I've had my eye on the Body & Soul section of The Times ever since it first appeared as a new Saturday supplement several years ago. Body & Soul simply seemed to sum up what I'm into. And at last I've made it!
I am reliably informed by the freelance journalist who interviewed me 6 months ago that I am in today's edition. I guess they must finally have run out of more interesting features and dug me out from the bottom of the pile. :-)
Click here for the article online
Footnote: Some of the information is inaccurate and/or out of date. I won't spell out all my corrections here, but the most important ones are:
- First and foremost: I was the 6th, not the 1st, woman to row
solo across the Atlantic.
- Not only friends are invited to rendezvous with me on the Pacific. Friends, strangers, anybody except pirates in fact, is welcome to follow my progress and if they happen to be in the area, I would love a visit.
- Since the stress fracture to my pelvis I have not been able to run, and may never do so again, so I am not going to be running a marathon in New Jersey next month.
- I was in fact a complete novice to sailing: my only waterborne expertise was in rowing, which is a very different ball game (?!)
Today I stepped off the earth for a while... by going up in a hot air balloon. It was strange to see the earth from a (high-flying) bird's point of view. Traffic roundabouts, railway lines, York Minster. Suburban homes with green-lawned gardens, grand houses with tennis courts and swimming pools. Football players running on pitches, children bouncing on trampolines.
I love to snoop into other people's ordinary lives - at this time of year in England I love to walk along residential streets at dusk and not-so-discreetly peek in at uncurtained windows. Being in the hot air balloon was similar, but even better, because it also offered that little thrill of adrenaline that comes from doing something human beings weren't designed to do. I gazed down at the ground and enjoyed the delicious scariness of thinking, 'What if I jumped?'
It was surprisingly peaceful up there, in between the bursts of flame from the gas jets. We moved at the same speed as the wind, so there was no rush of air past our ears. We drifted silently across the plain of York, everything below us transformed by our new perspective.
09 Oct 2006
"Make up! Make up!" No, not with lipstick and mascara - with the ropes! While actually sailing on the Prince William it was necessary at times to turn the ship and turn the sails to catch the wind. The command for that was "Bracing Stations, Bracing Stations". Half the crew raced to the port side, and half to the starboard; one side to heave on the ropes, the other side to ease the ropes. Having eased the rope for which I was responsible, we then had to Make Up i.e. return the ropes to their usual state: 1 full turn, 3 figures of eight and the remainder coiled and fastened.
All of that took place at deck level. When I look at the photographs now, I can hardly believe that I was up there in the rigging helping to stow the sails when they were no longer needed. Heavy weather was approaching and engines would be used to drive the ship from Cherbourg to St.Malo.
All of this was a totally new experience for me, and rather different from going around the world on a cruise ship. When I discovered that it was possible for people aged 15 - 75 to book for a Tall Ships Adventure I thought I would give it a try. The brochure (www.tallships.org) gives the following information: "Our ships are centrally heated, have hot showers and hot drinks available 24/7 and the fantastic food served on board is just great for keeping the cold at bay." What was not quite so clearly stated was that I would be at the helm of the ship on the stormiest day (for 1 hour); on starboard or port side watch several times in the middle of the night; guarding the gangplank in Cherbourg from midnight to 2am; climbing the rigging to help stow the sails; washing up plates and cutlery after feeding 60 people, three times in my day on gallery duty; sleeping in a cabin with three men and two women.
The food was good, the company friendly and helpful, the sailing a wonderful experience, the ship quite splendid and the pipe cots (beds) horribly uncomfortable. My cot had a seam across the canvas just where my hip needed to be. Above and below the seam it sagged comfortably. Anybody who books for a similar experience make sure you are not number 13 in Red Watch! Not that we had much say in the matter. Early one morning when I was bridge messenger, it was my duty to tiptoe around in the dark to find and awaken certain persons who were required to be on duty. It was important to know which beds held the right persons.
All in all a good experience and recommended to those brave enough to try a 6 day break with a difference. Rita Savage.
The Royal Navy has agreed in principle to support my Pacific row. We are still working out the details and I am meeting with various branches of their organisation to do so, but I am very excited about this development.
The RN also supported my Atlantic row, giving me underwater escape training in their 'Dunker' and delivering me a Valentine's card in mid-Atlantic earlier this year.
I am looking forward to working with them in the future for the benefit of both sides, and also for charity - details coming soon.