SHIP AHOY! HMS Southampton

14 Feb, 06 – 20:44

It has to be the ultimate Valentine’s greeting – HMS Southampton dropped by today en route from Grenada to say hello and wish me a happy Valentine’s Day. They would have happily brought chocolates (and a bacon butty) as well, but unfortunately race rules forbid.

I got a text from my mother this morning: SOUTHAMPTON IMMINENT, so I was on the lookout for them and luckily I spotted them before they spotted me, giving me time to make myself decent. Thank heavens they didn’t see me leaning in through my hatch, desperately trying to find some shorts, full moon on display.

Four guys came speeding over in a RIB to say hi – the first human faces I’d seen since 27th December. And what nice cheery faces they were too. They passed on greetings from my friends Rodney Byram and Jill and Colin Habgood.

The guys pop over to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Once they’d returned to their vessel and I’d taken up my oars again, there was a magical moment – HMS Southampton steered alongside me, Her Majesty’s Ship looking impressively huge, Sedna Solo looking incredibly small, and they sounded their klaxon. The men on deck waved to me and I waved back, then the great ship pointed herself east and with a roar of her engines and a gust of diesel fumes she cruised off into the distance.

Who could ask for a more special Valentine than that?

Many thanks to Rodney Byram and Cdr Mike Pearey for making it possible.

P.S. For anyone concerned about the effect on my morale/routine of this visit, fear not. Clicked straight back into schedule.

Texts: thanks to Marina (thanks for offering to send a copy of Ben and James’s documentary – would love to see it. Mum’s address is on my website), James O, Susan Collett (wow! There’s a name from the past! Lovely to hear from you), Guy Clayton in Hamble, Pauline (thanks for the Valentines Day thought – how true!), Luke J in Dublin (next time I’m in Dublin I’ll take you up on that Guinness therapy), Hugh and Paula and all the little Tebays, Sam K (phew, relief! thought you’d deserted me), M&B, Karen Luscombe, Kevin, Tom in NZ, Duncan, Tim (hope today’s dispatch answered your question), Natalie (no worries! you hit nail on the head – pride and frustration two main driving forces at the moment), John T (I was on TV? – cool!), HSS, Mark Reid, George Simpson (sensible advice – am getting the hang of it now), Trish (good to hear from you at last!), Pascale and Terrence, John T (was that red rose from you?!), AJ.

Rita Savage’s PS: Some more thankyous today: to the person who sent me a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day, nice to be thanked for looking after my own daughter. To the one who sent a single red rose addressed to Roz, but with my Leeds address: I have taken a photograph of it for Roz and told her about it. She thinks she knows who sent it! Thanks to some more people who have made donations, and/or sent messages.

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Wind: E, 20kts (estimate)
Weather: sunshine, numerous squalls
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 12

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