The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 6: Hanging in there
26 49.74'N:20 16.43'W
05 Dec 2005

My usual view

6 Dec, 05 - 20:46

Latitude: 26° 49' N
Longitude: 20° 16' W
Miles from La Gomera: have given up trying to work this one out - see for official figure
Miles to Antigua: my GPS makes it 2320

One week into the race, and it's been a real emotional rollercoaster. From seasickness and doubt in the first 24 hours, to quiet contentment as I established a disciplined routine for life on board; from consternation over the watermaker and lack of electric power, to a sense of satisfaction as I resolved the technical problems; from endorphin-induced euphoria as I rowed powerfully through the night, to glum depression this afternoon as grinding pain in my right shoulder blade led to early abandonment of my rowing shift.

I knew the first week would be the hardest, and I can only hope that the worst is indeed over. At times it's been only my utter conviction that I can and will do this thing that has kept me going.

Grrr, I hate sounding negative. Other people have done much tougher things than this. But I haven't, and there have been many moments when I've wondered if I am up to it. But I'm still here, still hanging in there, and not only that, but I'm not far off the pace. Chris Martin, the only solo male, and I have been swapping places at the back of the pack for the last few days, and we're not far behind the hindmost of the pairs. This is encouraging.

Nature Watch

People have been asking what wildlife I've been seeing. The answer, until today, was diddly-squat. I'd seen no whales, the dolphins were a no-show, and even birds were few and far between. The only visible wildlife was a small pink homo sapiens of the Savage variety.

But today... I was just having my midday sleep (I only sleep for 4 hours at night so have a quick kip just after lunch) when suddenly there was a loud impact on my boat. My first thought was that I'd run into Chris Martin. I jumped out of the hatch and looked around. Nothing. The sound came again. I looked down and there was a big green turtle gazing lugubriously at me.

He hung around for a few minutes, but defied all attempts to take a photograph of him. If he comes back I'll try again. Maybe he's the same turtle who hung around Debra Veal's boat - maybe he just hangs out in the Atlantic on the lookout for slow-moving solo female ocean rowers ha can make a move on...

Wind: 11 kts
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: feisty and getting feistier
Hours rowing: 10
Hours sleeping: 6
Song for the day: Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 5: Make Hay (Or Water) while the Sun Shines
05 Dec 2005, 2713.961N,1953.360W,

Little boat, big ocean

5 Dec, 05 - 21:17
Latitude: 27° 14' N
Longitude: 19° 52' W
Miles from La Gomera: 159
Miles to Antigua: 2397
Miles since last dispatch: 21

It has been a sticky day, like rowing through treacle. It's been calm and almost windless so instead of only seeing as far as the next wave I can see as far as the horizon - which makes the ocean seem like a very big place.

Make water while the sun shines...

..and shines directly onto my solar panels - which unfortunately seems to be only for a couple of hours in the morning. Note to self to have panels on both cabins next time around.Electricity continues to be an issue on board the good ship Sedna. The watermaker is hugely power-hungry compared with anything else, and runs my two 52Ah batteries flat in no time. I can manage to make enough water, but have to be very frugal with my electricity.

Fortunately I've discovered the joys of silence, so am saving myself some iPod power. There are times of day when it's good to have music to row to, but much of the time I'm happy with peace and quiet, preferring to use the electricity for my Simrad navigation instruments, which tell me which way I'm going and how fast (or slow). I find this more motivating even than music.

Heavens above

Charles Bairsto said, 'Make the stars your friends' - and then looked faintly surprised and embarrassed at his own words. The young squaddie of Atlantic Warrior was talking in the marina in San Sebastian just before the start of the race.

To save electricity I've been steering by the stars at night, and I keep thinking of Charlie's phrase and smiling. Before you get all impressed by notions of me standing on deck with sextant in hand, let me admit it's been nothing that sophisticated. I check my bearings, see which stars line up with the comms masts on Sedna's 'roll bar' and then make sure I keep them in line, adjusting every hour to account for the movement of the stars. Gives me a great sense of elemental satisfaction.

