The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 38: Question Time
07 Jan 2006

Trying to fix the electrics. This is what lurks behind my nice neat control panel - gives me the heebie-jeebies.

7 Jan, 06 - 21:44

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

I hear that All Relative are about to arrive in Antigua. Well done, the boys from Beer! Lucky they had me to keep them on their toes, eh?

Some questions from a regular texter:

Q: what has surprised you most so far?
A: how flippin' hard this is! I thought I was really well prepared, and I knew it would be hard, but not THIS hard. But I'm still here and still rowing, so I guess I must be up to it - if I wasn't at the start, I am now.

Q: will you be a little sad when this is over?
A: at the moment I don't even know how I'll feel tomorrow, let alone when I reach Antigua, so hard to say. At the moment I think my overriding feeling will be relief, but who knows, maybe there will be a tinge of sadness, and a bit of nostalgia for the solitude and the independence.

Q: how is the spare tyre?
A: cheeky! Since Sid the sea anchor came back on board and I stopped lazing around eating chocolate all day, I think the spare tyre has deflated somewhat. Let's hope so, because the bag of clothes my mother is bringing out to Antigua won't fit me otherwise!

Other stuff:

The weather continues rough but favourable here. The incredible bendy oar gave up the ghost today and has been relegated to guardrail duties.

Still can't get the Simrad navigation instrument working - checked the connections (see photo) but no joy. Suspect water inside, as display all steamed up. Pain, because without knowing my speed over ground I don't know what rowing techniques are working and what aren't. Stereo has also ceased to function - again, suspect water to blame. Can only hope things may work again if/when they dry out.

Thanks for all the texts: Sorrel, Pauline, Mark R, HSS, Sam K (thanks for reassurance on technique), John T, R Westcott, Richard Y & Penny, Eddie-Lee, MBE Putney, and two blasts from the past - John Wild and Duncan Coneybeare.

A good question from John W: '100 days solitary confinement and hard labour - what did you do wrong?!'

Wind: E to NE, force not known Weather: sunshine and showers
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 9

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 37 : I get knocked down...
06 Jan 2006

Monty post-wave

6 Jan, 06 - 20:34

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

Today - still smiling.

I get knocked down, but I get up again, ain't never going to keep me down...

Monty's Say


This is no way to treat a fare-paying passenger. Early night, sleeping tight, suddenly the world turns upside down and I find myself head-down in a box of freeze-dried food. The indignity of it.


It was a bit of a surprise. One moment I was asleep, being rocked (relatively) gently By the waves. The next moment it's like I'm in a washing machine - everything is spinning and there's water pouring in through the ventilation hatch.

My lovely comfy bunk, which I'd managed to keep remarkably dry and salt-free, was dry and salt-free no longer. Sleeping bag, pillow and blanket were all sopping. After restoring some kind of order inside the cabin and on deck, I spent the rest of the night curled up into a small damp bundle of anxiety, flinching at every big wave and bracing myself for another roll.

Today, as if to make amends, Mother Nature sent me perfect conditions for an enjoyable afternoon's rowing - and I mean genuinely enjoyable, not just enjoyable compared with working in an office/ being held captive in Beirut for four years/ having my fingernails pulled out with red hot tweezers.

The sun was shining, the waves were rolling, and Tiny, I found that sweet water. And ah, was it sweet!

Happy Birthday, Nick Jones. Enjoy a pint for me.

Thanks for today's texts, many expressing commiserations on last night's event. Hello John T, HSS (your jokes are awful - love them!), DB, Clarkie, Philip Goodier, Y (I did get your birthday message - thanks!), AJ (Caie's barge - seems a lifetime ago! Can you remind me of your name?), Mark R.

Someone asked me what would be my first meal on arrival in Antigua. Ideally, a large rum cocktail as an aperitif, then a buffet of salads (avocado with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, rocket with parmesan and pine nuts, marinated peppers and aubergine, with an assortment of dressings - pesto, lemon and coriander, spicy tomato). Then, as the main event, a platter of lobster, served with lime and hot melted butter, crab claws, jumbo shrimp and barbecued monkfish, all washed down with a glass or three of Chablis or a crisp South African Chenin Blanc. Then, if I had any room left, strawberry shortbread, followed by a caffe latte and three chocolate truffles, one white, one milk and one dark.

Not that I've given it a moment's thought, obviously.

Rita Savage's PS:
People have expressed concern for me, knowing that I will be worried about Roz out there in the Atlantic. I know that I am not the only anxious mother - and other family members and friends - whose thoughts are very much with those taking part in the Atlantic Rowing Race. I suppose I am a bit different as Roz is the only female solo rower. I was fortunate in that I was able to spend several weeks with Roz when the boat was being prepared in the boatyard, as well as at La Gomera. She had me crawling all over the boat with epoxy resin, screwdrivers and paintbrushes. I checked, packed and re-packed her first aid kit. I counted out packages of different types of food into weekly packs; experimented with the stove to assess the amount of fuel needed; went shopping in La Gomera for spare fuses, Velcro, Milton, hand-held water pumps, without being able to speak a word of Spanish. There was not much that I did not know about the boat and its contents, apart from the electronic gadgetry. All of this has helped me to have confidence that Roz has prepared very carefully to cover every aspect of the voyage. There have been some disappointments when people on whom she was relying for shore management, weather forecasting and finance have let her down. Roz and I are both most grateful to so many others who support us with their words, their messages and their prayers.

