You recall that last October I retired from ocean rowing? But I did also say that I WASN’T saying “never again” – just “enough is enough – for now”. Well, it seems that “for now” didn’t last very long….

A Bolt From The Blue

Andrew Morris

About 10 days ago I got an email out of the blue concerning the OAR project: to row the North Atlantic, arriving in Britain in time for the Olympics. I have known both Mick and Andrew since 2005, having competed in the same Atlantic Rowing Race when they first rowed together, and having seen Mick again more recently after his successful row from Japan to San Francisco with Chris Martin in 2009.

I was aware of their plans – as indeed, at one stage I had a similar plan to row the North Atlantic this year to mark the Olympics, until my boat started falling apart around my ears on the Indian Ocean and I cancelled on the grounds of not enough money to make the necessary renovations in the time available, amongst other things (as explained in my blog at the time).

It was Andrew who wrote the email last week, saying that Mick was probably going to have to pull out of the project due to time pressures and would I be interested in stepping in. I wasn’t sure. My gut reaction was “yes”, but it seemed incompatible with my TrashMobs plans (human-powered trip around Britain doing beach and riverside cleanups en route), and I felt a sense of obligation to my team due to the amount of hard work they had already committed to the project.

Revised TrashMobs Plan

But then I started thinking that rowing the North Atlantic could have beneficial effects for TrashMobs. I was particularly interested to hear that the crew intended to make landfall in Bristol on the west side of England, and then row through rivers and canals to London on the other side of the country, popping out there just in time for the London Olympics. This seemed like an unmissable opportunity to start getting TrashMobs into the public consciousness.

And so…. my plan is to push TrashMobs back to next year. While I am disappointed not to be starting TrashMobs this year, an extra year of preparation will be no bad thing. It gives me and my team extra time to strengthen our alliances with NGOs, get the website completed, finalise our documents, raise funding, and much more besides. I have informed all my TrashMobs team members and all others who expressed an interest in the project. So far the response has been unanimously supportive, to my great relief.

And I am really excited to be working with the great team that has already formed around the OAR project. Team members on both sides of the Atlantic are putting together a terrific campaign with a goal of raising funds to get more young people – both able-bodied and disabled – on the water.

Rationale For Cancelled Retirement

Mick and Chris - and Bojangles - arriving at Golden Gate Bridge

Looking back at my reasons for “retiring”, there is a kind of spooky serendipity in the way that this new opportunity sidesteps them all:

1. Mission Accomplished: well, it never really is, is it? If I’d done it all, what would be the point of living?!

2. Sedna Solo (retd): Sedna was falling apart, and it was time she was pensioned off. But this year we will be rowing in the eminently seaworthy Bojangles (of which more below).

3. Immovable Deadline: much more likely to arrive in the UK in time for the Olympics with two of us in the boat, over the shorter course from St John’s (about 1,700 miles rather than 3,270 from New York.

4. A Pearl In The Storm: Bojangles has already proved herself on the North Pacific, from Japan to San Francisco. I have great confidence in her for the North Atlantic crossing, and hope to avoid the multiple capsizes suffered by Tori Murden.

5. Time Out: the opportunity cost of a 2-month crossing is much less than that of last year’s 154 day epic across the Indian Ocean.

6. Time for a Change: in many ways this is going to be a whole new adventure. I’ve never had a crewmate before. The two biggest corollaries of this are a) having to be a team player 24/7, and b) sleep deprivation, as we will alternate shifts around the clock, 2 hours on, 2 hours off. Being nice while being sleep-deprived is going to be the biggest challenge of all!

It was a difficult decision to make. Even though I wasn’t sure about doing it, when I asked myself how I would feel if I DIDN’T do it, the answer became clear. I would always have looked back and wondered if I had missed a golden opportunity. So here I go again. In at the deep end, pushing my boundaries – but that’s what I’m all about.

Upcoming OAR Events

For those in the Bay Area, there is an event at REI Berkeley next week: details on the OAR website.

Bojangles is currently a “live exhibit” at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Hyde Street Pier until March 7.

And Finally – Mum’s Reaction

Well, she wasn’t exactly ecstatic. Having read Tori Murden’s “A Pearl in the Storm”, she was most concerned about the likelihood of capsize. But she was there in La Gomera when I was just a novice ocean rower, and witnessed Mick Dawson scrutineering my boat and pointing out all manner of things that should be done to improve boat safety. So she knows that any boat designed, built, and fitted out by Mick will be seaworthy.

So she is still speaking to me….. just about!


  • WOW – awesome news! Excited to follow another adventure of yours…..sending loads of luck n vibes your way!

  • So happy you are still Rockin’ and Rowin’ Roz!
    And watching this video of Mick and Chris is so cool. I was fortunate to be on one of the boats with Angela M! Brings back nice memories of lots of wonderful people who came out to greet Bojangles on their arrival. I sure want to be in London when you arrive later this year … 

    Now 35 likes and 17 comments at 60 minutes. Yes!

  • SWEET! This also means that your welcome back to SF party on March 9th (this Friday) has officially turned into a Bon Voyage Party also.  We cannot wait to toast you on your new adventure. Although you being the top 1% of all ocean rowers, I can’t imagine you not being able to cope with what the North Atlantic has in store for you. I’ll put all my chips on the girl with the “It’s not my first rodeo!” smile. Wooohooooo!

    BTW Mick is speaking on Tuesday at the Berkeley REI store… 

    and the upcoming SF Ocean Film Festival too! 

    Row Roz Row!


    Outsidejay@gmail:disqus .com 

  • Roz! Somehow this seems “right” to me…and I’m, not sure why, but, not surprised. Very exciting and a whole new way for you to experience time on the ocean. Hurrah! And congrats. Ain’t nobody like you. xo

  • Excellent news, Roz! I’m a bit uncertain about the two-hour shifts though; four would seem better, or overlapping six-hour shifts. the body needs time to regenerate as well as the brain. In the army we experimented a lot with different duty cycles.

    • Erkki, and the corollary to Rosalind’s Rule is:

      The sun shall wake on Roz’s set.

      Rock ‘n’ Row, Roz ;-D

  • Roz – check this out!
    When you were there on your Pacific row, you mentioned that this was a possibility, but now it seems it may actually happen.  So sad.

  • Wish I was there tonight in SF. I couldn’t make it. We ARE ecstatic about your new adventure, because (however self-serving) there’s just something about your rowing that transcends life. 

    I love Sedna and all that She did. I wonder where she is and if she is still sea worthy? Does fiberglass fatigue permanently like metal and is She done? Or would a little TLC (read $$) make her good as new? I don’t care what you say, Roz, Sedna Solo is more than just a “thing.” Inanimate objects can be more than just “things.” 

    • Hi Bruce – we missed you! Sedna is still languishing in Mauritius, pending the UK Maritime Museum shipping her back to London. Hopefully she will be on the move soon – and they will be doing any necessary restoration work before she goes on exhibit next spring. I am delighted that she will be going on public display so she can tell my story even when I’m not there.

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