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Oceans to Cross: Roz Savage


What’s it like to be a million oar strokes from your destination, tossed alone in a tiny boat? Ask Roz Savage, the one-time management consultant turned full-time rower, environmental advocate, and inspirational speaker. Roz departs Hawaii today bound for Tuvalu on the second leg of her trans-Pacific journey.

She’s already knocked off the Atlantic, a 103-day, 2,935-mile (4,723-kilometer) ordeal in 2005. Storms broke all of her oars and claimed her stove, stereo, and cockpit navigation instruments. Her satellite phone failed with nearly four weeks left on the journey. Undaunted, Roz rowed on.

She then set her sites on the Pacific, and in 2008, rowed solo from San Francisco to Hawaii, part one of a three-part journey that will total more than 7,200 miles (more than 11,500 kilometers). On the latest stretch, she’ll be blogging, podcasting, and tweeting the experience, which you can follow on her website—along with her estimated stroke count—via a Google maps mash-up called the RozTracker.

Roz is using the journey to draw attention to environmental problems that threaten the ocean, and to encourage individual action. From San Francisco to Hawaii, she urged followers to use less plastic, as long-lived plastic debris now litters the seas, killing marine animals. She’s devoting the leg that begins today to carbon emissions and climate change. (No accident she’s destined for Tuvalu, a low-lying nation of reef islands and atolls that may be threatened by rising seas and greenhouse-intensified storms.)

What makes Roz row? “I believe that if you don’t keep pushing the boundaries, your comfort zone will become smaller and smaller until you’re effectively shrink-wrapped; you can’t achieve anything, you can’t grow. So I keep on pushing, keep on developing, adapting, and showing what an ordinary person can do when they put their heart, mind, and soul into it.

“A lot of people don’t believe they can do anything to make a difference,” writes Roz. “You might think that your effort is just a drop in the ocean. But a drop spreads ripples.”

Learn more about Roz on her website and on the Pop!Tech blog. Learn more about National Geographic marine exploration on the Ocean Now website.

Roz Savage arrives in Hawaii after rowing from San Francisco.

Photograph courtesy Roz Savage