The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 69: The Rhythm of Life
07 Feb 2006

Sunset about 5pm Antigua time.

7 Feb, 06 - 20:40

Yesterday's oar trouble was inconvenient, not least because it disrupted my routine, and I've come to treasure my routine like a new best friend.

It took me a long time to settle into the rhythm of life at sea, partly because of the storms-and-sea-anchor stage, when every day brought different circumstances, and partly because being solo it's entirely up to me to set my own schedule, and free choice can be a tricky thing.

I had this notion that there was a 'right' routine waiting to be discovered, so I kept experimenting with 3 hour shifts and 4 hour shifts, catnaps and night shifts, row all day and a full night's sleep, in the hope that one particular pattern would feel easier, more natural, than the others. Eventually I realised that when it comes to routine it doesn't matter what it is - you simply have to define it and stick to it. And that no matter what routine you use, there is no easy way to row an ocean.

So what is my routine?

0430 (Antigua time) Alarm goes off, have breakfast
0445 (0845 GMT) Phone Mum to talk admin, messages, race news, etc
0500-0800 Rowing shift #1
Break and nap
0900-1200 Rowing shift #2
Break and nap
1300-1600 Rowing shift #3
Break and post dispatch
1700-2000 Rowing shift #4
2030 Bedtime - bliss!

I also take a 10 minute mini-break in every hour. During my breaks I write up the ship's log, have a snack, tend to my sprouting seeds, work on my dispatch, pick up text messages, have a sponge bath, etc.

It works for me. I've discovered the hard way that when there's a huge task to be done, like rowing 3000 miles, the least painful way to do it is set up a routine and stick to it... weather and oars permitting.

Other stuff:

The going/rowing continues to be heavy in an adverse swell and unhelpful NE wind. These conditions are due to last until Friday at least... Oh sweet water, where art thou?

Other stuff:

Congratulations to Chris Martin on his arrival in Antigua. He went through so much to get there - a thoroughly deserved success, and I hope he's now enjoying a few celebratory drinkies ashore.

A couple of texters have strongly encouraged me to get replacement oars. I appreciate your concern, but realistically, the oars wouldn't get to me for about 2 weeks (unless the support yacht already has some on board, and I don't think it does), and if I've managed for that long with these ones, I may as well carry on...

Thanks for texts and messages from Pauline Appleby (thanks for drinks money awaiting me in Antigua!), Caroline Haines, John T (Mum will video Cracknell/Fogle programme for me), Brian, Jo Allen (hi to Furnivall RC!), James Oglethorpe (lovely message, and joke made me smile!), DB (I dreamed about flapjacks last night - sad but true! And your mother's ARE the best), HSS (my boat is completely different construction from Chris's, so unfortunately bed slat splints not an option), Di Hewlett, Jane Bond, Tom Kucharski in Poland.

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

Wind: NE, about 15 knots (estimate)
Weather: cloudy morning, sunshine and clouds later
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12
Lyric of the day: Any way the wind blows
/ Doesn't really matter to me (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Atlantic Row Part 3
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Day 67: Black Monday
06 Feb 2006

6 Feb, 06 - 21:34

I knew today was going to be tough, and it has lived up to expectations.

With the conflicting influences of the eddy, the wind and the swell, waves have been coming at me from all directions and the going has been heavy - less like rowing, more like weightlifting. I usually rate about 20 strokes per minute, but today it has been 16, and my usual speed of around 2 knots has been down to a disheartening 1 knot.

And, worse still, I broke an oar. Again. Not really surprising, in these rough conditions. Sikaflexed-Spoon, which had been the only oar with loom intact, has loom intact no more. A sideswiping wave broke it just below the collar. I've got the routine down pat now - out with the hacksaw, out with the duck tape. Chop another chunk off the sacrificial oar and tape it up.

I thought that would do the trick, but it wasn't enough. A few hours later, another big wave, and the oar cracked again. Visions of waiting a week for a support yacht to bring replacements flashed across my mind's eye. And it would mean losing my unsupported status. I wasn't ready to give up yet.

But what to use as a splint? Both sections of the boathook were already in service, and I needed something strong and at least a foot long.

There was an option I'd considered previously - the axles from my spare rowing seat - but I hadn't been able to figure out how to dismantle it. I tried again, but even after calling boatbuilder Richard Uttley for advice I still l couldn't manage it. So out came the hacksaw again, and after some energetic sawing I had my splints.

But this repair has used up the last of my duck tape - I started out with 3 rolls of it. And still many miles to go.

What will come to an end first - my Atlantic row, my mending materials, or my baby wipes?

Texts: thanks for messages from George from Atlantic4 (great to hear from you! Well done on a great row), Caroline Haines (get rid of the TV and don't read the papers - it helps!), Tim Ratbag, John T (sorry, I don't get the clue), Margaret and Bob, James Oglethorpe, Clarkie, Jeff, DB.

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

Wind: E, about 15 knots (estimate)Weather: sunshine and clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 3
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Day 66: He who would an ocean rower be
05 Feb 2006

5 Feb, 06 - 20:54

Some texters have said they are envious of me. Why?! It's not exactly a barrel of laughs out here.

