By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
May 25, 2009
With kisses on her cheeks, blessings in her ears but nary a breeze at her back, environmental activist Roz Savage departed the Ala Wai Boat Harbor last night on the second leg of her ambitious solo rowing voyage across the Pacific.
Dozens of well-wishers lined E Dock to witness the launch. Several others manned canoes to escort the 41-year-old Brit into the open ocean.
Savage is undertaking the unprecedented odyssey to bring attention to pressing environmental issues in advance of the United Nations climate change summit in Denmark this December.
Last summer, Savage completed a 99-day, 2,700-mile voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu, becoming the first woman to row solo from California to Hawaii.
The destination for the second leg of her journey will depend on conditions in the Intertropical Convergence Zone at the equator. She'll undertake the final leg of her journey to Australia next year.
"I always find it challenging out there," Savage said. "It's always hard. I don't do it for fun, that's for sure. This year, more than ever, I've got strong reasons for doing this — getting across the message about climate change. And when my motivation starts lagging, that bigger picture will really help to keep me going."
As always, Savage will make the passage in her 23-foot rowboat, the Brocade, without the added security of an escort boat. She has a purifier to make drinking water, a bean sprouter to produce fresh vegetables, and a downloaded stock of audio books for entertainment.
"When it gets really hard, I have 'The Life of Brian' in there," she said. "If Monty Python can't cheer you up, nothing will."
For the next three months, the Life of Roz will include 11 hours of rowing each day, with half-hour respites to update her online journal, her Twitter account and her myriad of other high-tech communications efforts.
For Baker, the trans-Pacific journey is an appropriate enactment of her belief that healing the environment can be realized in the accrual of small personal decisions.
And as she set off alone, due south, Savage encouraged the public to take up her challenge in spirit by matching the 10,000 strokes she'll row each day with 10,000 walking steps.
"It's good for the body and good for the planet," she said.