The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 60: The Longest Day
29 Jan 2006

Mr Croker's Finest - Magic Bendy Oar gets the chop

29 Jan, 06 - 20:41

Today has been a very long day. 28 hours long, to be precise, because today I switched over to Antigua time.

So what did I do with my extra 4 hours? - just what lots of other people would be doing on a Sunday afternoon - a bit of DIY (If I don't do it, nobody else will!)

Today was the ideal day to cash in my bonus hours, as a small but significant list of maintenance tasks had been accumulating. And on a day when there wasn't a breath of wind nor a cloud in the sky to relieve the strength of the tropical sun, it was marginally better to spend the hottest part of the day on deck doing DIY than sweating away at the oars.

So I spent 4 hours busily bottom-scrubbing (getting rid of barnacles), replacing washers on rowing pins, padding my rowing seat, sponging out bilges, and most importantly, strengthening my oars.

The last round of oar repairs had been done in less than ideal conditions - 20 foot waves and 25 knot winds - so it was high time to improve on them. Magic Bendy Oar was today relieved of guardrail duties - it was so broken it was useless even as a guardrail - and hacksawed into pieces to make splints for Splintered Loom Oar. The timely discovery of a whole unused reel of duct tape, combined with these splints, plus the boathook, have given me much more confidence in my starboard side oar. Given that it's mostly blind faith and duck tape holding it together, this matters.

I've fashioned a new guardrail out of a length of rope, with some spare plastic piping as a cover, and a length of Mr Croker's finest oar as a stanchion. Much more satisfactory than an oar with a big bend in the middle.

So now when the stronger winds come (oh, please, lord, let them come!) I will be ready.

Note: I will leave my iPaq on GMT, so the time stamp on my dispatches will still be UK time. Also, I will now post my dispatch after my second rowing shift rather than the third, so it will still come through at around 8.30 or 9.00pm GMT.

Texts: thanks to Andy and Emer (sorry to hear about the rib - hope better soon), Rachel Smith, Margaret and Bob, John T (don't worry so much - if I want to ignore your questions, I will!), Sandi, Tim Ratbag (Milne cam through, thank you - like it!), Martin T, RHW (loved your message - thanks).

Rita Savage's PS: knowing Roz as I do, I am very impressed with her DIY ingenuity. Before she left she did say that she hoped she would be able to cope by finding practical solutions to problems. Well done, Roz!!

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

Wind: E, 3-5 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: dead flat and never-ending
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 59 Fishy Business
28 Jan 2006

Preparing to operate...

28 Jan, 06 - 20:35

I had just gone out on deck for the afternoon shift when something dropped, apparently out of the sky, and landed at my feet.

'Eek', was my first thought (or words to that effect).

Then I saw it was a small but decent-sized flying fish.

'Supper', was my second thought.

I briefly toyed with the idea of throwing him back, but he'd injured himself on the inbound flight and was bleeding into the footwell. I reasoned he was a goner anyway - if I threw him back he'd soon get eaten, and if anybody was going to eat him it may as well be me.

I couldn't bear to watch his death throes, so I went to do my rowing shift and sang loudly to myself to cover the sound of the frantically flapping fish in the footwell. Eventually the sounds subsided and I braced myself for the next stage of the operation.

I've never gutted a fish before, and my knife was pathetically inadequate, but I seemed to make a reasonable job of it. There wasn't much left by the time I'd cut off his head and 'wings', but not to be deterred I tied a cord around his tail and hung him up to dry.

I have no idea how long you're supposed to dry a fish for. Hours? Days? But I thought if I left him overnight he'd probably get soaked in condensation and go slimy, so towards sunset I unstrung him and prepared to eat my first home-dried flying fish.

The flesh was still more like sashimi than dried, but it was a nice firm texture, tasted good although not a strong flavour, and I've suffered no adverse after-effects. And it made a nice change to eat something that didn't come out of a packet. So I can declare my first Atlantic fish supper a success.

Tiny - love getting your texts, always a cheering mixture of encouragement and sound advice, from someone who knows. Especially cheered by your opinion that I am now unlikely to join the 100 Day Club - estimable though its members are, I have no desire to be one of them. I hope to prove you right. But conditions today have been oh so still, and progress oh so slow, it is sometimes hard to believe that I will ever get there at all!

Thanks also to Rachel Haining (photos are tricky, especially when both hands have to be in picture! 2 small tripod mounts and a 5 second self timer my only aids. Good luck in Turin), John T (glad you liked the dispatch - honesty sometimes takes some courage, but would be a discourtesy to my readers to be otherwise), Caroline Haines, Jeff, Duncan (avoiding other boats while asleep? Fingers crossed and hope for the best, mostly!).

Rita Savage's PS: Another batch of Sponsored Miles:
Tanya Savage 1467; and before long: Cliff Butters 1492; David Laycock 1494; Brian Yates 1499; Mark Hankey 1500.

There have been many nice comments about Roz' daily dispatches. The one I like best is: "just want to say how much we are enjoying your blogs (Chris' too - funny how solos write the best ones) and wish to send best wishes and support." (R&P Stagg) Chris Martin's website is

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

Wind: E, 8-12 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: moderate to calm
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 58: Cheerfully Miserable
27 Jan 2006

Grinning and bearing (baring) it.

