The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 17: A Greener Way: The 12 Volt Lifestyle
Roz Savage
10 Jun 2008, The Brocade

After calmer conditions yesterday, today the deck was once again being lashed by huge waves. Sitting around for 20 minutes getting hypothermic while I waited for water to boil on my Seacook stove did not seem a good idea, but I was sick of surviving on snack foods and wanted a good square meal. So I decided to try out Plan B.

I've got a small flask that looks like a thermos, but instead has an electrical heating element and a cable that plugs into an ordinary cigarette lighter socket. I crammed my boil-in-the-bag meal inside, topped it up with water, and plugged it in. After waiting 15 minutes in the relative comfort of my cabin, I had piping hot chicken-with-herb-dumplings. It wasn't going to win any awards for gastronomic excellence, but at least it was hot and it wasn't nuts or crackers. It was the first time I'd used this flask, and I was very impressed. Definitely a keeper.

All of my onboard electrics are run from a 12V system. Solar panels send power to three large marine batteries, about the size of car batteries. The power goes via charge controllers to stop the batteries over-charging. Some of the electronics are connected directly to the batteries (like my stereo amplifier, watermaker, Marinetrack tracking unit and onboard cameras) while others I plug in and recharge as their batteries run low.

Most of these plug-in items have cigarette-lighter plugs (satellite phone, iPod, GPS) but some have to first be plugged into an inverter that converts the power from DC to AC (AC is what you get from the wall socket at home) - things like my laptops, and camera and camcorder batteries.

So I am entirely self-sufficient on green, sustainable, solar energy.

Even when I'm on land, I recharge things in my car whenever I can. The power is being generated anyway by the mere fact of driving, so I may as well use the power there rather than plugging phones etc into the wall at home. It's not exactly green energy, as it comes from driving, but as I have to drive anyway I may as well get my moneys-worth out of it.

So it's a small step in the right direction, and every bit really does help! If you haven't already come up with your pledge for World Ocean Day, maybe this is something you could do.

Other stuff:

Yesterday I briefly harboured hopes (I should know better) that the winds were on a downwards trend, but today it is back to business as usual - Force 8 or 9. Uncomfortably windy. The good news is that I am being whisked at a brisk pace in the right direction - southwest - but truly I'd rather be rowing. The sense of achievement is so much greater when you've actually done something to get there. The forecast is for calmer conditions by Thursday. Here's hoping.

Meanwhile I am listening to Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and pondering the existence of God. Seemed like an appropriate thing to consider while I am out here. My cabin is feeling increasingly like a hermit's cave, and I am looking increasingly like the Wild Woman of the Sea. Apparently there have been requests for more photos of me. Not until I have had a chance to get out on deck with my hairbrush and make myself more presentable. So for now we have:

[photo: a couple of my 12V electronics - satellite phone and GPS - with the power inverter that converts from DC to AC power ]

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Day 16: Raging Seas
Roz Savage
09 Jun 2008, The Brocade

An ocean rowboat gives you a unique perspective. I am more IN the ocean than ON the ocean. Being inside my cabin is very much like being inside a wave (although marginally drier) - I am surrounded by the sounds of the ocean. And recently the ocean has been sounding mightily annoyed. I now understand why seas are said to "rage".

When the wind is at its strongest, the water sounds as if it is vibrating, a rapid marine pulse, as if I am in the arteries of a person in the throes of an apoplectic fit. I can feel the tension and enormous kinetic energy of the waves.

Then when the waves splatter across the hatch, it is as if the sea is spitting in my face. It is just as well that I don't believe the ocean has a soul, or I would find it very hard not to take this personally.

If the ocean did have a soul, she would have every right to be spitting mad. For so long we've abused her and exploited her, dumping trash in her either deliberately or inadvertently, hauling out millions of tons of fish without any consideration for the long-term survival of the fish populations, leaking oil and other toxins into her waters in the impossible belief that she can absorb this level of pollution indefinitely.

We are a world out of balance, and that applies to the oceans at least as much as to the land. Just because most of us don't see the damage we are doing out here doesn't mean it isn't happening. Just because we don't want to know about it doesn't mean it can't harm us.

Re-use, recycle, reduce. Choose fish from sustainable species. Buy organic produce. Believe that you can make a difference.

And that's all I have to say about that. (For now.)

[Photo: my Zen Dog drinks mat - a gift from my dear friend Romy. Calms me down when I've been having a good rant!]

Other stuff:

The watermaker worked today. Yesterday it didn't. The day before that it did. The day before that it didn't. This is very trying on the nerves.

Conditions on deck are relatively pleasant today. Fewer crashing waves. Hoping this trend continues. I've got a couple of cuts on my butt from falling over during the rough conditions, but once they're better I'm keen to get back on that rowing seat.

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Day 15: It's Cool To Be Blue
Roz Savage
08 Jun 2008, The Brocade

Happy World Oceans Day!

As well as my row being a project of the US-based nonprofit Blue Frontier Campaign, I am also a Blue Ambassador for the UK-based charity The BLUE Project - so all in all I am about as blue as blue can be. ("I was walking in Memphis..". Oh, no, sorry - different kind of blues.)

The BLUE Project was set up by renowned sailor Conrad Humphreys, and its key message is "Be Blue, Be Cool" - in other words, it's COOL to care about the environment, and COOL people take action to make a difference to the world's climate and oceans.

To mark World Oceans Day today, the BLUE Project is asking you to make a BLUE Pledge, a bit like Margo's pledge that I wrote about a couple of days ago. Make a simple promise online to change just one thing that will make a difference for the better. See their website for more details.

