native US species.  It is not a flashy parrot with a huge personality or color, but it is a bird worth saving and believe me they are in trouble.  The bird I will be rowing for is the Hawaiian Crow (Alala).

If you know something about Hawaiian birds you will know that as a whole they are the most endangered birds on this planet.  The rainforest birds have seen decreasing numbers due to habitat loss, introduced predators and of course the Hawaiian mosquito line.  They all have a severe impact on the birds.  But the Hawaiian Crow has it the worst, and is in fact extinct in the wild.  All the remaining birds are currently in a captive breeding program to try and boost their numbers.  How many are left?  Less than 140 – and that is tragic.

I had the honor of visiting the conservation program for the Hawaiian Crow last year and I can tell you that while these birds do not stand out like a parrot they absolutely have personality.  Of course when I say personality I don’t mean that they are necessarily interacting with people.  After all they need to be as wild as they can possibly be if they are to one day make it back into their natural habitat.  They are unique and I found some of their behavior fascinating.  Each day they are given foraging challenges, and while I was there we made foraging toys out of wild ginger (which incidentally grows as a pest in Hawaii).  We cut up the branches and wrapped the leaves around them to tie them together.  In amongst the leaves were 3 or 4 cheerios for the birds to eat.  What was amusing for me was that when these foraging items were thrown in to the enclosures there were two very different behaviors.  The crows obviously knew there was food in there for the,m but how they went about getting the cheerios out was the interesting part.  The males would come down and launch an all out attack on the leaves, hacking through them to get the cheerios.  The females however, came down, looked at the foraging toy – basically assessing it – and then would slowly slide their beak up through the leaves and extract the cheerios.  Two very different techniques.  Hmm.  Interesting.

With less than 140 birds remaining and absolutely none in the wild, these birds do not stand out in the crowd like a big bright parrot but they deserve the opportunity for survival.  What will that take?  It takes people on the ground working with them, which of course means funding is required.  So on this 4th of July I will be rowing in honor of them, and I hope you might consider donating a few dollars towards helping them.  Small amounts add up when it comes to helping save a species.

Hawaiian Crow playing with enrichment

Rowing is a lesson in patience

Ventura Harbor – I don’t think I will every forget you.  From the castaway welcome by Harbor Patrol to the wonderful company I had in a visit from Arby Macaw and his family.  Thank you everyone for the hospitality!  Harbor Patrol even gave me an escort out of the bay!  I will absolutely be back once I have rowed down the coast but for now I need to continue rowing.

It was to be a short row from Ventura Harbor to Channel Island Harbor – just 7 miles.  A nice little paddle down the coast of California.  Unfortunately for me the winds, waves and currents were all going against me, so my nice little 7 mile row seemed to take an eternity.  I was rowing away and my GPS was telling me I was going anywhere between 1.4 to 1.8 knots, but it just felt like I was rowing on the spot.  With winds from the southwest it was pushing me northeast and I just wanted to go south.  It was actually kind of difficult maintaining the course I wanted and I spent a lot of time adjusting and rowing harder with one oar, then the other.  One way to keep me amused I guess as I attempted to keep my track at 155 degrees.

The other issue was that the seas were choppy rather than a predictable swell, so for every oar stroke I got in the water the next two would result in only one or no oars in the water.  The problem with this is that when you push off the footplate to start the stroke you are expecting some kind of drag on the oars.  When there is none, or just some on one side you tend to send yourself flying backwards on the sliding seat quicker than expected, and almost come off the seat.  Not a good idea when the boat is already moving around from side to side in the choppy water.  I kept at it though until I got so frustrated with it that I did the only thing I could do.  I went and raided my Diet Coke supply in the cabin – that would calm me down.  Of course in the choppy conditions you can guess what happened to most of the Diet Coke I was trying to drink.

So while I sat there going from side to side, trying to get at least a little Diet Coke to actually make it in my mouth, I was thinking that a little patience would help me out.  I was so focused on getting where I needed to go, but it was not going to matter if I arrived half an hour or an hour later.  If I was patient and watched the waves carefully before another oar stroke, I could avoid some of the misses and hence be less frustrated by the whole process.  I had not thought of rowing as a test of patience before but it really is.  It is slow, can be monotonous at times, and just plain frustrating.  We are always so busy and trying to get stuff done quickly, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race – if you have a little patience.  Lesson learned.

Ventura Harbor Patrol escort

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.

So how on earth did I decide to row an ocean?

It is kind of the obvious question isn’t it?  I’ll be the first to admit that this is not really an activity most people would sign up for.  In fact if you had told me 2 years ago that I was going to sign up to do this I probably would have told you you were crazy.  Why would I want to do that?  It doesn’t really sound like a pleasure cruise.

Well for me there were three ingredients to the decision to row the Pacific and when those three ingredients were mixed together it was the perfect storm.  The storm had been developing over a number of years as anyone who knows me would attest to but when that final ingredient entered the mix it was a done deal.  I was going to row an ocean.

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Decided to row an ocean – now what?

So the decision had been made and I had decided that I was going to row the Pacific Ocean for the birds.  With that done what should be first on my list of things to do?  Well there are a lot of things to consider here so the list was going to be long but one item in particular absolutely had to be at the top of my list.

You see when I signed up to row an ocean I had never actually rowed a boat in my life (let me repeat – no I am not crazy).  I think it was this little fact that shocked most people when I told them what I was planning to do.  I heard a lot of comments like “You are going to do what?  Are you crazy??”  Well no but the first thing on my list was to learn to row – obviously.

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