The Voyage: Roz Savage
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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Day 54: Questions, Questions
23 Jan 2006

With Ben Fogle and James Cracknell

23 Jan, 06 - 20:04

So sorry to hear about the Spirit of Cornwall. And so close to the finish, too. But glad to hear they're safe and sound.

I've been receiving some fascinating and thought-provoking questions. An embarrassment of riches. I've noted them all down and will aim to answer them all before the end of my journey.

For now, an answer to an easy one...

Jeff: Q:what do I do to recover at the end of a shift?
A: it varies. Usually there are some jobs to do - maintenance, laundry, preparing food, texts to pick up dispatches to write. If there's time, and especially if I'm having a bad day, I like to take a quick 20 min nap. Or sometimes I get my on-board masseur to rub my aching shoulders. No, only kidding.

To those who have advised me to get new oars - sorry, but in the nicest possible way I'm exercising my right to ignore your advice. a) It's very unlikely Woodvale would be able to get the right length oars. b) I'm managing fine with the patched-up ones I've got. c) It's a matter of principle (long story). So as my side of the bargain I'll stop whingeing about them!

Special thanks to Ben Fogle and Marina Hunt for their kind message. Well done on a fantastically speedy row. Am now looking forward to my own arrival!

A lovely message arrived for Monty the ship's teddy bear: 'Dear Monty, It's very quiet in Mr Butler's office without you. One of the children is taking me skiing to cheer me up! Give Roz a big hug from me. Luv Molly xx' (Molly is the other Southbourne Junior School teddy.)

Thanks also for messages from Dee on Aviva, Victoria Humphries (will try your Arctic memory game - if little grey cells up to it!), Mark in Colorado, Nathan in Richmond, Sean Chapple of Polar Quest (good luck!), John T, Martin Turner (enjoy NZ), Mat & Grace Ellis, Merran (good to hear from you after all this time!), Steve Maskell (I've already done my dream menu - search on 'lobster'!), Stew, DB, Jeff (you saying I have baboon derriere, you insolent Frenchman?! Better than baboon face, monsieur! :-), Tom in NZ (already considered increasing inboard, but would be too uncomfortable for bashed hands and ribs), Adamski, Lizann, Sandi and my US fan club (?!), Tim Ratbag, James Oglethorpe, Matt Oglethorpe, Sarah, Pauline, and all other texters.

Rita Savage's PS: Sponsored miles coming up: Alastair Brown at 1369 and Tessa, Gerard, Gemma & Tom at 1370. Thanks friends!

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

Wind: E, 12-15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 10

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 53 A Funny Kind of Freedom
22 Jan 2006

Big ocean, small boat

22 Jan, 06 - 18:51

This morning's shift was abandoned due to excessively painful shoulder. When a jarring wave reduced me to tears I retreated to the cabin, took another painkiller (now out of dihydrocodeine - boo) and slept for a couple of hours.

The afternoon was considerably better. Dosed up and liberally sprayed with Deep Heat the shoulder was tolerable. And I only had to stop once for another oar repair. The show goes on.

There are, in fact, moments when I feel like I'm in an alternative Truman Show, with all of you on the outside looking in at me as I bob around in my bizarre little marine world - I keep wonndering when I'm going to bump into the painted scenery of the sky like the scene at the end of the film.

But I know this is just a temporary life - real life awaits me. And although I constantly try to cultivate patience, I have to confess to being increasingly keen to get back to that life. A recent text made me stop and think about my 'normal' i.e. dry land, life. It said 'u will never be this free again'.

I've realised that I enjoy an uncommon degree of freedom in my normal life, so much so that by comparison I don't feel free out here. In the last 3 or 4 years I've re-engineered my life to make myself as free as ssible. I've opted out of most of the things that make people feel un-free. By not wanting a home or material possessions I don't need to have a regular income. By not having one special relationship I can do what I want, when I want.

The only things I really want out of life are good health, good food, good friends, and freedom, and all these things I enjoy in abundance.

I realise that I'd started to take my exceptionally nice life for granted, especially the freedom. After three months confined to a 23-foot boat, rowing all day every day I can't wait to be back on dry land and enjoy freedom of movement and freedom of choice over what to do with my time. And freedom to eat sesame chicken (today's food craving).

Mum - hope you've had a lovely birthday. Although I hear your voice every day, I can't wait to see you in Antigua for a belated birthday hug! Rxxx

Texts: John T (most embarrassing moment? Allow a girl some secrets!), Philip Goodier (thank your son for the joke - made me laugh!), Bethia at OUWBC (ah, happy memories!), Margaret and Bob in Staines, Snowy (no need to vex yourself over my hot food situation - thanks for trying, but I really don't mind the temperature of the food - it's the variety and freshness that I miss), tbeshoff in NZ (will take care - no sunburn yet), Nic (thanks for encouragement).

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

Wind: E, 12-15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 10

Atlantic Row Part 2
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