Dictated by Roz at 19.48 local time on May 17th and transcribed by her mother Rita Savage.

Position: -06.57845  154 30750

I don’t suppose I can put it off any longer. It is confession time, and please before you are tempted to wag your finger at me, bear in mind that I didn’t have to tell you this. I could have kept it quiet, and you would have been none the wiser. So please resist the urge to tell me what I already know, that I shouldn’t have done it.

Some of you have already guessed it, more or less. It made me laugh out loud that someone wondered if I had accidentally stepped on Alf. That would have been very funny, but not to Alf.

No, it was the other thing. I nearly got separated from my boat.

It was a couple of days ago and I had improvised a sun awning involving a boat hook as a prop. Normally everything on deck is attached with lanyards but not on this occasion. Suddenly the boathook slipped from its mounting and dropped overboard. My first instinct was to go after it, just as I had gone after the electric kettle.

By the time I had removed sunhat, rowing gloves, ipod earplugs and sunglasses, the boathook was starting to look a bit distant but I couldn’t bear to leave it littering the ocean so in I went. Even as I was swimming towards the boathook I remember looking back at the boat and feeling uncomfortable about the distance growing between me and it.

I got to the boathook and started making my way back towards the boat, but swimming with a boathook in hand is not appreciably easier than swimming with the kettle. I didn’t seem to be making any headway at all. After a few minutes I realised I couldn’t possibly make it if I held onto the boat hook. It made me think of the monkey trap were the monkey puts his hand inside the jar to grab the food, his fist then too big to pull it back out of the jar. While he refuses to let go of the food, he is trapped. If I refused to let go of the boathook, I was doomed.

So, reluctantly I abandoned it. But even without it I struggled to narrow the distance between me and my fast-drifting boat. I am not a speedy swimmer, I can stay afloat for ages but sprinting is not my style. But now I needed to sprint. My life depended on it.

I could feel myself starting to tire. My fingers already tired from rowing weren’t strong enough to pull through the water effectively. I felt like I was going nowhere. The boat didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

But what choice did I have? I struggled onwards feeling my heart pounding though from exertion or panic, I couldn’t tell. At last the boat began to get perceptively closer and it was with a huge sense of relief that my outstretched fingers finally grasped the black rope of the grabline. I had probably been in the water no more than fifteen minutes but it had been the longest fifteen minutes of my life, and almost the last fifteen minutes of it.

As I collapsed onto the deck I felt really stupid. Of all the things I said I would never do, this was the most obvious. DON’T LEAVE THE BOAT! And to be sure, I never will again. If I have been in danger of being complacent or blasé, this was the wake-up call that I needed.

It made me ponder that in the context of expeditions nature rarely kills, it is much more likely to be human error, a poor choice of equipment, underestimating the conditions, or an error of judgment. Gott, Franklin, Mallory were all in very hostile environments but environments in which others have survived. It only takes one pivotal mistake to make the difference between life and death.

There is a quote: “A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice.“ And I have to agree. I scared myself silly but the lesson has been well learned. From now on, no matter what goes overboard, I don’t.

Other Stuff: Rowing? I don’t want to talk about it. Today the wind rose from the south west to the extent that I have had to put out the sea anchor. I wouldn’t say that it is helping much, but there was no better alternative. For the last few hours a persistent thunder storm has been rolling around the skies and I have long since ceased to be impressed by the pyrotechnics and tonight finds me confined to the cabin, damp, bored and distinctly grumpy.

Roz’s Ebay Store:

LED Bulbs.

You can bid on an autographed picture of Roz Savage on her boat (The Brocade). Roz Savage is the sixth woman who has rowed solo 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, and aims to be the first to row all the way across the Pacific. This is the 3rd auction of the 5 autographed pictures that were available. The dimension of the picture is 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The 4th auction will  happen shortly before Roz reaches her final destination. The 5th auction will happen after Roz reaches land.  You can find the auction in the Roz Savage Items section or by following this link: http://stores.ebay.com/Roz-Savage-Ocean-Rower?_rdc=1

Sale! Reduction! The price of the Roz Savage Organic T-shirts has been slashed by 31%! Now selling at $19.99 each.

LED products, especially the LED bulbs – find them under the Eco-Friendly Items.

Please remember the request from Blue Frontier Campaign to vote EVERY DAY for Roz and Margo: http://pep.si/9ZMuai
Also vote for our coalition partner Project Kaisei to help remove tons of floating plastic debris in our Ocean! Vote here: http://pep.si/alxXp

59 Comments

  • Imagine how I felt typing this! Felt quite sick, actually. My worst nightmare come true – the boat being found drifting, abandoned – and Roz knows this! Rita.

