The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 80: A Pile of JUNK
Roz Savage
13 Aug 2008, The Brocade

Unusually, I am writing this blog mid-afternoon. Normally I wait until my day's rowing is over and get out my laptop at about 9.30pm, but today the JUNK has asked me to stop rowing for a while so they can catch up with me, so I find myself with time on my hands - and even on the ocean I don't like to waste time.

It would be amusing to watch the progress of our two vessels as radar blips or on a MarineTrack chart. Their top speed is about 2.8 kts, mine about 2 kts. We are two very slow-moving objects converging on each other ever so slowly, like two garden snails about to mate (do snails mate?!).


We met. Although for a while it looked as if it might be tomorrow. The wind dropped right off this afternoon, which isn't a problem for a rower (apart from getting very hot without the cooling effects of the wind) but it is a problem for a sailboat - especially one built for a purpose rather than for speed - like the JUNK.

After hanging around for an hour waiting for them to catch up I spoke again to the JUNK, and we realized that if we wanted to meet today, and before dark, I would have to turn around and row back towards them. This caused me a minor personal crisis. After nearly three months of heading west, west, always west, it felt totally unnatural to turn the Brocade's bows deliberately to point east.

But in the overall scheme of things, it seemed to be best to get over this mental obstacle and row back the way I had come. I was finding it unsettling today to be in close proximity to another boat, and much as I was looking forward to meeting Marcus and Joel, I was also looking forward to getting back into my routine and pushing on towards Hawaii. To extend this episode into tomorrow would mean another compromised day at the oars.

So east I went (and north) - and it was well worth it. It took some hard rowing to get close enough to the JUNK - and eventually Marcus jumped into the water and swam over with a thin line so we could connect the two vessels. I used my makeshift cleat to reel in the line to bring Brocade close enough to the JUNK for me to jump aboard their vessel.

And what a vessel she is. I am so glad to have seen her - or I may not have believed her. A raft supported by thousands of plastic bottles lashed into cargo nets, the fuselage of a small aircraft as a cabin, a plush pile bucket seat as a captain's chair. The JUNK is very, errr, home-made, but all the more impressive for that very reason. I thought she was very cool indeed.

The Brocade bobbed around about 10 yards away at the end of her line. It was strange to see her from the outside - for the last 3 months she has been my entire world. She's weathering well, and I felt quietly proud of her as she waited there patiently for me.

Marcus pulled up their dredger, which skims the surface of the water to gather plankton and debris. He showed me the results. They are finding more plastic than natural matter -which is sad. Tiny pieces of plastic, still recognizable, dotted the dredger's haul.

After that it was on to the social part of the evening. I had a great time. Not so different from your average suburban dinner party, except that Joel hopped overboard with mask and snorkel to harpoon our main course - a huge mahi mahi, which went from ocean to stomachs in less than an hour. Joel kept asking if I wanted any more, and I kept saying yes, with the result that we had mahi mahi cooked 3 different ways. I just couldn't get enough of it. I'd like to think it was my body craving protein, but more likely I was just being greedy!

Conversation revolved around the environment, the Garbage Patch (which Marcus knows well, after 3 trips there), and our respective plans for Hawaii. There is much overlap between our goals and objectives, so hopefully we can maximize the impact of our message by combining forces. We took a load of photos, recorded a video blog for their website, I wrote a good luck message on the fuselage, and just before sunset I returned to the Brocade. The guys had been wonderful hosts, and I went back to my oars with a full belly and a smile on my face.

As I rowed off into the sunset, I reflected that it had been a great evening, and quite surreal in its way - a dinner party on board a pile of junk in mid-Pacific, hundreds of miles from anybody or anywhere - but I still have many miles to go to Hawaii, and I can't afford to ease up yet. It was good for the soul to have a night off, but tomorrow it will be back to business as usual.

[photo: Dr Marcus Eriksen inspects the haul from the water-skimmer: a mix of plastic and natural debris]

Other stuff:

Position as at 2300 12th August Pacific Time, 0600 13th August UTC: 23 05.760'N, 147 15.961'W.

