The Voyage: Roz Savage
Announcement: Departure Set For Sunday
10 Aug 2007, Woodside, California

For over a year now I have dreamed of departing under the Golden Gate Bridge, that iconic symbol of San Francisco. Yesterday afternoon when my weatherman called to say that his stoplight chart is red all the way to the end of August - and possibly beyond - my first reaction was to dig in my heels and carry on waiting.

But seven hours north, he told me, there is a different picture. The stoplight chart shows green and yellow for a window of 5 days from Sunday - meaning gentle winds and favourable conditions.

My stubbornness started to waver. We had done a sea trial on Wednesday afternoon, in 17-18 knots of wind under the Golden Gate Bridge. I had felt how helpless my boat is against strong winds. Downwind is fantastic, but when I'd tried to test my ability to row straight into the wind I couldn't even manage to get the boat around to that angle. Afterwards, as I drove home over the Golden Gate Bridge, I had looked out at the two headlands guarding the exit from the Bay and the gap between them suddenly didn't look so big, and the rocks looked very threatening...

So I have decided that a more flexible approach is called for. Safety is the first priority, and shipwrecking in the first 3 hours of an adventure would be just downright embarrassing. And while I am happy to be patient, I don't want to be sitting here in San Francisco a year from now, still waiting to depart. If I don't leave soon, I will a) run into the winter storms as I get closer to Hawaii, and b) run into officialdom, as my visa dictates that I have to be out of the US (including Hawaii) by November 15. With an estimated passage time of 2-3 months to Hawaii, I need to get moving.

So as of yesterday afternoon, I have a new plan - to depart from Point St George near the California/Oregon border, early on Sunday morning. It won't be the big spectacular departure I had imagined, but it is neither better nor worse - just different. In many ways, a quiet slipping away, with no audience and no pressure, is very appealing. Once I am a couple of hours out into the ocean, the difference will be non-existent. Wherever I leave from, in no time at all it will be just me, my little boat Brocade, and one very big blue ocean.

[And for the practically-minded, my logistics are falling into place too. As I was on my way to the coffee shop yesterday afternoon for a latte-aided decision-making session with my journal, I got two phone calls. The first was from Matson Shipping, generously offering a substantial discount on the cost of shipping my truck and trailer to Hawaii. The second was from Nicole, my wonderful PR, offering to come north with me, on her own time, to see me off and to drive my truck back. The stars are aligning, and the time is right.]

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Musical Selections
09 Aug 2007, Woodside, California

A number of people have asked me recently what music I plan to listen to while I am rowing the Pacific. This question strikes me as a potential minefield. Every person's taste in music is such a very individual thing and it's easy to jump to conclusions about a person based on whether or not their taste happens to coincide with your own.

So it is with some trepidation that I am adding some sample playlists to my website. From these lists you will probably deduce that I am approaching 40 years old, have wide-ranging taste in music, am too young to be a hippie but wish I had been, and occasionally enjoy a bit of good old-fashioned cheesy disco.

And if you deduce anything more than that, you are deducing too much.

So, for better or worse, here are my selections...

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Shipping Latest
09 Aug 2007, Woodside, California

To ship one Quackers pickup truck to Honolulu: $975
To ship one customised Brocade boat trailer: $1481
Total: $2456


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A Farewell To Farms
09 Aug 2007, Woodside, California

Well, not farms exactly. More like a farewell to forests, but the pun didn't work quite so well that way....

This evening I went for a walk in wonderful Wunderlich Park, just along the road from the cottage where I temporarily live. I find that increasingly I look around and notice all the good things about life on dry land - trees, mountains, birdsong. And running water, coffee shops, people. I see them with a fresh sense of awe and appreciation, knowing that soon (weather permitting) I will be in a world where they are a dim and distant memory.

It may seem strange that I choose to spend so much time on the ocean, when it is most definitely not my natural element. I find it hard to believe that anybody finds the ocean a congenial place to be - to me it is wet (duh!), uncomfortable, and apart from the sky it lacks a decent view. But I got an email this morning from Gordie Nash, one of my weather gurus. He is off at a sailing competition. He wrote: "I'm in the high Sierra Mountain range with lots of pine trees, not my favorite view."

Personally, I cannot think of any view I would love more. Mountains, trees, huge vistas - perfect. So obviously, some people like oceans, some like mountains.

So why do I choose to go to sea if I don't like it?

At the time when I decided to take on a big adventure - and wanted to do it solo - I knew enough about mountains to know that I shouldn't go there alone. But I didn't know enough about oceans to know that I shouldn't go THERE alone. Ignorance can be bliss.

By the time I did find out enough about oceans it was too late. I was already irrevocably committed - and after slogging my way across 3000 miles of ocean, taking 103 days from the Canaries to Antigua, I knew just plenty and was more than qualified to take on my second ocean.

There is a lot to be said for blind leaps of faith. It's amazing what you can handle once you put yourself in a situation where you have no choice - as entrepreneurs and new parents probably know. If you knew at the start how hard it was going to be, you probably wouldn't do it. But once you have done it, you're really glad that you did.

Responses to comments (sorry, but now getting too numerous to answer in comment form):

Greg - leaving from further south would not be a good idea. This morning I had a very good chat with Mick Bird, the only other rower to tackle this same route, and he advises that San Francisco is the furthest south I should embark, as I will be swept sharply south by wind and currents. See Erden Eruc's trajectory...

Ally - Monty the teddy bear was on loan from a school in Portsmouth, and has now been safely returned to his friends.

Roger - I'll be looking out for a frantic swimmer carrying take-out.

Ellen - volleyball, basketball, baseball - it's all the same to a dumb foreignish kind of non-sports person!! Whatever he is, Wilson is my New Best Friend. I'm not racist.

George - bummer! I just checked your GBRIB website, and see that the RIB is kaput, on day one of your challenge. At least you know where you are with oars - and they're cheaper to fix... May I quote you (in the hope you will do the same for me one day): "I can feel the hand of history being removed from our shoulders."

Sharon - Squishie the Dolphin is also safely installed onboard, and will be introduced in due course. I also have Quackers the Duck (to remind my of my truck), my five-ducks-in-a-row (Huey, Louis, Dewey, Gooey and Pooey - see previous blog) and a small sea turtle with a wobbly head. My boat is starting to look like Life of Pi... even before Neil's electric pink pig has arrived.

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