  • We all have those ‘oh shit’ moments in our lives when we end up doing things that are unwise, bordering on, and even crossing over into the realm of stupid decision. The majority of us survive them. Glad that you did too!

    Perhaps keeping a safety rope tied to the boat and coiled up safe out of the way for any emergency water excursions might be a good idea? If you do ever face to prospect of having to go into that water, grab the end of the rope and jump. At least you will still be attached to the boat and can pull yourself back instead of having to swim?

  • Oh Roz, OH! ROZ! AND as a dad, Rita, I felt your pain! (Rita, she said don’t scold her, so lets just “ground” her as soon as she lands at the finish and don’t let her have a beer for 1 whole day!) 🙂
    See why I keep praying for you? You can’t walk on water yet! Hey warrior, Stay safe FOR US WORRIERS! Roger Finch

  • It’s reassuring that even someone as experienced and knowledgeable as Roz can make such a basic, what-was-she-thinking mistake. Makes me feel a whole lot better about what I did last Tuesday.

  • Rita, as a parent myself, I think I can safely say that you may have the hardest part in this row: waiting. Hang in there. We’re all with you.

  • Pheweeee! Very scary and, as you say, entirely avoidable. I am all the more appreciative of your ongoing presence!

  • I am with James. Unless it is really flat calm, I can’t for the life of me think why jump in when the really obvious thing to do is to just row back or round to it.

  • Do take care of yourself! Although I have to admit that going in after a tea kettle seems to me to be a noble and appropriate way for a Brit to die. The next time you are in Boston, I will take you to tea. It’s the least I can do as a fellow tea lover.

  • Gosh! Whosoever said “stay in the boat” in your podcast…sounds that it wasn’t just a human request…

  • I can see why you were hesitant to share that, Roz. I’ve been selective about who I share my “lesson-learned” accidents with, too. In case anyone else needs to know, here they are: do not ride slowly across wet railroad tracks on a bike (slipped sideways out from under me — nasty hip bruise but otherwise okay); and watch out closely for loose sand/gravel on turns when you’re riding a scooter or motorcycle (that one got me an incomplete break in my ankle and a lot of bruising earlier this year, but I did walk/limp away — it also got me 12 weeks in an air cast). That last one also made me very appreciative of the protective gear that saved my elbows, shoulder and head.

    I’m so glad you’re safe, Roz. Rita, I would give you a big hug if I could.

  • James and David, what you suggest about rowing after the boathook is probably easier said than done. Those rowing boats are about the least manoeuverable craft imaginable. The rate that the boat and the hook were being driven apart shows that the current may well have taken them even further apart whilst trying to turn towards the hook – and then impossible to get back again to the former position. Rita.

  • As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. So glad you learned this lesson for once and all. Even more glad you are safe on the boat and headed into the final stretch. Thinking of you everyday and sending strong wishes and thoughts your way for a quick journey.

  • Hi Roz,
    Row, row, row your boat and that’s all, no more water antics OK? We’re so glad you’re safe and back on board. Stay safe, fair winds and calm seas.
    Kenny and Marilyn

  • Morning Roz,
    Thank you for sharing your tough day at the office story. It has been my life time relief and belief. Very thankful (from a humor prospective)- that objects, animals and boats cannot TALK human. What would they say when our backs are turned? Ha ha . Picture it, blogs, songs, art work and books full of “what humans have done” through the eyes and ears of the objects, nature and animals around us? Yikes!
    On the flip side. Once we acknowledged our destructive habits and finished our tears over past / present deeds. What a fast track to a wholesome and healthy life we all could live. Not on the planet but with the planet. Even with the eye drops of present knowledge of human effect on the planet. Fear of the unknown stops individuals and industry from changing course. Thank you to the many strong willed folks-worldwide, leading and sharing their knowledge with the rest of us. Large and small actions that inspire us to live our lives differently.
    Daily environmental actions are likely similar to rowing an ocean. Some days go better than others.
    Will Roz be editing Alf’s first book? “Oars of change”, my life as an ocean stow-a-way.”My captain’s private thoughts that almost landed in the log book”. Fact or fiction?
    Words for the day: inalienable (in-Ay-lee-a-buhl)- incapable of being taken away.
    Phlegmatic: (fleg-MAT-ic)- having a calm, unexcitable temperament.
    Quotes for the day:
    And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Erica Jong
    The first duty of a human being is to assume the right relationship to society- more briefly, to find your real job, and do it. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Don’t wait for your “ship to come in,” and feel angry and cheated when it doesn’t. Get going with something small. Irene Kassorla
    Fortunate is the man who knows as much about himself as some woman thinks she knows about him.
    If you want to get somewhere, you must let yourself go.
    Be safe Captain Savage. Thank you for sending and receiving, smiles and warmth across the miles.
    bill

