The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 57: Close to Nature
Roz Savage
20 Jul 2008, The Brocade

Last night it was a full moon. Unfortunately I didn't get to see it, as it has been overcast for several days (and nights) now. I would have loved to have seen it - one of my favourite Atlantic memories is rowing along on a calm ocean under a full moon, admiring the stars and generally feeling at one with the world.

Rowing across an ocean really does give me a sense of my place on the planet, and that planet's place in relation to the sun, moon and stars. It's evident, as I head west and south, how the times of sunrise and sunset (when it isn't overcast) are shifting.

And although I don't have a sextant on board, I had to study celestial navigation as a prerequisite for the Atlantic Rowing Race, and I can still remember enough about the subject to conjure up an approximate image of the earth turning as it circles the sun and picture how it all fits together.

There is a quote I found today on a list of inspirational quotes I'd prepared before the Atlantic, which I think comes from a Michael Crichton book:

Modern city-dwellers cannot even see the stars at night. This humbling reminder of man's place in the grander scheme of things, which human beings formerly saw once every twenty-four hours, is denied them. It's no wonder that people lose their bearings, that they lose track of who they really are, and what their lives are really about.

This really rings true with me. In ordinary life on dry land, I get so wrapped up in the general busy-ness and bustle, and it's only when I get out on the ocean, or into the mountains, or otherwise into the wild, that I am reminded that in the overall span of time and space, my little life - although very important to me - is smaller than a grain of sand on a beach.

Other stuff:

Position at 2130 20th July Pacific Time, 0430 21st July UTC: 24 40.470'N, 134 19.458'W.

Within the next few hours I should cross the halfway point of my journey. I will have rowed 1304 nautical miles, and will be the same distance from Hawaii. Now that I am in the trade winds, the second half should go faster than the first half. I have to confess - I very much hope this is so!

Conditions today have been grey, cold and rough. Not really the sort of day that makes me yearn for more of the same. Thanks for all the positive vibes heading my way - either through messages, comments, or just positive thoughts!

A special note to Tim: I've been using my "positive, energetic, enthusiastic" mantra here on the boat, too. It's a bit harder doing the hand gestures here though. I like to do it this way:

I am positive (fling arms out to sides) I am energetic (shoot arms forwards) I am enthusiastic (stretch arms up overhead)

And I tend to do repeat it several times, in an increasingly silly voice (especially on enthOOOOsiastic!) which at least puts a smile on my face at the start of the day!

Click here to view Day 57 of the Atlantic Crossing 26 January 2006: Sad Day on Sedna Solo - Roz finishes her favourite food.
Sedna was the name of the boat before Brocade became the main sponsor - the boat is now called Brocade.

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Day 56: How Long Does It Take A Rowing Glove To Biodegrade?
Roz Savage
19 Jul 2008, The Brocade

I don't know the answer to this question - and I won't put it to the test, because although I'm sure the kangaroo skin parts would disappear quite quickly (seeing as they're half disappeared already), there are other parts of the glove like the Velcro, made from man-made materials, that would last much longer.

This got me thinking about how long it takes other items to biodegrade. As luck would have it, I happen to have here a leaflet from NOAA's Marine Debris programme that gives some information on this very subject.

Paper towel: 2-4 weeks

Milk carton: 3 months

Plywood: 1-3 years

Cigarette filter: 1-5 years

*Plastic bag: 10-20 years

*Plastic cup: 50 years

Aluminium can: 80-200 years

*Plastic soda bottle: 450 years

Disposable diaper: 450 years

Monofilament fishing line: 600 years

In connection with the items I've marked with an asterisk I'd like to clarify something. This is represented by NOAA as a Degradation Timeline. This is not the same as BIO-degradation. Plastic items do break down - but they only break down into smaller and smaller pieces, and even when microscopically small these pieces still enter the food chain. In fact, they can then enter it at a lower level, so accumulate to higher levels further up - which is even worse.

The truth is that plastic is still too new an invention for us to know just how long it takes for it to disappear entirely.

This is why I (and many others) regard plastic as Public Environmental Enemy #1, the nastiest of all nasties. We just don't know what its ultimate environmental impact is going to be, and in the meantime we continue to churn it out at prodigious rates.

Don't get me wrong - plastic is not an evil in itself. It has many useful purposes and enables useful items to be made at affordable prices.

But it is really, really NOT a great choice for "disposable" items.

So I'll be putting my old gloves in with the rubbish to be brought back to dry land. Especially as, unlike any of the occasional bits of food that sometimes go overboard, I can't imagine that any of the fishies would have a use for a worn-out pair of golf gloves. (no bad jokes about fish fingers, please!)

Other stuff:

Position at 1900 19th July Pacific Time, 0200 20th July UTC: 24 56.085'N, 133 43.830'W.

