The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 20: Welcome To My World
Roz Savage
14 Jun 2008, The Brocade

This may not be the most exciting video you have ever watched - 30 seconds of me in action at the oars. If you want to know what my typical day is like, put this on a loop and repeat for 10-12 hours, with occasional breaks for meals and updates to the logbook. Welcome to my world.

Now you can probably understand why audio books are such an important part of my life. I really have to almost admire myself for getting across the Atlantic without them, and without music for all but the first few weeks. How on earth did I stand the tedium?!!

(I shouldn't say that though, really - the experience really did teach myself a lot about myself. There's nowhere to hide when you're with yourself 24 hours a day, with no distractions whatsoever. Definitely character-building.)

Today I was listening to Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby. Absolutely brilliant. Four ill-assorted strangers are thrown together by the fact that they all arrive on the same high rooftop on the same night with the objective of killing themselves by throwing themselves off it. I won't give away the plot, but it's funny, sad, and thought-provoking - perfect for a long day at the oars.

Unfortunately I was greedy and guzzled the whole book in one day. It's going to be a tough one to follow - and tomorrow may be tougher rowing-wise as well. The weather conditions will be getting a bit bouncier again today after the perfect tranquility you see in today's video. It's been a welcome respite - a chance to dry things out and pump/sponge out flooded hatches. I'm sure all too soon it will be back to business as soaking usual.

Other stuff:

To those who are going to try out yesterday's life-changer plan - thank you! Let me know how it goes. I'd be really interested in any feedback. I'll include you in the acknowledgements when I publish my first self-help book. Good luck especially to Steve in Colorado and his marathon plans - go for it!

John H - thanks for sharing your story about your father. It scared me - almost enough to put me off today's imaginary latte and muffin! And yes, you're right - a negative role model, of how we DON'T want to be, can indeed be as powerful a motivator as a positive one. It was negative role models and/or the lack of positive ones that helped get me out of the office and doing something a bit different.

Antti - great news that you can see both me and Hawaii on the same screen on the MarineTrack console. I keep looking over my shoulder, but can't see it yet!

A special hi to Romy - from both me and Zen Dog. Hope all is looking up in Aruba.

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Day 19: Back in the Saddle
Roz Savage
12 Jun 2008, The Brocade

It is eerily quiet on the ocean today. No roaring wind. No crashing waves. Just the steady creak of my oarlocks. Yes, at last, after 10 days of enforced leisure, the hostile weather conditions have abated and I am back on the rowing seat.

At the moment I'm not sure how long this opportunity will last. The winds are due to start picking up again from tomorrow evening, but the row-ability will depend on the size and steepness of the swells. So I'll make the most of this chance while I can. It's still not exactly ideal weather conditions - overcast skies have made for chilly conditions - but at least I can do what I came here to do, i.e. row.

And the watermaker worked too. Happy days!

As an aside: after spending most of the day listening to Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (by Douglas Adams) I was flicking around Leo's iPod when I stumbled across The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everybody Should Know How To Do. After telling me how to get a good night's sleep (in a cool, quiet bedroom, with a comfortable mattress- yeah, right) and how to make a bed (make sure those hospital corners are neat), the book moved on to personal grooming. "Knowing your hair looks good can give you the confidence to face the day's challenges", the book solemnly informed me, before going on to describe exactly how one should wash and condition one's hair. I thought about my own locks, untouched and untended for 19 days now, and generally crammed under a hat. So now at least I know that when I am struggling with this challenge, it's not because rowing an ocean is hard, it's just that I haven't paid enough attention to my coiffure.

Now, to respond to some comments and questions that have come up recently..

Paul and all at South End Rowing Club - great to hear from you. Would be fantastic if you and Melissa can make it to Hawaii. In the meantime, erg hard and enjoy a pint for me!

Rachel Smith, Nevada Bev, cousin Russell - thanks for the words of encouragement. Rachel - see above for hair update!

John - I'm not really listening to music much. Only when doing chores. More into books at the moment. Am storming through them at a rapid rate!

Ed Davies and John H - I shall leave the two of you to work out the relative cost/greenness of recharging phones in a car vs recharging at home. Glad to have at least got the debate going!

How do I compare the Pacific with the Atlantic? Too early to say. But so far, remarkably similar - both cold, windy and rough for most of the first month. The big difference is that on the Atlantic, the winds were behind me as soon as I set out from the Canaries - very much NOT the case on the Pacific!

Paul P: How do I stay warm? Yes, I wear more clothes, and at the end of the day curl up into my Ocean Sleepwear sleeping bag (not sponsored, alas) - an excellent sleeping bag specially designed for ocean-going folk. It's got a thick pile fleecy bag inside a waterproof shell. Absolutely perfect! But even in there it sometimes takes hours for my feet to warm up due to my lousy circulation - probably damaged by too much water exposure on the Atlantic.

