The Voyage: Roz Savage
We believe in the spirit of adventure
06 Aug 2005

"We believe in the spirit of adventure - being self-propelled, self-responsible, the need for an unstoppable attitude, the need for challenge. We believe that the world is a better place for those who are prepared to confront the improbable and defy the odds." (mission statement of the Antarctic Peninsula Sea Kayak Expedition)

In January 2001 three men set out to paddle down the length of the Antarctic Peninsula, the point below South America where the Antarctic continent points a finger north. It was to be the southernmost sea kayak journey ever attempted, a 528-mile expedition through the freezing waste of ice, rock, and ocean that makes this one of the most inhospitable coasts on earth.

Their book, The Frozen Coast, describes this ultimately successful journey, undertaken by three New Zealanders: Graham Charles, Mark Jones, and Marcus Waters. Beginning at Hope Bay on the northern tip of the peninsula, they spent the next five weeks battling down this perilous coastline, negotiating huge expanses of broken ice, avoiding collapsing icebergs, dodging the potentially lethal katabatic winds, and constantly struggling with the cold and wet. Eventually the trio succeeded in reaching their goal - the Antarctic Circle at 66 degrees South.

This book has been described as "a gripping account of a great adventure and a fascinating insight into one of the most extreme sea kayak expeditions ever undertaken".

And my Mum gave me a copy of their mission statement, as she thought it summed up perfectly what I am about to do.

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Angels with dirty faces
05 Aug 2005, Dolphin Quay Boatyard

Don't be deceived by the paint-spattered overalls and generally scruffy appearance. This man is a genius. And he's designed what appears to be the best steering system ever to appear on an ocean rowing boat.

Richard Uttley of Dolphin Quay Boatyard worked on the steering system of David Pearse's Petrel, now reincarnated as Ollie Hicks's Miss Olive. He's taken that and improved on it. We now have a heel-steering system that allows me to control the rudder without needing to use my hands, but also avoids the awkward leg positions imposed by toe-steering. And it's low-tech and simple, unlike electronic autohelms.

It looks great on paper. In a few weeks we'll know how it works on the water.

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Me and my Mum
04 Aug 2005, Dolphin Quay Boatyard

Pity my poor Mum. First I commit the crime of causing her massive worry, then I force her to become an accessory to the crime by helping me kit out my boat. And make her handle noxious chemicals necessitating plastic gloves. But she's still grinning, bless her.

In fact, she's been rather a star. As we've been skivvying away on the Solo at Dolphin Quay Boatyard we've attracted a lot of attention from passersby, many of whom stop to ask what sort of boat it is and what it's going to be used for. As I've been generally stuck inside the cabins epoxying away, Mum has borne the brunt of the enquiries.

She's been doing a great job - and maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but maybe I detect a faint note of pride in her voice as she tells them her daughter is going to row across the Atlantic.

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Like my dado rail?
Roz Savage
03 Aug 2005, Dolphin Quay Boatyard

Work on the boat is now underway in earnest. We plan to have her ocean-ready by the end of August. Richard the boatbuilder (photo to come soon) is bringing huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to the project. This morning I arrived at the boatyard to find him clad in a very fetching white paper boilersuit, covered from head to foot in paint dust and bleeding from a head wound.

He'd been sanding back the paintwork so I could apply these battens inside the cabin for fixing control panel, cargo netting, etc. He'd also discovered the painful way that there are some bolts sticking out from the inside wall of the cabin, at just the perfect height to deliver a nasty cut to the head.

It's not always easy, sitting in a sunny boatyard in Emsworth, to picture what will work and what won't when I'm rolling around in mid-Atlantic. Will that corner bruise me? Will that hatch crack my head open? Will this seat cause blisters that might get infected? But it's these details that could make all the difference between success and failure - or at least between having a good time and being flippin' miserable.

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