So today has been a bit of a disaster mileage-wise, but well worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a very special mid-ocean rendezvous with a couple of great guys.

Thanks to everyone who has voted for my project in the Amex awards. I can't tell you how much a cash grant like this would help. Without it, I don't have enough funds for the next 2 stages of the Pacific row - so do please spread the word amongst your friends and family - enabling me to carry on spreading the word about the oceans!

Hi Dana - no, no major muscle cramps. Just a few twinges from time to time - knees, fingers, back - but nothing serious. On the Atlantic I used nearly all the painkillers in my first aid kit. This time around, not one!

Eric - thanks for the recipe, but I brought only the main meals from the MRE packs. On the Atlantic I would make a kind of chocolate mousse from organic hot chocolate drink mixed with a little cold water, which was great. But very sugary, and I am now sworn off refined sugars! (unless we are talking about caramel syrup in a latte.)

Sandi - the Cotswolds? Lovely! I'm enjoying my virtual journey from Land's End. Thank you!

Well done, Jonathan, on your epic bike ride for a good cause. Happy to be of service!

Hi also to Jennifer, JD, Ruth, Gene, George, Bev, and John.

Click here to view Day 80 of the Atlantic Crossing 18 February 2006: Waiting For News - but none came.

Thanks to Tim (webmaster) for putting the AMEX information on the home page - please remember to vote for the film project about Roz.

Also, take a look at the Books box on the website - it contains all the books that Roz has listened to while rowing - and if you wish to buy one, click on the title to go straight to Amazon (USA).
(These last 3 notes from Rita.)

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Day 79: All In The Mind
Roz Savage
12 Aug 2008, The Brocade

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven." (John Milton)

A lot of people were mystified why, having survived but not enjoyed one ocean crossing, I would want to do another. There are many reasons why I am rowing the Pacific - first and foremost being the environmental message - but another key reason was precisely because I had such a tough time on the Atlantic. The main challenge for me was staying positive when the going was tough - all too often I spiraled into negativity. I scrabbled through, but I felt it was only right at the end that I really started to get the hang of this psychological aspect.

I learned that life is very much a matter of perception - it's not so much what happens to you as how you choose to interpret your experiences. We're all constantly in the process of defining ourselves according to the way we choose to perceive "reality". This is especially true when spending three months alone on a small boat in the middle of an ocean, without much in the way of outside influence to balance the voices within.

I felt like I'd learned a lot about how not to row an ocean by getting it all wrong the first time - by allowing the negative voices more than their fair share of headspace. And that the best way to test whether I'd really learned the lessons was to put myself in the same situation but with a different mindset - with a determination to stay positive, to be kind to myself, to keep my confidence and self-belief strong, and to take it one day at a time.

And now that I am entering the last few hundred miles of my journey, I am starting to feel that I may pass the test. This voyage, although testing at times, has been a small personal triumph for me in terms of my ability to stay on an even emotional keel, so to speak. There has been less of the whinging and whining that characterized my Atlantic video diary, and I have largely avoided the rollercoaster of emotions I went through on that crossing.

But, as I well know, it ain't over yet. If I miss Hawaii there will be some major whinging!

Other stuff:

Position as at 2130 11th August Pacific Time, 0430 12th August UTC: 22 59.807'N, 146 44.713'W.

JUNK UPDATE: the JUNK is still chasing me but hasn't caught up yet. I told the guys today that I'm playing hard to get. But they're closing the gap and it's likely we'll meet tomorrow - if we manage to find each other in these high seas. It has been windy today and my little boat is easily hidden by the large swells. But with the aid of satellite phones and the JUNK's radar, we are hopeful..

Click here to view Day 79 of the Atlantic Crossing 17 February 2006 - No news from Roz.

American Express members' project is giving away 2.5 million dollars to 5 causes. Please vote for Roz - guest members can do so.

We are trying to raise funds to pay for 3 documentary films about my solo crossing of the Pacific. I have been nominated for the American Express project - sharing 2.5 million dollars between the top 5 causes.

