The Voyage: Roz Savage
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
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Day 56: Zen and the Art of Ocean Rowing
25 Jan 2006

I'm going in . . .dressed for bottom-scrubbing on Christmas Day

25 Jan, 06 - 20:30

'In my experience, a castaway's worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one's life away.'

From The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

At the Ocean Rowing Weekend in Torquay last year I was surprised by Sally Kettle's words of advice, 'On our boat we banned the word "hope"'.

Abandon hope all ye who enter the ocean?

But it's making sense to me now. I've wasted too much time hoping, and it leads to procrastination - I kept promising myself that progress would be faster, that I would put more hours in, 'when I get to the trade winds...', 'when the wind improves...', 'when my shoulders feel better...'

It's not productive. All I've got on each day is the here and now, and I have to make the best I can of it. If frustration is not getting what you hoped for, then if you don't have the hopes you don't get the frustration.

So today I've been cultivating an attitude of zen - accepting that the only constant in life is change, so there's no point getting too despondent when things are bad, because they will get better. Likewise, no point in getting over-excited when things are good, because they will get worse.

Easier said than done, of course...

Other stuff:

My bottom needs scrubbing... Or Sedna's bottom, to be more precise. I noticed today thart the barnacles growing around the bilge outlet are getting rather large, so all the ones I can't see a probably getting rather large too. The last (and only, in fact) time I went overboard to scrub the hull was Christmas Day. It was dead calm, and I wasn't keen then. Now it's far from calm, and I'm even less keen. What if the boat lurches and knocks me unconscious? What if I lacerate myself on the barnacles and it gets infected? What if I get too exhausted to climb back into the boat? Hmmm, will put it off at least until a calmer day.

Texts: Apologies, but in the interests of cultivating my inner calm I've had the phone turned off all day so I haven't picked up any texts. Will pick them up and acknowledge tomorrow.

Rita Savage's PS: Another batch of Sponsored Miles:
Pat Keene, 1005; Thursday Group of Cookridge Methodist Church: 1200; Alastair Brown: 1369; Tessa, Gerard, Gemma and Tom: 1370; Ian Jackson: 1401; Sarah Watson: 1402; and Sebastian Pearey: 1412. Thank you for sponsoring Roz in this way

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

Wind: E, 15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 55: I'm just a girl who can't say no...
24 Jan 2006

One last hug, La Gomera, November.

24 Jan, 06 - 21:00

I'm just a girl who can't say no...

...but I'm practising. So, Big Nose, here are a couple of Big Noes.

To all special requests for photos - more smiles, grumpy face, 'silky locks' etc - No. Sorry. Thin end of the wedge.

To all invitations to dinner on my return - very kind, but I can't accept all the invitations so as a matter of policy I'm going to decline them all. If we weren't on dining terms before my row, then we're still not, so you're no worse off now than you were before.

Sheesh, I bet Ranulph Fiennes and Chris Bonnington don't have to put up with this kind of thing.

And now to less touchy subjects... My mother.

Mark in Colorado wrote: 'my mum is worried about your mum. She knows the worry she must feel and thinks she must be one special lady.'

My mother certainly is a special lady. When I first told her about my plan to row the Atlantic she ignored it for a while, hoping the whole horrible thing would go away. But when she saw how determined I was to do it and how much energy I was putting into it, she resigned herself to the fact that it was going to happen and has been unwavering in her support ever since.

Fortunately for me, my mother's way of dealing with the worry is to get involved on a practical level, so she has been with me helping out at various stages throughout the project - boat preparation, at the start line in La Gomera, and now as my shore manager and first point of contact on a daily basis.

This has required her to be my website manager, financial controller, personal assistant, social secretary, media coordinator, sponsorship manager, advisor, counsellor and shoulder to cry on. It's a lot to ask of anybody, but she has risen magnificently to the challenge.

And all this on top of my sister, her only other child, setting off to India at the start of a year's trip around the world (another worry) and having to cope with the loss of my father less than 18 months ago.

We haven't always been close. For about twenty years, from my mid-teens onward, we had a polite but distant relationship. It's only in the last two or three years that we've become more involved in each other's lives again. And I'm very grateful for this second chance. She goes up and up in my estimation all the time. I admire her practicality and adaptability, her strength and energy. I love my Mum. She's great.

But lest her head become too big, I'm going to now tease her with some of my favourite Mum-isms...

After I'd spent the night fearing for my life as my boat was tossed around by gale force winds and towering waves that had cleared my decks, I rang Mum to let her know that I and my £35,000 boat had survived. Her main concern? The loss of my bottle of Milton sterilising fluid - 'And that was expensive. £12 in La Gomera!'

When I was struggling with loss of appetite for my expedition foods and worrying how I was going to keep body and soul together, I carelessly said, 'Well, at least I can make up for it when I get to Antigua with some decent food.' 'Yes,' she said, 'But you'll have to pay for it there.'

And during the thankfully brief phase when I was relying on her for weather forecasts, her endearing but disconcerting habit of naming winds according to where they were blowing to rather than where they were blowing from. 'You're in for some strong westerlies...' '???!!' 'Or do I mean easterlies?'

Sorry, Mum, couldn't resist it!

From Monty to Molly: 'Thank you, Molly, for your message yesterday. I am missing you too, and all the children at Southbourne Junior School. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon. I tried to give Roz that big bear hug but my arms are too short. Love Monty xxx'

Thanks for texts from Julian, Celina and Barnaby, Bri, Matt Oglethorpe, Mike Dunsmore, Adamski, CH, Sandi, Alasdair, Margaret and Bob, Jeff (Go and Rego - not sponsored!), Mark Reid, Martin Chambers.

Rita Savage's PS: Fortunately I can have the last word. I am a forgiving sort!
A mother's plea. Roz is such an "email junkie" that before the race began she arranged for me to receive her emails, and to pass on a summary to her. We did not put her contact number on the website at first for the same reason. Eventually she did miss having messages of encouragement from friends and did display her number. At the time we asked for brief messages, and that people should not expect a reply. She does enjoy hearing from you, but does not have the luxury of someone else to row while she deals with queries and requests. She has a lot of rowing to do and her time is limited. Please do be kind to her and don't ask too much of her time and energies. She has talked to me about this and now she has mentioned it in her dispatch. I feel the need, as any mother would, to help and protect her. Do continue to send messages but please bear in mind what she and I have written. (I nearly wrote 'massages' instead of 'messages'. If only we could send massages!)

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

Wind: NE veering to E, 12-15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 9

Atlantic Row Part 2
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