Rowing for Oxford 1989

Up front, you need to know that, so far, the perfect ocean rowing day exists only in my imagination. However, this is what it might feel like – close your eyes and try and picture this…. (I leave it to you to figure out how to continue reading my blog with your eyes shut 🙂

The ocean is calm, with small rippling waves gently pushing your boat towards your destination. The waves sound a like a babbling brook, gurgling and giggling around the boat’s hull.

The temperature is warm and pleasant, with small puffy cumulus clouds dotting a blue sky, providing occasional moments of welcome shade as they pass across the sun. A soft breeze cools your bare skin, whisking away the perspiration. You have the whole ocean to yourself, with nothing but sea and sky and clear blue space all around you. You have room to think and breathe and just be.

The rowing seat glides smoothly backwards and forwards on its runners, and the oars swivel in the oarlocks as you ply the oars. The boat has acquired its momentum and you’re just pushing it along, each stroke connecting efficiently with the water, the rowing motion easy and fluid, regular as a metronome.

You glance at the GPS and it’s showing a steady rate of progress of 20 knots (okay, that’s just silly. It would be nice, but it’s never going to happen. Let’s keep this realistic. 3-4 knots is good). You watch the miles slowly tick down as you move slowly but surely across the ocean. Your boat is in perfect working order, as is your body, and your mind. You know you can handle whatever the ocean throws at you. You feel happy, confident, and fulfilled.

Okay, now you can wake up. This is a nice fantasy, and may never come 100% true, but today was pretty close. Apart from a slightly wonky wheel on my rowing seat, today was probably as close as I will ever get to ocean rowing nirvana.

Other Stuff:

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. The forecast is for another day of similar conditions. But come the weekend and all hell breaks loose, with adverse winds hollering at 30 knots and pushing me backwards. Lee my weatherman has advised me to batten down the hatches and chuck out the sea anchor. Sigh.

Today I finished listening to Pardonable Lies, a Maisie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. I really, really enjoy these detective stories set in 1930s London. The heroine is immensely likeable, and the plots are well constructed. Then, in a rather radical change of tempo, I started on “Life” by Keith Richards, which starts with him being busted for drugs in Arkansas in the 1970s. It is narrated by Johnny Depp. Need I say more?

A special hello to any of my old OULRC friends who are reading this blog. I was thinking about you today. Natalie – I know you’re there, and thanks for your recent comments. I hope you’re settling in well in Mill Valley and finding some kindred spirits.

And a shout-out to Samudra, who donated some yummy nuts for my voyage. Today I was munching on some Cosmic Love Clusters, and feeling suitably cosmic. And lovely.

Photo: We’ve come a long way… OULRC crew 1988 (I’m in the stroke seat, closest to the camera)

Sponsored Miles:

Our thanks go to David Lewis and Bradley Kehoe.


  • Sounds like a “Perfect Ocean Day” even if not 100% Perfect. Nothing ever is…

    Roz had a perfect day
    She chose to see it that-away
    So wise of her to do this now
    ‘Cause other times will be a row
    Soon she’ll get there either way

  • Roz. Thank you for posting the picture of your “8”. I was Cox on one of those back in 60 and 61 and it was a great time. I read your blog each day and wish you success in this most difficult row.

  • Did you ever meet a saucy Oxford coxswain? (from the play “Somethings A-Foot)
    Glad you had a good day. Taking refuge in comfort food helps almost as much as a hug and where hugs are in short supply we make do with what we have.

  • Hey Roz, stoked you had such an amazing day. You deserve them, may many more find you over the next few months. Matt McFadyen

    • I know, I know, I am MORE shocked than Roz, @Rita:disqus , @UncaDoug:disqus @Pippa:disqus and all the Rozlings… This world is in bad shape if it liked that poem. Row harder Roz – we need all the help we can get back here on Terra Firma…

  • Hope the fair conditions are continuing. We’re still having crazy destructive weather here in the states. It’s the deadliest tornado year since 1953, even despite all of the improved advanced warning and radar we have these days. This year’s tornadoes seem to be hitting a lot of densely populated areas. Maybe it’s just that our population is more dense all over. Still, it seems quite unusual that every few days a huge swath of red on the radar is sweeping across the midwest, lower plains, southeast and eastern U.S.

    We’re moving the newest chicks outdoors this weekend. Wish I could send you a photo. I’ve posted a very small one here showing the chicks all sitting on the seat of a rocking chair on the porch. They like to find places up high where they can all settle together.


    • Chooks are great. We kept Peking Bantams and they were lovely and friendly. Red Chook would even jump up on to my knee and talk to me if I sat down in the yard. Jim Bell (NSW Australia)

  • Natalie – was it you I met at the San Francisco Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race Dinner this year?  Roz – I did meet someone who said they rowed with you at Oxford – and she said that you were a way more dedicated rower.  Dedication pays off!

  • See you’re much better here in the Southern Hemisphere. We always have good weather (tongue in cheek). {Is there an emoticon for that?} Jim Bell (NSW Australia)
    BTW has anybody else experience with cornstarch packaging. I’m wondering if it would be suitable for sushi etc. There sure is a lot of plastic leaving our sushi bars here in NSW.

    • JimBellofBelomont, good question. It seems that the  pseudo plastic made from cornstarch last a very long time, but eventually breaks down in composting heaps. It would be suitable for wrapping sushi-to-go packages. But, I found this which addressed the problem of separating biodegradable from plastic wrapping materials. The most interesting two paragraphs read:

      “Landfill sites aren’t compost heaps – To maximise the benefit of the new bioplastics we’ll have to modify the way we throw away our garbage – to simply substitute new plastics for old won’t be saving space in our landfills.

      “Although there is a popular misconception that biodegradable materials break down in landfill sites, they don’t. Rubbish deposited in landfill is compressed and sealed under tonnes of soil. This minimises oxygen and moisture, which are essential requirements for microbial decomposition. For biodegradable plastics to effectively decompose they need to be treated like compost.”

      • @UncaDoug:disqus I think that last paragraph solves the problem/answers the question. Private Consumers dispose of their cornstarch plastics in the compost piles that they or their communities should have. Makers of Commercial cornstarch plastics texture it differently, add a “watermark” – logo, “CS” – for Cornstarch, or whatever – to their rolls every inch or whatever… Neither of those would cost them a dime over and above the initial expense of the press to make those marks added to the manufacturing equipment cost… I guess BOTH commercial and “private use” could have the same “marks”…

  • Roz, I am so impressed with your fortitude! Will be thinking of you this weekend as you hunker down … and here is a little tribute. 

    Roz rows large in a tiny little place
    While we Roz’ter Roo’ters claim more space
    It’s all mostly mental
    She wishes it were gentle
    Sponsor-A-Mile and be her saving grace

    Row gracefully, Roz

    BTW, I’ve $ponsored many miles far over your horizon.
    A long trail of carrot$$ …

  • Hey Roz, glad to see the conditions have been a lot better the last couple of days. You are modivating me to get back to rowing my slide seat rowing skiff training for some distance rowing down the coast of So Cal. I have a question, do you feather your oars on recovery or just leave them vertical? I don’t have hatchet oars but blades like you have on your boat. I’ve been following you from San Francisco to Hawaii and through to now. Met you for a few minutes at your book signing in Laguna Beach CA. Hope good weather and tides continue for you, I will be follwing your progress daily.

    Jim Ellsworth
    s/v Montgomery 17 Grace
    Heritage 15 rowing skill Spirit

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