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Roz Savage rowing off the coast of Hawaii. Photo: Roz
Roz Savage rowing off the coast of Hawaii. Photo: Roz

Roz Savage Update: Rowing Across the Pacific

We had the pleasure of meeting Roz Savage when she rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2005. Now, at 41, Roz is back with more motivation and determination than ever. She has proven to be not only the ultimate nomad, exploring the world, and an avid adventurer by rowing the Atlantic solo in 2005, she is now taking on the other side of the world, the Pacific Ocean.

On top of completing rowing the oceans, she is making a stand for environmental improvement and hoping that her missions will inspire others to start caring more about the environment.

Roz Savage’s decisions might be controversial, but one thing is for sure, she is making herself happy while trying to improve the world and motivate others.

Roz will be the first solo woman ever to accomplish such a feat as to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean on her 23 foot purpose-built vessel. It’s just her, her boat, and the mysterious ocean, except for electronic communitcation.

Roz has said, “I learned a lot on the Atlantic about how NOT to row an ocean. I finished safely and successfully, but psychologically I gave myself a much tougher time than I needed to. I’ve learned the lessons and I want to put them to the test.” This is her opportunity to challenge herself some more.

Surviving her Missions

Physically surviving surprisingly is not that difficult for Roz while at sea for months at a time. She eats for the most part freeze-dried food, bean sprouts, raw food snacks prepared by her Excalibur dehydrator, and Lara Bars. For her source of water she has a water maker on board that converts saltwater into freshwater.

She also takes 75 liters of fresh water with her onboard in case of emergency and it works as a ballast to help keep the boat upright. And yes, even an amazing woman such as Roz needs sleep, so she sets a rudder to keep the boat on course and leaves a light on in case other ships come in the path while she rests.

Roz Savage rowing her specially-built 24-foot rowboat.
Roz Savage rowing her specially-built 24-foot rowboat.

Roz is an idol to thousands around the world. Sir Steve Redgrave, a quintuple Olympic gold medal winner, said, “Roz has spend and unbelievable 103 days in a 24-foot boat. This is an incredible adventure. I admire her stamina and determination. This must have tested her resources to their limit.”

Mentally Prepared

Mentally, she is a lot more prepared this time. An instant question that pops into my head is- “doesn’t she get scared?” After all, reading about shark attacks from her voyage across the Atlantic, being surrounded by uncertain waters and weather conditions sounds like a scary environment.

She says she is not scared because she has prepared everything she can and there is no point in worrying over what can’t and will not be controlled.

She communicates through satellite phone. With a huge fan network now and the general public being intrigued by Roz’s mission, the satellite phone helps her keep in touch while in the middle of the ocean. She keeps daily blogs and also has a twitter site which she comments on very frequently.

Roz Savage
Roz Savage

She shares her mission with everyone who is interested and uses it as an expressive way to show gratitude for everyone’s support. She has no support boats around her because for her, this trip is important to stay unsupported by others. After all, she's commited to her mission of going solo to show she is happy in her own company and to prove to herself that she can tackle big challenges.

More than Miles to this Mission

Not only is Roz attempting her row across the Pacific for her own personal satisfaction, but she hopes to make an environmental statement and encourage others to preserve the Earth. That is why with every stage of her voyage she has an environmental message.

The mission for the Pacific Ocean consists of three stages. Stage one started in the summer of 2008 and she started rowing from California to Hawaii, a 2,700mile journey that took her 99 days to complete.

Her environmental statement for this voyage: to encourage people to cut back on their usage of disposable plastic bottles, cups, and bags, thereby reducing the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean.

Stage two, which she has recently accomplished, started May 24th 2009. She rowed from Hawaii to the South Pacific island of Tarawa, an astounding 104 days at sea alone, approximately 1,335,834 oar strokes!

Tarawa natives greeting Roz
Tarawa natives greeting Roz.

She mentioned that this stage was very tricky because around the equator there were alternating currents and she was surviving with only 6 hours of sleep in a 48 time span.

Needless to say she was extremely happy to walk on solid ground and see people. She had a very warm welcome in Tarawa, where people happily carried her off her vessel and drenched her with leis.

