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!

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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!


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Day 1: Golden Gate Bridge Dream
Roz Savage
25 May 2008, The Brocade

I'll keep this blog brief, as I haven't quite got my sea legs yet and tapping on the keyboard makes me feel queasy.

Last night, at a few minutes to midnight, I pushed away from the dock at the Presidio Yacht Club and rowed out under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

That makes it all sound very easy. In fact it took me a ridiculous amount of time to row the very short distance from the club to the bridge. The tide was supposed to be "slack", but it still seemed to be coming in pretty forcefully and I was rowing hard just to stay still.

But as with many things, you put all the hard work in and then when the time is right it suddenly all comes good and you make rapid progress. So after about half an hour of going nowhere, the tide finally turned, I passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and rowed out into the darkness beyond.

I rowed all night, and apart from a one-hour nap I've been rowing all day. Conditions this morning were perfect - milky calm and wonderful. But during my nap the wind picked up, and this afternoon has been a battle into a headwind coming out of the west. Tonight I've put out the sea anchor to try and preserve the progress made so far, and I hope not to be blown back too far while I sleep.

It feels strange to be back on the ocean. I almost can't believe this is for real. It was such a last-minute scramble to get ready in time, i didn't have much time to think about it.

Now I am out here, and it is familiar but different. On the one hand it is easier, because I've rowed an ocean before so I don't have that self-doubt that I suffered from on the Atlantic. But whereas on the Atlantic there are helpful winds from the outset, I've got a 200-mile battle (at least) before the winds come around behind me and help me towards Hawaii.

But hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

Thanks to those who came down to see me off last night. Thanks especially to David from Blue Frontier who bought me a selection delicious breads to supplement the ship's rations!

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