The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 49: Oarally Challenged
18 Jan 2006

At the time of the breakages all oars were stowed in the upper position. Must have been some big mean wave.

18 Jan, 06 - 18:46

Apologies for being offline for a couple of days. My palmtop was on non-speakers with my satphone, probably due to water somewhere in the data cable. There's water everywhere else, so it's likely it was in the data cable too. Fortunately it seems to have recovered now.

Life has been interesting since I last wrote - rough and wet mostly - which may appeal to some tastes but not especially mine. I need to have words with the race organisers. I thought I'd signed up for Atlantic Lite - the sort of Atlantic Rowing Race where people talked about 'Lake Atlantic', enjoyed silence and serenity, and sipped G&T's at sunset. Instead I seem to have got Atlantic Hardcore - 20 foot waves, capsizes and broken oars.

When I told my mother about the latest casualties she commented, 'The ocean is really stripping you down, isn't it?'. And this is true, metaphorically as well as literally. As I'm left with less and less, it makes me realise how little I actually need, how little is actually important. Everything happens for a reason. So there must be lessons I am meant to learn from this that I couldn't have learned from Atlantic Lite.

Updated Casualty List

New entries:

4th and final oar now damaged - so I have:
Magic bendy oar - irreparable
Oar with no spoon - irreparable
Oar with spoon almost broken off - Sikaflexed and splinted
Oar with shaft broken close to gate (rowlock) - splinted.

Flattened boathook Sikaflexed to spoon of oar.
Note oar shaft to the right - totally decapitated.

I'm amazed and rather indignant about the two broken spoons. These oars were properly stowed alongside the guardrail oars, i.e. with the spoons 4ft clear of the water, and supposedly protected by the guardrail spoons - yet one broke clean off and the other nearly so. For this sort of pressure to be exerted, 4ft above the waterline, on both sides of the boat... That must have been some knockdown.

And more losses overboard:
Thermos mug #2 (1 remaining) with dinner inside
Drinks bottle #2 (1 remaining)
Lip salve #2 (2 remaining)
Bag for para-anchor line
2 buckets (1 remaining)
Alpaca skin seat cover #2 (1 remaining)

Plus flooded lockers:
#5 - beneath aft cabin. Relatively empty, fortunately, but cosy dry alpaca socks as special treat (courtesy of Alpaca Centre near Penrith) are cosy and dry no more
#7 - grab bags and lifejacket are swimming
#13 - jerrycans and cleaning materials. Deliberately left flooded for added ballast.

And an injury:
Wrenched shoulder during a knockdown while at the oars. Back on the Ibuprofen.

Plus previous casualties:
Petzl head torch (contacts rusted)
Camping stove
Navigation instruments
Thermos mug
Lid off thermos flask
Drinks bottle
Storage jar
Alpaca skin seat cover
Lip salve
Milton fluid
...and a comfy foam cushion for sitting on.

In answer to all enquiries, Monty is absolutely fine, thank you, but is very pleased that he has his lifejacket.


Natalie: thanks for the vibes - keep them coming. In answer to your question, the weight is coming off, but probably due more to boredom with food rather than roaring metabolism. Estimate I am eating 2000-3000 calories on a typical day - about the same as pre-race, but now losing weight rather than gaining. Brown fat? Not sure how to tell, but I doubt it. Plenty enough food to see me through, but shortage of food that appeals. That, alas, only dry land can offer.

Thanks for texts from Damian, H and Phoebe West, John T (macrame - been there, done that, got the string bag), Lizan (don't worry - I hope to complete the race AND stay safe), Luke Johnston (great to hear from you - this boat a bit smaller than the trireme, this ocean rougher than the Aegean, too bad no ouzo, also no lunatic Irish dentists on mopeds!), Tim Ratbag, Snowy (good suggestion, already considered, may yet resort to cutting broken oars to make sleeve but reluctant to be without guardrails as they've already saved my life more than once), Richard Latham, Imelda, Mark Reid, Clarkie, Natalie, Mike C, Adamski, Steve Maskell, Alex F, AJ, Guy.

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Wind: E, 25 knots (estimate)
Weather: cloudy, sunshine, squalls
Sea state: very rough
Hours rowing: 0 (spent day repairing oars and allowing wrenched shoulder to recover)

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 48 Make Do and Mend
Rita Savage
17 Jan 2006

It was easier to work in dry conditions: La Gomera, November.

17 Jan, 06 - 19.30

Late Addition: Wed.morning: Roz managed to upload her dispatch for Day 47. This has now been added to her previous dispatch about Fundamentals at her request. Do read about what happened then.

