Welcome Roz Savage (RozSavage.com) (Twitter) and Host EdwardTeller / Phil Munger (ProgressiveAlaska) (Twitter)

Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific

Few books have gotten me to take entirely new looks at how one might bring attention to the ongoing human-activity-induced extinctions and impending mass extinctions of so much around us as has this one. Why?

First, it is an adventure fraught with dangers. How many of us would welcome getting back alone into a 23-foot boat, to row it across yet another multi-thousand mile stretch of ocean, after having had several close encounters with death in that same vessel before? To bring attention to the masses – thousands of square miles! – of plastic trash accumulating in the great oceanic gyre points around the globe.

One in a thousand? One in 100,000? Maybe one in a billion.

Second, how many of us might even put such a venture together, hatched out of inspiration and dedication verging on the edge of sanity, in the first place? And then, while striving to eke out a mile at a time, a few miles per day – or less – while keeping up with the world so distant, through radiotelephone, the internet, social media and what news one might catch, write blog posts that are truly inspirational?

One in a thousand? One in 100,000? Maybe one in a billion.

Third, how many of us might be able to, after succeeding at all this, turn her efforts (and those of her hundreds of material and spiritual supporters) into something more meaningful, as she links with and networks among many of the leading environmental and ecological thinkers active today?

Not many.

Roz Savage’s second book, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific, chronicles the Pacific Ocean-crossing phase of the author’s record-setting single-handed row around much of the world. It was not one journey, but a series of them, beginning with what might easily have turned out to be a tragedy, when, after two capsizes, she was all but forced to abandon her tiny vessel off the coast of northern California, and leap overboard into fifteen-foot breaking waves, in August, 2007:

She had been my prison cell, but also my life-support capsule. I owed my life to her. But now I was abandoning her. I felt a harsh pang of guilt and an overwhelming sense that I was making a bad mistake.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter began to hover overhead. A diver jumped out of it, tethered to the chopper:

I jumped.

Salt water spray stung my eyes and the Pacific sucked at the legs of my survival suit as I half-swam, half-wallowed through the towering waves to the orange-suited Coast Guard swimmer. The helicopter’s blades thumped deafeningly into the 50-mph winds overhead.

The following spring, after retrieving and repairing her boat, Roz Savage headed out into the same unforgiving ocean, this time to succeed, in three stages: California to Hawai’i, Hawai’i to Tarawa, and Tarawa to Madang, in Papua New Guinea.

Though the technical details she had to attend to in order to pull off these journeys as she did were quite formidable, her descriptions of them never bog down the narrative. Not a natural techie, Savage had to learn to solve problems with sometimes dicey equipment that was cutting edge, almost experimental. Her chronicling of dietary, health, morale and inspirational details in this book are interlinked, showing how such solitary existence in the face of enormous challenge can utterly simplify existence, even in its inner complexity.

I cannot recommend this book enough, especially for young people, particularly young women. My daughter, a rower, wants me to send her my copy as soon as this book salon is concluded.

Roz Savage’s rowing gloves

Longtime Firedoglake readers might well remember our hope, then extreme disappointment, when, back in December, 2009, the United Nations held the COP 15 Environmental Conference in Copenhagen. It was described here as a huge sellout by Obama, in respect to carbon emissions, and recognition of the responsibility large industrial nations hold toward small non-industrial ones, particularly those about to be inundated by rising seas.

Roz Savage was there, on dry land for a while, preparing to row from Hawai’i to one of two South Pacific island nations already noticing the rising power of the relentless sea in their daily lives. Savage addresses her concern at that time:

The environmental world was abuzz with preparations for the conference. Newsletters and emails were flying around the globe as various campaigns [including some here at Firedoglake] rallied the troops to save the world. After decades of slow-burning activism, Copenhagen had come to represent a pivotal moment in the environmental movement. There was a real sense that if we didn’t win this battle, the war was as good as over.

It was a cruel irony that the countries where I was considering making landfall at the end of Satege 2 of my Pacific row had among the smallest carbon footprints in the world, yet would be the first and worst effected, while the affluent nations that had created the problem had more resilient infrastructure and were better equipped to adapt to a new climate. This was not just an environmental issue; it was about human rights.

In the new book, Roz Savage leaves us wondering how she reacted to the sellouts that transpired at Copenhagen. Yet her blog entries around the time of the conference reveal far more, as she came to realize how awful the conduct of the major industrial powers’ representatives had been:

I was among the first handful of people to arrive at TckTckTck’s Fresh Air Center, and headed for the row of communal computers. Bill McKibben arrived a few minutes later, and sat at the computer next to me. As he greeted me I apologized. I had read his 350.org newsletter yesterday and knew that he was fasting today in a show of solidarity with the poor of the world. And I was sitting with a caramel latte and croissant at my side. Even worse, my latte was in a disposable cup, my lovely Sigg mug having been stolen along with everything else.

