The Voyage: Roz Savage
Announcing Project STARBOARD
19 Oct 2006, Woodside, CA

Plans are coming together apace for Project STARBOARD (Steve's Trailer And Roz's Boat Off Across Remote Deserts).

But who, you may ask, is Steve?

Steve Roberts is a person I haven't met yet, who for reasons known best to himself has allowed me to talk him into giving up two months of his time and incurring significant depreciation on his new truck (NEWT - New Expensive White Truck) to retrieve my boat Sedna from Miami and drive her 3000 miles to the West Coast.

Apart from ownership of NEWT, Steve has certain other attributes that ideally qualify him for the task of co-driver. He is an adventure cyclist of epic proportions (meaning his cycle ride was of epic proportions, although at 6 foot 4 Steve's proportions are also bordering on the extraordinary). He is a grand master geek, so we have much to discuss about potential enhancements to Sedna's technological infrastructure. And he is a wordplay whizz, which may (or may not!) help those long flat miles across the American Midwest just fly by.

I first contacted him less that 5 weeks ago, after Jim Appleton (the owner of the sculling boat in the Columbia Gorge) mentioned him. Now many emails and several phone calls later, we are about to embark on a major adventure.

We already know we have a lot to discuss. What we don't know is how two independent, free-spirited souls will cope with spending 2 months living in each other's pockets.

We will meet for the first time next Friday, in Washington State. We drive from there diagonally from the far northwest of the States to the far southeast, where (I hope) Sedna will by then be awaiting collection. She is still in Antigua, but is due to ship shortly.

If Steve and I get on well and STARBOARD leads to future collaboration (or in fact, even if it doesn't) I will always wonder at how statistically improbable our meeting was. If Jim hadn't thought to mention 'that cycling guy, think his website is called Microship or something', if I hadn't made a mental note to look it up, if Steve hadn't just happened to have bought a new truck... it makes me mindful of the butterfly effect, that our every tiny action can have untold consequences.

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Fat and Fit
19 Oct 2006, Woodside, CA

The faith healer I saw last weekend said, 'You have to love yourself, love your body. It's all you've got.'

Yet I constantly bemoan my size. How can I love this body, when to me it looks and feels all wrong? I'm not just talking about how I look compared with supermodels (as my blog the other day showed, even supermodels don't look like supermodels) - I'm just talking about how I look compared with how I looked 6 months ago post-row, or even 12 months ago pre-row.

Last night I found a different perspective. I was deeply immersed in my current book - 'Swimming to Antarctica' by Lynne Cox. She'd been describing how physiological studies had shown that her body type was uniquely suited to doing what she does, i.e. swimming enormous distances in open water that would make 99% of humans hypothermic within minutes.

Her fat is well distributed around her body, which keeps her well insulated in the coldest of waters, especially as her superb fitness and endurance mean that she keeps on generating warmth from within when others would be slowing down and getting chilled as a result.

Plus, she is blessed with neutral buoyancy, which means that she does not have to expend effort in swimming upwards (as most men have to) nor in swimming downwards (as most women have to) - she naturally floats at the ideal depth in relation to the water, so all her energy goes into swimming FORWARDS.

These attributes helped her set a new record (for both men and women) across the English Channel when she was just fifteen. And swim from Chile to Tierra del Fuego. And across the Bering Strait.

After reading about her punishing training schedule and incredible feats of endurance, I was astounded to come across several pages of black and white photos in the middle of the book, showing a tubby-looking woman in a swimsuit.

'She's bigger than me!' I thought. 'But she's amazing, and fit, and strong'. It was a revelation.

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17 Oct 2006, Woodside, CA

Molly McCallum sent me this wonderful message full of wisdom - she puts over important points so beautifully, I wanted to share. I met Molly via her daughter Mariya - she sent many messages of support while I was on the Atlantic, and this message was in response to my blog about (un)natural beauty.

I was going to edit out the bits that were too kind about me, in case I sounded big-headed, but Molly thought it better I leave her message in its original form... so forgive!


Love getting your notes and thoughts. You are an amazing person because you are open to sharing who YOU are and your thoughts. People spend their lives often hiding behind a facade that they have built up to make them "acceptable" to others and perhaps thought more "highly" of by others and allowing people to know their pure thoughts and insecurities they feel would invalidate who they are. How exhausting.

We are born perfect. Through life, experiences change us and we adapt to what and how we feel we will survive and be accepted. If we're fortunate at some point we touch our inner "perfection" and then go on a search to rid ourselves of that which is not true to who we are.

You are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. Not only because of your physical beauty, which is obvious when one first meets you, but from what you "send out". You care, you listen, you search, you wander and you wonder. You're open. You allow others to see that you are vulnerable and from that you give them permission to be vulnerable too and to know that people will still love them and care.

Yes, I have learned that there are people out there who don't like me at all, who find me irritating and at first I was surprised, being a person who wants to please and help others, but that's OK and makes me realize at least that I do exist and that I must have a personality or they wouldn't feel so strongly about me!

As I get older I try to spend time with people who give me energy and not with people who take it away. I can truly only please myself and if I don't love myself how can others?

I do wake up at night and go over my imperfections and how I haven't done what I was going to do, I ate food that isn't good for me and won't help me lose weight or I repeated a pattern that is not helpful to myself and I can really ream myself and my "imperfections" but a phrase comes to me that I was once told... "in ways as yet unknown to me my every need is met" and if I say that to myself I can let the other stuff go and know that I am doing my best and perhaps things are happening to me so that I can learn something that I didn't even know might be good for me to learn.

I know that I am a "work in progress" and for every regression that I see I hope that I can humbly remember that I am " not perfect" and that tomorrow is another opportunity to try again.

Thanks for all that you have given me by sharing your life!


[Note: photo of Molly taken at Crater Lake last month. The latest message I got from Molly, her husband is out with the Search and Rescue team looking for an 8-year-old boy who has been missing at Crater Lake for 3 days now. Hopes are fading, but let's pray for his safe return...]

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Flying: Can't Be Natural
17 Oct 2006, Woodside, CA

I got back to my 'home' in California at 2am last night. It can't be natural, zipping across the time zones and seasons like this. I feel like I've slipped through a time warp - yesterday England was settling comfortably into the greyness of autumn, but this morning I woke up to California's eternal summer. My body clock is protesting not just at its day-clock disruption - its year-clock is confused as well.

A word of warning: my internet access is going to be patchy this week. The connection was cut off just before I went away 4 weeks ago, due to an administrative oversight on the part of my landlord. He paid the bill promptly, but service has not been restored. When I rang up this morning AT&T informed me that yes, the account had been paid, but they had not specifically been asked to reconnect the line.

Duh! Wouldn't it be kind of OBVIOUS?! I guess not.

It will be reconnected on Friday, just before I hit the road again: on Saturday I leave for a 4-day sailing voyage, and thence to Washington State for the start of my mega-US-road-trip: diagonally across the US to Miami to collect Sedna, and then through the southern states with Sedna in tow, back to the West Coast.

So for now I am sitting outside, piggybacking on my neighbour's wireless internet. Maybe there are advantages to California's eternal summer after all - couldn't do this in England's autumnal rain...

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