Former British businesswoman trades career and marriage for a solitary high-seas adventure.
Dedicated to “anybody who has a dream,” Savage’s chronicle begins in 2005 on the shores of the Canary Islands as the 38-year-old former London office worker methodically checks every detail of Sedna, her specially designed carbon-fiber rowboat, on the eve of the notoriously demanding Atlantic Rowing Race. As the contest’s first solo female entrant ever, Savage assesses her qualifications as mildly inadequate, given that she was “just under five-foot-four, with an unfortunate tendency to tubbiness.” However, she had prepared physically and mentally for 14 months for the two-to-four month journey across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Savage is an amiable, often humorous narrator, extolling the joys and the unforeseen pitfalls of going it alone on the open water. She shares memories of her former life as the increasingly disillusioned wife of a financial consultant, revealing the embarrassing exposure of her infidelity, and how the idea to enter the competition was born. Early in the event, Savage was plagued with doubts and uncertainty—sponsorship woes, internal skepticism—but it was the physical hurdles that affected her most as the long days and nights of rowing on windswept, surging ocean waters caused painful saltwater sores (rowing naked only helped so much), hand blisters, infected boils, fingernail separation and shoulder strain. The Atlantic, she writes, was “proving be a very challenging opponent.” Yet she continued undeterred while sharks and other impediments forced other contenders to stop. The author’s courageous success story is a testament to self-sufficiency, even if her reflections are occasionally clichéd—“anything is possible, and our only limits are the ones we place on ourselves.”
Bold and invigorating.