“Hey, at this stage, a coffee cup isn’t going to make much difference,” he said. He was in self-confessed bitter mood. As the talks in the Bella Center reach their most intense – and tense – stage yet, he was pessimistic. He opined that the collapse of the talks might be the best outcome we can hope for.

“And do you think there will be another COP in July?” I asked.

“We could have COPs until the end of time, and we still wouldn’t agree anything,” he said.

I looked at him, stunned and speechless. My eyes misted. I didn’t want to believe that I had just heard him say what he had just said. I have known throughout that my optimism was based on a stubborn refusal to contemplate the consequences of failure in Copenhagen, rather than on any evidence that we might get a positive outcome, but tit was nonetheless a slap in the face to hear it stated so starkly, by a man whose opinion I respect.

Bill went on to tell me his view that COP15 has been a display of naked power. He told me that small countries have been threatened by the IMF that it will withdraw its funding if they don’t toe the line. He gave an example of a small country that had been promised two new hospitals by the Chinese if it would back their position here. Money talks, and here it has been talking the message of business as usual, and continued financial growth at the expense of our poor aching Earth.

I confessed to Bill that I had been naive when I arrived here. I really thought I could make a difference. I thought that the global leaders could surely not remain unmoved by such passionate demonstrations in support of a fair, ambitious, and legally binding deal on climate change.

But it seems I was wrong. I will leave Copenhagen more jaded than I arrived, but more realistic too, and hence hopefully more effective.

I wish the book had had more of such deep and telling anecdotes as this one.

Yet the book accomplishes quite a bit, and shows us how varied climate awareness actions can be, while treating us to a sea adventure yarn that would be very hard to beat.

I can’t wait to read about this vibrant person’s next endeavor. Hopefully, she will be able to update us during today’s book salon. Yesterday, she flew from London to Charleston, South Carolina, via Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m pleased that she has found time to be here.

Please join me in welcoming one of the most outstanding environmentalists I’ve yet had the privilege to encounter, Roz Savage.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

131 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Roz Savage, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific”

BevW December 29th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Roz, Welcome to the Lake.

ET, Welcome back to the Lake, thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

For our new readers/commenters:

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Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

A pleasure to be here, thanks ET.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

And thanks, Bev.

dakine01 December 29th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Roz and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon. Hey ET!

Roz, I have not had an opportunity to read your book but I am astounded by your courage and ability to go off alone like this. (I could never do it as I am a life long sufferer from motion sickness)

Forgive me if you address this in the book but how do you keep technology functioning on a small boat in the ocean? How do you re-charge batteries and maintain steering when you are sleeping?

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:02 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 2

Happy New Year to you, Roz – and to Bev, who works so hard to bring new books to firedoglake.

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Hi Roz welcome to the pollution capital of the world (USA). I started rowing at the Newport Aquatic center where many European competitors trained for water sports, canoeing, sculling. They were very much perfectionist. 2 to 4 hours in the bay usually close to all out. Just getting my callouses back after a broken foot. Swan a couple miles today in Morro Bay where I live now. You are the champ! The cost, your team and the boat?

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 6

We’re here. Hope you can get it to work, bb…

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 4

Great questions, dakine01.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hey Dakine01. I use solar panels connected to marine batteries to power all my electronics – watermaker, GPS, satphone, cameras, ipods etc.

As for steering, I have a rudder that gives me the illusion I have some control over the boat’s direction, but it’s always a bit of a tense moment when I turn on the GPS in the morning!

More info here, especially Q9. (http://www.rozsavage.com/faqs/)

I hope the book doesn’t make you seasick if you get around to reading it!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

P.S. to Dakine01 – I wasn’t brave when I set off, believe me. I was just too stubborn and proud to quit, and you pick up some courage along the way!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 9

Rather than make me queazy, your book got me imagining I was on the water, at sea. The longest I’ve been over the horizon was for about three weeks, on a tug boat, pulling barges from the Aleutians to Seattle. The longest I’ve been in a rowboat has been for most of one day.

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Mahalo, Roz, for your sheer grit and determination…! What a pleasure to see you here at the Lake…!

BevW December 29th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 10

As a technical note,
there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and number you are replying to and helps for everyone in following the conversation.

(Note: If you’ve had to refresh your browser, Reply may not work correctly unless you wait for the page to complete loading)

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Well, that’s a lot more than most people, ET! It’s a very different feeling, being out at sea, knowing that you’re a long way from help if you run into bad weather or technical problems. I can’t wait to see the new film All Is Lost, but it’s not out in the UK yet.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Roz,

Among ocean rowers and solo ocean rowers, what degree of awareness is there of the dangers of climate change, oceanic pollution and so on? Is the level of concern growing?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 12

Pleasure to be here! Let me guess…. you’re in Hawaii?!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to BevW @ 13

Thanks for the reminder, Bev!