  • I think I said trail a saftey line when in the water. You can live it down with us. Never with yourself. It just be one of those reminders we have to deal with in life. Hang in thre Roz, almost done.
    walt@noaa

  • “Adventure” finished but stories over a beer only just starting! You can dine out on this one for weeks. Good to see you’ll be able to tell the story. Best wishes from the east coast of Australia, even if you’re not coming this time. (P.S. Rita… is Port Moresby a possibility if the winds are going to push Roz South?) Jim Bell Australia

  • I think this serious lapse in judgement is a symptom of something bigger. I thought going after the kettle was a very big flag, and now this, it’s a GIANT flag. My bet it’s chronic, severe dehydration, combined with insomnia that is compromising her brain’s functions. I can’t imagine the horror she must have felt, and the horror Rita must have felt. Rita… I gotta hand it to you, I would have called in rescue, even if Roz would hate me forever. Nothing is worth this. Nothing. Think about it.

  • Birdie, you might be onto to something here with the dehydration.
    Rita, may I suggest that you suggest to Roz that she keeps a written log of water consumption? Also a review of her calorie, mineral, vitamin and protein intake may be in order.

  • Roz,

    Allow me to throw just a bit more salt on the wound. Yes, some expeditions fail due to a major judgment error. But plenty also fail due to a minor judgment error (sometimes very minor) followed by further minor judgment errors. So your safety margin isn’t really that big. You must be mindful about everything you’re doing because one of the biggest dangers is doing the same damn thing over and over again. Every day is the same, and yet every day is different.

    TAKE CARE,

    -Eric

    P.S. And after tomorrow stop kicking yourself – it’s good for a while but it gets your mind of more important things.

  • Roz,

    This is me, David, giving you that look.
    And you know the one.

    Please just be careful.

    I am NOT shaking my finger at you because I did something very similar to that.

    On the lighter, side… Are spiders hermaphroditic? You may have more visitors if conditions are right.

    You are doing great. Just keep it up.
    David. 😉

  • ROZ!!! What a close call! I really can’t imagine anything worse. Thanks for sharing and reminding us all how easily a tiny error in judgement can turn fatal. How about a tether? Then you could take swims whenever you wish. Hang in there! And stay safe for chrissakes!

  • I’m wondering, along with Walt, why not lanyard yourself to the boat? Use something akin to the leashes surfers use, if a bit longer?

  • We second the ‘phew’ Glad you are okay. And, Roz, it’s an act of courage to share your humanness (something you showed in your amazing book too). As someone else said just learn from this and stop kicking yourself. Regrets are useless. You’re AMAZING!!!

  • Thanks to the many Rozlings for the comments – I knew it would happen . . . . you are all so caring. Jerry, Roz’s doctor calls herself the pee-police as she is always reminding Roz to keep hydrated. Jim, whether Port Moresby is likely as a land place just remains to be see. If Roz can hit that current going north west she could yet reach Madang. Colin, Roz know all about lanyards and harnesses; has made promises and not kept them. At least I can see that she was wearing her harness in the video clip from her Atlantic voyage when she had to crawl across the fore-cabin roof. It can just be seen in the video clips. As for kicking herself, I think her butt is sore enough without inflicting further damage! Thanks guys for keeping up with her adventures. Rita.

  • Like some others I had guessed what your confession was about. The first thing to come to mind was the scene in the movie Cast Away where “Wilson” was drifting away and Tom Hanks tried to go after it. Just the picture of how small and far away the raft looked with your eyes at sea level made me fear for you.
    Can’t you just use a rope? Maybe some kind of harness that you can quickly slip on before diving in? Whatever, please be safe.

    Paul

  • Wow, thinking about what could have happened while reading this, my eyes actually welled up a little there. Things will fall overboard and get lost. It happens to all ocean rowers. There’s only one thing on board that truly matters and to stay with the boat. Thankfully she lives to row another day. Wow.

  • What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Truer words have never been spoken. Very relieved that you made it through that experience Roz. Keep up the good work.

  • My dear Rita – as parent my mind was flying thinking about you having to transcribe this misadventure.

