The Voyage: Roz Savage
Erden Eruc - Bon Voyage
07 Jun 2007, Tiburon, California

On Tuesday morning Erden Eruc paddled out under the Golden Gate Bridge and paddled westwards. Next stop, if all goes according to plan, is Australia.

I was at Erden's launch party the previous Thursday, and had hoped to be at the launch itself. I turned up in Tiburon on Saturday night, the scheduled departure time, but the weather had other ideas and the start was postponed to Monday.

I have to confess that my eagerness to see Erden's departure was not purely because I wanted to wish him luck. I also wanted to see how he reconciled the many competing factors that determine the best time to leave.

1. Tide: a strong ebb tide gives up to 5 knots of extra speed, but the water can get brutally rough where the ebb from the Bay meets the coastal current. So it may be safer to leave on a neap (weak) tide rather than a spring (strong) tide, or at slack water rather than full ebb.

2. Wind: there is almost no chance of getting an offshore wind, although in the middle of the night there may be a slight offshore breeze as the land cools.

3. Visibility: but of course, in the middle of the night, I am less likely to see if I'm about to be run down by a big container ship, and they can't see me.

4. Media: nor is the middle of the night a very media-friendly hour.

5. Moon: it would be nice to leave under a full moon to light my first few nights, but this is when the tides are at their strongest. See point 1.

Erden left from the Corinthian Yacht Club, on the north shore of San Francisco Bay, at 7pm on a slack tide. He rowed to Horseshoe Cove, where he stayed for the night, and then paddled out under the Golden Gate Bridge the following morning.

I can't find any update as to how he is getting on. There is no recent news on his website. If anybody can advise....

Meanwhile, I am assembling my own team of advisers - weather gurus and tidal experts. Hopefully they will come to a unanimous decision on the best time for me to go, and the best place for me to leave from, which is another issue in its own right.

[photp: me with Erden at his launch party last week]

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Psycho Rower
06 Jun 2007, Woodside, California

As I am paddling across the Pacific, I will be the latest lab rat for Dr Neil Weston at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He wants to investigate the effects of solitude and stress on individuals in challenging situations. He's already studied a number of yachtsmen in the Velux 5 Oceans round-the-world yacht race, and is now doing a supplemental study on me.

Originally the plan was that I should start doing the daily psychological questionnaire a couple of weeks before the launch, but yesterday I got this message from Dr Neil:

"Having read Fogle and Cracknell's Atlantic Ocean Rowing book, I think it would be a good idea for you to start completing the questionnaires from a month before the start of the event (i.e. as soon as you can from this point onwards). Clearly many stressors surface in the month running up to the start of such endurance events so I think it would be useful to monitor these mood changes."

I think this is academic-speak for "You're entering the Crack-up Zone. Start the study now, because life is about to get interesting..."

[photo: discovering yell therapy in mid-Atlantic, 11th Feb 2006]

P.S. Once the WatchKeeper Project section of my website is launched towards the end of this month, you will be able to view the results of my psychological questionnaire online, and judge for yourself how sane (or otherwise) I am. I think it would be interesting to have a control experiment in which an office worker fills out the same questionnaire, and we see which of us is the more stressed...

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Time, time, time
04 Jun 2007, Woodside, California

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

As I enter the last 6(ish) weeks before my launch, time is a matter much on my mind. On the one hand, I want to be 100% productive - to get the boat fitted, the book written, the website updated - but on the other hand, I want to have some special memories of dry land, good friends and good food to look back on as I cross the Pacific. Only a relaxed attitude to time allows those occasions to ripen into something memorable.

Today I came across two contrasting views of "time" in the 21st century...

Here is the first - from the New York Times (the irony of "Times" not being lost on me)...

Click here

And here is the second, sent to me by e-mail...

"Living the Dash (as in, the dash between life and death: 1967 - ?)

Too many people put off the things that bring them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming, or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Law and Order' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in a half hour?" She would stammer, "I can't. I have clothes in the washer. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast," And my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years
ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches.. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained.

We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on," and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for
a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an ice-berg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask "How are you?" Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow." And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say "Hi"?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over."

It's clearly a matter of balance - being purposeful, without being so driven that there is no room for serendipity and spontaneity. But balance is a tricky thing to find. I constantly struggle to tiptoe along that tightrope, weighing a sensible attitude towards the future on one side, against a child-like immediacy on the other. If you ever find the answer, let me know....

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New York Times - Buy Today!
03 Jun 2007, Woodside, California

If you are in the US, try to get hold of a copy of of today's New York Times (available in most branches of Starbucks - but don't feel obliged to buy the coffee) - and look in the Play Magazine.

If you are not in the US, you can read the online article here.

This is the photo that I (plus photographer Jason Madara and his three assistants) got near-hypothermia for, on a rainy Saturday night in April - click here for the blog. And the writer, Dimity McDowell, is the sister of my initial contact at LaraBar, now one of my sponsors. Thank you to both for a job well done.

And here's an insider's nugget of information - you see the little red and white object lying on the deck next to my rowing seat? That is a Lightship, a solar-powered light produced by Eric's company Sollight (also a sponsor). We had to use it to give Jason the photographer something to focus on, because the night was so pitch dark his camera's autofocus couldn't function while the flashes weren't flashing. And somehow it snuck into the photo - so there's another happy sponsor.

And red jacket by Patagonia, a supporter.

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