The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 64: Magnificent Absurdity
02 Feb 2006

Me in my night hat.

2 Feb, 06 - 20:31

It is the night shift - the last 3 hours of my rowing day - and I am busy at the oars. I am wearing just a t-shirt and a hat, and the tropical night air is velvety against my skin. The sun set about two hours ago, and the afterglow has finally faded from the western sky, where a thin crescent moon now hangs like a silver hammock. I can see its reflection dancing in the hatch door in front of my rowing position, and my moon shadow rows diligently away before me. The perspex dome of my compass nightlight glows red between my feet.

It is a calm night, and the ocean is almost silent, a faint sighing its only sound. My oars, broken and repaired, each have their own distinctive splash. The left one, with spoon intact, makes a clean entry into the water, while the right one, spoon lashed to a boathook with cable ties, makes a messier splash, with the occasional gurgle as a bubble escapes from the hollow tube of the broken shaft.

It is at night time that I am most aware of the hugeness of the ocean, and the smallness of me. But it's not a scary or intimidating feeling - it's a feeling of wonder and amazement that I am here, over a thousand miles from the nearest land, alone and rowing away in a little silver boat. It is at the same time an absurd and a magnificent thing to be doing.

My watch alarm goes off to signal the end of my shift and I stow my oars for the night, with a satisfying feeling of a job well done - another day and a few more miles closer to Antigua. I admire the stars while I brush my teeth, and retire to my cabin to write up my logbook and tot up my miles for the day. Then it's time for bed, and dreams of dry land, family, friends and food.

Texts: thanks for messages from Mariya (glad you reminded me about Perfect Moment Syndrome - glad to hear you still get PMS too!), Pauline, Tiny, Duncan (would love to be at the Henley Oxford/Cambridge races, but that's the weekend I'm speaking at the Univ reunion in NY. Too bad!), Sean Chapple (no, it was last year that Mum was in Antarctica. I can recommend her as a base camp manager - I'll hire her out for £25k!), Caroline Haines, John T (no, getting colder on guesses re US trip - you'll never get it!), Liz Devoto (miss work in London? Like a hole in the head!), Margaret and Bob (glad computer has recovered. A book? Who knows?!), HSS - sorry I got your initials wrong yesterday. HHS was my Dad!

Rita Savage's PS: Alastair Brown - she should reach your sponsored mile 1681 tomorrow! Thanks.

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

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

Atlantic Row Part 3
| | More
Day 63: Life on Mars
01 Feb 2006

Roz' mother in Antarctic - just a dya visitor, not trekking to the Pole!

1 Feb, 06 - 20:35

Q from James Oglethorpe: 'You are selected by NASA to go to Mars. Which explorers (alive or dead), would you pick as your fellow crew members? 2 women and 3 men.'

A: Well, somebody live would definitely make a more useful member of the crew! :-)

I'm going to expand this to include adventurers and travellers, partly because my knowledge of explorers is woefully inadequate, and partly because it's debatable whether it's still possible to be an explorer in the geographical sense in this day and age, when most of the earth's dry land has already been charted.

So, with all that preamble out of the way...

1,. Captain Joshua Slocum, who built his own boat and sailed it solo around the world in (I think) the late 1800's. Resourceful kind of chap, and seemed to have a good sense of humour.

2. Michael Palin (who is also coming to my hypothetical dinner party). Good team member and would probably be very good at handling any delicate negotiations if we ran into some unfriendly Martians.

3. Tom Avery, polar trekker - because he's cute!

4. Rosie Stancer, who has trekked solo to both Poles. I've only met Rosie once, for dinner at her house, but we got on famously. She's feisty, determined, and fun, definitely an asset to the crew.

5. Klondike Woman - I read a book recently about the female Gold Rush pioneers. I may not admire their motives, but I couldn't help being impressed by the way these doughty Victorian women hitched up their petticoats and trekked up the notorious Chilkoot Pass through appalling weather and hostile terrain, while many of their male counterparts fell by the wayside. If they could cope with that, I reckon they could cope with anything Mars could throw at them.

Other stuff:

Have been concerned to hear about the problems other crews are having in hitting Antigua - especially sorry to hear about Row4Life losing their boat. As a solo rower in a boat that has proved vulnerable to being blown around, I could be in trouble unless the winds decide to deliver me right to Antigua's doorstep. I am in the hands of the weather gods.

The breeze had been shaping up quite nicely for about 24 hours... until this afternoon, when following a brief squall an all-too-familiar calm settled once again over my patch of the Atlantic. Lucky I'm so zen and calm about life now, or I'd be crying with frustration...

Diana Hoff (thanks for the vote of confidence - I, too, am looking forward to being your fellow solo rower!), Mariya (hola, chica! Hope the surfing in Hawaii is better than here in mid-Atlantic), Carol in Chicago (fingernails not looking good), Roger Gould, Bridget Rumley, Caroline Haines (the nutritionist and the creator of toasted Mars Bar sandwiches are, believe it or not, one and the same person!), Clarkie, Aase-Kathe and Flemming from Denmark, Tim Ratbag, Tom Moore (see you in NY), Jeff (biggest ensuite bathroom - made me smile!), John T, DB, Westie (thanks for the top tip - tempting!), HSS, AJ.

Rita Savage’s PS: Sponsored Miles: 1600 Terri Hathaway; 1602 Phil Goodier; and soon, 1643 Chẻ Cayford-Smith

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

Wind: NE, now about 15 knots (estimate) and improving
Weather: sunshine and little fluffy clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 3
| | More
Day 62 Of James Cracknell's Bottom And Other Matters
31 Jan 2006

Old version seat cover - doubles up as afro wig for 70's theme parties.

