What a Day! – The Arrival of Roz Savage

Posted in Madang Happenings on June 4th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today began for me at 04:30 when I loaded up Faded Glory  to go out to try to find Roz Savage. The day before she had told me that she planned to ease off and arrive in Madang the next morning. It was dark, of course, but as the sky lightened I began to scan with my binoculars. At about 06:00 I decided to call home and discovered I had left my cell phone on the charger. I decided to make a quick trip back to town to get it.

As I was coming into the harbour I saw Mike Cassell in Felmara  coming out. We stopped to chat. He told me that Brocade,  Roz’s boat, had been tied up all night next to the Kalibobo Spirit,  Sir Peter Barter’s boat. Much relieved that Roz wasn’t still rowing her heart out to get to Madang, I went back home for a while to wait for the official entrance. As Roz tells about in It’s Been Special,  Sir Peter put her up on Kalibobo Spirit  because it was legal for her to be on a boat at that point, but not dry land, as she had not yet cleared customs and immigration.

So, early in the morning Kalibobo Spirit  towed Brocade  out a short distance from the mouth of Dallmann Passage  and set her adrift with Roz turning herself toward Madang once again, repeating the hundreds of strokes which brought her to safety the night before. It was a spectacle which I doubt will be surpassed in my lifetime.

And, this is the very shot which I had been thinking of since I first heard about Roz’s visit to Madang:

Circumstances conspired to deliver to me a perfect image. Those of you do not live in Madang won’t know about our strong feelings about our Coastwatchers Monument. I’ve written about it so many times that it has its own tag in the Tags section of my sidebar. To catch Roz passing by and glancing over her shoulder at it is a gift.

Luck was with me again as the little flotilla of highly decorated canoes arranged so thoughtfully by Sir Peter Barter gave me once again the opportunity for an image which will always be among my favourites:

Sometimes everything just comes together.

It was very hectic in Dallmann Padssage.  I tried to simply stay out of the way and shoot as the opportunities arrived.  I did most of the shooting with a mid-telephoto setting:

This image of Roz standing in her frail life-capsule waving joyously at the welcoming crowd will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is uplifting and inspiring.

Over at the wharf, everything was strictly business. Roz spoke to the authorities and handed over her documents:

I should point out that I was surrounded by about thirty little canoes at this point. In order to get close enough to get pictures for Roz’s mother, Rita, a lady I would dearly love to meet, I had to slowly work my way in, asking the canoeists, “Sori, plis mi like kisim piksa. Mama bilong Roz em i bin askim me long kisim piksa.”  (Sorry, I would like to get pictures. Roz’s mother asked me to take pictures.) The people were very polite and guided me in among them for a few minutes so that I could get some shots.

I’ll have more images and stories of Roz’s adventures in The Land of Surprises over the next few weeks. I’ll leave you with this one. It’s a photographer’s shot. Some would say, “Hey, it all blurry.” But to me the motion blur speaks volumes:

After, months of isolation and 2.5 million oar strokes, Roz, with one quick step, concludes this segment of her incredible adventure. She carries a powerful message to us. Let us hope that there are ears here who will listen.

Lest anyone mistake me for a purely sentimental observer, I’ll admit to what everybody already knows. I’m am a glory hound. I have to be. We have to eat and the only thing that I have left to sell is myself. The more people who read what I write, the more doors open to Eunie and I for opportunities to make a living.

My arrangement with Roz’s mother was that I would provide all images to her free of charge, considering that Roz’s adventures are a non-commercial enterprise. My only request was that I receive photo credit. Roz’s Public Relations man Alan Murray has been kindly sending me links to show me where my images have been popping up. I’m frankly blown away by the growing list. You can catch old MadDog’s snapshots at ABC News, Roz Savage – Ocean Rower, ABC News (again!), CNET News. My fifteen minutes of fame may have finally arrived. Zowie!

I didn’t get this post finished on Friday, so I’m now looking out my bedroom window on Saturday morning at bright sunshine on the cocount trees. It’s Dive Day. Time to load up Faded Glory.  Our own little adventures will feel larger while Roz is with us.

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The Soaring Spirit – Roz Savage

Posted in Madang Happenings on June 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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You know, maybe a few times in one’s life come opportunities to feel a closeness to amazing human accomplishment – to meet, to observe, to appreciate people who magnificently overshadow the puny imaginations of the rest of us. Today I had that privilege. Today I met a woman in an improbable vessel in the placid calm of a mirrored indigo sea with flying fish swarming about. It was magical. I met Roz Savage.

I’f you’ve been living in a cave, you may not know about Roz. First, imagine getting into a rowboat. Now imagine rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.  Now imagine rowing around the world! Got that? Around the World!

You might want to take break from my drivel to visit her web site at Roz Savage, Ocean Rower.  In fact, I insist. I seldom insist.

