Zen Dog

It occurred to me after I had written my blog the other day, and referred to Zen Dog, that some folks may not know who I was talking about. So let me introduce my favourite role model while I am on the ocean.

Tada! Zen Dog. (Zen Dog ambles slowly on from stage left and smiles a beatific smile, bows, and moseys off to exit stage right.)

I hope you can read it okay from the photo, but in case it’s too low-res, it is a poem by Edward Monkton that says:

He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide
It’s not the destination…
…It’s the glory of the ride.

Zen Dog was given to me by my friend Romy Shovelton before I rowed the Atlantic, and has been velcroed to the wall of my sleeping cabin ever since.

On days like today, when I seem to have rowed hard for little result, Zen Dog helps preserve my sanity. After all, this voyage is not about speed, it’s about quality. To quote from one of my favourite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it’s about making good time, with the emphasis on “good” rather than “time”.

One of the joys of being out here (and I’m getting better at finding these joys all the time) is that I’m on my own timetable. By contrast with my land-based life, in which I often feel like I’m chasing my own tail in an ever-faster whirl of busy-ness, life at sea has its own pace. I find that if I try to do tasks faster than they were meant to go, they don’t go so well.

Zen Roz

That’s also why I enjoy nostalgic books like the James Herriot series (All Creatures Great And Small etc). Seems like back then life moved at a more manageable pace. And you know what? Enough still got done.

Easy for me to say now, on Day 9. By Day 99 I might be feeling a bit differently, and by Day 149 I’d be decidedly hungry!

Other Stuff:

There are definite signs that I am making progress. As I head north and west (and, of course, as we move further into southern hemisphere winter), the sunrise is getting later, but so is the sunset. Unfortunately they’re still getting closer together, so every hour of daylight is precious. Currently sunrise is at 07.11, and sunset at 18.04. A few days ago sunrise was around 07.05, and sunset at 17.59.

Last night was a really rough one. Not much sleep was had, as waves crashed into the boat. No wonder I was feeling a bit seedy around bedtime. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to get horizontal after writing my blog!

BTW, as a PS to the leaky locker story, I just wanted to put on record that I couldn’t have used the draft-seal tape on the locker where the watermaker pump used to be. It’s a different design, and the tape wouldn’t have helped. Just so you know.

I’m still working on my pirate name. It’s rather difficult to find one that doesn’t sound boastful. A radio interviewer who spoke to me while I was in Geraldton described me as “indomitable”, which I took as a great compliment. Captain Indomitable? Or Mad Roz McRower, Scourge of the High Seas?! Or, after Rico’s epic poem (bravo, Rico!) and in honour of Zen Dog, maybe I should stick with Skipper Serene?

Matt McFadyen – good to hear from you. Hope all is going well as an Aussie in California, and that you’re finding the natives friendly!

Sponsored Miles:
Thanks for today’s miles: Nick Perdiew, Anna Wildy, Brent Mashburn, Don Lindsay, Nate Beery, Will Hawkins, Michael Guy, Diane Freeman, Christine McNab, John Herrick.


    • totally LIKE it … just imagine Johnny Depp addressing
      Captain Raaaarrrrrrrz, Savage of the Sea

  • Skipper Serene it will always be to me… After you’re example, I’ll never brag. I aspire to a Zen approach to where I am too. But after all your experience, s.s. can still happen, umm, I dash all hope of ever overcoming that!

  • UncaDoug. Thanks for keeping us updated on the iMatter March events. There are two parts to this that are very appealing. First, our nation’s children need better “role models” than what the media is currently providing, and one way to “find” a better role model is to actually “become” a role model yourself (“Be the change you want to see in the world” — Gandhi). Second, we can wait forever (often fruitlessly) for governments to provide us with change “from the top”, and sometimes it is necessary for change to come “from the bottom”. Witness the phenomenal success that MADD (mothers against drunk driving) had in changing perceptions, as well as the attitudes of legislators and legislatures, toward the drinking-and-driving problem. As we know, change is messy, and it upsets people, and this is a long-term project. But I am truly proud of these children (and their parents) for taking ownership of the future, and helping to move the world into a better place.