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Exciting to have you here Roz.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 15

In all honesty, I feel a bit out of the loop of ocean rowing – but will be very much back into the loop next May/June, when I’ll be in Monterey to help supervise the start of the Great Pacific Rowing Race. It will be interesting to find out.

I do know that one of the entrants, Elsa Hammond, is rowing for the Plastic Oceans Foundation, so she at least is aware and eager to do something to help spread awareness of the problem.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 14

Thinking of the plot of All is Lost, I remember that you mused on your blog that in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you might be further from another human being than any other person on the planet. I would find that perhaps more troubling than reassuring.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:13 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 18

Thanks, bigbrother!

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Hey everyone, excited for this salon. Hope everyone is well.

Roz, I’m almost done with your wonderful book. Reading it has really given me a lot of images I hadn’t ever thought of and felt I was right there with you. This is my first book I’ve read and first time I’ve heard about your work, which has really affected my knowledge on environmentalism.

My question is have you still kept in touch with the numerous people you encountered throughout the book like with the people at Tarawa? Has anything significant changed for them since your row in the Pacific?

spocko December 29th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Hello and welcome to FDL.

I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. My question is about leverage. If as our host writes you came to realize how bad the conduct of the major industrial powers’ representatives was/is did it inspire any thoughts about ways to thwart them?

Lately I’ve been thinking that exposing their actions is just part of the process, that figuring out leverage points is important. You saw how a big country used leverage on small ones against positive environmental actions.

Thoughts on how to obtain leverage to force change? Financial sanctions, Trade sanctions? Other methods?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 20

Errr, yes, I found it generally best not to think about it too much!

But having seen Gravity, maybe space is even worse… at least I didn’t have debris storms to contend with.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
In response to spocko @ 23

spocko rocko! Great questions.

I have to admit that one of the things I appreciated most about Roz’s book was reading the work of somebody far more optimist than I am about political or corporate climate actions having meaningful results in the future.

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:19 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 16

Aloha, Roz, I live in Hilo on the Big Isle…! What was it like first espying the Isles…?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 22

Hi BrandonJ. Really glad you’ve enjoyed the book, and found it meaningful.

I’ve kept in touch with many of the people from the book, but admittedly more with the folks in Hawaii and California than Tarawa, which is SO difficult to get to. David Lambourne went to work in Nauru (which I think is the world’s smallest nation – about 10,000 people) after the Kiribati government ended his contract.

I’ve also stayed with Jan Messersmith (you may not have got to that part of the book yet, if I haven’t yet arrived in Papua New Guinea) – after his wife Eunie died he moved to Sedona, Arizona, and remarried.

So I don’t know that much about recent developments in Tarawa. I’m guessing you’re interested in the ongoing effects of climate change. I should find out….

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Reading the book for this book salon was the first I’d heard of your amazing rowings. I particularly loved how the umbilical cord with your Mom was hooked up so strongly. Are the two of you that close when you’re not out in the middle of the ocean?

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:22 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 24

We loved that film. Talking about it in the car with our daughter, driving back from California to Seattle earlier in the week, she thought it ironic how Sandra Bullock’s character almost drowned after all the weirdness of space junk.

On the CA trip, as I re-read your book, we drove past Sausalito, the air field in Mendocino County, and the USCG base at Humboldt Bay – all of which figure in your Pacific voyage.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:23 pm
In response to spocko @ 23

Great question, spocko. I think there are 3 ways we need to tackle our environmental challenges – government policy, corporate policy, and individual actions. I’ve been more focused on changing individual behaviour so far, but as time runs shorter to find solutions, bigger and bolder moves are becoming necessary.

I’m not sure I’m the best person to take up arms against big corporations – the big nonprofits are probably in a better position to lobby. But I’m open to suggestions!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:24 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 25

ET, I’m not sure I’m all that optimistic. I wouldn’t say this in many public fora, but I feel I’m among friends here. There are days when I feel it’s really all too late, and people just aren’t motivated to change. But there’s not much point sobbing into my pillow about it (although I sometimes feel the urge). There’s still a lot to play for – there are degrees of environmental disaster, so we can aim for “just” a major disaster instead of a complete extinction event.

RevBev December 29th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Roz, Mostly I celebrated your courage and all the ways you managed the difficulties…..My question is less taxing: How did you decide/manage the task of getting rid of all your stuff? That seemed like such an accomplishment.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:26 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 28

So glad someone mentioned my Mum! My father had died just the year before I set out across my first ocean (the Atlantic) so who knows – maybe we would have become closer anyway – but the transformation in our relationship has been wonderful, and a great source of happiness to me. I’m so proud of her – she’s amazing. 75 next month and (apart from a broken ankle at the moment) doing really well indeed.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
In response to RevBev @ 32

Hi RevBev. Not sure it’s an approach I would recommend, but the ending of my marriage was a great way to leave most of my stuff behind! My ex still lives in the house we bought, and one day I might go back and collect a few things, but it’s been 11 years now and I haven’t missed any of it. Then the rest I just sold. Even my books. And haven’t missed it at all.

