with the Governor of Madang

It is now a week since I arrived in Madang. Which means it is a week since I became the first woman to row solo all the way across the Pacific. Which you would have thought would be a pretty amazing feeling. Maybe I could even be forgiven for being just a little bit proud of myself.

But to be honest, this is not really so. I have a number of theories about this lack of self-congratulation, and it’s probably a combination of all of the following:

– The Indian Ocean: I am already busy planning for the next adventure – the Indian Ocean, pencilled in to start in March 2011. So I have to get the boat ready for shipping, decide what goes with her and what I ship back to the US, get her all cleaned up and shipshape. There is equipment to be replaced, supplies to be sponsored, and money to raise. This doesn’t leave much time for resting on my laurels.

– Comparison with the Atlantic Ocean: now THAT was a feeling of accomplishment. My first ocean, and the hardest thing I had ever done. The highs and lows (mostly lows) of crossing the Atlantic in officially the worst year ever since weather records began pushed me to and beyond my limits, and the feeling of relief when I arrived in Antigua was immense. Imagine finishing a marathon, winning an Oscar, and getting out of jail, all rolled into one. Since then I have found ways to make my ocean life more comfortable, and of course there is the greater confidence that comes from having done it before. So arrival no longer has that same level of euphoria.

– I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member: hey, if I can manage to row the Pacific, just how hard can it be? I suffered the same sense of anticlimax when I got my place at Oxford. Oxford went from being the pinnacle of my aspirations to something I had achieved – and duly dropped several notches in my opinion. This probably says something bad about my self esteem or excessive natural modesty. Ah well.

– The eco mission continues: Rowing is only half the story. I can’t sit back and congratulate myself on a job well done while there is oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and weak legislation staggering its way to enactment while the daily assaults on our Earth continue. This is no time to be patting myself on the back – there is much work still to be done, and as ever, I am trying to figure out how I can be most effective in making a difference.

– If I ever get too impressed with myself…. then it will all go horribly wrong, I am sure. This must be the Yorkshire side of me – thanks, Dad – where self-effacement is seen as just good manners. So my feet are most definitely still firmly on the ground (so to speak), and I am still just the same person I ever was – just a bit more weatherbeaten and with a few new experiences under my belt.

So although it is very nice to bask a little in the afterglow when accosted around town by people wanting to shake my hand, or to do interviews, I’m in no danger of getting too big for my boots anytime soon. But lest this all sound rather subdued, rest assured – I am happy. Content, without being complacent. Smiling, without being smug.

Other Stuff:

Papua New Guinea is celebrating the Queen’s Birthday this weekend. I am being treated to a trip to the island of Karkar on board Sir Peter Barter’s beautiful cruise ship, the Kalibobo Spirit, along with a group of friends. It will be a delicious contrast to be on board a boat with hot showers and comfortable beds and a fully stocked bar. Just like mine – NOT!

Banner made by students from Madang Technical College
Children in traditional costume - part of my welcoming party
Note the 350.org t-shirt!


  • Congratulations Roz!

    I am humbled and amazed by your tireless effort to champion
    such an important cause. You changed your life to make a difference
    What a amazingly courageous woman.
    I am sure you will inspire countless others.I hope my
    Daughters grow up to be like you. Heard you on the BBC.
    Told my friends about you. All the best, Love and light,Pete

  • Roz,

    Not every woman can do what you did. No other woman can. You were the first. The others can only follow your lead. I think what’s important is not so much what you feel about your accomplishment, as what young women around the world think and feel about your example and about themselves.

    Good for you.

    David L

  • I think Roz it is in the ‘doing’ that we accomplish great things. Once ‘done’, they lose some of their power over us! And so you are pulled to the next adventure. But I am glad you are taking some time to celebrate this one. It’s a biggie! Congratulations!

  • Hi Roz,
    I’ve been reading your blogs since 2008 and never commented before. I have you beat in the “self-effacement” department! I’m an oceans person, live in Florida, seeing it on the brink, threatened by this oil spill soon to ruin my surf fishing beach, and living inland near a huge lake, I am in mourning as that oil keeps gushing and I feel so helpless. Flyfishing, surfing, paddling but I only rowed the Atlantic once. In 1994- 3 miles parallel to Daytona Beach on a crowded July 4th. Cherish every minute of it and the memory. Last year I did 9 miles in a day on a tiny kayak around my Lake Kerr, and forgot the water bottle and snack in my car! Was that an OK paddling leg for no water?

