Ask Roz Savage what her favorite gadgets are aboard her rowboat and she's quick to answer.
"The ones that are still working."
The 40-year-old Brit has set out to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean, and she passed a milestone recently: She's now halfway to Hawaii. That's after setting off from San Francisco in her 24-foot rowboat just before midnight on May 24.
With under 1,000 miles left to go on the first leg of her voyage, she took time out late last week to talk via satellite phone. Her location? Somewhere in the Pacific. More precisely, around 140 degrees west.
So what's still working?
"The TomTom GPS is working. I consult that six times a day," said Savage, adding that she's been using it to update the ship's log. She got the TomTom GO 720 last year for her car. (Savage wrote in a photo caption on her blog: "The TomTom GPS from my car is rather confused to find itself in the middle of the Pacific.")
She also has a handful of iPods onboard, but she said she's only used one so far: the one that TWiT.tv's Leo Laporte loaded up with more than 300 audio books. (Laporte checks in with Savage a couple of times a week for the podcast series "Roz Rows the Pacific.") A few of the titles that have stood out so far include the fantasy novel A Game of Thrones and the nonfiction work A Crack in the Edge of the World, which covers the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
She has two laptops onboard, a MacBook and Panasonic Toughbook. Savage sends updates for her Web site via her satellite phone. (She also has a spare phone this time. When Savage rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in a race a few years ago, her satellite phone went dead about a month before she arrived at the finish.)
What's not working? Her energy-efficient Spectra desalinator that was capable of producing 25 liters of water an hour. "It's totally corroded." But she has reserve water supplies and a hand-pump water maker. Her onboard chart plotter also isn't working, so that's where the TomTom comes in. (In a blog posting Monday, Savage wrote: "The death toll on electronic components continues." Over the weekend it seems chargers for her satellite phone and iPod conked out. Luckily, she's got backups.)
Even so, as Savage has said, her boat is a little model of self-sufficiency. She has solar panels and a wind generator providing the power for her electronics. She is growing her own bean sprouts. So what could this mean for the world at large?
"Sustainability is rather limitless," said Savage. While she doesn't currently have a home, Savage knows what she would do if she did. "I would very much want to make it energy-efficient, self-sufficient." She said she finds value in being an example to people in different ways, and one aspect of that is embracing green energy. … Read more