    Dear Roz – Thank you for sharing this – I am sure that it was not easy. We are all comforted that that you are able to tell us the tale but please no “re-runs”.

  • Well … when I read this early this morning, my pulse was racing — my worst imaginable fear! Now my pulse is normal, having spent two and a half hours in the dentist’s chair … But, my mind goes back to that image of Brocade being blown steadily away … glad you were able to sprint. I agree with Joan: I’ve been selective about who I share my “lesson-learned” accidents with, too. But as we get older, we realize that sharing our stupid mistakes may save others the trouble. Acting on impulse, unthinking, is part of the “human condition.” I have done it countless times, some more precarious and life threatening and some more benign. It is amazing our species survives … thankfully we do.

    Happy Rowing, Roz!
    Relish every moment

    P.S. Now that you have crossed 06 00S and found all of the carrot$ sprinkled every minute [of latitude], I have decided to switch to GreenDeed$ … so beginning today, be on the lookout every minute [of latitude] for GreenDeed$ … they are worth one buck a piece. Every minute from 06 00S to 07 00S

  • Wow, Roz, the lessons we learn! I’m glad you’re safe, wiser, and brave enough to talk about it.

    The burning question is – if you toss _yourself_ out of the boat, are you flotsam or jetsam?

    All the best,
    Andy Warner

  • Rita, I know Roz started voluntarily leaving the boat for non-emergency reasons without a tether or harness back in the first stage of the Pacific row, she did it all through the second stage, and now she has become a normal event in the third stage, and then we have this happen. Do you have any idea why she broke her promises to keep tethered?

    aside: for those of you who don’t know the ocean; drifting and currents are the real danger of being separated from your boat, on the ocean, it can be a completely calm day, and you have no sense of the strength of the current that is pulling you along at a great speed. The mass and weight of her boat would cause it to drift faster than her. And, Roz is fully aware of this, more than me, that’s for sure.

    Another thing that is a GIANT flag, is when she was separated from her boat, she realizes the danger she’s in, and is STILL holding onto that hook and thinking about keeping her hold on it! That is SERIOUS, serious, lack of reasoning. From now on, she is a serious threat to herself, and I think she should be hauled back to land, to hell with the record! She isn’t going to make it at this point of her mental state. I can tell you, she will not be hauled out willingly.

    I think she has lost the right to make this decision by #1. leaving the boat at all, #2. not tethering herself to the boat even tho assuring others that she will be doing that, #3. Admittedly, “without giving it a thought”, going after a kettle because she doesn’t want to litter, and now #4. Going after some more litter, this time a metal hook, without thinking and BECOMING SEPARATED FROM THE BOAT. God knows what else is going on that she doesn’t tell anyone.

  • Birdie; I don’t know how well you know Roz but I can assure you that she will have learned her lesson. As I implied above, familiarity often leads to errors that seem rational at the time but rapidly become lessons that are never forgotten. She will always be tethered in the future!

  • I told you to stay in the damn boat! You are quite important and to lose you would be the very worst. OK, you have crossed the pacific ocean, beach that scow and get along with the next part.

    Tomas

  • Sorry for the lesson, and sorry some feel it is time to blast you, but it happens to all of us. I almost died once trying to find a way out of being stuck on a sandbar, the current took me off my feet and I was very lucky someone saw me. There is no way I could have swum back. Another time my step son dove in after a sneaker that fell in. A very scary time as the boat was drifting with the wind. A 10 knot wind will cause a boat to drift at about 2 knots faster than the human can swim – very scary. We are all very glad you made it. The alternative is not very pleasant to contemplate. All the best, and safe landings!! You have made it across the Atlantic and now the Pacific, WOW, be safe – we all are pulling for you!!!

  • Rita, I hope you keep it simple when you speak with Roz: clearly, we all love her dearly.

    I can even make it into a haiku for her … with love:

    Brave, she bared her soul
    Shared her innermost secrets
    We love her dearly

    Happy rowing, Roz!
    We’re with you, Rita!

  • Roz, it sounds like you got it, the lesson you needed to learn. Many of us have had momentary screw ups, when our passions lead us to a poorly timed lapse in judgment possibly meaning the difference between life and death. The important thing now is to forever be Grateful that you are one of the lucky ones who survived, and Never Ever forget it.
    Rita, my heart goes out to you. As a mom myself, I don’t know how you do it! Take care, both of you!!

