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How One Woman Is Striving To Save The Oceans She's Rowed

Monica Wilcox's picture

Roz Savage

Sometimes you set out to bring attention to a higher cause and before you know it YOU’VE become bigger than the cause.  Many might say this has happened to Roz Savage. But what would you expect for a woman who has rowed the world’s biggest oceans. 

For the last five months Roz has been rowing herself across the bottom half of the world. Can you even remember what you were doing on April 21st, mid-June, in the heat of July?  I don’t know about you but knowing there was a woman rowing, by herself, through pirate infested waters makes my summer look down right. . . sluggish.    

Roz is landing TODAY in Grand Baie, Mauritius. As the first woman to cross the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans she’s managed to row herself straight into the history books. It was a six year endeavor, involving 15,000 miles, 500 days at sea, and over 1,000 blog posts. Someone better be at the dock to give that woman a great big hug and a prize.

Behind this crowning achievement is the cause that drove Roz from her cozy, business suit career all those years ago. Serendipity shine upon her: she’s trying to save the very oceans she’s rowed. Unfortunately, her call for environmental awareness seems to be buried beneath her rowing success in the press, who is all agog with. . . well, with Roz. But if you’ve been following her quest you know how driven she is to trigger a global environmental awakening. So, as she spends the day stumbling around the Grand Baie Yacht Club searching for a pair of sturdy land legs, let us honor her, her accomplishment, and the oceans which allowed her to beat across their ever shifting faces.

What You May Not Know

Roz - At 5’ 4” and 43 years old many believed she was not tall enough or strong enough to cross the Atlantic.  Now that she’s crossed the “Big 3” she’s ready to hang up her oars. “I am not learning as much anymore. It is time to find myself a new challenge that will stretch me anew.”  

Ocean - Air pollution is responsible for 33% of the toxic contaminants that end up in the oceans and coastal waters, while 44% of the toxic contaminants come from river runoff.

Roz - Yes, she’s had her scary moments. On the night of April 9th her boat was ran over by four juggernauts; large waves that flipped her boat up to a 90 degree angle. “I spent most of the night lying awake, safety-strapped to my wet bunk, flinching at the sound of onrushing waves, and generally hating ocean rowing. But I also kept reminding myself that this too would pass, and that I’ve survived worse. (For the record, a full capsize (three times in 2007) is definitely worse than a knockdown.) 

Ocean - Each year, we dump three times as much rubbish into the world’s ocean as the weight of the fish we pull out of it.

Roz - Has no support boat. She communicates by an Iridium satellite phone to send emails, post on her blog, and make calls. “On the Atlantic the phone stopped working 24 days before the end of my journey. No weather forecasts, no blog posts, no calls to my mother. Strangely though I loved it. Not many people have the opportunity to experience such isolation, peace and quiet. It was a privilege.”

Ocean - The oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet and an estimated 50-80% of all life on earth. Only 10% of this space has been explored by humans. 85% of the area and 90% of the volume is within a cold, dark environment known as the deep sea.

Roz - Has to depend on the current and winds to steer her while she sleeps. “I set the rudder to keep the boat on course, leave a light on so ships see me, say a bedtime prayer and hope for the best. And the boat drifts where she will. About 80% of the time she drifts in the right(ish) direction.”

Ocean - The greatest percentage of the world’s consumed protein comes from fish.  The world’s major fisheries are currently being fished at a level that can not be sustained.

Roz - The food for these voyages must be long-lasting, uncrushable, light, compact, and full of calories. She consumed 1305 Larabars doing the Atlantic and Pacific rows. “I also grow my own bean sprouts onboard, using peas, beans and lentils in an Easy-Sprout pot. Despite all this good food I still tend to lose 25 pounds on each ocean crossing - then regain 30.”

Ocean - More oil is put in the oceans each year as a result of leaking automobiles and other sources than the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdes or the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

Roz - Roz is a United Nations Climate Hero, an Athlete Ambassador for 350.org, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an International Fellow of the Explorers’ Club of New York, among the Top Twenty Great British Adventurers and was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. You can read more about her journey in her book “Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean” and track the world wide celebration taking place this week at RozSavage.com

Ocean - One of the biggest steps you can make to improve the health of our oceans is to limit the plastic waste filling them.  Start by petitioning the 2012 Olympics to be plastic-bag-free.

Is there a cause that you feel passionate enough for to give up your comfortable life? Do you feel a single person can impact the health of an ocean?  Can you begin to imagine what Roz’s next “challenge” will be? 


Catherine's picture

Protecting our Oceans

Super post, Monica! What an incredible explorer Roz is. Your information on the ocean is valuaable. Our oceans and wildlife within are precious. I support all causes that work toward protection of these waters.

Monica Wilcox's picture

You Know It

As one who lives on the Pacific and gets to enjoy her treasures on a daily basis their health has to be even more critical for you, Catherine. We've got to get rid of this notion that they're human dumping zones.

Glad you liked the post girl.

Give a wave to the whales for me. :)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Such an amazing story

Monica, thank you for chronicling this for us. And Roz- wow girl! If all of us were inspired to follow our dreams so passionately and with the highest good in mind, the world would be such a better place.

Congratulations Roz!


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