Even now I maintain a fairly fluid relationship with possessions. For whatever reason I’ve suffered disproportionately from theft, so have had all kinds of things stolen on a regular basis. That certainly breeds non-attachment!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 30

There is a fairly inactive Facebook group, Occupy Oceans, that used to keep up to date on climate protests having to do with oceanic pollution, overfishing, acidification, etc. I started a Facebook group two years ago, called Occupy Fisheries, that takes up climate change and oceanic pollution issues, along with fishery issues.

Maybe time for an Occupy Ocean Rowing activist group?

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 30

Interestingly, on Jan. 17th, all plastic shopping bags are banned here on the Big Isle, despite intense pressure from the Big Box stores and grocers…! This past year was a probationary period, and as a local article pointed out yesterday, everybody has transitioned away from them with relative ease…! ;-)

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Roz can you describe your rowing techniques such as half slide for more power in high wind and waves or current. And in good conditions full strokes with strokes per minute. How many hours a day rowing slow medium or fast. And have you done any sculling with the great British clubs?

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 2:33 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 27

Thanks, just one more chapter left so that knowledge gives me more insight on the lives of the people you meet.

I have to admit, I’ve never been at sea ever in my life and the only time I’ve been somewhere in the Atlantic, it’s always been in an airplane. Not much emphasis on going to sea where I live and how I grew up so you brought a lot of interesting stories.

The chapter I finished yesterday, “Do Not Look Outside Yourself for the Leader,” and your thoughts on letting go of materialism due to its environmental damage (it was haunting when you talked about plastic bottles as you reached the end of your trip) reminded me of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “radical revolution of values.” Is letting go of materialism a difficult challenge in your mind for our society? Would it require such a “radical revolution”?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:33 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 26

Wonderful to see the islands! I’ve spent some time on the Big Island – in fact, and just between you and me, I preferred it to Oahu….

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:33 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 33

May your mum heal soon. Your relationship to your mother has been one of my favorite parts of your blog.

Along with helping with ocean rowing events in Monterey and elsewhere, have you formulated many plans for 2014?

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 2:33 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 33

I was astounded to read about your leaving the boat to swim for a piece of equipment that had gone overboard, then you realizing you didn’t have the strength to keep swimming back until you remembered a nightmare your Mom had about them finding the boat without you. Not wanting that to happen in real life, you found an extra reserve of strength in order to not have your Mom’s nightmare come true. She literally saved your life in that situation. Thanks Mom!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:34 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 36

Well, we used to manage perfectly well without plastic bags. Everyone would just take their own bags to the store.

Good for the Big Island. England has FINALLY said it will ban single-use plastic bags…. in 2015…. and only in certain size of companies…. but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 36

Sweet. I was just in Issaquah, Washington, where they have started the same policy. Might be a while before we become so enlightened in Wasilla.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 41

Indeed! OMG, but was she furious when I told her what had nearly happened! :-)

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 40

I’ve got quite a few speaking engagements lined up in the UK in early 2014. And we’re blowing the dust off a plan that I first hatched in 2011, called TrashMobs – a series of beach and riverbank cleanups connected by a human-powered journey. We plan to pilot the concept around the UK in 2015, with a view to taking it global.

Not saying it’s going to save the world, but we have to start somewhere, and our plastic pollution is a disgusting legacy to leave for future generations (assuming they exist).

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Wind and Wave power! Growing very fast as is solar. We can do it.

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I also loved how gracious Aenor was when you decided not to launch after all her efforts to help it happen. What a sweet strong soul! Have you two stayed in touch?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:40 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 37

Ah, that’s an interesting question! The amount of slide I could use was inversely proportional to the roughness of the water. Often I was just trying to get both oars in the water at more or less the same time – and not fall off the seat. Definitely a lot more upper body involved than in flat water rowing.

On flat water, around 20 strokes a minute. Well, they were VERY long oars!

And 9-12 hours a day normally. Depending on mood and conditions.

I started rowing at Oxford University back in the 80s, and represented the university twice. Then I was at Thames Rowing Club in London for about 4 years before caving in to pressures of work.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:41 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 45

I remember when you wrote about the TrashMobs back then. I thought it was a great idea, with a lot of potential for creating TrashMob FlashMobs with music for Youtube. My friend Debbie Fink in London is pretty good at organizing musical flashmobs and activist events.

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

You are a gifted athlete and were surrounded by same. Very very interesting thanks for the answer. Peace and happiness.

