Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 53

A good day out here today, with reasonably strong wind and seas but both in the very narrow range that is both good for mileage and comfortable to row in. I didn't think seas and wind existed that I wouldn't be hoping were bigger/smaller/heavier/lighter, but today was pretty close.

I crossed 43W toward the end of my PM shift and am almost a third of the way through my march toward 50W. I'm not sure what happens at 50W, after all of the fanfare around crossing 40W, but every degree is one step closer to home, so it will be celebrated in one way or another. So far I also am still on or ahead of the pace I set to finish by Day 79.

Below is a picture of a big bird that I see almost every day, usually in the afternoon and evening. Maybe someone can help me identify it? Its significantly bigger than a seagull w/a wing span of 3-4 feet, I would guess. Brown everywhere but the underside, which is white. This bird is always seen swooping around really quickly, not far off of the water -- apparently hunting, among other things, flying fish.

A couple of days ago I saw this bird almost pick a flying fish out of mid-air, only to have it fall into the water, where a dorado was apparently waiting. As the big bird went to do another loop around, the flying fish took off again, this time with the dorado close behind leaping out of the water after it with a good three seconds of air time. By this time the bird had circled back around, dodged the dorado, grabbed the flying fish in mid-air, and took off victorious. Amazing!

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit



Pastor Michele Fischer said...

I really appreciate your daily updates. It feels as if we are traveling with you-- but we do not have the joy of freeze dried food or sleeping in damp clothes at night...

Your daily updates also klee you in my prayers-- and i love to hear about the fish and the other wildlife.

So thank you.

ΞЯІПП said...

I am not sure, but it sounds as though the bird might be a subspecies of Shearwater. They are a medium to large sized bird that breeds on land and then migrates across the Atlantic. They typically stay at sea between breeding seasons, and can dive up to 50 feet underwater looking for fish. They are very old living bird, with the oldest being tagged at approx. 5 years old, back in 1953.

I hope this helps (and that it is accurate!)

Good luck on tomorrow's row! I love reading your daily updates!

Erinn from Toronto

Anonymous said...


My name is Evan and I too am a brother of Theta Chi at Colgate U! I'm a sophomore and loving the 'hood. Just wanted to tell you that all the brothers of Theta Chi at Colgate are pulling for you man! We're doing our best to raise awareness and gather donations for Row for Hope around campus.

I know that I speak for everybody in the house when I say that we are beyond proud and honored to be your brother... you truly embody what our brotherhood is all about. They say that we are nurtured by resolute men and your courage and unwavering motivation serves as proof.

We all are keeping you in our prayers and are staying up to date with the blog. When you're back on dry land come up to your alma mater and relax!


ps- i have a picture of miss decker next to my bed also... she really is amazing, i can see why you brought her along for the voyage

K-Rock and #1 Wild Bill said...

Hi Buddy - This is my Day 53 note. By the time I got to a Day 52, you had already posted 53 so you may have thought I skipped a day - note that I did write on 52, just a bit tardy. I was off my schedule, it had something to do with a visiting daughter -goofed everything up. So on 53 you have drama on the high seas! Birds vs Fish - sounds like an episode from Animal Planet! I love the thought of you out there just blending in with the ocean and laughing out loud as birds dive for fish and fish dive for safety only to be snapped at by other fish. That's the real world - what we all have everyday may be dry, but it's pretty dull by comparison. Thanks for sharing all this with us! Head in the game, ass in the boat - and I guess we should add, nose pointed west! xxoo-

niallmccann said...

Hi Paul,
Erinn is right, it's a shearwater, a cory shearwater to be precise.
I saw a frigate bird take a flying fish in mid air, and saw a dorado nearly take a frigate bird out too!
You're likely to see more of these as you get towards the Caribbean, my rowing partner (who is hardly a biologist)thought they were a type of giant bat when he first saw them, and refused to believe me (despite my degree in zoology!) until he saw one close enough to see its feathers!
Happy rowing Paul,


Chairman, Association of Ocean Rowers

Chris McNickle said...


I am here with Woody and Rodger who are very impressed with your "post barnacle slaughter masculinity" photo.

Row on.

What is the current estimated day of arrival in Antigua?


Sheila said...

So proud and happy of where you are right now!

Miss you,

Margaret Bowling said...

Hi Paul
Glad to see your mood is a bit brighter today. I was talking to Alex Bellini recently (who spent 9 months rowing the Pacific solo) and we were discussing how hypersensitive you become during your row. Some days everything just really GETS to you! And then other days watching a bird swooping is enough to dispel a brewing storm of emotion.
Really wanted to reiterate Niall's comment yesterday about not heading too far south. Try to stay above Antigua, even if you have to spend a couple of days heading north instead of west. I'm sure Simon will be able to give you excellent advice on the finer details of the implications of your position. Nothing too serious but just keep an eye on it.

Jordan said...

Hey Boo,

Nice work. Your input is need back at home. Baseball keepers need to be narrowed to 6 by Saturday 2/28. If we don't hear from you, the league has collectively agreed that you will keep Pedroia, Youk, Soriano, Hunter, Beckett and Haren (Vazquez and Lilly out).

Also, the draft is coming up. Who do you want to designate to draft for you? The draft is Mar 25. Otherwise, we will designate a 3rd party to draft for you.


Mike Gisondi said...

Paul, I am really enjoying your updates! I check them often, here at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I heard about your wonderful effort from a high school friend, Denise Scalzo. I passed this along to a bunch of my friends. You have a nun in Ireland praying for you too!