I first met Andrew Morris, ocean rower, entrepreneur, and dodgy Elvis impersonator, in 2005. We were both preparing to row the Atlantic Ocean as competitors in the Woodvale Events Atlantic Rowing Race (which recently ran again as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge).

Andrew Morris and Mick Dawson after rowing the Atlantic

Andrew’s shipping company, PA Freight, also happened to be the official supplier for getting rowboats shipped to the start line in the Canary Islands. I remember dropping off the still-maiden Sedna in Newark to go into the shipping container. I don’t recall now whether that was where I first met Andrew, but whenever or wherever that happened, I got a first impression of a Lamborghini-driving, medallion-wearing guy who seemed to be, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit flash. (Correction: apparently good luck charms, not medallions. ūüôā

Andrew was to be one half of a two-man crew, alongside an enormous Frenchman called Stephan who consumed around 6,000 calories a day when on dry land, let alone while rowing an ocean. Unfortunately, their bid faltered early in the race. About 18 hours after setting out from San Sebastian, Andrew fell over on board the boat and cracked his head. They were towed back into port by Mick Dawson (who was then working for Woodvale, and whom I am now replacing) and Andrew was carted off to hospital with concussion.

A couple of days later he was out of hospital and ready to go row an ocean. But the enormous Frenchman was nowhere to be seen. He had assumed that with Andrew’s injury their bid was over, and had cleared off back to France.

Not to be deterred, Andrew sat in a bar with Mick to consider his options. He needed a replacement crewmate. His gaze settled on the man sitting opposite him. Aha! Mick was an experienced ocean rower, having rowed the Atlantic with his brother Steve in 2001, and having also made two subsequent attempts to row solo across the Pacific. By the third beer it was settled. Mick would step in and row with Andrew across the Atlantic.

A week after the rest of the fleet, they set out. I watched in dismay as they quickly eroded my head start and overtook me. They went on to finish sixth overall – a fantastic achievement and a tribute to their strength and determination.

Chris Martin and Mick Dawson after rowing the Pacific

This year’s North Atlantic row was to be a reunion of that 2005 dream team. But Mick, a former marine, has since embarked on a new career in maritime security, fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean. He has also got married, and having spent most of his first year of marriage rowing across the North Pacific with Chris Martin (also a veteran of that 2005 Atlantic Rowing Race) he would understandably like to spend more time with his wife. So between work commitments and wife commitments, another major row started to seem like one ocean too far. Cue yours truly as a late substitute.

As we’ll generally be rowing two hours on, two hours off, in alternating shifts, Andrew will barely notice the difference – or will he? Here’s how Mick and I compare:

Mick Roz
Height 6 foot 2 (guesstimate) 5 foot 3
Weight 210 pounds (guesstimate) 130 pounds
Previous career Royal Marine Management Consultant
Miles rowed 20,000 15,000
Days at sea in rowboat 420 approx 520 approx
Experience of rowing in a double 70 days with Steve Dawson
61 days with Andrew Morris None
189 days with Chris Martin

L to R: Mick Dawson, Jan Meek, George Simpson and me at the launch party for Mick and Chris's Golden Gate Endeavour

 

So I’m hardly a convincing body double. But I do have oodles of experience, and so far it seems likely we will make a good team. Andrew (aka “Mos”) and I have¬†started to discuss how we will share responsibilities onboard. Still to be finalised, but so far it looks like this:

Mos Roz
Repairs & maintenance Navigation
Barnacle scrubbing Satellite comms
“Kitchen Bitch” “Geek”

 

This is going to be quite a new situation for both of us. If successful, we will be the first male/female crew to row the North Atlantic route. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to row with a crewmate. My only wobbly moment so far was last Monday, during a big team dinner, when Mos uttered the worrying words: “I’m a bit accident prone….”

If we get his accident-prone-ness and my bad water maker karma, we might be in trouble. But there again, if I can fix him up and he’s good with electronics, we will be okay. This row is going to be all about complementary skills and teamwork.

 

Andrew Morris, ocean rower and part-time pig

If this blog has awakened your inner adventurer, check out the New Ocean Wave website to find out more about a rowing event from California to Hawaii, due for its inaugural run in 2014.

And you can follow the Olympic Atlantic Row online:

– at the website

– on Facebook

– and on Twitter.

Enjoy!