But I know what they mean - there was a time when I was envious of people like me too. I was living in London, doing a job that didn't seem in tune with my values or my abilities, but I thought I needed a certain level of income and this job was the only way I could see of achieving it. I felt trapped. I would sometimes escape by reading books about mountaineers, polar trekkers and other adventurers. And yes, I would envy them.

It was this envy that gave me a clue my life wasn't going the way I wanted it to. One day I did an interesting exercise - I wrote two versions of my obituary - the one I was heading for if I carried on as I was, and the one I really wanted. The contrast was startling.

It still took another 3 or 4 years of gradual changes before the two obituaries started to converge, but I'm getting there.

The first thing is to figure out what it is that you're envying. If you envy me, is it because you actually want to row an ocean? Or is it the freedom? The adventure? The personal challenge? The opportunity to get fit and healthy? Or is it just that the grass is greener, and you simply want an escape from your current lifestyle?

And if you want to do something about it, what's stopping you? If you really, really, really wanted to do something about it, would you let anything stop you?

As George Eliot said, 'It's never too late to be what you might have been'.

Here's a little ditty I made up while I was rowing today...

As I row across the sea
I'm very happy to be me
Life is simple, life is free
Oh what better way to be!

There are many ways to live your life
Some are easy, some may bring strife
But please don't say, when you are through
'There's still so much I wanted to do'

Other stuff:

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

The latest on the eddy/swell dilemma - it was a tough call, but I decided to try and get further north (or at least, not go any further south) before the northerly swell kicks in tomorrow. This means I'm dicing with the worst of the eddy. It also means heavy, heavy going. I've worn out a pair of rowing gloves in record time. The next 2 or 3 days will show whether or not I made the right decision.

Note for Sean Chapple re my ExplorersWeb Contact 3 setup:

I've found it great. It's very basic software, but it works - which is all I want!


1. Do as Tom suggests and prepare your dispatch using Pocket Word. If you have to reset your iPaq (which I have to do quite regularly) you will lose your dispatch if you've done it straight into Contact 3.

2. Look after the kit carefully, especially the HET cable. Mine got damp and didn't like it. But it did recover after a few days.

3. I initially had a problem with the iPaq going into sleep mode in mid-upload. Set the auto-sleep to max (5 mins). If you're uploading photos it may take longer than 5 mins, so touch the screen from time to time to stop it going to sleep.

4. If at first the Iridium link doesn't work, keep trying. I quite often get errors, but it usually works eventually, and sometimes even at the first attempt! Remember, technology knows when you're in a hurry... allow enough time to do your dispatch, and all will be well...

Texts: thanks for the messages from HSS, John T (Chicago? Or Boston? Sorry - not ready to give you a clue as to my project. Still need to check feasibility, and research opportunities rather limited at the moment!), Caroline Haines, Margaret and Bob, Sandi (nice idea about listing my favourite nursery rhymes, but it's far too long since I was a child and I can't remember any!), Brian (thanks for letting me know re Shaolin monks - they were awesome!)

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

Wind: E, about 15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 3
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Day 66: Tiny Little and Eddy Large
04 Feb 2006

The wind may be causing me problems, but it does
have its uses - fast-drying laundry.

4 Feb, 06 - 21:04

Tiny tipped me off that there was an eddy waiting to ambush me - a 100-mile-diameter clockwise current centred on 16.8°N 44.8°W. It was a dilemma - head south to get the favourable current south of its centre, but then risk problems getting north again to Antigua, or carry on at the same latitude slogging away against the current. The word from Norwich was to head south. So this morning I diverted to the SW, in the hope that the eddy would slingshot me out the other side in the general direction of Antigua.

But then... I got an email from my new weatherman. (My weather info was previously coming from Adrian Flanagan, who is sailing solo around the world via the Poles, but he's currently otherwise engaged negotiating Cape Horn or some other lame excuse...). Ricardo advised me that there's a massive low in the far
North Atlantic that will bring a NW swell 7-15ft as far south as where I am, from Monday until at least Tuesday morning. This will stop me in my westerly tracks, and the best strategy would be to head NW now to gain as much latitude as possible before the swell hits.

So in summary, Monday looks like this: swell pushing me SE, wind pushing me SW, eddy pushing me NW, and all I want to do is go W.

Life is complicated. And apparently another eddy lies ahead - a more complex one. As tricky as negotiating the Hemel Hempstead roundabouts... But Ricardo assures me that any day now everything will line up and I'll be on the fast track to Antigua. Oh, yes, please!

Rita Savage’s PS: Help! She’s going too fast! I can’t keep up with the sponsored miles.
1721 Cliff Butters; 1746 Sebastian Pearey; 1750, 1751 Julian and Celina Hamm; 1760 Nicholas Mardon Taylor. Thanks to all. Pause for breath before she gets into the 1800s.

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

Wind: E, about 15 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

Atlantic Row Part 3
| | More



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