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:43 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 39

I preferred it to Oahu…

Amen to that…! I remember seeing a pic of you setting foot on the Big Isle, but, I can’t find it now…! Where did you first land here in Hilo…? I live right on the Bay, on Banyan Drive, and want to see where you first set foot…!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 48

In early April or late March 1999, my family got to watch the club day on the Thames. We were guests of a member of one of the clubs – Rob Le Frenais from Arts Catalyst. We watched him row. Then, when the row-by is concluded, all the rowers from the clubs and schools gather at the clubhouses. They all have pubs or bars. I have never seen so many sloshed rowers in one place in my life. A great day to remember.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 38

It’s quite hard to answer that question. I look in one direction, and I see so many people giving up lucrative but soul-destroying jobs to do something more worthwhile instead.

But I look in other directions and see as much over-consumption going on as ever – the festive season being a case in point.

So it’s hard to know which way we are going as a society. But two thoughts:

1. I haven’t heard of anybody who quit the lucrative job who has regretted it, or gone back.

2. I believe we’re looking at a new level of human evolution, when we say “enough is enough” – in the developed world we have more than enough to meet our needs, but not our greed (to paraphrase Gandhi) – and I would like to think that we will see a new brand of global citizen who would feel appalled at the idea that they are using up more than their fair share of our resources.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:47 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 47

Oh yes, still very much in touch with Aenor. She’s a keeper! :-) We’ve seen a lot of each other over the years since 2007.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 49

Maybe you could put me in touch with her?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 51

Awww, sorry – I didn’t actually row to the Big Island. I cheated and flew there. I was staying at a friend’s ranch some way above sea level, outside Kona. Would love to come back one day!

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Roz, what are your thoughts on shifting our petroleum based plastics to hemp plastics…?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 52

I’m going to guess that was a Head of the River Race, where several hundred crews race against the clock, procession-style. And then all these finely-honed athletes retreat to their rowing club bars to get, as you say, completely sloshed!

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Another part of the book I really enjoyed was how sweet and easy your arrival and stay in Madang was made for you. Especially so, since you’d expected to have a celebratory beer by yourself with no one noting your arrival.

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 2:52 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 56

Did you hike down to Capt Cook’s monument in Kealakekua Bay…? ;-)

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:52 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 55

I’ll be happy to do that. Good luck with getting the TrashMobs going.

One thing that has struck me, at least with the London area, is how little recycling infrastructure exists there. Seems to me, the right person or group could become millionaires creating flexible programs.

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Add some yoga stretching to loosen the kinks and add some flexibility. Rowing with my dog in the bay with all the wildlife was great fun. Barking at seals watching flocks of birds must have been some fun moments for you too.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 2:54 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 58

That was it. It was also the first nicely warm, sunny day of the spring there. So colorful, with all the teams and clubs wearing their rowing colors. Part of why our daughter became a rower.

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 2:57 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 53

Fascinating, I’ve read and heard a lot on that, just letting go of a fast-paced environment for a more natural one.

I suppose a collective effort would be needed for such a change.

Would you say your journey is one of a collective group rather than of an individual? Specificially, I noticed throughout the book the numerous people you met, learned lessons from and stories you had to share with all of us. I though originally it was going to be an individual journey, but the more I think about it, it seems like a journey with a lot of people for one goal.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 64

Indeed. Solo ocean rowing on the level Roz has performed it is a team effort.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 57

Biodegradable plastics are better than non-biodegradables, but mostly I think we need to get out of our “disposable” mentality. It is so wasteful of resources. Even hemp plastics will need investment of water and land that could otherwise be used to grow food for an expanding population.

I see that big claims are being made for hemp, but while we continue to think it’s okay to use something once and then throw it away, we have no chance of achieving true sustainability.

In case you’re interested, here’s a recent blog post I wrote about sustainability….

Suzanne December 29th, 2013 at 3:01 pm

roz – welcome to fdl and et, always a pleasure to have you hosting book salon.

i’ve not read your book (yet) but i started following your blog when you were preparing for your attempt that ended off the norcal coast – a friend of mine told me about your plans and i was hooked.

how hard was it to stay ‘connected’ when out at sea?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 59

I know… that was such an amazing experience. Amazing what an interconnected world we have now!

And it was great that I was able to give a couple of talks at schools in Papua New Guinea too. So strange to think that I may have influenced some young lives half a world away….

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 60

Ah…. must put that on my list for next time!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 61

I think we’re getting better – most of the city has kerbside recycling now. It’s still pretty confusing, and not as good as Germany, but a lot better than it used to be.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 67

{{{{Suzanne}}}}

That’s a firedoglake hug, Roz. Suzanne lives very close to the sea, on the Oregon coast.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:04 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 62

Yes, stretching is SO important! Whether at sea or not.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 68

You’ve spoken and written quite eloquently about the need to engage young people in your environmental efforts, and generally. Do you get a sense that they will bring enough to the battle to change its course?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 64

You’re so right. The rowing itself was intensely solitary, but I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing support from my many friends – both the ones I’d met and the ones I’d never met. Literally thousands of people supported me over the years.