24 Comments

  • Roz,¬†I listened to¬†http://bit.ly/RozRoams-66 this morning, and heard you announce the intended launch date.¬†During the time you will be at sea,¬†I will be on the road en route to Vermont (destination Brattleboro for the http://SlowLivingSummit.org) making stops along the way to meet up with youth in the http://iMatter-Movement.org as I travel both directions. But while you row, I will be only as far away from you and Andrew as the next rest shop — I will have cellular access to the internet. Looking forward to http://bit.ly/OAR2012 and will be tuned to your Facebook, tweets and blogs, as usual.¬†Sounds like you and Andrew will make a great team.¬†

    Row complementarily, Roz

  • Just remember Roz,¬† if you are rowing up the Columbia River at night it’s red, right, returning.¬† Is it the same in the UK?¬† Although I would not recommend crossing the bar tonight, it’s blowing fierce out there. Still heading for the rainy (and a bit of snow today) Northwest before you head out across the Atlantic?¬†¬† Row Andrew Row!¬† Row Roz Row!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Cheers,¬†¬† Steve

  • Haiku for “Launch Minus 2 Months”Rowers Roz and MosAtlantic North backwards crossOlympians zenKeep you eyes pealed for maverick ice bergs, Roz ‘n’ Mos

  • Dear Roz, and you told me you had hung up your oars!¬† I have to say I would have been tempted, 2 great guys, lucky you and wow LUCKY THEM.¬† Have a great time, I do so envy the three of you. Hug and Kiss to you all. Love Jan (Meek)

    • Hi Jan – actually it will be just me and Mos on board – Mick has had to step down so I am taking his place. But yes, they are indeed both great guys!!

  • I am sooo pleased to know that you’re going to be rowing again – on a nice long trip.¬† I’ve desperately missed your well-written blogs, especially comments on books you’re reading, and Philosophy Fridays. ¬† I hope you’ll pick up where you left off (if that is indeed possible) or perhaps do something different.¬† But, please do keep up the communication!¬† Thank you for being you, Roz.

    • A “nice long trip” – easy for you to say! ūüôā

      Happy to hear you’ll be keeping an eye on us. I plan to blog every day – although with this two-hours-on, two-hours-off rowing schedule around the clock, it will be even more challenging than usual!

  • I can’t wait for all the wonderful emails from followers and your blogs. I love reading it all. It inspires. Haiku from Doug. Cool things from Jay, and the rest. Perhaps marine wildlife again add to the adventures. I think you’re going to have one of the best rowing experiences ever, Roz. I just have ¬†feeling.¬†

    I think the two biggest challenges will be 1) busy shipping lane and 2) cold. 

    All for now. 

    • And don’t forget the sleep deprivation!! That is going to be the biggie for me – I like my zzzz’s!

      • My wife’s mom, who was always on the move, said “I’ll sleep when I die.” Somewhat morbid, but it resonates.¬†

    • There are going to be icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland, so I think naked rowing was out of the question anyway!

      • Is the cold the reason for the 2 hour watch? I mean, I can almost see rowing in warm weather but cold weather rowing gives me chills! I would think that after a while everything will be damp and cold with no chance of drying out. You two are way more the adventurer than I am! Good luck.

  • It is going to be interesting for all of us . . . Roz I’m sure you will adapt just fine as that’s what you’ve shown with all your rows that you can do exceptionally well. ¬†

  • Roz, I just listened to your latest podcast:¬†http://rozroams.squarespace.com/

    And I couldn’t help but let you know that generally most guys would rather go barnacling in a gale than sit in a bunk and talk about a bad, unchangable situation. You are pretty dang easy-going so I predict you will have fun with these…¬†

    1)¬†http://www.amazon.com/Mars-Venus-Workplace-Practical-Communication/dp/06945255532) the Men’s edition of the 5 love languages:¬†http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resources/books/3) teach him how to play rock paper scissors for those truly unwinable arguments and then read this: how to cheat at roe sham bo:http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/2032Row Roz Row!:-)

  • I think I understood your motivations for the prior rows, but not this one. ¬†Does this have something to do with the Olympics? ¬†Are teams from other countries doing the same thing?

      • Both.

        The OAR web site made it sound as if the purpose were to set a new record, but I didn’t think that you were burning to row another ocean just for the sake of another record.

        The OAR site also left the relationship to the Olympics unexplained (at least not in the bits I read), and I’m wondering if your motivation has something to do with Olympic aspect (whatever that is).

        Just curious. ¬†Looking forward to reading the blog, whatever your motivation! ¬†ūüôā

        • Insightful as ever, Christopher!

          Mos and I had a really good conversation around this on Monday night, and some refocusing of our goals is underway. This will be reflected on the OAR website in due course.

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