The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 26: Technical Hitch
Rita Savage
26 Dec 2005

Roz using her satphone.

Isn't it wonderful the way in which we can keep hearing from Roz about her daily life on the ocean wave? Until, inevitably, the system fails in some way. Perhaps the iridium signal that she uses was overstrained at Christmas with all of us onlookers sending messages to the rowers in the Atlantic Race. Whatever the cause, Roz has not been able to write and upload a dispatch on this Boxing Day.
A friend Adrian has given her some advice about the weather which has really cheered her up. She will be saying more about him when she is able to write her next dispatch. So, once again she is able to get behind the oars without being blown back towards La Gomera.
Keep thinking of her and encouraging her in your thoughts! Greetings for the New Year, Rita Savage

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 25: All I Want For Christmas...
25 Dec 2005

25 Dec, 05 - 17:01

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Happy Christmas!

Of all the latitudes, in all the oceans, in all the world, I had to pick this one.

It seems that I, and I alone out of all the race fleet, have found myself a uniquely unhelpful weather system. I've been heading south in a desperate attemp to avoid these headwinds, but didn't make it in time. Christmas morning brought the news that I had dropped several race positions, and that the winds would be against me all day.

For several hours this morning I valiantly but grumpily battled the headwinds, rowing hard just to stand still, nearly crying with frustration as time after time the fickle wind would change direction so in the space of a few strokes I'd find myself pointing completely the wrong way. Happy bloody Christmas, I thought.

Exhausted and fed up, I took a break to open my presents (thank you to Jan, Pauline, Peareys, and the Gurkha Spirit guys) and then checked my emails. One was from my friend Adrian Flanagan, who is currently bidding to be the first person to sail around the world via the polar regions. He sent me the 3-day forecast, showing much more favourable winds from tomorrow. The day suddenly seemed brighter.

So rather than row myself into an oblivion of misery and exhaustion today, I thought to hell with it - today I'll enjoy Christmas and get back to racing tomorrow.

So how have I spent my day?

One special experience was going over the side for the first time. Not many people have swum in 2-mile-deep water. I was worried I might struggle to get back in afterwards, and after Tara and Ian's scary shark experience last week I was a bit apprehensive, so I put on my mask, snorkel and Baltic safety harness and hopped in before I had a chance to think about it too much.

It was beautiful - cool and blue and limitless. I was supposedly there to scrub the barnacles off Sedna's hull, but had a good gawp around as well. I'd envisaged maybe a whole colony of wildlife congregating under my boat, living off any scraps that go overboard, but there wasn't much at all. There were a couple of tiny little stripey fellows, and further down hovering around Sid's rope was a bigger fish like a tuna. Apart from that it was just clear blue infinity.

That done, I washed my hair and bathed, did some laundry, cleaned the boat, and settled down to a good Christmas dinner of chicken with cranberries, peas, sweetcorn and gravy (it was good, but maybe not as good as it sounds - the chicken was diced and freeze-dried, and due to death of camping stove everything was served cold) followed by Christmas pud. Thanks, Tiny, for the pud - it was great with Irish Coffee syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Scrum!

I rang a few people, including of course my mother and sister, celebrating Christmas at Mum's house in Leeds. It is just the second Christmas since Dad died, and a bit of an odd one, with me being out here and my sister about to set off on a one-year trip around the world. Mum told me about my present - she got a new screen for my beloved Mac laptop, to replace the one that got smithereened between Lisbon and the Canaries.

So all in all a very satisfactory Christmas Day, my only gripe being that Father Christmas failed to deliver the one thing I REALLY wanted for Christmas - a nice steady northeasterly. But hopefully tomorrow...

Wind: 5-7 kts from the south/west
Weather: sunny
Sea state: slightly choppy
Hours rowing: 3

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 24: Birthday Special
24 Dec 2005

24 Dec, 05 - 13:07
For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Yesterday I turned 38. That is probably about half my allotted time on this earth. While I was at the oars tonight, rowing across the silent starlit sea, I was pondering on who i am and what I'm doing.

By some standards, I don't have much to show for my life so far - no career, no house, no spouse, no children. Not even a car. At an age when most of my contemporaries are settled down to a life of responsible breadwinning and parenting , I'm off mucking about on the Atlantic.