The environmental goal in this part of the trip is to inspire people to consider their role in rise of C02 levels and consider walking more, driving less.

From Tarawa to Australia

And stage three is still to come, to row from Tarawa to Australia; if successful she will be the first woman to travel solo across the Pacific. Her mission to finish this voyage and be the first woman ever to do so has made her an icon in many senses.

In fact, she is extremely proud to have a partnership with the United Nations Environmental Programme. She is part of the Climate Heroes.

“The climate heroes support a select group who are undertaking exceptional personal feats, high-profile expeditions and other innovative acts of environmental activism," she says, "to demonstrate their commitment and to raise awareness for one simple idea: the planet needs you!”

To her, this is an accomplishment on its own and can also be recognized as a great achievement which Roz really deserves.

Roz in her boat, the Brocade
Roz in her boat, the Brocade

Communicating at Sea

Thanks to technical advances, as Roz takes on her last stage of the trip which she hopes to finish in 2010, anyone, from her greatest fans, to family, to critics, to just a quick over looker can see exactly where Roz has travelled and where she is in the ocean at any point by the “Roz Tracker.” The Roz Tracker allows followers to see her trail, the miles travelled, and her latitude and longitude location.

She also keeps blogs and twitter updates. Her most recent blog described her excitement to have reached Tararu after 104 days. The blogs discuss her struggles, her physical health, her thoughts, the environment she is in and arrives in, how happy she is to be able to take a warm shower.

“My skin is still rough and sunburned,” She wrote. She’ll keep fans posted on how her boat is doing and her team helpers as well. Constant twitter updates can be hourly, with random personal feelings, to boat facts, and even videos.

Her blogs are interactive and conversational. She displays a sense of character more than just the facts about her mission.

She’s not all business in her blogs; she’ll make interactive statements like joking about needing a good dermatologist when she returns. She also makes sure to warn her fans to “bear with me” as she crosses the ocean because her satellite phone might not always work.

She cares about her followers and those she has inspired. She always leaves a huge thank you at the end of her blogs for everyone’s support.

A big wave hits the side of the boat.
Big wave hits the side of the boat.

An Idol still Faces Controversy

However, despite her accomplishments, and her admirable goals, Roz is still a controversial person to some people. Even brief statements Roz makes in her blogs people can pick apart to make them controversial. Yet, at the same time she has adored fans that stand by her and even stand up for her in blogs.

As we know from the previous GoNOMAD article about Roz written by Marina Solovyov, Roz Savage is a British woman, who was married, living the ideal suburban dream she left behind to pursue her dreams to row across the ocean. But even being stuck in the ocean, with broken oars, homeless and divorced she was happier than ever.

People criticized Roz for leaving that life behind to follow her dreams of rowing across the ocean and ultimately making herself happy. The controversy doesn’t end there, for there are still some people who post critical statements on her blog.

As I read her blog, there were many more positive responses than negative, and when anyone made a negative statement Roz supporters came to her defense, saying how proud people were of her. “She is one awesome Brit,” one fan wrote.

The tired yet happy Roz
The tired yet happy Roz

When someone left a comment saying her “ego was getting out of control,” one of her followers had this response:

“May I be the very first person here to have the privilege and honor of saying the obvious: you are behaving like a first class arse… and are the LAST person Roz needs to be following this journey with her! For one, I will be glad to see you find some other person to harass and belittle.”

Roz’s story and blogs are appealing and intriguing, and so are the fans and critics who follow her. There are comical statements like one comment when Roz said she needed to find a good dermatologist. A follower responded, “I do know a good dermatologist: me!”

Ultimately, people want to help Roz and be a part of her mission. I’m sure there are several people who would like to drop everything to pursue their dreams, as Roz did. Most people can't, but they can live that experience through Roz, who took that controversial step into the unknown.

Her goals are not only personal, but global, in making the world a better place. As Roz finalizes her mission of rowing across the Pacific Ocean, one thing is for certain, that she is a great source of inspiration for us all.


Heather Terry


Heather Terry is a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an editorial assistant at GoNOMAD.




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