Sometime in the next couple of days I should pass the halfway mark, at 134 30'W. At that point I will have rowed 1304 nautical miles, with 1304 still to go. And in theory the second half should be significantly faster, now that I'm in the trades. As my weatherguy says, from here on it's downhill all the way!

Conditions very rough today - big rolling swells and winds over 20 knots. I've been rowing, but it hasn't been much fun. I don't enjoy seeing a big curling wave bearing down on me and knowing I'm about to get a drenching, but the thought of that halfway mark has helped keep me going.

Thanks for all the messages, from newbies and regulars alike! Thanks also to those who joined us for the Leo Laporte podcast this morning. As usual on Saturdays, it was our Q&A session, when you can ask me questions live on Twit TV (meaning is rather different in the US than in the UK!). So if I haven't answered your question in my blogs, you might want to join us next Saturday at 1700 UTC, at

Special hi to Jez at the Royal Navy's FWOC - thanks to you and the guys for the support and the words of encouragement. Too bad the RN won't be able to drop in for a visit this time around!

SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER! We now have a facility for you to sign up for a newsletter. At the moment it goes out once a week, on Thursdays, and after a short message gives you a list of links to the week's blogs. In the "off-season", while I'm not on the ocean, it will go out every couple of months with any important news or a general update. If you'd like to sign up, go to my Home page, and down at the bottom you'll find a box labeled: "Sign up to the Roz Savage newsletter, just enter your email address:"

Click here to view Day 56 of the Atlantic Crossing 25 January 2005 "Zen and the Art of Ocean Rowing" with a message about hope.

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Day 55: Guest Blog by Conrad Humphreys - Renowned British Sailor
Roz Savage
18 Jul 2008, The Brocade

Picture: Conrad Humphreys (right) at the House of Commons talking to Hilary Benn MP, London, July 14th

I am delighted tonight to feature a special guest blog by Conrad Humphreys, who has had an impressive career in competitive sailing and is the founder of the BLUE Project, for which I am a BLUE Ambassador.

This week, The BLUE Project is exhibiting at the House of Commons, ahead of the release of the first draft of the Marine Bill. Featuring BLUE Ambassadors, remarkable sports men and women like Roz who are using the immense power of their sport to inspire and motivate individuals and organisations to actively care about sustaining our water environments. The exhibition also features initiatives such as BLUE Schools, The BLUE Mile and BLUE Communities, all mechanisms for engaging individuals and organisations with our water environments.

The BLUE Project exhibition was formally opened on Monday 14 July by Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and was also attended by Rt Hon Tessa Jowell, Olympics Minister. Both Hilary Benn and Tessa Jowell made BLUE Pledges at the launch, demonstrating how sport and the environment can work together.

BLUE Communities consist of people like you, who follow Roz in her quest to row single handed across the Pacific Ocean because you are connected to our water environment and believe in Roz's cause to raise awareness of the growing problem of plastic debris polluting our world's oceans. You are people who care about our water environments and actively make small life changes to help reduce your impact on our climate and oceans.

In the last couple of weeks, we have been overwhelmed with the large number of BLUE pledges coming from followers of Roz. All of your pledges which are now featured on our website at go a long way to growing a community who collectively can make a difference. Thank you very much for all your support.

As an ocean sailor, I can relate to the conditions and experiences that Roz is currently facing out in the Pacific Ocean. However, where as I am more used to bigger sail boats, I am in complete awe of Roz and her determination to complete this mammoth voyage in such a tiny vessel, alone and unsupported.

The BLUE Project is proud to have Roz as an Ambassador and wishes her all the very best with the rest of her voyage.

Fair winds Roz. Conrad Humphreys Ambassador & Founder of The BLUE Project

Other stuff:

Position at 2130 18th July Pacific Time, 0430 19th July UTC: 25 04.785'N, 133 04.502'W.

About an hour ago I passed 133 degrees West. I was rather pleased about this. After my hard-scrabble day yesterday, struggling to find motivation, I had set myself an immediate target of passing 133 before 10am tomorrow. So to pass it around 8pm tonight has cheered me up no end! Thanks to the brisk winds and significant ocean swell that have given me a helping hand - although they will probably also stop me getting much sleep tonight...

Thanks also to all my marvelous cheerleaders on dry land. I've been reading all your comments (Mum emails them to me) and they have given me a real boost - thank you!

SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER! We now have a facility for you to sign up for a newsletter. At the moment it goes out once a week, on Thursdays, and after a short message gives you a list of links to the week's blogs. In the "off-season", while I'm not on the ocean, it will go out every couple of months with any important news or a general update. If you'd like to sign up, go to my Home page, and down at the bottom you'll find a box labeled: "Sign up to the Roz Savage newsletter, just enter your email address:"

Click here to view Day 55 of the Atlantic Crossing 24 January 2006 "I'm just a girl who can't say no" but practising.