Please read and act on the following links:
Also, the following is a link to Roz's Project. where you are allowed to vote as a guest member if you are not a member of AMEX.
The closing date is September 1st. Please help. Thanks, Rita.

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Day 78: Fore Cabin
Roz Savage
11 Aug 2008, The Brocade

No rendezvous with the JUNK today. Several times today we have checked in with each other by satphone to compare positions, and they are slowly but surely gaining on me. Maybe tomorrow.

So, in the meantime, back to the guided tour of the Brocade and her cabins. Today, the fore cabin - and another one of my dodgy drawings. Hey, I'm a rower, not a Picasso.

This cabin is deep and pointy and not very high, so it's a bit of a limbo dance to get in there. So I use it mostly for things I don't need very often, or if I do use them often, they are stowed near the hatch so I can reach them without having to go inside.

Starting from the top right in the drawing..

1. The MarineTrack beacon, mounted on the bulkhead. This, in theory, should send back my position at regular intervals. Last year it worked a treat, and enabled us to locate and retrieve the Brocade a week after my unfortunate airlift by a US Coast Guard helicopter. Without the tracking beacon it would have been impossible to find my tiny boat on the huge Pacific. But this year it hasn't been working quite so well, particularly since I turned westwards. This is a problem with the orientation rather than the unit itself, which is NOT at fault - and the MarineTrack mapping software that you see on this site is still super-cool!

2. Spare buckets

3. Two Daren drums containing my stash of dehydrated buckwheat and flax crackers. Daren drums are often used by kayakers and cavers to keep gear dry - I got them from a caving supplier in the UK, and they're ideal to stop the crackers from getting crushed.

4. Toolkit. I've also got a load of tools in the aft (sleeping) cabin.

5. Another bucket, containing spare rowing shoes, spare seat, etc.

6. Bucket containing SeaCook propane stove when not in use.

7. Pelican case (very sturdy and very waterproof) containing technology spares - spare rechargers, startup disk, cables, etc.

8. Spare sea anchors, drogues, and waterproof bags containing a few clothes in case I get to Hawaii before my mother arrives with my suitcase! My ocean-going clothes are not going to be very presentable by then. In fact, they're not now. Grubby, salty, rust-stained - it's a tough life for everything out here; clothes, electronics, and humans alike.

9. Hatch to large locker beneath deck level containing one marine battery (to which the MarineTrack unit is connected, powered by solar panels on the fore cabin roof) and half of the water ballast, contained in 4 x 10 litre Dromedary bags. The other 4 bags are under the aft cabin.

This fore cabin is only about half full. If I was planning a really long voyage - like if I'd decided to do the Pacific in one fell swoop from Peru to Australia - I could fit a LOT more stuff in there. We could install hatches to allow access to the remainder of the under-deck areas, and also stow plenty more food above deck level - although it would have to be carefully organized so the first things to be used were nearest the hatch.

Oh, and one other thing I have in the fore cabin. my fishing rod, generously given to me by Mike Dale. So far not used due to various reasons - no water to spare for cooking fish, no time to spare for filleting fish, a residual squeamishness about having to cosh the fish on the head, and a concern that, like Erden Eruc on his Pacific row last year, I might inadvertently catch a fish that proves to be inedible, and suffer the consequent guilt pangs for having taken a life needlessly.

But no doubt, if I miss Hawaii and run out of prepackaged foods, all these reasons would dwindle into insignificance if it was a matter of survival. but let's hope it doesn't come to that. I'd hate to miss the Hawaii party!

Other stuff:

Position at 2145 10th August Pacific Time, 0445 11th August UTC: 23 02.943'N, 146 06.852'W.

Again, a real mixed bag of weather today. After each squall there is a period of spooky calm, when the ocean seems hushed and subdued, before it recovers its spirits and the wind starts to blow again. Between rainclouds the tropical sun has been intense. Definitely getting further south!

A quick roundup of messages - hi to Jacquie Barone and gang - great to hear from you (but no babies for me, thank you!), Jim, Gene, Erin, Louise, John, Sandi (loved the UK analogy for my remaining miles! I've got a good friend in Exeter..)