Roz has had a day off from rowing today, not by choice but by necessity. She did not wish to miss doing her dispatch, but once again is prevented by non-functioning gadgetry. Following the rough waves of the last couple of days she is coping with a painful shoulder, broken oars and wet, wet, everything wet.
When daylight came this morning she went out onto the deck to see what damage had been done. In spite of carefully stowing her oars and lashing them together and to the boat, there was further damage. The spoon of one of the oars was lying on the deck, another one hanging on by a thread. She had already separated the boat hook into two parts to make splints for the oars. She now took one part, hammered it flat at one end, and has attempted to use it as a splint fastened to the spoon with Stikaflex (? spelling).
The instructions state that the surfaces must be clean and DRY. Ha ha. How do you dry something when everything you own is wet? She now has to wait until tomorrow to see if it holds. In spite of not being able to row at present, she has travelled about 27 miles today with the help of wind and waves. The weather forecast implies that the rough seas should moderate by the weekend. Let’s hope so! They all need a break out there.
Roz ‘ thoughts are very much with those who have lost their boats, but does rather envy Emily and Sarah on the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos. Quite an experience for them. When I mentioned that Jo Davies on Aurora was feeling so much better after a rest and a shower, Roz politely asked me not to mention that lovely word again.
Roz thanks all those who have sent messages, including Richard A, just sorry she can’t acknowledge them herself. As for her own feelings, she is so grateful that she is in a better frame of mind now than she was in the first month. What a girl!

Sea state: Rough
Hours rowed: 0
Miles covered since this time yesterday: 32

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Rita Savage
16 Jan 2006

Damp rather than wet - in better days!

16 Jan, 21.00

For details on progress and position see the Atlantic Rowing Race site.

Roz phoned me just after 9 this evening to say that she just cannot get the gadgetry to work for sending a dispatch. Everything in the cabin is now so wet that she suspects that that is the problem. What she thought was wet before was merely damp by present conditions.
We were shocked to hear about American Fire and Team Sun Latte both suffering capsize and the teams having to abandon their boats. Roz did suffer a knock-down today, worse than the previous one on Thursday 5th January, but came upright again. She has great confidence in her boat and its ability to self-right. The para anchor and drogue both went overboard but she struggled and got them back on again.
Roz does not expect to sleep much tonight, and is also concerned about salt-water sores due to sleeping in a wet bed.
Steve in a message to us asked if Monty was still safely aboard. Yes, he is, though probably sulking in his damp corner.
This race is proving a tough experience not only for the rowers, but for those of us looking on. Pray that they remain safe.

PS Tuesday morning 8am GMT, still dark: A rough night, the boat rolling twice, and some damage to an oar. Hatch containing the jerry cans flooded - but Roz is leaving it that way, extra ballast in a central position. Waiting for daylight before investigating out on deck. She knows that the newer alpaca skin seat cover was ripped off its bindings.

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 46: Fundamentals
15 Jan 2006

No mere sheepskin seat covers for me - these are alpaca, one old, one sad, matted one and one nice fresh fluffy none.

15 Jan, 06 - 20:41

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Mark at the Craig Hospital in Colorado asked: What is the one thing you have had to do that your pubmates would give you the hardest time over if they knew?

A: It would have to be the bottom-cleaning ritual at the end of each and every rowing shift. I suppose some of the patients at your hospital have to go through some undignified procedures, but can they be as bad as this?

Someone who has done the race before described the saltwater rash he got as the worst pain he has ever known, so bad that sitting on his sheepskin seat cover felt like sitting on wire wool. I've been paranoid about avoiding the same fate. It's not easy to row if you can't sit down...

So at the end of every shift I lie on my back on my bunk with my legs in the air like a baby on a changing table, feet braced against the low cabin ceiling. I wipe my derriere with wet wipes impregnated with tea tree oil (to be recycled later as toilet paper). Then I anoint my nether regions with tea tree oil antiseptic lotion and/or Green People's Baby Salve.

I've had a few spots, but overall the regime seems to be working, so the indignity is worth it.

And now I guess my pubmates do know..

Other stuff:

I have had a couple of weeks now of steadily improving weather conditions and exponentially improving morale, but now I am having a relapse. Big time. I am having a hissy fit, a sulk, a toy-throwing tantrum.

I am fed up with sideswiping waves filling the boat with water. I am fed up with cold repetitive dinners. I am fed up with having a sopping wet bunk. (The ventilation hatch above my head has been leaking like a sieve. I've now taped a cover over it, and just hope not to suffocate in my sleep in my now watertight but also airtight cabin.)