Hi George Riley! Great to hear from you again. Would love to find out more about MFISH and your work in the South Pacific. Would be great if you could get in touch again when I am back on terra firma.

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Day 18: The 10-Step Life-Changer
Roz Savage
11 Jun 2008, The Brocade

I sometimes get asked how I made such a dramatic change in my life, from salary slave to ocean rower. I always feel like a bit of a fraud when I answer, because I really kind of stumbled out of one life and into a very different one, with my only guiding principle being that I wanted to look back and feel proud of the life I had lived.

But last night, as I was trying to get some sleep (not easy when the ocean is slapping you around) I was thinking about a friend of mine who struggles with his weight - as do many of us, but his weight gains and losses are more epic than most. And it inspired me to try and come up with a suggestion for how people might change their lives for the better.

My idea is this: Humans are creatures of habit, so by far the best way to make long-lasting changes for the better is to acquire good habits and drop bad ones. Simple enough so far?

This, however, is much easier said than done. The early days are the hardest, before it becomes a habit and is still a conscious effort. So the cornerstone of this plan is not to backslide. Once you're a few days into a new habit you've already done the hardest part, so don't make yourself go through it again. Reassure yourself that it will only get easier as time goes on.

So the first thing to do is to decide your objective. I'm using weight control as an example, inspired by my friend, but you could apply the same plan to: - living a greener (or bluer) lifestyle - being a more caring spouse - being more effective at your job - taking a more relaxed attitude to life - or anything else you choose.

Then identify the 10 (or so) good habits you would need, and the 10 (or so) bad habits that you would drop, in order to achieve that objective. If you're not sure where to start, read a relevant book (see below) or pick a role model. Obviously, apply some intelligence here. Your role model may be a knockout salesperson and she may wear 4 inch heels, but the two are not necessarily connected, and it may not serve you well to do the same. Especially if you are a man.

So my particular example lists would be something like this (ranked from hardest to do to easiest to do, and I've just put 7 here so as not to get too long-winded):

My habits to lose: 1. iced caramel latte and bran muffin (for coffee-shop and journal-writing ritual) 2. wine 3. cookies 4. beer 5. good bread and butter 6. spirits (hard liquor) 7. sugary breakfast cereals

My habits to acquire: 1. Two hours of exercise, every day, and ride bike to gym 2. One hour of exercise, every day, and ride bike to gym 3. One hour of exercise, 5 times a week, and ride bike to gym 4. One hour of exercise, 5 times a week 5. One hour of exercise, 3 times a week 6. Go for a weekly hike with a friend 7. Park on far side of parking lot from where I want to be so I have to walk more

Then you put your plan into action. You start with the easiest item from each list (#7 in the example above), and you apply both at once. The idea is that you are so excited about your new good habit that it distracts you from your bad ex-habit.

Then, when you feel like those two new habits are sufficiently ingrained that they are now part of your lifestyle, move on to the next item up the list. There is no rigid timescale on this - just move to the next step when you feel comfortable that the last one is well bedded in.

The idea here is to start with some easy wins, and hence cultivate the most important habit of all - the habit of success. There is absolutely no point in setting yourself impossible targets and getting into a pattern of failure and self-recrimination. Make your easy habits as ridiculously easy as you like - just get into that habit of succeeding in your goals.

For me personally, I think I could get up to #3 or #2 on the list before I would start to really struggle. But that doesn't matter. I might decide that this is as far as I am willing to go - that a couple of days off from the gym, and my cherished coffee-shop/journal therapy routine, are luxuries that I am going to allow myself to continue - now knowing that they ARE luxuries, a real treat, rather than just mindless habits.

OK, so it's not going to change your life overnight, but most long-lasting changes are NOT overnight wonders - they're the result of continued application. But it's not all hard work - it really does get so much easier when it becomes a matter of habit rather than conscious effort.

And the best feeling will be when you look back in a few months or a few years, and see how far you've come from where you are today. The sense of achievement will make it all worthwhile.

So that's my idea. I haven't had a chance to test it - caramel lattes and bran muffins being, alas, very hard to come by on this part of the ocean - but it seems sensible in principle. Let me know what you think.

Hey, who knows, maybe I can publish a self-help book which will be a runaway success and I need never struggle for sponsorship money again!

Relevant books: Greener (bluer) lifestyle: 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (David Helvarg) Better spouse: I've no idea, although I'm sure there are hundreds in your local bookstore Better at your job: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Steven Covey) More relaxed attitude: The Art of Effortless Living (Ingrid Bacchi)

Other stuff:

Watermaker worked today. Danger of urine-drinking averted for another few days at least.

Weather and seas still rough. Forecast is for better conditions tomorrow. Hope I can still remember what to do with those long paddly things on the side of my boat.

(Picture: Weather needs to change - Roz at sea August 07)

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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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