By Paula Damon
“I had no choice but to find the strength.” Roz Savage, ocean rowing champ
The story of Rosalind “Roz” Savage pretty much tells itself. You wouldn’t think that the first woman to row solo across three oceans had ever reached rock bottom. And this was right before she pointed the bow of a 23-foot ocean rowboat and began her journey across the Atlantic.
Newly divorced in 2005 at the age of 38, the British-born Savage ditched her day job in London for higher ground on the open seas where for days she would not see land or speak to anyone other than herself.
This daughter of not one, but two Methodist pastors had worked in her office job for 11 years before deciding to take on 20-foot waves, being capsized multiple times and nearly dying from dehydration.
Just reading about her “3,000-mile trial by sea” would make the bravest of land dwellers shutter. During her first transoceanic journey across the Atlantic in 2005, which took 103 days, 5 hours, 43 minutes, Savage rowed 2,935 miles, consumed 462 breakfast bars, averaged 12 hours of rowing per day, lost 30 pounds and endured 24 days without communication.
She traveled across the Pacific in three installments over a period of three years. During the first leg from San Francisco to Hawaii in 2008, she clocked 2,324 miles, lost 25 pounds and listened to 62 audio books.
The second stage from Hawaii to the Island of Kiribati in 2009 took 104 days, crisscrossing the Equator twice, losing 30 more pounds and encountering whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles and squid.
On the third and last leg of her trans-Pacific quest from Kiribati to Papua New Guinea in 2010, her stats were very similar to the first two-thirds, except this time she sighted numerous pirate container ships, which she reports were “far too many for comfort.”
Self-described as “a latecomer to the life of adventure,” Savage has racked up mind-boggling statistics that literally changed her life.
Today, after 15,000 miles, five million oar strokes and over 500 days at sea in a small craft, she uses her uncommon sea adventures as raw material to inspire people like you and me.
As the only woman in the world to row alone across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the former management consultant has broken four ocean rowing world records, entered The Guinness World Book of Records and has not looked back.
Savage has authored two books: “Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean” (Simon & Schuster) and “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific” (Hay House), was awarded the 2010 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and named Member of the Order of the British Empire.
World records aside, the most compelling part of Savage’s accomplishments is that she’s a lot like you and me, readily admitting she doesn’t have the stuff of which super heroes are made.
“In case you have formed the impression that I am some kind of athlete, adventurer or adrenaline junkie,” she purports, “I should make clear at the outset my near total lack of qualifications for this undertaking.”
Like all of us when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, at times her courage grew slack and her spirit was troubled. She didn’t think she would survive all alone out there in the middle of the ocean with blistered hands, a headlamp as her only light, broken oars, failed satellite communication and bad weather looming on the horizon.
Although, Savage reminds us, “I had no choice but to find the strength.”
You would think the net positives of these crazy challenges are not relatable to our everyday lives. Some might even argue the woman had lost her mind.
But Rosalind Savage begs to differ. Now, as she reflects on her thrice transcontinental treks, which have been covered prolifically in the media and on the web, she uses her multiple stories of survival to offer insights on finding happiness through living a meaningful and rewarding life.
She explains, “The ocean forced me to develop courage, tenacity and perseverance to transcend self-imposed limits.”
[Find the strength to go on.]