The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 4: Bag Balm, Bleak House, and the Maintenance of Discipline
Roz Savage
29 May 2008, The Brocade

It is always useful to have multi-purpose items on board - drinks bottles that double up as waterproof containers for electronics, a diving knife/bread knife, and so on. Yesterday I found a new use for Bag Balm.

You might remember that I was advised to bring several tins of Bag Balm with me, usually used for to ease chapped cow's udders, but in this case to help protect my feet from water damage. I've been duly rubbing it into my feet every day (although conditions so far have been unusually calm, so my feet have stayed relatively dry).

Yesterday I was getting annoyed by the creaking of my oarlocks, as the metal pin swiveled in the metal cylinder of the outrigger. So I took out the oarlock and generously daubed its pin with Bag Balm. Problem solved - not so much as a squeak since then.

The creaking had been getting loud enough to drown out the audiobook I was listening to - Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. I'd studied this epic tome (over 1000 pages) when I was 16, and in my view it's one of his best books, with an entertainingly scathing commentary on the legal profession. (I did a law degree, so my cynicism about the profession is not totally uninformed.).

I was also pleased to discover the origin of a phrase that had kept coming back to me when I was on the Atlantic: "Discipline must be maintained". I'd had no idea where I'd got it from - but there it is in the pages of Bleak House, repeated frequently by a former soldier, Mr Bagnet. It's a mantra that I've been thinking of again over the last few days. With any major undertaking, I find it so much easier to make progress when I get into a regular routine of work. Rowing is no different.

So I've fallen naturally back into the routine I used on the Atlantic, of 3 hours on, 1 hour off for logbook update and a meal. Repeat 5 times a day.

In fact, I'd better get back to it now. It's 10pm but still one more shift to do. Discipline must be maintained!

| | More
Day 3: Over The Edge: Dolphin Encounter
Roz Savage
27 May 2008, The Brocade

Today I rowed out over the edge of the continental shelf, and into the deep ocean. This is an area especially rich in marine life, and I was delighted to see about a dozen whales at various times - surfacing to spout sprays of water from their blowholes.

But even better, at one point I found myself totally surrounded by dolphins, arcing and leaping through the waves. Some were even jumping clean out of the water, as if jumping for joy on this glorious sunny day.

My camerawork is a bit wobbly a) because my boat is very tippy, even on a calm day, and b) because I was rather over-excited!


| | More
Day 2: The Devil?s Teeth
Roz Savage
26 May 2008, The Brocade

Today I rowed past the Farralon Islands, also known as the Devil's Teeth on account of their jagged silhouette. They are famous for their population of Great White Sharks.

Fortunately it's not shark season (although there are still some lurking around, apparently) and the only natives of the islands that I encountered were relatively friendly (and with relatively small teeth) - a couple of marine biologists called Pete and Russ who came whizzing out on their rigid inflatable boat to investigate the unusual sight of a little silver rowboat passing by.

They offered to bring me a beer, which I declined (I run a dry ship - my one chance for a detox!) and a bunch of bananas and some M&M's, which I accepted. They disappeared to fetch my goodies, and Pete returned half an hour later with three girls on board - student biologists who also wanted to investigate this strange new specimen of Rower Rozus Vulgaris.

I traded them a business card for the food. Don't ask me why I have business cards on board. You just never know who you're going to meet when you're mid-ocean, and I hate to miss the opportunity to make a new friend.

As you may have gathered, I'm not trying to do this row unsupported. I've already proved I can do that - on my Atlantic row I refused to accept replacement oars when all of mine had broken, preferring to mend them rather than give up my unsupported status. Acceptance of any material assistance - be it food, water, or equipment - constitutes support. But I'm relaxed about it this time around - if anyone wants to bring me fresh food, I'm not going to say no.

If all goes according to plan, the Farralones will be the last land I see between here and Hawaii. At one point it was suggested that I could be towed out to the islands and start from there, as they are officially part of the city of San Francisco and the head start of 28 miles could make all the difference to my chances of getting away safely from the California coast - by far the most difficult part of my journey.

But I would have had to get special permission to set foot on the islands if it is going to be a valid ocean row, which requires that the row be from land to land - and there simply wasn't time to get it arranged. Although I am not especially attached to being "first solo woman to row across the Pacific", it would be a shame to eliminate the possibility right from the start. So for better or worse, I chose to leave from the Golden Gate Bridge and row the extra 28 miles.

The good news is that my "weather window" - the period of calm weather when the usual headwinds are relatively light - has now been extended to Thursday. I've got to try and get as many miles in as possible before the winds pick up and start pushing me back towards the coast. So I was up at 5 this morning, rowing away. It's not so much that it's hard getting away from the California coast - the problem is STAYING away. And much as I like California, I don't want to go back there just yet.

[photo: me. And the Farralone islands in the background]

| | More



Powered by XJournal