31 Jan, 06 - 20:39

No man (or woman) is an island...

But being on a little rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic must be about the next best thing. I've been enjoying a fine sense of self-sufficiency today.

With my solar-powered watermaker droning away, my chickpeas growing in my seed sprouter, and plenty enough food to see me to Antigua, I looked around at my DIY improvements and felt, possibly for the first time, at home in the ocean environment.

I got this same feeling when I was trekking in Bolivia, knowing I had my tent, sleeping bag, and enough food for a week stowed away in my rucksack. I remember gazing into my campfire one starlit night and revelling in the feeling of having all I needed, not needing to rely on anyone else for anything.

This was one of the reasons I wanted to do a solo ocean row - the opportunity for physical self-sufficiency, and emotional self-reliance, that it offered. It's a very powerful, and very empowering, feeling.

Other stuff:

Bliss to the buttocks

The extra padding I'd put on my seat 2 days ago wasn't really working for me. Yesterday was tolerable, but by the end of the first shift this morning my increasingly bony backside had had enough. I was also worried about losing my third and last alpaca skin seat cover, its two predecessors having been washed overboard.

So I've now fashioned a new improved seating arrangement out of my spare pillow, a piece of netting and some string. Much more comfy, and hopefully the extra airflow around the nethers should help me avoid Cracknell-bottom.

Has now acquired a hairnet

Special messages:

Cheerfully miserable - Clarkie, don't worry. Since I became Officially Miserable, contrary woman that I am, I've been a lot more cheerful. Since I released myself from the burden of trying to have a good time, I've relaxed a lot and am almost in danger of actually enjoying it.

Hayley Bennett - hey Hayley! Was thinking of you just yesterday and your wise words - 'you must have a very good relationship with the voices in your head'. I didn't at the start of this row, but I do now!

HHS: you star - a free massage in Antigua. I'll take that up, for sure!

My texts today had a definite international air...

Hello to CHP Consultants in Sydney!
Hello to Mat and Grace in California!
Hello to Hondo in Ohio!
Hello to Paul in South Africa!

Thanks also for texts from Caroline Haines, Karen Luscombe, Alex Burton, Henry and Elizabeth Burrows, Di Morris, Sean Chapple (good luck in Norway), Sinead Martin (has to be worth a go - easier than a sponsorship drive! One lucky dip please), Mike Dunsmore, Natalie (torturing me with memories of 16-course dinners and fantasies of toasted ice cream sandwiches!), John T (thanks for navigational tip-off).

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

Wind: NE, now about 15 knots (estimate) and improving
Weather: sunshine and little fluffy clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
| | More
Day 61: Of Toasted Mars Bar Sandwiches And Sporting Glories
30 Jan 2006

Oxford Lightweights

30 Jan, 06 - 20:39

Q from Caroline Haines: Before this, what would you regard as your greatest achievement?

A: Strangely, for someone who doesn't think of herself as sporty (just ask anyone who knew me in my schooldays!) the contenders for Greatest Achievement are all sports-related. Maybe that's precisely why - I have to exert mind over matter to make myself do these things.

The winner would have to be being selected for the stroke seat of the Oxford Lightweights for the race against Cambridge in 1989.

The previous year I'd rowed in the reserve boat for the heavyweights, Osiris, so I'd had some good coaching. But to be selected I would have to lose about 15 pounds and maintain if not improve my fitness, so over the summer vacation I dieted and trained diligently.

The autumn trials went well for me, and I managed to keep the weight off despite a few lapses of self-control (a few of us made the calorific discovery that toasted Mars Bar sandwiches are heaven on a plate) and I was over the moon to be selected for the stroke seat, which some would say is the most important seat in the boat.

I remember looking in the bathroom mirror and thinking, 'Hey, you're Ok. You're stroke of the Oxford Lightweights. Wow.' Big-headed? Maybe. But I felt I'd thoroughly earned my place. It was a good feeling - to set a goal, work hard for it, and achieve it.

The other contenders for Greatest Achievement would be the New York Marathon 1998 and London Marathon 2001. What attracted me to the event was people saying, 'You will learn things about yourself during a marathon'. I never really did, except that marathons are deeply unpleasant and make your toenails drop off.

3000 miles across the Atlantic, on the other hand, while also being deeply unpleasant, really does let you get to know yourself. Does it ever!

Calling all ocean rowers: speaking of nails dropping off, my fingernails seem to be slowly parting company with my fingers. Is this normal? Help!

Other stuff:

I was rowing along this hot afternoon when there was a strange sensation on my skin - familiar but almost forgotten. It took me a moment or two to remember what it was... Could it be... No, surely not... A breeze! Picking up nicely now. Long may it last.

Texts: thanks to Barbara McNulty from Andark, Paul Nicholson, Margaret and Bob (would be v nice if Chris's dad is right, but the weather seems to be so unpredictable this year!), Snowy (well, I did use a broken oar to make splints, but it was my idea first!), HHS (v happy to hear about massage place in Antigua!), Fran (really good to hear from you), Bill Rowlands in Libya, DB.

Rita Savage PS: Roz' father believed that a man's legs were made just long enough to reach from the car seat to the accelerator. He could hardly believe that he had fathered a marathon runner, but was very proud of her achievement.

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

Wind: E, 3-15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: calm ealy, moderate later
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
| | More



Powered by XJournal