Comfortably numb

My right shoulder waa giving me some serious gyp this afternoon. Normally I wouldn't even take an aspirin, but this isn't normality. I took a Co-Proxamol but it had no effect, so I stepped up to a Tramadol... Then remembered too late we'd been warned they can absolutely knock you flat. Have been feeling rather spaced out and sleepy ever since, trying to use chocolate as an antidote.

I wouldn't mind the side-effects so much if there were any effects from the drug... But my shoulder is still as exquisitely and excrutiatingly painful as before. But this too will pass.

Wind: almost none
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: flat
Hours rowing: 14
Hours sleeping: 6
Song for the day: Heroes by David Bowie

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 4: The Sound of a Human Voice
04 Dec 2005, 2725.290N,1921.777W,0M

4 Dec, 05 - 21:21

Latitude: 27° 25' N
Longitude: 19° 21' W
Miles from La Gomera: 138
Miles to Antigua: 2425
Miles since last dispatch: 30ish
Position in race: not known

It had been two and a half days since I last had a conversation (not counting conversations with myself or with Monty). The last proper-ish conversation was a 3 minute chat with Lin on the Woodvale yacht Aurora when they swung by on Friday morning. I've discovered the joy of talking books (currently listening to Douglas Adams book recorded for me by the Kiwi Sun Latte crew - thanks, guys) but it's not the same as a proper natter.

So although I am quite enjoying my self-imposed isolation, it was really good to hear Mum's voice when I rang her tonight. She told me about Andrew Morris's concussion and their consequent withdrawal - gutted for them - and also gave me an update on my official mileage.

I'm a bit puzzled by this - my GPS did a weird and demoralising leap backwards last night on my trip log, which now contradicts my mileage from La Gomera. And both are different from the figure on the Woodvale site. So I'll go with the Woodvale figure because it's the most flattering...

138 miles in 4 days. Not bad, but considerably behind schedule for my performance-related bonus from ParadiseBet (see my home page). But no need for despair yet - I got off to a slow start due to seasickness, and am now settling into a more productive routine, so hopefully daily averages will improve. (But not if I spend too long writing dispatches...)

Everything is aching at the moment - back, shoulders, neck, forearms. What wouldn't I give for a good massage right now - line me up with the finest masseur Antigua can offer - but today was a good day. Can't believe I've been out here just 4 days - feels like forever my life has been the glittering blue ocean and this little silver boat.

Wind: almost none
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: flat
Hours rowing: 14
Hours sleeping: 6
Thought for the day: Pain is temporary, pride is forever

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 3: Chop and Change
03 Dec 2005, 2728.410N,1848.222W,0M

Trying to get the oars in the water.

3 Dec, 05 - 21:02

Latitude: 27° 28' N
Longitude: 18° 48' W
Miles from La Gomera: 94
Miles to Antigua: 2455
Miles since last dispatch: 30
Position in race: not known

Mum was giving me an update on the race progress. 'You're past the small island.'

Yes, I had noticed. It had started to seem like El Hierro, the westernmost of the Canary Islands, was never going to disappear from sight. I had started to suspect it was following me. But now it's just a distant shadow on the horizon. Next stop Antigua.

Watermaker worries

This watermaker is going to be the death of me - not literally, I hope. It caused me a seriously nervous moment this afternoon when it stopped working in mid-flow. The switch was still on but the switch light had gone off, so I thought the fuse must have gone. There ensued an increasingly frantic search for a 15A fuse. I knew I had one somewhere, but could only find 5s and 10s.

I optimistically put a 10 in, and was just wondering where I could find a watermaker expert on a Saturday to ask for help, when it occurred to me that maybe it wasn't the fuse at all.

I put the original fuse back in, switched the watermaker over to my other battery, and bingo, back in business. The battery had been flat. Too much iPod and not enough sun. 'Don't dooooo that to me,' I begged the watermaker and got back to the oars.

Ropey old rowing

The rowing technique has taken a turn for the worse today. I've got relatively big waves coming at me side-on, so it's a constant challenge to get both oars in the water at the same time. I've given up and adopted a syncopated rhythm instead. Ugly, but it seems to result in surprisingly steady progress.

Wind direction: 70°
Wind speed: 11 kts
Weather: cloud and sunshine
Sea state: choppy
Hours rowing: 10
Hours sleeping: 6
Thought for the day: remember there is peace in silence

Atlantic Row Part 1
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