    I love participating in your Ocean ventures but what I’m beginning to love the most about you was something you had even in a blog from 2003 I read before your “Rowing the Atlantic” decision. It’s your writing style! As a writer of 1 novel, I cherish your philosophical rambling reflections as you row to your beat (I assume you think them up as you go) You had quite a few that helped me in my current isolation (3 years living alone in a remote Florida wilderness right now) That only a solitary thinker, writer, ocean goer could come up with. So keep that literate philosophy flowing in your blogs!–I’m going back to read every post for your current just concluded journey and maybe back to your previous Pacific legs. I’m in my own marathon right now, seeking to publish my first symphony, and 2 jazz CDs while holed up here in the wilderness…The world doesn’t care because I have no media spotlight, perhaps more like your first Atlantic Row…hanging in is becoming the toughest think I’ve ever done alone (I live ALONE, well 2 cats and birds)…
    Maybe I’ll get some flyfishing in to solace my pain over my dying ocean years and the death happening just 100 miles to my west out in the Gulf… Tragic for my fish and birds. I even hate to kill a fish right now to eat one!

    With your writing getting so much better these days, I’m thinking your next book (about the Pacific) is going to be even better than “Rowing…Atlantic” Still I love the Atlantic, let’s try to keep her off the deathlist. Tracking the loop current with animation software has me worried about later this summer for Florida (back eddies form as the summer goes on that could definitely impinge the Keys and my East coast Florida beaches with oil…)
    Take care, I look forward to your blogs and next book…
    Composer/pianist/fisherman Michael (in Florida)

  • Roz, are you truly thinking about rowing the Indian Ocean? All the way to Africa? Regardless of how you go, that is a dangerous journey. Bad weather, pirates and God knows what else is lurking out there. Just because you have grown used to fairly easy passages, there is no reason to tempt fate by continuing to put yourself in harms way. All I can do is wish you;
    Love and luck


  • Thanks for the lovely comments – especially to new commenters Peter and Michael. So many of my friends – Floridians and others alike – are expressing such outrage over the Gulf oil spill. Let’s hope that there is a silver lining to this big black evil cloud if it provokes a backlash against dirty energy.

    “Easy passages”, Texino? I shall refrain from comment….

  • A silver lining? I just received an email about this (partially quoted hereafter).

    Perhaps from Dr. Masuro Emoto, “the scientist from Japan who has done . . . the research and publications about the characteristics of water. Among other things, his research revealed that water physically responds to emotions.

    Right now, most of us have the predominantly angry emotion when we consider what is happening in the Gulf. And while certainly we are justified in that emotion, we may be of greater assistance to our planet and its life forms, if we sincerely, powerfully and humbly pray the prayer that Dr Emoto, himself, has proposed:

    “I send the energy of love and gratitude to the water and all the living creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings.
    To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, planktons, corals, algae, and all living creatures . . . I am sorry.
    Please forgive me.
    Thank you.
    I love you.”

    We certainly have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and the power of thousands of people praying for the same thing, perhaps can create the miracle that BP is incapable of. So I’m passing this along and hoping that some will use the prayer, and pass it along, in turn.

  • Roz, you continue to inspire me each and every day with your courageous actions. Keep up the good work. Good luck with your upcoming Indian Ocean Row. I think it is a good thing to cautiously tempt fate a little sometimes. My personal sport is mountain climbing, and it’s that element of danger that keeps it real and compelling. : )

  • OK Roz, you almost got ditched by your own boat and that counts as a terrible experience. On the other hand your trip to PNG seemed to take about 45 minutes and even without your missing team, you managed to land in the lap of luxury (I believe you deserve that) At any rate it’s not like we are in touch, so I’m left to determine what the hell you are up to when you say “I’ll be giving the Indian Ocean a try” Well fine, but why not put AIS on that canoe? And another thing, I have as much respect for you as any of your well spoken fan base I am just not afraid of you or your mum and when you say that reaching your goals really doesn’t mean that much and your goals happen to be the sort of tasks that can kill a girl, I’m not going to sit about without trying to get an answer. Fair weather—T. Texino

  • Well TexTom, many pessimistic skeptical people who never have fully experienced the rapport of an adventure that is in total harmony with the Natural World never understand the let-down from the blissful serenity of the experience that occurs the moment you step back into the mainstream chaos of civilized living.

    Of course, each individual will interpret any message through their own personal biases. However, those of us who haved LIVED this experience can only feel sympathy for those who have not. To me, those famous words “Experience is the best teacher” means get out there and do it yourself. That would at least establish some grounds for critcism – constuctive or destructive.

  • Hi, Roz
    I still dont quite understand how a person can row across an ocean.
    Sounds a bit stupid but i thought in my naive way you’d have to have arms like the incredible hulk and super powers.
    Good Luck across the Indian Ocean if you go.

  • Maybe Rowing the Gulf of Mexico would be a good idea? Bring some attention and awareness to the oil spill that’s been going on. Or, the Northwest passage to bring attention to the melting arctic? In the summer.

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