moon to be back on dry land, surrounded by friends and wellwishers –
and, of course, my dear mother. I have just become the first woman to
row across the “Big Three” oceans of the world – the Atlantic, Pacific,
I’d like to thank all my blog readers for your unwavering support over
the course of this very, very long final voyage. You have been a source
of tremendous inspiration, encouragement, information and amusement. I
hope that you were able to participate in at least part of my final
countdown to landfall, no matter what time zone you are in, and that you feel a vicarious pride in my achievement. We’ve been through a lot
together – the highs and lows, capsizes and pratfalls, triumphs and
To mark this momentous occasion, I’ve put together a summary of the
highlights – and lowlights – of Eat-Pray-Row, my solo crossing of the
Indian Ocean. As I started writing it, I found that almost all of my
notable moments started with an F. So here we have it – Roz’s Effing
Guide to Eat-Pray-Row.
It was 14th April when I first set out from Fremantle. Col Leonhardt
produced a wonderful video to mark the occasion. I had hoped to row nonstop from there to Mauritius. Little did I know….
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.
But thanks to a magnificent display of Aussie kindness, hospitality and “mateship” the problems were quickly addressed and I was once again on my way, only to discover two days later that my solar panels were not charging my batteries. No sooner had I made this discovery than I came on deck and saw a sliver of golden sand on the horizon. Neptune had very kindly flung the Abrolhos Islands exactly the right distance out into the ocean. Glenn, the Geraldton electrician, flew out to the tiny airstrip, located the problem, identified a workaround, and once again I was on my way.
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 favourite 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 storecupboard, 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 favourites 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 specially for me by ROAR Foods. And, of course, I couldn’t cross an ocean without my trusty Larabars and beansprouts.
Five Favourite 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
One of my abiding memories of the Indian Ocean will be the companionship of the “chaps downstairs”, especially the dorados. A growing community gathered beneath my hull, until there were about 7 regulars and a school of another twenty or so who dropped in from time to time. They were a constant source of entertainment, with their acrobatic leaps and resounding bellyflops. As time wore on, they became increasingly bold, flicking water at me with their tails, and banging the bottom of the boat with their bodies when they thought it was time I got a move on.
Things would get really lively when the yellowfin tuna came by. A hundred or more of them would school around my boat, occasionally making the surface of the water seethe with activity. Throw a couple of dorados into the mix, and it could turn into an absolute frenzy.
In the absence of human contact, or even a smiley volleyball a la Castaway, the fish became my new best friends.
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 pitstop 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
earbuds, and a GPS chartplotter. A capsize in high seas towards the end
of the voyage did me no favours, breaking two oars, two antennae (VHF
radio and Sea-Me radar enhancer) and shattering my washbucket.
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.
I was concerned that my more abstract musings might not be to
everybody’s taste, so I proposed confining my philosophical blogs to
Fridays. Gradually they became the highlight of my blogging week, at
least as far as I was concerned and, I think, for many of my readers
too. I really enjoyed reading the feedback in the comments, and your
input fueled many a happy afternoon’s ponderings on the ocean.
If you enjoyed our Philosophy Fridays, you might enjoy revisiting some
of these blogs:
I have often felt the force of friendship this year – from the friends old and new in Australia, the old faithfuls on the blog, and the newcomers who have brought a fresh perspective. I hope that, even though I am now hanging up my oars, we will stay in touch, and that many more of you will become face-to-face friends as well as blog and Facebook friends.
Okay, maybe I’m starting to strain the F-theme a bit now. But I couldn’t
post a whole blog with no mention of my current environmental cause –
banning theplastic bag. We are still waiting with baited breath to hear the news from London. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything. Meanwhile, please keep refusing, reducing, reusing, repurposing and recycling your plastics – and we WILL save the world from the plastic peril, one bag or one city-wide ban at a time.
Special thank yous to “Team Roz” – Mum, June, Vic, Doug, Sandra, Aimee, Aenor, Lee,
and Tom. Also to sponsors, supporters, sponsor-a-milers, and of course
all my wonderful Rozlings. I would also like to make a special mention
of Timothy Ray, my young friend who died unexpectedly soon after the start of my row . Thank you, Tim for being such an inspiration. I hope you would have been proud of me this year.
I was especially touched by the amazing response to our “Send Rita To See Roz” appeal. I had been a bit nervous about asking for your support once again after so many of you had generously sponsored miles through the Nomaddica page, but I should never have doubted you.
We reached our target in double-quick time, and it was wonderful to hear that my mother had been able to book her flights to Mauritius – a
wonderful treat for her, especially after having spent so much of the
summer in a cast after breaking her leg.
I will be sending out individual thank you emails to all my sponsors
just as soon as I can. Please be patient with me – I have a lot to be
grateful for, and a lot of people to be grateful to!
And finally, a respectful nod and a prayer to Neptune, for being so kind
as to allow me to cross the Indian Ocean. I will now stop bugging him
with requests to rearrange the weather especially for my benefit.
I certainly won’t be resting on my laurels – well, maybe for a few days,
but then I’ll be once more back in action. I have lots of plans for the
next chapter of my life, including another two books (one environmental,
based on the Pacific row, and one based on the Hopi Elders guidelines
for self-reliance), a film about the Pacific row, and creating a
foundation to support the next generation of changemakers. Meanwhile, I will be making a number of public and semi-public appearances, and it
would be great to see you at any of the following. I am especially
excited about the Himalaya trip!
San Francisco: I will be in the city for a week later this month and we will be having an informal celebration at the Dolphin Club on Jefferson Street. I hope that all my friends in the Bay Area will be able to come and join us. Please watch this website for details and/or RSVP to Jay Gosuico,at email@example.com
Edinburgh: for any old Univ-ites in Scotland, I will be attending the
Univ dinner in Edinburgh on 22nd October (private event, by invitation
London: I will be attending the Ocean Rowing Society Dinner at the RAC
Club on 29th October.
USA: I will once again be speaking as part of the National Geographic
Live series next February:
7th and 8th Feb: Phoenix, Arizona
20th Feb: Dallas
We are in the process of putting together further speaking dates in the
US – details to follow.
Himalayas: in October/November 2012 I will be escorting an expedition to
the Himalayas for World Expeditions. The 25-day Everest High Passes trip
takes in base camp, the tough but rewarding viewpoint of Kala Pattar and 3 alpine passes above 5000m along the way. 10% of the cost of each participant will go to an environmental charity of my choice.
Meanwhile, if you’re missing me already (?!) you can get a Roz-fix by
readingRowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean (See all Memoirs) my book , watching my Atlantic film (downloadable) – or by continuing to check in at this website. I will be blogging from time to time with news about events, speaking engagements, and hopefully the success of our plastic bag campaign. And who knows, I may even throw in the occasional Philosophy Friday for good measure.
But right now, my immediate future consists of heading to my hotel room for a shower, and later a slap-up meal.