    • Rico, thanks for this. The most amazing part of the event here in Sacramento Sunday was not the size of the crowd (est 75) but the fact that a half dozen 16-21 year olds took a quantum leap from tentative to confident. They started out shy and became courageous. All had conviction, but they found their voice during the actual 3-block march from the park to the capitol, and addressing the small audience on the Capitol Steps. No adults gave any speeches …

      It was OF, BY and FOR the KIDS.

      Check out the photos at http://bit.ly/iMatterAlbumKristi, http://bit.ly/iMatterAlbumDoug and http://bit.ly/iMatterAlbumKara

  • Do you know this poem? A good one for Zen Dog to contemplate

    Mankind owns four things

    that are no good at sea:

    rudder, anchor, oars

    and the fear of going down.

    —Antonio Machado

  • I don’t know if this has already been suggested for your pirate name, but how about “Captain Savage!” That sounds like a fierce pirate name to me….Aaarrrr!! And as a bonus, it’s actually your real name!

    • This is so obvious, it’s perfect. No danger of bragging (though I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to brag – how many women row solo across the world’s oceans?), because it’s true, both in name and determined spirit. I think there are too many letters, though. How about Cap’n Savage? x

  • My best zen is “Wherever you are, be there.” Don’t live FOR the moment but live IN the moment. Enjoy life it’s the only one you’ll get 🙂 So enjoy your reflective time with all its many flavours. (are we allowed to mention chocolate again) Jim Bell (NSW Australia)

  • Arrrr Rozzz!  I been layin’ low on the pirate name thang, and me brain is now actin’ up matie, doin’ me research! Blow me down! 

    Thar’s blokes and birds named Anne Bonney, Henriques the Englishman, Gunpowder Gertie, Pearl, Jane de Belleville, Bartolomeo, Black Bart, Black Beard, Black Bellamy, Black Cesar, Delivery, Jambe de Bois, Seas Cruelty, Satan’s Doom, The Dirty Servant, Great Fortune, Poseidon’s Killer, Long John Silver, The Risin’ Sun, Diabolito … and my personal favorite, Queen Annes Revenge.

    All good, but none worthy of Rowing Lady Roz, Our Queen of the Seas.

    What keeps comin’ to mind are the descriptive handles Rico, Erkki Taada, Natalie, DogDontPurr, Tom, Joan and Tumbleweed thunk up, with a pinch of zen and persona … Indefatigable … Savage … Serenity … Zen … Captain … ahh … and Meister!

    Put ’em together and wha’d’ya get?Indefatigable Savage Serenity – Zenmeister

    Row pugnaciously, Roz

  •  Hey Roz,  Hope that all is well with you and that the churning of the waves has settled. I like Zen Dog, it’s quite apt as a maxim for life, too.  With each breathe we participate in the ebb and flow of energy borne of this planet.  Peace be with you, row well, and be gentle with your spirit.Norm of the prairies

  • Toward the end of my voyage I had discovered a version of myself that I liked- a stronger, more capable, more self-sufficient version of the self that had pushed off from the Canaries. I admired and respected that oceangoing version of me, and I didn’t want to lose touch with her. I wanted to bring back the best of her into the land based me, to provide an inner kernel of serenity and strength that I could draw from in times of need. Rowing the Atlantic, Roz Savage

    Myself, partial to “Cap’ n Savage”, to the point, honest, not boastful, commanding of attention, tested, complimentary of her mom, at peace yet formidable as a typhoon.

    Avast yer, bilge-swabbin lilly-livered scallywag. Dars Cap’n Savage, sheel keelhaul ye with a wink dat one. Glimpst Hades imself take grog when she got up dis mornin. Hoisted up ‘is white flag he did. 🙂 just sayin…

  • Thanks for the Zen Dog poem.  I really loved it!  You should share it with Abby Sunderland and Jessica Watson.  

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