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Woman rows off on solo sea journey


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POSTED: Monday, May 25, 2009

Roz Savage knows her biggest challenge to completing a 2,600-mile solo row from Honolulu to Tuvalu in the South Pacific will be crossing the equator.

“;There's a really tricky current there,”; Savage said on the dock yesterday before stepping into her carbon fiber rowboat at Waikiki Yacht Club.

She said another rower had difficulty crossing that current and ended up in Papua New Guinea, about 1,700 miles away from his target, Australia.

Savage, 41, departed yesterday on the second leg of her three-part journey to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. She plans to reach Tuvalu, east of the Solomon Islands, in about 100 days.

The purpose of the voyage is to draw attention to environmental issues, with this leg focusing on climate change.

The area of concern is a tropical convergence zone of the northern and southern weather patterns that varies in size each year. She hopes to cross it sharply, reducing the period she is inside.

“;The strategy is kind of make it up as I go along because nobody's ever crossed it in a boat exactly like mine before,”; she said.

But after completing a row across the Atlantic in 2005, when her oars broke, and last year, when her water maker failed while crossing the Pacific, she has learned to trust herself.

“;There's so many unknowns out there,”; she said. “;I've got to take what comes and deal with it. I've learned that I can cope with most things. I've always struggled in the past, but I've always managed to keep going.”;

Last September Savage completed the first leg of the trip, a 99-day trip from California to Hawaii. It was her second try after being rescued in rough seas.

Equipped with two pairs of solid ash oars more durable than the carbon fiber oars that broke on her Atlantic voyage, Savage sat on her sliding seat and strapped her feet into her foot straps.

She appeared healthy with an extra 30 pounds, which she expects to lose during this trip, eating only energy bars, crackers and lentils, some of them grown in a bean sprouter.

A former office worker in England, Savage shed her husband and routine lifestyle to embark on what she felt was her true vocation: to live according to her values. She wanted to do something that would help the environment and push herself at the same time.

She plans to complete 10,000 oar strokes a day, and launched a new program, pulltogether09.org, to get others to reduce carbon production by taking 10,000 footsteps a day.

Later this year she will walk 600 miles from London to Copenhagen, Denmark, to show that people are willing to make an effort to protect the environment.

A helicopter, outrigger canoes and motor vessels escorted Savage in her 23-foot rowboat, the Brocade, out to sea.

She will use her computer, satellite phone and solar panels for electricity to post blogs and tweets from the ocean. She has audio books jammed onto her iPod to keep herself company.

Her third leg will be next year and end in Australia.