  • Wew…all and more has been said about Roz’s latest scary “event”…but now I see from her last position in a Twit a few hours ago that in about 7 hours (maybe when you were asleep) with sea anchor out…she appeared to drift NW (from her SWerly direction) almost 20 miles directly toward shore, reversing her day’s progress by almost 1/2…Is this correct? or are my calculations wrong…thanks for any help…and Roz, if this is correct, looks like it is 2 miles forward and 1 back these days…hang in there…

  • I keep having these terribly morbid thoughts. If Roz had been separated from the boat, would anyone even know? With her tracker not working, is there any way to locate the boat? Would time simply start slipping by with everyone just assuming her sat phone broke? And if so, how long would it take before anyone realized something terrible had happened? If the boat was never located, would her disappearance forever remain a very sad mystery?

    I’m sorry for asking these horrible questions, but I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. Ugh…

  • Birdie, one thing about Roz is her honesty. I do not believe that there is anything that she has not told about – maybe not to all the world, but she has in the past told me of a problem, because somebody has to be aware, until it was resolved. Then she does share it. Nobody has the right to tell her to end her venture. Somebody, without authority, did try once before and it nearly broke her heart. She felt betrayed. It is her life and she is living it! Rita.

  • Roz, it is still ‘one stroke at a time’! Please don’t give all of your Rozlings a ‘stroke’ at the same time’…! Thankful that you are safe…and honest, and sometimes ‘adventure’ is truly abrupt!

  • Roz and Rita,
    God Bless you and protect you from harm,always!!!
    As a father I can relate to how you must have felt getting this call from Roz and Roz your absolutely right there was no obligation to ever have mentioned it to anyone…
    But you did and you made the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I read this post…
    As Paul had mentioned earlier,Castaway and Tom Hanks swimming after Wilson did immediatly come to mind.
    And I knew since I became and admirer/follower Rozling of yours that this danger was always a possible risk for you especially in strong current conditions or wind.
    We all are guilty of making errors in judgement,possibly at the risk of our own safety and lives or even a risk to others around us.
    Obviously, good judgement must prevail in what you are doing in the open oceans.
    I pray daily for you and your safety and your mother and also her peace of mind, as many others do here following your adventures and dreams, I am sure…
    You are a very intelligent/long-suffering woman,just as your mother is also…..
    At all costs Roz!
    Please stay in Brocade unless you swim tethered in those currents and conditions your in,would love to have the opportunity of oneday meeting you and your mother and possibly you speaking in my area of California.
    So very,very relieved, glad and happy you did make it back to Brocade and had sprinting strength enough to do so…
    Stay Safe Roz and Rita, your an incredible mum!!!
    God Bless and protect you both…
    Brotherly and Fatherly Love and Admiration,
    Dana

  • Rita, good point about it being her life, you’re right. I do trust that her doctor is looking into the possibility that extreme heat, extreme physical exertion, extreme stress, chronic discomfort, extreme sun exposure, and most importantly, dehydration and insomnia are affecting her brain’s functions, as they would anyone.

    I’ll just trust that you guys are looking into it, I would get a psychiatrist on the team if there isn’t one already. And not a sports psychologist, psychiatrists are doctors and would know how to handle this situation in depth. Let’s not forget that Roz is under huge self-imposed pressure, and has a 500,000 debt hanging over head, no home of her own, an obsession with her own obituary, and all this accumulates. But I’ve had my say, and I’ll just let it go, and I won’t comment on things of this nature, and just trust you guys are taking care of things.

  • Hmmm, I knew this would happen. In fact I’ve wondered about it many times since Roz first brought it up last year. I had never thought about it until then, and I certainly didn’t like the image that Roz formed for us when she wrote about it in her blog… The Brocade floating alone on the open blue ocean. It’s a chilling image.
    I guess because she’s been thinking about it and aware of the dangers of it happening QUICKLY, she was prepared enough to react and know that her situation was doomed. Thank goodness she didn’t pooh-pooh it and think she’d get there with the boathook… I can’t be sure that I would’ve abandoned the boathook in the same situation. The realization of failure and the ability to move on despite it, would’ve taken a lot of effort. And courage.
    Thanks for sharing this with us Roz. Stay close to your boat and take care.

  • Roz: Treasure having met you in Portland, Oregon, USA. THANK YOU for sharing “OH, ****” Moment ! Hope we ALL will learn from you. I’ve Never had outdoor problem that didn’t have “BEing IN a HURRY’ as the prime cause, that is, stop and think (have cup of tea – opps,need tea pot ) . Also, I would feel lucky to have Birdie as a friend watching over me.

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