I've been trying to think what I can do. I already do these things:

- Use a re-useable grocery bag. Tip: I find it hard to remember to take my re-useable bags with me, so I always carry a Chico bag in my handbag. It scrunches up super-small into its own carry-pocket, so I always have it handy for those impromptu purchases. We'll also be having some VERY nice re-useable grocery bags for sale via this website within the next couple of months - and they are made from recycled plastic, and can themselves be recycled when they get too old and tatty - so they're really super-green! Or blue. Keep an eye open for them here. - Carry a re-usable drinks mug, so I don't have to use a disposable cup when I give in to the urge for a caffe latte - Recycle any domestic plastic waste - Choose products with less packaging when there is a choice - Use a Brita water filter jug to refill my Nalgene water bottles so I don't need to buy bottled water

So, given that I'm already living a true BLUE lifestyle, and I'm rather limited how much bluer I can be in my present circumstances, I've decided as my pledge that I'm going to create an online petition to encourage others to do the same - ideally through lobbying the legislature at some level to create incentives to be blue.

I've already enlisted the help of David Helvarg from the Blue Frontier Campaign, and hopefully we'll have something drafted by the end of this month. I'll be putting the petition on, with links from this site and also from my Facebook page.

In the meantime, you can buy a copy of David Helvarg's book, 50 Ways To Save The Ocean, which will give you lots of ideas of what you can do to help.

When our petition goes live, I hope you'll sign it, and get all your friends to sign it too. I'll make sure we launch it with a splash (so to speak) so you will definitely be aware it's happening.

If we pull together, we can make a world of difference!

[photo: The BLUE Project slogan on my boat: Be Blue, Be Cool. Photo taken about a week ago, when conditions were a lot calmer than they are today]

Other stuff:

Five days since I was able to row. Probably another four before I can row again. Ho hum. My dear old Dad (God rest his soul) used to say that only boring people get bored. But there again, he never spent over a week confined to a cabin just six foot by three foot by three. Options for entertainment are limited. Unfortunately the deck is just too dangerous and unpleasant a place to be, so I while away the time in my little rabbit hutch, looking out the hatch at the waves, and looking forward to more favourable conditions.

After several days of being swept southeast, I am now managing to make some progress west. This is good news.

My watermaker refused to work today. This is NOT good news.

You win some, you lose some..

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Day 14: You Can't Always Get What You Want
Roz Savage
07 Jun 2008, The Brocade

Every day I fill out a quick questionnaire to record my psychological state, and email it to my mother for her to pass on to Dr Neil Weston at the University of Portsmouth. He has been studying various adventurers spending significant amounts of time alone at sea, to evaluate how the solitude affects them and the survival strategies that they develop to cope with it, and is now doing a case study about me.

There is a special question at the end of my questionnaire, that I specifically requested should be put there. "On a scale of 1 to 10, how accepting are you of the conditions?"

I wanted this there to remind me that things will not always be as I want them to be, but in most cases (and certainly where weather is concerned) there is no point expending valuable mental and emotional energy in wishing that things were other than as they are. I learned this on the Atlantic by doing it the wrong way - I got myself into a fine old state of indignation and frustration by constantly thinking that things OUGHT to be different. "This isn't what I expected!"

Today the weather has once again been too rough, and the waves coming at me from the wrong direction, making it impossible to row. And it is likely to stay that way for at least the next five days. This is obviously far from ideal. If I was not being accepting of the conditions, I could be running around on this track in my mind:

- I came here to row, not sit around in the cabin - I'll be losing all my fitness - I am getting swept east, losing the valuable miles I'd made to the west - This is boring

But, given that I can't do anything about it, it's really best to accept it and try to make the best of a bad situation. So I'm reminding myself of these unexpected benefits:

- this is giving my (now very swollen) finger a chance to recover - and that strained pec muscle from last week - at least I'm making some headway south, which is useful - hmm, I'm providing a useful illustration of the track that a piece of garbage might take on its way to the North Pacific Garbage Patch... - wow, it's been years since I had this much time to lie around and just think.

So that's how I am, and that's how the weather is, and that's just how life has got to be for the next few days. Ho hum.

Other stuff:

The watermaker continues on its slow path to recovery. I ran it again today, and it seemed to be doing ok. I shall persevere with the WD40/Bag Balm therapy and hope that the patient continues to improve.

I did venture out on deck to cook myself a hot dinner. But in the 20 minutes it took me to get out the Seacook stove and heat the water and boil-in-the-bag meal and then put the stove away again, I got 5 complete drenchings as huge waves swept across the deck. It is now 4 hours later and I am still trying to get my feet properly warmed through. They still have that damp, chilly feeling. So it is debatable that the warming effects of the hot food were more than cancelled out by the cold soakings. I may have to rethink my strategy.

I recorded another podcast with Leo Laporte this morning. If you haven't done so already, do check them out. You can find them under the "Media" option in the menu bar above - but hopefully soon they will have their own feature box on the right of this Blog page. You can also listen to them live at, or on iTunes. Sorry to be a bit vague on details, but I don't have internet access from here - only email.

You may have noticed that there is sometimes a long interval (up to 16 hours in some cases) between updates to my position. Please do not be alarmed. This does not necessarily mean anything drastic has happened. In these rough conditions, with the boat tipping around in all directions, the Marinetrack unit is not always able to locate the satellites overhead for long enough to transmit its hourly position report. This can result in a number of updates being missed. Marinetrack have been very good at monitoring this situation - they email me if they are getting concerned so I can check the power supply to the tracking unit.

So no need to worry - just be patient. It's not like I'm moving so fast that you might miss something!

[photo: pic from my cabin: the control panel of instruments, including chartplotter (not currently working), VHF radio, Sea-Me radar enhancer, stereo and switch panel]

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