But I wouldn't have it any other way. I've been lucky enough to have experienced a more conventional lifestyle - apart from the children, I had all those sensible, grown-up things. It was great, I was happy. But I discovered that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life.

And so I find myself at the age of 38 remarkably unencumbered by responsibilities. I'm free to do what I will. Selfish? Irresponsible? Some might say I should be more grown up.

Grown up. A past participle, as if growing up is something you do once and for all and then it's over. Congratulations, you are a grown up. Here's your certificate, and your carpet slippers.

To me, it sounds too static. I don't want to be a grown up if it means an end to growing and developing. I'd prefer to keep a naive enthusiasm for life, believing that anything is possible. I am happy to be 38 going on 18, except that now I am older and hopefully a little wiser than when I was 18 first time around.

Lying here in my bunk at 5.30am, listening to the silence of the sea, broken only by the occasional blowing of a whale, I feel there is nowhere, and nobody, I would rather be.

Christmas Greetings

Monty sends his love and wishes for a very Merry Christmas to all at Southbourne Junior School.

And I send a huge HAAAPPYYYYYYY CHRISTMAAASSS! to everybody back home.

Rita Savage's PS: Sponsored miles: Roz will soon be 500 miles from La Gomera, so thank you to B.Yates for sponsoring this mile - a Christmas present?

Wind: almost non-existent
Weather: sunny and hot
Sea state: flat calm
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 1
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Day 23: Happy Birthday to Me!
23 Dec 2005

The birthday girl - in her birthday suit, naturally!

23 Dec, 05 - 20:09

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see
Miles to Antigua: 2088
Progress towards Antigua in last 24 hours: 10

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Rozzie
Happy birthday to me!

My birthday got off to a mixed start. I'd been up rowing half the night, trying to evade these forecast southwesterlies, so was hopeful of some good news when Radio Solent rang for an interview - they always give me an update on my race position - so was slightly crestfallen to find out that Move Ahead had indeed moved ahead and overtaken me again.

But on the upside, Radio Solent were having a Christmas party in the breakfast studio (apparently including Cdr Mike Pearey - my man in the Navy - hello there, Mike!) and the assembled throng gave me a fine rendition of Happy Birthday, so that soon cheered me up, as did a birthday card from my mother and a present from my friend Pauline, plus various birthday greetings sent by email and relayed by Mum. Thanks to all!

After that it was down to business as usual... with a special guest appearance this afternoon by a whale. I haven't seen much wildlife so far, although I sometimes go into zombie mode when at the oars, so it's entirely possible that dolphins, sharks, whales, turtles, albatrosses, mermaids, mermen, et al have been doing triple backflips and dancing the cancan just yards away from me and I haven't noticed.

Anyway, the whale made sure I did notice him by blowing loudly to announce his presence. I looked round and saw a pointed dorsal fin and sleek black back arcing through the water about 20 yards away from me. He surfaced and blew a couple more times, and then no more. Looking in my guide to wildlife of the North Atlantic - so far lamentably underused - I would say he was probably a pilot whale. It was good of him to stop by to say happy birthday - it certainly made the day special.

Other stuff:

Thanks for further suggestions re the camping stove. Rather than work myself into a lather of frustration trying to fix it, I've decided to abandon it and concentrate on a workaround solution. It's actually been fine the last couple of days eating food that has been left to rehydrate for a number of hours (yummy chilli prawns with beansprouts tonight), but if I do want hot food I will try to fashion a solar cooker out of a survival blanket. I think there's one in my sailingunlimited survival pack, but have been too busy rowing to investigate so far. Thanks, Penny, for the black spot suggestion. Superb idea, and I know other rowers have used it successfully, but unfortunately I left my black spot at home...

I recorded an interview with BBC South Today. I believe it's due to be forecast tomorrow, Christmas Eve, if you happen to be in the region.

Rita Savage's PS: I think Roz meant broadcast in the paragraph just above this. She has weather forecasts very much on her mind, as once again the weekend promises ill winds.
Grateful thanks to the many people who sent emails to her today for her birthday.I have told her about them. The Iridium link does not seem to be functioning as it ought, so if anyone sent text messages they may not have got through. Thank you for the support you are giving her in prayers and messages.

Wind: 3-5 kts from the northeast
Weather: sunny and hot
Sea state: calm
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 1
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