It's lovely getting texts from people admiring my courage, my tenacity, my determination. But don't put me on a pedestal - I'll only fall off. I'm just an ordinary person, and right now an extraordinarily grumpy one.

So I'm sending myself to bed early and hope to wake up in a better mood.

Marina (glad you like the website, hope you're enjoying Antigua - say Very Well Done to Ben from me!), Martin Turner, John T (ah, to see ourselves as others see us...), Brian in HK, Tim (sedation would indeed be quite welcome right now), Wallace, Jeff, HHS (where DO you get these jokes from?!).

Rita Savage's PS: Roz has given me permission to write whatever I like about her in these messages. Before she left she did say that Monty (the teddy bear) would write a dispatch once a week, and any grumbling that had to be done would come from him. I see that she has jealously taken that privilege away from him. Poor Monty, he is just not getting much of a say about the whole business. I hope he closes his eyes when she treats her sit-upon as described above!

Roz' DISPATCH FOR DAY 47, received on Wed. morning 18th.

I've been asked if I'd been looking forward to being alone out here.

Very much so - it was a key reason for wanting to do this.

The last couple of years I've taken 2-4 weeks out each year to do a retreat - not an organised retreat, just my own thing. The best one was in a friend's cottage in Sligo, Ireland, (thank you, Catt!). I went there with a rucksack full of books and spent a month detoxing, getting fit, losing weight, and reading, reading, reading - restoring mind, body and spirit.

It's a real luxury and one of the key benefits of my weird and wonderful lifestyle that I can do this kind of thing. Most people would struggle to find so much me-time.

So for me this is wonderful - time out from being around people, a chance for me to think about who I am and who I want to be, what I'm doing with my life and what I want to do.

For the first month out here I was mostly too stressed to be in the right frame of mind, but it's coming good now. Just as well I've still got a good while left before I reach Antigua.

P.S. After I'd drafted this dispatch I suffered a dunking. I'd prepared my dinner in a thermos flask and put it in the mug-holder to rehydrate, and had just got back to the oars, when a wave caught me side-on and everything went watery for a while. When I seemed to be back in air I opened my eyes and did a quick stock take.

Self - check.
Boat - check.
Self IN boat - check.
Dinner - gone. Damn, one of my favourites too - chilli rice.
Drogues - rapidly self-deploying over the side of the boat. I grabbed the line and pulled them back in.
Para-anchor - also self-deploying. Bit trickier, this one. Compared with the drogues the para-anchor is much bigger (12 feet diameter) and has a smaller hole in the apex so it's much harder to pull back in without a tripline. I rapidly put a slipknot in the fast-unravelling line and clipped it to the boat with the first thing that came to hand - my Baltic life harness. Luckily the para-anchor hadn't got too far - about 20 feet from the boat. My dinner bobbed in the waves close to it, and I briefly considered swimming out along the line to retrieve it, but the anchor seemed a higher priority and/or I didn't fancy going for a swim in 20 foot waves.

I managed to pull the para-anchor some of the way back in. (To give you some idea of its weight, the D-ring it was shackled to is now badly bent out of shape. Impressed that the Baltic line held, as a para-anchor full of water is a heck of a lot heavier than I am.) Then, luckily, the float attached to its apex came within reach (as did dinner, but not quite close enough) and the rest was easy.

I'm not keen on these knockdowns. They remind me how vulnerable I am. Woodvale sent a text this afternoon saying 2 boats had rolled during the night, and reminding us to keep our water ballast topped up and all hatches closed. Absolutely. I'll also be wearing my custom-made Baltic life-harness from now on.

Still gutted about my chilli rice...

John: No, I am immune to flattery. What others think of me may be of interest, but only what I think of me is of importance.

Marina - your message made me laugh out loud! I'm sure a lot of girls would give their right arm for the privilege.

Keith and Issy (Chris Martin's parents), DB, Rob Hamill, Mark Reid (wheee, splat - sound of me falling off my pedestal), Kim from Denmark (promise I will take care!), Karon Philips, Karen Luscombe (made me laugh! Chin is duly up and T are O!), Mark in Northampton, Tim (photos of tea tree ritual - no way!), Victoria (looking forward to meeting you too - maybe in March?), Caroline Haines, Adamski (would love to see the painting when it's done), Steve Moore (yes, Monty is just fine), Vicki from Emsworth (how do I put sun cream on back? With great difficulty!).

Sorry to hear of problems elsewhere in the fleet, especially the Sun Latte crew. Guys, I shudder to think what you've been through. My thoughts are with you.

Wind: E, 25 knots (estimate)
Weather: cloudy, sunshine, squalls
Sea state: very rough
Hours rowing: 9

Atlantic Row Part 2
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