Click here to view Day 78 of the Atlantic Crossing 16 February 2006: The Big Wuss Principle.

American Express members' project is giving away 2.5 million dollars to 5 causes. Please vote for Roz - guest members can do so.

We are trying to raise funds to pay for 3 documentary films about my solo crossing of the Pacific. I have been nominated for the American Express project - sharing 2.5 million dollars between the top 5 causes.

Please read and act on the following links:
Also, the following is a link to Roz's Project. where you are allowed to vote as a guest member if you are not a member of AMEX.
The closing date is September 1st. Please help. Thanks, Rita.

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Day 77: JUNK Males
Roz Savage
10 Aug 2008, The Brocade

Today has been an odd day. After so many days at sea, I had got into quite a routine, which swung along easily without requiring too much mental energy or concentration. But today the weather, and circumstances, have been conspiring to shake things up around here. This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

The last couple of nights have been squally, making for little sleep and much bouncing around. Today the squalls spread into the daytime as well - winds variable, and bright sunshine giving way to dark grey clouds and onslaughts of rain. At times the rowing felt easy, at other times like rowing through glue.

I'd got used to looking at the figures in my logbook at the end of each shift to see roughly how many minutes of longitude I'd covered, and then figuring out a realistic target for the end of the day. But today it was so variable that it forced me into a more accepting way of being, not so goal-oriented. All I could do was carry on rowing, and the end result would be largely down to the weather. It would be what it would be.

This evening there were some other surprises - good ones. I spoke to the crew of the JUNK at 6pm Pacific Time to compare positions, and it looks likely that they will catch up with me tomorrow. The squalls have helped them along and they have been making good progress. So this evening I was quite a-flutter, getting ready for my first human contact since 26th May.

We are planning to exchange some goodies - they are short on food but OK for water, while I am short on water and have plenty of food. So I spent a while rummaging around in lockers to dig out some supplies for them - and turned up a few items I thought I'd run out of. It's amazing how things can get lost on such a small boat. I found a solitary remaining MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and ate it for my dinner - a real treat to have proper satisfying chunks of food rather than the little pieces of freeze-dried rubble.

I also found some more tamari sunflower seeds (I mix them in with beansprouts, tamari almonds, nama shoyu sauce and tahini to make a very good and nutritious lunch), and some dried apple slices - both very welcome additions to my larder.

I've got a generous stack of expedition meals and Larabars to give to the guys tomorrow. I thought about giving them some of my dehydrated flax crackers too, but I suspect that no matter how short on food they are, they may not share my more extreme wholefoodie tastes.

Other stuff:

Position as at 2145 9th August Pacific Time, 0445 10th August UTC: 23 04.311'N, 145 36.282'W.

People are starting to ask for an ETA in Hawaii.. Well, what can I say? I don't want to tempt fate. In my experience, anything involving boats always takes longer than expected.. But OK. Tentatively, based on my calculations of average mileages since I crossed 130 degrees west, I hope to arrive on or around 31st August, which would be Day 99. Will I make it? Only one way to find out - keep watching this blog!

Thanks for the messages and questions passed on to me by Leo in our podcast this morning. Thanks also for the other messages coming in via my website. Special mentions to: Tiny Little - a constant source of inspiration. Hope to see you when I am back in the UK in November. George and Tori - congrats on completing the bike ride. Hope you raised enough money for Dave's hand bike fund - and that you've recovered from the saddle soreness! Diane (my cousin) - you crazy fell runner. Is it something in our genes? I thought I got it from Mum's side, but I may have to reconsider! Good luck in the half marathon. And say hi to Paul from me - glad you two are having so much fun together! Anke Altermann - wow, you really ARE paying attention! The speakers are mounted underneath the side decks, one next to the "garden" (the seed sprouter) and the other in the "bathroom". There are another two speakers in the cabin. Lesley Ewing - great to hear from you! I still wear the superb t-shirt you gave me - a constant reminder of why I do what I do.

Click here to view Day 77 of the Atlantic Crossing 15 February: Stealth Sedna - radar could not find her boat.

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