27 Jan, 06 - 20:37

Last night I finally admitted to myself that I am not enjoying this. I'd been so determined that I would enjoy it, it has taken me until now to admit that I was wrong. (There then follows usual litany of whinges - oars broken, food cold, bed wet, shoulders aching, stereo kaput, flapjacks finished etc etc etc.)

But it's OK.

In fact, when I made this honest admission to myself, I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my weary shoulders, the burden of pretending to myself or anybody else that this is fun.

Because it doesn't matter. I am still achieving my personal objectives out here, and whether I am enjoying it or not is irrelevant.

In fact, it is even a good thing that I am not enjoying it. My mountaineering friend Sebastian, who was killed by an avalanche in Peru in 2003, once said, 'The greater the suffering, the sweeter the summit'. If I was finding this easy and fun, the ultimate sense of achievement would be less.

This row has already pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of enduring. For the most part I have found it unpleasant, uncomfortable and exhausting. It has taken every ounce of my resolve and determination to keep going. When I arrive in Antigua (God willing) the knowledge that I struggled and still succeeded will sweeten the final accomplishment a hundredfold.

I figured this out at the start of my night shift last night, and spent the rest of the three hours cheerfully hating every moment.

Other stuff:

Of course, as soon as I decide it's OK not to enjoy this, I catch myself almost having fun. The wind picked up this afternoon for an enjoyable few hours, a turtle came to visit, and there was a lovely rainbow. Maybe it's not entirely horrible after all.

Thanks for texts from:

Marina and Ben - wonderful news. Congratulations on your engagement!

Natalie - thanks for the nutrition advice. Fear not - still a couple of hundred Wholebake 9 Bars, which are probably better for me anyway, as higher in protein. No nuts, alas - error!

Tebays - yes, What Colour Is Your Parachute didn't list ocean rowing as a potential career! Good to hear from you.

Also Guy, John T, Mike Dunsmore, Victoria, Tim Ratbag, Susan Clarke, Candy, Margaret and Bob (thank you!), Penny and Rich, RJA, DB, Mel, Clarkie, AJ, Sandi (looking out for that flapjack-bearing pigeon!), Mark Reid.

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

Wind: E, 8-12 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: moderate to calm
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 57: Sad Day on Sedna Solo
26 Jan 2006

Flapjack no more - calls for a big bottom lip.

26 Jan, 06 - 20:29

Today is a sad day on board the good ship Sedna Solo, for today I Have Eaten My Last Flapjack.

It was hard to know in advance what foods would appeal at sea. Rosie Stancer, the polar trekker, had told me that the foods she liked at sub-zero temperatures were quite different from what she usually likes, and suggested that similarly my tastes might change at sea. So I'd tried out various snack bars during my two sailing trips last year, and ruled out some contenders, but still didn't get it quite right.

The Wholebake flapjacks have been going down a treat, with the Hemp Flapjacks and Apple, Pecan and Pistachio Whopper bars being particular favourites. So now I've guzzled the lot, and still half an ocean to go.

My problem is not going to be shortage of food - I've still got plenty - but a shortage of foods I want to eat.

Still waiting for some nice big flying fish to obligingly hurl themselves onto my deck so I can enjoy some fresh fish. But maybe they've wised up to the fact that this is not a good move from their point of view.

Other stuff:

For a while this afternoon I was virtually becalmed. It's strange to imagine capsizes elsewhere in the fleet when I have barely enough breeze to flutter my increasingly tattered red ensign. And the forecast shows little change for at least another two days. Hey ho, she says, trying hard to preserve her zen-like calm when in fact she wishes this starionary high pressure would unstation itself and go and becalm somebody else's bit of ocean instead...

To cheer me up a whale came to say hello this afternoon. He was about 6 feet long, and surfaced 9 or 10 times, coming within about 10 yards of my boat. A northern bottlenosed whale, unless I am much mistaken. I thanked him kindly for dropping by, and said he'd be welcome to come again.

Wishes for a very happy birthday to Elizabeth. I believe you're in Australia at the moment so you won't get this message until tomorrow - oops, sorry! Hope you're enjoying the sunshine Down Under.

Another bright spot in the day was a haul of particularly fine texts.

A trio of messages from Oxford:
Lord Butler - congratulations on your technological advance, sir! Good to hear from you.
Judy - reassuring to know that my witterings make sense to at least one other person.
Bri - dinner invitation gladly accepted! (I was going to invite myself to drop in anyway...) I shall look forward to it.

Thanks also for texts from: Wendela (great to hear from you! Ah, what I'd give for a ceviche on the beach now...) Sinead Martin (no advice or questions? The perfect text!), Sandi in the US, Alasdair (yes, happy to advise, if I can be any help - fours very different from solo, though!), Lizann, Rachel Haining (very true - anything will seem easy after this), John T (cool, no worries), Mike C, Mat Ellis, Eddie-Lee (does Jesus give good dinner parties?!), Mar, the Galls, the anonymous poet, Sean Chapple (actually I do fancy joining the Marines - don't think they'd have me though - I'm too old!), Adamski (music system kaput, so not much point asking what I listen to! And please don't text me about buttered toast and pints of real ale - it really doesn't help morale...), Ziggy, Tim Ratbag, Margaret and Bob, Jeff, Victoria, F from DK, Steve D.

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

Wind: E, 8-12 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: moderate to calm
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
| | More



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