The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 81: Water, Water . . .
Roz Savage
13 Aug 2008, The Brocade

I feel the need to make a confession. There's something I've been keeping very quiet about. (Podcast listeners will already know this.) On 1st July my backup watermaker broke, and has not worked since.

There I was, sitting on deck, pumping steadily on the manual watermaker, when the water stopped dripping from the product pipe and started spouting from the innards of the machine instead. There was no sense of panic - just a weary resignation. I immediately started calculating whether I had enough water to see me to Hawaii, and worked out that I might, but it would be tight.

More out of a sense of due diligence rather than in realistic expectation of a repair, I called the manufacturers of the manual watermaker. They told me that I would need specialist tools and/or parts - which I had not brought with me because the manual watermaker was only ever intended as a backup for use in emergencies. To lose one watermaker may be regarded as unfortunate; to lose two. The customer service representative offered to fix the manual watermaker if I sent it in. I didn't go into detail, but simply stated that this might be tricky.

So for the last 6 weeks I have been living on my supplies of ballast water. I tried to improvise a solar still but it was not a resounding success - certainly not enough water to survive on. I am now down to my penultimate 10 litre water sac. I could have made it to Hawaii without resupply, but would have had to go on half rations for the last two weeks - which in tropical heat would have been survivable but not fun. I have marveled, every time I look at my 10 litre jerrycan, that while on dry land I probably use this much water every time I flush the toilet, out here on the ocean it would have to keep me going for a week.

The reason I kept quiet? I didn't want to cause any undue concern. The reason I am telling you now? Because everything is now OK.

For many reasons I was delighted to see the JUNK yesterday. During our phone conversations over the previous few days, we had established that they had a functioning watermaker with which we could refill my jerrycans and waterbags, and also a manual spare watermaker which they were willing to lend me.

In return, their voyage was taking much longer than expected and they were running short on food, while I have plenty. So I donated them three bagfuls (biodegradable bags, of course) containing emergency transfusions of expedition meals, Larabars, and jerky.

I somehow knew that everything would turn out OK, that fortune does indeed favour the bold and that I would not die of dehydration out here. As it is, I got to meet two like-minded individuals who are also crossing the Pacific to raise awareness of marine pollution issues - and the fact that we were able to help each other out by trading food for water was a huge bonus. It was statistically unlikely that we would find our courses intersecting, and yet here we are.

I am constantly amazed and grateful, since I started out on my new life path, how often things turn up just when I need them. It reinforces my chosen belief that this is indeed a benevolent universe, and that potential catastrophes (broken watermakers) are often an opportunity for something wonderful to happen.

[photo: the message on my drinks bottle is pretty uncompromising.]

Other stuff:

Position at 2150 13th August Pacific Time, 0450 14th August UTC: 23 04.302'N, 147 50.325'W.


I've asked a number of favours from you already - to make a Blue Pledge, to donate to my wheelchair-bound friend David's hand bike - but I have one more. It's really important to me, and won't cost you a penny. Amex are giving substantial grants to worthy causes, based purely on popular vote via the internet. We have made an application - if successful, I will be able to carry on with the next 2 stages of my Pacific row to Australia, and we will be able to make an environmental documentary based on the row. Without it. . . .

I need to be in the top 25 by 19th August to make it onto the shortlist, and then in the top 5 to get any funding. So please, please, please register your vote. And get EVERYBODY you know to vote too.

(To Vote: On the home page of this blog, go to the "Members Project" box, on the Amex site find the invitation to sign on as a guest in the column on the right. Having done so, the place to vote is at the top right of their page. Easy, and costs you nothing.)

Thank you.

Thank you also for the lovely messages that continue to pour in. Special mentions to John, Toni, Steve, Bev, Jim, Gene - and especially Sky. I hope to see you and Steve back on the mainland later this year.

Click here to view Day 81 of the Atlantic Crossing 19 February 2006: Silent Sunday. Again no news from 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) or order the audio version for your iPod from

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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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