This is why I maintain my belief that when a person has absolute clarity of purpose, a well-defined goal, and it’s going to make the world a better place – people will rally to the cause. There are so many people who want to do good, and find an outlet for that energy – if I/we can just find a series of projects that will deliver measurable results and benefit the world as a whole, we might really be onto something.

rosalind December 29th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 66

(add Los Angeles to cities banning plastic bags…as of January 1st)

Suzanne December 29th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 71

(((et))) thanks dood — am inland now along the columbia river 27 miles north of portland and miss the ocean something fierce (but not the heating with wood only).

having experienced some of the fierceness of the pacific ocean – albeit from land — i am so in awe of roz.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 71

Thank you for following my blog! And I hope you will enjoy the book. :-)

I used a satphone to stay connected while at sea. I’d phone my mother a couple of times a week, and record the podcast – but mostly the phone was turned off. It’s prohibitively expensive to use.

The satphone also served as my data modem – but think of the slowest, flakiest connection you ever had, and divide it by ten. So many times I would quite happily have chucked the damn thing overboard! But the blog was really important, as a way of staying in touch with everybody back home.

More about my onboard technology here on my website.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:12 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 76

If you go downstream to Cathlamet and take the ferry from Puget Island to Oregon (or reverse), one of my old shipmates, Ralph Peterson, is the main skipper. Boy, does he have some sea stories that might rival Roz’s. bought my first commercial fishing bot from Ralph in 1974.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:12 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 76

I lived in Hood River for a while (well, White Salmon, actually, but not many people have heard of that) and also visited Cannon Beach. What a gorgeous part of the world!!

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 3:12 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 66

I’d certainly like to see Hemp replace all of that gmo corn grown for ethanol, HFCS, silage, etc…! ;-)

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:13 pm
In response to rosalind @ 75

Hurrah! And if LA can ban plastic, that really sets a precedent.

What a nice name you have…. my full name is also Rosalind!

Suzanne December 29th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 77

thank you! the amount of prep work — the thinking ahead that was required for your journey was incredible.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 73

I was certainly tremendously impressed with the young people I met in Copenhagen. i hope they can keep their enthusiasm going through the setbacks that the environmental movement has suffered recently. And that they reach positions of power before everything is irretrievably mucked up.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 77

Yours was only the second blog I encountered that was being run by a person on an epic wilderness adventure while simultaneously posting updates along the way. The first was that run by Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman (erin & hig) as they walked and pac rafted from Seattle to the Aleutians.

I wonder if anyone has made a list of people like you and them who somehow manage to keep connected globally while so far out there on the edge, alone.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 80

Amen to that!

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 69

Should take a Kayak out onto the bay too, and frolic with the spinner dolphins, which was a blast…! ;-)

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 82

That’s very true. I find that’s a side of my “work” that people tend to forget about. I wasn’t just twiddling my thumbs the other 8 or 9 months of the year. Raising money, refurbishing the boat, sometimes getting it shipped from one place to another – all took tons of organisation.

In fact, strangely, I’m really glad that I had those years as a management consultant/project manager. This was just another project – just a really big one, and one on whose success my life depended!

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Roz I am an Organic home gardener. Sustainable practice has to be learned as it is not offered in our school required curriculum. The same techniques you used for nutrition in your voyage sprouting seeds making your own water supply can be used in supplying your kitchen from an organic garden. I have a 5 gallon can I fill then dump into my soil compost recycling it all. I expect and need less. I plant weekly and daily even in December there re things to harvest. Recycled windows and doors keep in warmth and moisture and bugs are deterred. Even the soil bacteria are enriched in turn providing nutrients. Being part of that is living more sustainably. Like living homeless the ocean journeys must have bounty too.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:19 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 86

I’d have to chip away about 27 inches of ice right now if I wanted to take a row on my lake. May is just around the corner, though……

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Your book has inspired me and got me thinking.

I’ve been an environmental and political activist for a very long time now and while it’s important work that needs to be done, I’m also wondering, partly as a result of reading your book, what it is I would like to do that would really nourish me with the time I have left on earth (I figure about 20-25 years.)

What’s come up so far is to be at the beach, in warm weather, making something that’s good for people that they’ll enjoy and that also serves the planet.

Some of my most satisfying times have been camping for winters at the tip of Baja California in community with absolutely minimal essentials.

Thank you so much for the inspiration of your story.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:22 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 87

I think that your management background has had a lot to do with your success as fundraiser and communicator. So different from the discipline needed athletically in many ways, though.

rosalind December 29th, 2013 at 3:23 pm

i look forward to reading your book!

as a lover of wooden boats, i enjoyed yesterday’s article in the SF Chronicle on a Mill Valley company that is building replicas of an 1892 Adirondacks guideboat.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:23 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 90

what a great comment, greenwarrior.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 84

I think there have been quite a lot of them actually. In 2013 I started The Adventure Podcast, and each week I chat with a different adventurer who has done something amazing/impressive/inspiring – and many of them have managed to stay in touch with the outside (or should that be “inside”?!) world.

