Blog readers will recall the Plastiki and Project Kaisei ocean voyages, which aimed to increase public awareness of plastic marine debris. Somehow I missed another adventurer with a similar goal -- Roz Savage, a British woman who had already rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. This week Savage set off from Australia to row across the Indian Ocean. She's traveling alone in the 23-foot boat on a 4,000-mile journey that should take about four months. She has an interesting story, which she shares on her web site. Here's a taste:
It was the year 2000, I was 33 years old, and I seemed to have the perfect life. I had a job, a husband, a home, a little red sports car. In theory, I should have been happy. Fast forward to March 2006. I am 38, divorced, homeless, and alone in a tiny rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. My last hot meal was two months ago, before my camping stove broke. My stereo is bust. I've had no human contact since my satellite phone stopped working several weeks ago. All four of my oars are broken and I've had to patch them up with duct tape and makeshift splints. I have tendonitis in my shoulders and saltwater sores on my backside. I have battled twenty-foot waves, sleep deprivation, self-doubt and depression. But I have never been happier. They said I was crazy. They said I wasn't big enough, not tall enough, not strong enough. But at last, after three thousand miles and 103 days at sea, I am about to accomplish my goal. I am proving that anybody can achieve the extraordinary, if only they have enough guts and determination and sheer bloody-mindedness to see it through. I am realizing my dream, one stroke at a time.Her mission is less focused on plastics than the Plastiki and Project Kaisei voyages, which is probably how she's escaped my notice until now. But banning plastics is part of Savage's message. "Although every action counts, some actions count more than others. The further up the ladder of engagement we move, the more powerful our actions become," she writes. "For example, saying no to plastic - that's at the consumer level. Canvassing the neighborhood to get bags out of the local grocery store - that's the distribution level. Petitioning legislation to outlaw plastic bag production and voting reaches the manufacturing and extraction level. With each level upstream the effectiveness magnifies exponentially. Upstream actions pay off more, but no action is too small, and every action fits and has a purpose and helps us reach a better place." Savage's trip should generate plenty of publicity -- her website explains her media strategy (PDF), as well as a solicitation for corporate sponsors.