I’ve been following Roz for some time. I admit to being an adventurer groupie. Roz is The Rock Star of adventurers. I clearly remember being mesmerised by the grainy images of Commander Neil Armstrong hopping off the ladder to land flat-footed on the moon. I never had the privilege of meeting Commander Armstrong. But, today I met Roz Savage. I just can’t stop saying it. I met Roz Savage.

Don’t mistake my comparison for hyperbole. Landing on the moon is a huge accomplishment. It was backed by a huge government with a huge budget and a huge national interest in making it happen. We can’t compare apples to oranges here, but both are sweet fruit.

What interests me here is the motivation. Roz’s tag line, Rowing towards a greener future,  says a lot about what drives her. I’ll say more about that later. First, let me take you with me as I relive this morning’s experience.

Here is the GPS chart from Faded Glory.  Last night, as if in a dream, I had the insane notion that I might be able to go out and find Roz to welcome her to Madang. I do a lot of goofy things, This is by no means the goofiest. I loaded up plenty of fuel and took off with three cameras, binoculars and a small bag containing some munchies and beer:

You can see my path out from Madang as the wobbly line from town to the lower left corner of the image. After nearly two hours I began to consider that she may have made better time that expected and I thought about turning back toward Madang to look for her. I saw a flash in the distance, but, through my binoculars, I could see that it was a sailfish jumping. A banana boat came along, heading to Madang. I waved them down and felt a little silly asking them if they had seen a woman in a big rowboat. They gave me a puzzled look. However, they did say that they had seen something  “over that way” in the distance. I started heading “over that way”.

Shortly thereafter I saw a black dot on the horizon. I thought, “This is crazy. It can’t be her.” I kept going and soon I could make out with my binoculars that it was, indeed. I gave a little more throttle to Faded Glory  and approached within another five minutes.

I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes. Roz allowed me to tag along until she was able to calculate whether she could make Madang before nightfall. If I let Faded Glory  drift after taking her out of gear I could get her down to about 2 knots. The numbers weren’t good. It looked to me as if Roz could, at best, arrive in Madang between 19:00 and 21:00. I nearly burst my buttons when she told me that those were also her numbers.

Not wishing to arrive during the night, Roz finalised her decision to ease off and arrive near the entrance to Madang Harbour at Dallmann Passage at about daybreak. This would allow her to enter the harbour passing the iconic Coastwatchers Monument at a time convenient for her welcoming party. This demeanor of consideration simply stuns me. I would be steaming to port as quickly as possible.

Speaking of welcomers, Sir Peter Barter made a splash near Roz yesterday when he dropped a care package with the obligatory beers and victuals from his helicopter. Sir Peter is hosting Roz and taking care of all of her needs for her visit here in Madang. I think that most people don’t realise what a big deal that is. It’s not just handing over the key to a hotel room. It is an enormous job and Sir Peter has the wherewithal to get it done. Roz is blessed to have such a trustworthy supporter here in Paradise.

As I made final arrangements for photography in the morning and passed over to Roz the little offering of goodies, I did not want to leave. I can’t explain that. Finally, I waved off and forced myself to shove the throttle forward and not look back. Suddenly, I felt that “old man thing” when unexpected tears blurred my vision. In my mind was the whisper, “May the wind be at your back, Roz.”

Roz had the composure, good humour and grace of a young woman out for a row on a glassy pond on a Sunday afternoon. I suppose that one must possess those qualities to do what she does. The heart of a lion and the soaring spirit of an eagle are also necessary attributes.

Earlier I said that I would mention more about what drives Roz. She says it best. I take the liberty of quoting directly from the page on her web site Roz and the Environment:

A lot of people don’t believe they can do anything to make a difference.

We can’t make other people do what’s right. But we can ensure that each of us as an individual does what’s right. Do your bit and encourage your friends, relatives and colleagues to do theirs.

You might think that your effort is just a drop in the ocean. But a drop spreads ripples.

I believe that our every word, every action, has consequences and effects far beyond what we will ever know. So I try to be mindful of the consequences of my actions, knowing that somewhere, somehow, they will have an effect.

If I throw this plastic bag into the river, might it end up in the sea, in the stomach of an albatross, inflicting a slow and painful death?

If I don’t recycle this glass bottle, then maybe not the next one, nor the one after that, over the course of my lifetime how many of my bottles will end up in landfill instead of being reused? Is that pile of bottles something I would want in MY backyard?

On the other hand, if I do the right thing – for example, if I ask for a paper bag in the store instead of a plastic one or, better still, take my own re-useable bag – might someone else notice my choice and decide to do the same?

If I take my reusable mug to the coffee shop instead of using a paper, plastic or styrofoam cup, how many disposable cups will I save in a year, in five years, in my life?

If I walk or cycle instead of driving to work – or even just park a mile short and walk the rest of the way – might I inspire my colleagues to do the same? How much gas money will I save in a year?

I found that when I started living in a more environmentally conscious way, it felt good. It made me feel like a better person. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Words to live by. Seriously – if we don’t live by such principles, we may not live at all.

Oh, by the way. Roz is a DIVER!  Whoopee!

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