The Voyage: Roz Savage
Tim Two
09 Aug 2005, Gosport

Funny how particular names seem to come along in batches - August seems to have brought a rash of Tims, whereas July was dominated by Chrisses. And there was a minor outbreak of Brians earlier in the year. After Tim Gilmore of Dolphin Quay Boatyard, may I now introduce Tim Davies of Simrad marine electronics, seen here bravely attempting to persuade sailing instruments to satisfy a rower's needs - and very nearly succeeding.

I was over at Simrad for several hours this afternoon, making impossible demands of Tim and technology. I wanted the displays to show me wind speed and direction, speed over ground, speed through the water, distance to waypoint, and a stopwatch, all at the same time. Oh, and a stroke meter would be nice too. Surely not so much to ask?!

Tim tolerated my unusual requests with remarkable good humour, and by persuading bits of kit from different families to talk to each other (a feat akin to getting Capulets and Montagues on speaking terms) he managed to give me most of what I wanted.

So now I'll have lots of lovely numbers to contemplate, to while away those long nights at the oars. A bit of star-gazing, a bit of mental arithmetic to work out how many more strokes to Antigua, a bit of music, and of course occasionally remembering to look out for ships - those dark solitary hours will just fly by.

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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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