For so many adventurers now, they have sponsors and supporters that they need to stay in touch with. It’s a major PITA using satellite technology, but nowadays it’s expected.

There’s an old-fashioned part of me that would have loved to just row off into the sunset and not communicate until I got back to dry land…. but you just can’t do that any more. Couldn’t have done that to my poor long-suffering mother, apart from anything!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 86

Oh wow, sounds amazing!!

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 74

I think those lessons are one that live such an impression. Your entire journey is just fascinating for me. Lessons I’ve learned in other areas like music and things I hadn’t really considered.

You mention in your book the COP in Copenhagen and ET’s great introductory post on the conference in 2009. Just a few months ago was the COP in Warsaw and it was barely reported here in the U.S. and still had disagreements and stalemates not needed. How have you approached recent summits as compared in 2009?

spocko December 29th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
In response to rosalind @ 75

I heard recently that Harvard was banning disposable plastic bottles.

A friend who created a razor with a five year blade found this EPA study from a few years ago. Mind boggling.
Sadly his long lasting durable razor and blade didn’t get crowd funded. :-(
Here is the link http://bornsharp.com/the_bornsharp_system he is hoping that someone with an appreciation of the negative environmental impact of disposable will want to invest.
The inertia to get people to change their behavior is high.

Did you know
every year in the United States we
dispose of…
1 billion foil-lined fruit juice boxes
2 billion used batteries
25 billion styrofoam cups
700,000 old TVs
1.6 billion disposable pens
700,000 junked cars
2 billion disposable razors
15 million tons of food
16 billion disposable diaper

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 93

:)

And thank you so much for hosting!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:28 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 90

I’m coming round to the point of view that our best way of communicating environmental awareness is to couch it in very different terms. Partly being the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi again) and partly encouraging the “right” (eco) behaviours by using new knowledge about neuroscience – which I think has huge implications for cultural change and the art of persuasion.

So – what is the best way to use our time for the greater good of the planet? Probably a silver buckshot approach, not a silver bullet. Doing something you love, in a way that does no harm and communicates your environmental values to other people – that sounds like a pretty fantastic idea to me!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:28 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 94

What a great idea! I looked at the podcast link once and failed to realize the importance of what you are doing there. Check it out, firepups.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:30 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 98

Always a pleasure in one way or another. This one happens to also be fun.

Suzanne December 29th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

what plans do you have in the future, roz?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:35 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 96

I haven’t attended any of the summits since 2009. Not wanting to rack up airmiles unnecessarily (I hiked/got the train to Copenhagen) I always checked in with eco friends to find out if there would be anything useful I could do there – and generally there didn’t seem to be. I think a huge amount of momentum was lost in 2009. I’ve heard we’re further back now than we were then, in terms of getting a fair and binding agreement. I’m no longer convinced that the UN has the authority or structure that will lead to the kind of action that we need.

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 101

Btw, ET… Happy Anniversary to you and the Mz…! *g*

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 3:39 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 99

Yes doing no harm is a great mantra for sustainability. The Joie de Vivre can be celebrated with each breath. And google Los Osos Baywood Park near Morro Bay then visit us. We are bicycle range of Big Sur. Rowing and paddling in the Bay and coast filled with kelp and Otters. The fastest bird famous Perigrine Falcon and much more on these ancient sand dunes and the Morro Rock. You will love it. 72 degrees sunny all day. Yeah you do need to visit us. Smiling

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:39 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 103

As I noted in the cover essay for this salon session, we were pretty frustrated with COP 15 here at firedoglake too. The succeeding summits have been mostly charade.

Have you been in touch with Japanese ocean rowers? Is there growing concern in the rowing community about radiation pollution from Fukushima’s ongoing meltdowns?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
In response to spocko @ 97

Those statistics are absolutely horrifying – and I suspect that, per capita, the UK is not much better. It would be even more horrifying to see how long the “afterlife” of those things are.

Not only are there now more than twice as many humans as there were when I was born (1967) but we are all consuming more than ever…. and the developing countries aspire to consume as much as the developed world. Whichever way you look at it, this is unsustainable.

Your friend’s idea sounds fantastic. Maybe the timing and/or the marketing just weren’t quite right. I hope that project/product sees the light of day – that is the kind of waste-free thinking that we need.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 104

Thanks, CT. Cutting up fresh spearmint between sets of keystrokes, as we prep for this afternoon-evening’s Holiday Party. Wish you were here.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to bigbrother @ 105

Oh, I know Morro Bay! We were there earlier this year, on a business/pleasure road trip that stretched from Seattle to LA. We had a great evening in the Otter Rock Cafe. Too bad I didn’t know you then!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 107

spocko is one of the most creatively innovative commenters we have here. If I were planning to row for a cause (I’m not!!!) I’d ask him to be my manager.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:44 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 100

Yes, please do! I’m loving doing the podcast – getting to talk with so many inspiring guests, and a very different kind of adventurer these days – kind of humble and wanting to share the love, not that certain kind of old-fashioned kind of privileged explorer at all. Really amazing people.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:46 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 110

Sadly my rowing days are over (well, actually, I’m not that sad – although of course there are aspects that I miss) – but I’ve certainly enjoyed this conversation with spocko – and all your other folks.