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Day 54: Mind Over Matter
Roz Savage
17 Jul 2008, The Brocade

There are some days when it's easy to be motivated, when I'm raring to go, when I feel as if I could row forever.

And then there are days like today.

Maybe I tempted fate this morning when I was recording the podcast with Leo and he asked me about motivation. I breezily said how much easier I'm finding it this time around, having the audiobooks to keep me entertained, and also having had the Atlantic experience that has given me a number of tools in my psychological toolkit for when the going gets tough.

Well (sigh) I was really put to the test today. The conditions were the roughest they've been in several weeks, which made it impossible to row neatly. It was a case of bashing along and trying to stick a stroke in where I could - and this always makes the time drag.

But there was more to it than that. I put it down to having just passed the big milestone of 130 degrees West, and just after a success is often the hardest time to get motivated. You've been all excited about your achievement, and there's a bit of a post-success slump when you have to set yourself a new goal to aim for, but the new one seems so distant when compared with the immediacy of the one you've just passed.

I had fallen into what Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance calls a "gumption trap". I felt weary, and bored, and demotivated. I was totally gump-less.

So I pulled out the old Atlantic psychological toolkit. I bribed myself with extra rations. I changed the edifying audiobook 1491 for the escapism of a novel. I took a post-lunch siesta. And I set myself a more immediate, interim target that I should be able to reach within the next few days.

And it pretty much worked. I didn't row quite as many hours as usual, but I achieved about 80%. And most importantly, I'm not beating myself up over it. There are bound to be days when I feel like this. Any challenge is, well, challenging, and gumption traps happen.

The thing is to carry on doing my best - and to accept that on some days my best will be better than on others. And tomorrow's another day.

Other stuff:

Position at 2130 17th July Pacific Time, 0430 18th July UTC: 25 21.109'N, 132 22.819'W.

All kinds of weather today - sun, rainclouds (but barely any rain), rainbows - and lots of wind, fortunately coming from the right direction.

I saw my first flying fish today - a tiddler of about 1 inch that hit me in the side of the head while I was rowing. I would have taken a photo, but I wanted to get the poor little fellow back in the water asap, just in case he had any chance of survival. He didn't look too lively though. Maybe he was scared to death - either by whatever creature had induced him to fly out of the water, or by unexpectedly finding himself on the deck of a small ocean rowboat.

SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER! We now have a facility for you to sign up for a newsletter. At the moment it goes out once a week, on Thursdays, and after a short message gives you a list of links to the week's blogs. In the "off-season", while I'm not on the ocean, it will go out every couple of months with any important news or a general update. If you'd like to sign up, go to my Home page, and down at the bottom you'll find a box labeled: "Sign up to the Roz Savage newsletter, just enter your email address:"

Hello and thank you to all who write in and/or lend their support to my venture - today especially to Sindy Davis. And to Chris Martin for the laugh! John H - I watched the movie Deep Water last year - made me cry. Fascinating story, and well told in the film. Comments on my visor - a gift from my friend Mariya, courtesy of the Kailua Canoe Club. I may not be there yet, but I've got the headgear already! Hi to Greg K. Thanks, Chuck, for your concern about my weight - but I really don't think I've lost any. Those chubby cheeks are still there!

Owww. Must go. I need somewhere more comfortable to sit to write my blogs! Like a nice dry study somewhere..


Some extracts from a press release by BLUE Project:

Sport met environment at the launch event of the BLUE Climate and Oceans exhibition at Westminster yesterday as Olympic Minister, the Rt. Hon Tessa Jowell MP and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP both made pledges to be BLUE.

The exhibition which was attended by ministers, sustainable energy business leaders, Olympic representatives and sports ambassadors focused on how sport can be a mechanism to engage with people to actively care about sustaining our water environments.

One of the big project ideas to engage our communities that was showcased at the exhibition called The BLUE? Mile, is a mass participation event designed to bring together our coastal communities in the UK on a huge scale to celebrate our natural resources. Inspired by the need to leave a wide-spread environmental legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is hoped that this event will become part of the Cultural Olympiad towards 2012.

Speaking at the launch event Hilary Benn said: "It's astonishing what you have achieved, with initiatives like this that get people involved we have a better chance of making sure that we live in harmony with the Earth, whether on the green of the land or the blue of the sea."

Tessa Jowell said: "By 2012 this has the potential to be engaging 100,000's of children all over the world and I feel privileged to witness the beginning. It's such a pleasure to be here today and I'm looking forward to competing my BLUE mile next year."

Rob Gauntlet, youngest Everest climber and 180 Degree Pole to Pole adventurer said: "This project is young, fresh, ambitious and adventurous. Instead of just discussing the issues, the project gets people directly involved."

Click here to see Day 54 of the Atlantic Crossing January 23, 2005. Questions, Questions - and some answers.

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