Roz Savage Successfully Crosses Indian Ocean and Announces, “I Quit!”
I was not too surprised when the first words out of ocean rower Roz Savage’s mouth this week when she set foot on land for the first time in five months was, “Never again!”
She left from the west coast of Australia on the first of May, and, 4,000 miles later, stepped ashore on the tiny island of Mauritius. Her route had been kept a secret during most of the journey for concerns about potential wandering pirates, but to-date no African pirates have traveled that far south for booty.
Safe from pirates, she was clearly wracked mentally and physically by the challenges of daily rowing and being confined to a 23-foot-by-six-foot rowboat for more than 150 days. “The rowing is almost a means to an end,” she told CNET when she arrived. “It’s certainly not something I love for its own sake. I find it very challenging. So it really is about the blogging and the tweeting, and trying to create an appreciation of the oceans.” Her mother and expedition-organizer, Rita, greeted her on the dock in Grand Baie.
Having successfully rowed across portions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, Roz had talked about completing her ’round-the-world journey, begun in 2005, by rowing west-to-east across the Atlantic in time to join the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London.
Apparently, these recent months strapped into her hard seat, eating mostly brown and green mush, have cured her (at least for now) of future rowing attempts. Even before she hit land, in her blog she formally announced that she was “retired.”
…occasionally, a faint fear that this ocean really would go on forever and I would never make landfall. But I survived, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“I want to get more ‘hands-on’ with my campaigning,” she said, which will include books and films and presentations about her experiences. Admittedly being out in the middle of the sea makes it hard to accomplish those kind of goals; but, as the great painter of paradise Gauguin was told by his Paris-based agent, if you’re not out there, your value lessens. So it will be interesting to see the ups and downs Roz’s future adventuring takes.
Seemingly physically healthy, she admitted her craft, the Sedna, had taken a pretty bad beating. “Not a single piece of electronic equipment is fully functional. Even the electrical system itself is working courtesy only of a few inches of electrical tape and a rhino clip.”
In the quiet days before hitting land, Roz made up a list of her own highlights and lowlights, which she dubbed “Roz’s Effing Guide to Eat-Pray-Row.” Some highlights:
Within the first few days, in rough weather off the coast of Western Australia, it became apparent that my brand-new locker hatches lacked one vital feature —keeping water out. Maybe that cost extra. Concerned that my watermaker would not respond well to being flooded, I decided to pull in at Geraldton for pre-emptive work to relocate the watermaker pump. Unfortunately, I picked a holiday weekend, and it must have been a slow one for news, because it all turned into a big hullaballoo, which was most embarrassing.
Early in the row, we had a craze for limericks. Never before has the English language been so misused in the search for rhymes, and the less said about some of them, the better. However, some of them were quite good. My favorite came from Joan Sherwood in Atlanta:
There was a young rower named Roz
Whose oars were quite rough on her paws
But she pulled on tenaciously
And thanked sponsors quite graciously
After all it was for a great cause.
I also have to thank Joan for proposing that readers send in their jokes to keep my spirits up. The response was incredible!
Eating alone at sea is a wonderful excuse for “kiddy cooking”—taking
various yummy things and mixing them together into unlikely combinations that I would never consider eating in polite company. I had an additional excuse on this voyage, as it became evident early on that the voyage would take longer than was expected, and I might run low on food. So I had to make sure that every calorie on board was put to good use. A last-minute sponsorship had put 12 tins of Red Feather canned butter in the store cupboard, so just about everything got slathered in butter.
Two of my best creations were Cococompote (aka Roz’s Purple Wonder Breakfast and Chocobutter (Wilderness Family Naturals hot chocolate + butter + salt). Other favorites were Karen Morss’s Lemon Ladies marmalade and plum jam, Samudra nuts (especially the Cosmic Love Clusters) and the “mock turkey” and “pizza base” rawfood crackers made especially for me by ROAR Foods. And, of course, I couldn’t cross an ocean without my trusty Larabars and bean sprouts.
Five Favorite Audiobooks
Man’s Search For Meaning (Viktor Frankl) —deep, meaningful, and inspiring
Change of Heart (Jodi Picoult)—thought-provoking fiction about the things we choose to believe
The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)—an autobiographical insight into South Africa, hard-hitting yet funny
Straight Man (Richard Russo)— laugh out loud hilarious, great characters
All of the Maisie Dobbs books (Jacqueline Winspear) —wonderful detective stories set in 1930s London
I hate to think of anything as a failure. Provided you learn something from it, it’s a success, right? But it started with an “f.” Or I suppose we could call this section “F***-ups”, but that’s a bit rude.
Even after the pit-stop in the Abrolhos, the electrical system was an ongoing source of stress. A control unit had developed a fault that required frequent attention, until it eventually failed completely. I overcame my fear of all things electrical, performed a triple bypass surgery on the unit, and had no further problems.
Other casualties included two tracking units, several iPods, 3 sets of
ear buds, and a GPS chart plotter. A capsize in high seas towards the end
of the voyage did me no favors, breaking two oars, two antennae (VHF
radio and Sea-Me radar enhancer) and shattering my wash bucket.
Yes, I’ve been afraid—numerous times. Flinching at the sound of onrushing waves, wondering if they are going to capsize the boat. Afraid that the electrical system would fail completely, disabling the electrical watermaker and forcing me back onto the manual version. And, occasionally, a faint fear that this ocean really would go on forever and I would never make landfall. But I survived, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
(For the rest of my dispatches go to TakePart.com)