The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 6: You Don't See That Every Day
Roz Savage
17 Aug 2007, The Brocade

I had visitors this afternoon. I was rowing along, minding my own business, when I noticed a rather large grey ship about half a mile away. I rather hoped they wouldn't see me. I was well into my rowing rhythm and I didn't want to have to interrupt my stride to go and put clothes on. But the ocean was flat calm so there was no chance to hide behind the nearest wave. It seemed they had spotted me, as they changed course to come over and investigate. I hurried to make myself decent.

I couldn't get any reply from them on my VHF marine radio, but a loud voice hailed me from the deck. "I assume you're OK," the disembodied male voice said. "I'm just fine, thank you," I yelled back. They were close enough to hear me, even over the noise of the engines. "Where are you going?" asked Disembodied. "Hawaii," I replied. "Where are you going?"

Disembodied told me that they were the USS Momsen, bound for Seattle. And with that we had more or less exhausted our mid-ocean small talk.

"Fair winds to you," Disembodied boomed in a friendly, genuine way (rather than a "you must be barking mad" kind of a way). And with that they turned and cruised off into the blue yonder.

Other stuff:

Progress has been slow today. I've been trying to go almost due south, to Aim Point 7 down at 40'N, 126'W, but by late afternoon my pace had slowed to a dispiriting 0.5 knots. It was strange - a beautiful, calm, sunny afternoon, but with a fierce current taking me rapidly the wrong way. If I wanted to go east, I'd be laughing - I can go east at 2 knots without even rowing. Many good things lie to the east, but not Hawaii.

My first batch of sprouted seeds was finally ready to be harvested, after one and a half days of waiting. The Beanie mix, donated by Sproutpeople of San Francisco, had sprouted beautifully and I was eagerly looking forward to my first fresh vegetables since eating the last of my avocados (yes, I know they're actually fruits) a couple of days ago. But at a crucial stage of the harvesting process, just as I was rinsing the sprouts in a sieve while holding it over the side of the boat, the Brocade lurched and I lost two-thirds of my harvest to the deep. Rude words were uttered. But the remaining third was good, and at least I'm back in the swing of my onboard gardening.

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Day 5: Sid the Sea Anchor Makes His Debut
Roz Savage
16 Aug 2007, The Brocade

Ever since I set out I have been rowing against the wind - and ocean rowboats are not designed to do this. They are bulky and present a lot of wind resistance. But luckily the winds have been light so I have been able to make headway. But today the conditions started to get slightly more challenging. The wind was coming straight out of the south - the direction I am trying to go in order to get into the helpful tradewinds.

As well as the wind getting stronger, the swells were also getting larger, making it difficult to get both oars in the water at the same time. It's tougher - both mentally and physically - rowing across these lumps and bumps than on smooth water. I don't mind rough conditions when they are carrying me in the right direction, but when they are against me I find it harder to maintain my zen calm and towards the end of the day was getting distinctly grumpy.

Eventually I'd had enough and decided to debut my new sea anchor, Sid the Second, made by Para Anchors of Australia. (Sid the First had to be given his liberty just 2 days from Antigua on my last row - see Part 3 of my Atlantic video). A sea anchor is a large parachute on a long rope that is attached to the bows of my boat, and stops me from being blown too far backwards. I've put Sid out to preserve those hard-won miles while I get some rest.

The old body is bearing up pretty well so far, with no evidence yet of the shoulder problems that plagued me on the Atlantic. The only physical damage so far is a nasty case of sunburn. I have been religiously applying my Green People sun cream every day - although despite my best contortions I have not managed to find a way to reach that awkward bit in the middle of my back - the one big downside to being a solo rower.

There was just one day that I left it late to apply the sun cream, and that was Day One - I was fooled by the fog cover that day into underestimating the strength of the sun. I know for sure that it happened then because that was the only day that I wore clothing, and the outline of a Y-back sports bra now indelibly imprinted on my back is a telltale clue. Everywhere but the Y, my poor red English skin is now erupting into very unattractive bubbles, that will shortly even more unattractively peel off in huge swaths. I look some kind of hideous warty monster. I hope to look more like a human, and less like the creature from the black lagoon, by the time I reach Hawaii.

P.S. Some good news - I have now officially crossed the Line of Death, aka the Line of Rainbows and Happiness (depending on your point of view or liking for dramatic hyperbole) and am now very unlikely to be swept ashore by winds or currents. I am past the point of no (involuntary) return.

[photo: I tried to take a photo of my back, but it was too difficult, so here is a photo of something much nicer - tonight's sunset]

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Day 3: This is my Boat
Roz Savage
14 Aug 2007, Pacific Ocean

Video blog - possibly the first ever to be sent from a rowing boat at sea. It began as a video clip was sent out into space by satellite phone; picked up by a passing satellite and beamed down to a computer somewhere in England; uploaded to YouTube; embedded in this blog. Of necessity it has to be brief. Enjoy!

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Day 1: So Far So Good
Roz Savage
12 Aug 2007, The Brocade

This morning at 6:49 Brocade and I left the guest dock in the harbour of Crescent City, and set out for Hawaii. A small crowd had gathered to see me off, and there was a smattering of applause as I took my first strokes.

I rounded the corner, trying hard to look good.. And promptly ran aground on a sand bank lurking just under the surface of the water. The hazard of leaving at low tide. So ten minutes into my big adventure I was standing in shallow water with my leggings rolled up above my knees, trying to heave the Brocade off the sand bank. After a bit of a struggle I succeeded and we were on our way again.

It was perfect conditions for the start. The wind rarely blows offshore here, so the best I could realistically hope for was minimal wind - and that is what I got. All day the wind has been slight. I quickly lost sight of land in the fog that closed in around me.

The silence was broken only by the noises of a few marine visitors - all morning sea lions were surfacing around my boat, popping up from the water like gophers. They would arrive in posses of 4 or 5, snuffling and blowing and generally larking around. There were whales too - large dark finned lumps breaking the calm waters fifty or so yards away from my boat.

This afternoon I listened to an audio book of Robinson Crusoe, which seemed appropriate in the circumstances. It helped to listen to a story where everything happens at snails's pace - it takes him about month just to make a table - as it helped me lapse into the slower pace of ocean life.

Progress has been slow too. Although the wind isn't against me, it isn't helping me either. I've rowed for 10 hours already, and need to do several more if I am going to reach my target of 20 miles today.

Better go and get on with it.

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