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 112

As far as your rowing days being over, do you think you’ve already tempted the fates enough?

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 112

When I imagine a long sea voyage it seems like something I might want to do, even love to do. Then when I’m out there (my last one was salvaging, renovating and skippering an old WWII tugboat from Kodiak to Seattle in 1999) I realize that the romance of the sea is best viewed from afar. At least at my age…..

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:51 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 102

Whatever it is, it will have an environmental focus. That’s still the #1 issue of our times, and my overriding passion.

I answered a question a bit earlier in which I mentioned TrashMobs – there seems to be an emerging amount of good energy happening around that, so I think that is going to be a major focus for 2014….

Along with getting my finances back in order. I’ve done far too much work “because it’s right” rather than “because it’s paid” in 2013 – and my bank balance is feeling the pain!

So if anybody knows a company looking to throw some money at a AMAZING motivational speaker, do let me know! :-)

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 3:51 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 103

I suppose my final question relates to the beauty of the sea. Throughout the book, I couldn’t help imagine most of the time it was a sunny day with sounds of the waves and birds flying by (perhaps cliches I’ve seen and read).

Was this the most natural environment you felt? I know you faced struggles throughout your journey, ones I couldn’t put down as I wanted to see how it continued. I almost felt the sea gave new energy and exposed our own pure human nature at work.

BevW December 29th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

As we come to the few minutes of this great Book Salon discussion. Any last thoughts?

Roz, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, your life, and our environmental crisis.

ET, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Roz’s website, podcast and books

ET’s website

Thanks all, Have a very Happy New Year!

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 113

I don’t know… arguably, I’m now so experienced that I should be okay, no matter what.

But the main point is that, after 3 oceans, my boat was exhausted. So was I.

And the opportunity cost of spending 3-5 months a year at sea is quite considerable – no conferences, no internet, no personal connections. And as the time runs out for our planet, I feel the need for more direct action.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:53 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 114

Actually, I didn’t find the romance of the sea at all…. an amazing teacher, but a brutal one!

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:56 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 116

Errr, no. That’s not my typical memory. Mostly rough seas, annoying winds, navigational frustrations, breaking technology… and sadly rare visits from wildlife – so much of it having been decimated.

I recently read back through my logbooks, which contained a one-line description of each 3-hour rowing shift. Many were unrepeatable!

But there were, yes, magical moments too. And I wouldn’t change those years of hardship for anything in the world. Hard times, easy times – it;s been amazing, character-building, life-changing.

Priceless.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 119

Well said.

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to BevW @ 117

Thanks, Bev – it’s been a real pleasure. I loved meeting everybody, and hope they enjoyed it too.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and an amazing 2014, full of happiness and meaning!!

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 118

Will your boat be placed in a maritime museum?

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 123

Yes! It’s in Newport Beach Maritime Museum, now known as ExplorOcean. They have created a fantastic exhibit. Please go see Sedna, and tell her hi from me!!

Happy New Year!

greenwarrior December 29th, 2013 at 3:59 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 122

All the best for you as you go forward!

CTuttle December 29th, 2013 at 3:59 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 118

Mahalo Nui Loa, Roz…! Godspeed in all your worthy endeavors…! *g*

Roz Savage December 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Thanks ET, thanks Bev, thank you everbody.

Signing off now…. until the next time/book!

bigbrother December 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 112

My rowing days are just beginning. You are a great example in your 50s working out 10 hours a day. I will keep adding activities, strength training, blogging, reading, repairing my scull, biking, paddling. I started my environmental education in 1968 in New Age Natural Foods near Golden Gate park. Happy New Year everyone gotta read the book and the blog. Hugs to you and your mom Roz.

EdwardTeller December 29th, 2013 at 4:01 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 127

{{{{Roz Savage}}}}

Elliott December 29th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thank you for coming Roz, this was a fun and fascinating salon.

And thanks ET, you a greatious host!

and yay BevW

BrandonJ December 29th, 2013 at 4:03 pm
In response to Roz Savage @ 120

Ah yeah, I remember those parts. I guess I found those magical moments you wrote about much more beautiful and memorable.

Thank you Roz for your work! Your book was wonderful and I wish you well in your future endeavors.

Thanks to ET for hosting, hope the rest of your day goes well.

Thanks to Bev as well for this wonderful hosting session and for everyone else too.

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