Sponsored miles: Mariya and Molly McCallum 850; Mat Ellis 888 hopefully coming up soon!

Wind: E to NE, force not known because wind/speed instrument hasn't worked since last night
Weather: sunshine
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 9

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 36: Time Travel
05 Jan 2006

At last - some sunshine this evening.

5 Jan, 06 - 19:27

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

On a day when Polyanna would have been challenged to find something to be glad about - driving rain, the wind blowing me north, discovery that my one change of 'normal' clothes for Antigua has gone mouldy - I've found one particular mental trick very helpful.

I've been enjoying a correspondence with two other solo ocean adventurers - Leven Brown, who is rowing the Columbus route from Cadiz to Jamaica, and Adrian Flanagan, who is sailing around the world via the polar regions. They both gave me the same advice - the value of retrospect.

Leven: ' Remember when the going is tough to treat it like a bad dream and focus on the
welcome your are going to get in Antigua.'

Adrian: ' When you come to look back on it,
the voyage will seem to have been over very quickly. Remember, it doesn't have to be fun to be fun. And it will have been fun once you are among the elite few who have single-handedly rowed an ocean.'

This 'time-travelling' approach has really helped. I had a great time preparing for the row. I'll have a great time afterwards basking in the glow of achievement. And if the bit in the middle is sometimes hard going and a bit yucky, well that's not such a bad deal.

Thanks for the texts: Mac from Team Sevenoaks (good luck with your race preparations - happy to offer advice when I get back), HSS (relieved to hear the pink hard thing was a pig with a flick knife, am not even going to repeat the next part of the joke!), Boris, Mark Reid, Tiny (thx for advice and encouragement - know what you mean about that sweet water, but today that would have taken me north), Sam K (support much appreciated), Guy, John, DB (not feeling photogenic today!).

HIT BY A FREAK WAVE! Message from Rita Savage 9pm (GMT). Roz has just phoned me to report that she thinks she has been hit by a freak wave, and that the boat had rolled a considerable way. She does not think that it rolled the whole way over and back again. She was asleep, tired out, and the waves had not been all that rough. She awoke with water pouring onto her face from the overhead hatch; her feet were in the plastic crate in which she keeps a week's ration of food in the cabin. Other items had been thrown around inside. Out on deck a few items that were not tied down have gone: her comfy cushion for sitting on deck, a drinks bottle and a few eating utensils. The oars are still there, and some other items, but she was not going to go out to investigate.
At the end of the phone call she was going to go back to her wet bed to get some more sleep. She was understandably rather shaken and felt she had to talk about it to someone who would be sympathetic. In the light of what she has written in the dispatch tonight, this was not exactly what one would call fun!

Wind: 15-18 kts, E
Weather: rainy and overcast, sunny evening
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 11

Atlantic Row Part 2
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Day 35: Row evenly and precisely...?
04 Jan 2006

Not the right technique!

4 Jan, 06 - 20:30

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

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it, as they say.

My knowledge of ocean rowing techniques is coming along apace. The problem is that no two days are alike - the Atlantic seems to have an infinite number of moods, different permutations of wind direction, wind strength, wave height, direction of swell, and so on. So what I learned today may never be used again.

But I hope it is, because it was good. The wind was blowing strongly in the right direction, for a change, and towards the end of the afternoon I was maintaining a steady 3 knots. Ellen Macarthur may not have been impressed, but I was pleased.

A couple of people had sent me advice on rowing techniques: 'row evenly and precisely', 'concentrate on rhythm, technique and form'. Huh, I'd thought. They must be talking about a different Atlantic. Have you seen the size of these waves? I congratulate myself if I manage to get both oars in the water at the same time.

But I tried it anyway, and it did work - sort of. It's a lot easier said than done, but when it actually happens, it does make a useful difference to boat speed.

So by the time I get down into those lovely lovely trade winds (if I ever do - they seem to be a moving target) hopefully I will have the techniques at my disposal to help me make the most of them.

Other stuff:

There has been talk of writing a book about this year's race, covering all the competitors and possibly based on the blogs. Any offers? Maybe a collaboration between Tiny and Andrew V? There's a company that will print self-published books as and when ordered, so it might be feasible to produce a book without needing a book deal or large print run.

Belated Happy Birthday! to Andy O. (And apologies for being a day late.)

Huge congratulations to Julian and Celina on the birth of Barnaby. I hope he takes after both his parents in sheer loveliness. I can't wait to meet the young gentleman when I get back.

Thanks for today's texts: Flemming from Denmark, Malcolm B, Helena S-S (I don't know, what IS pink and hard?!), Guy, David P (I don't think the guy in the photo is your neighbour, unless your neighbour was president of Cambridge CompSoc in 1999), Clarkie Sargent (good to hear from you!) and the regulars.

Rita Savage's PS: Roz and Richard Uttley punting Sedna Solo in Chichester Harbour where it was too narrow to use oars in the accepted way!

Wind: 15-18 kts, ENE
Weather: sun and cloud
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 2
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