Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally Finished by Angela


Date: Jul 7, 2009
Finally home

I am home after completing my epic rowing expedition/voyage across the Indian Ocean. I was successful in that I met all my objectives and reached all of my goals. After 58 days 15 hours and 8 minutes making it the fastest crossing by oar, I became the first woman, first disabled and paraplegic, first disabled woman to have rowed across 2 oceans. ....
On day 3 we had suffered a knock down as a large wave struck our boat from behind. Our steering system seemed to turn us prematurely as we were accelerating down the face of a massive wave. We ended up turned sideways as the wave was crashing over us. A knock down is not a capsize as the boat never goes all the way over it is more like being just at the point of rolling and then coming back the other direction. We had broken and lost some oars and one of our sliding seats was also lost in the chaos. Everyone was tethered to the boat and we did not lose any of the crew. You would have heard about it in the news had we had a death or missing at sea. Unless this happens, I am quite sure by the lack of media attention, support and sponsorship that nobody cares; at least that is what Deb tells me. She is usually right about such things. Maybe someday someone will surprise me. I have to remain optimistic. The solutions we found to the problem of the lost rowing seat was to take a wooden plank or cover from the battery compartment and make a fixed seat. Having trained and competed as a fixed seat rower for the last 10 years, I volunteered to dedicate myself to that rowing position for the remainder of the crossing. The alternate watch had decided to rotate and every day a different person would have to row from the fixed seat. Everyone agrees that It was the worst seat in the boat being a wooden plank and not a proper rowing seat for starters. People really did not train to row with their backs and arms so it was quite a painful experience for them, not that it wasn't quite painful for me as well, I just knew it was not going to cause me any debilitating injury or prevent me from being able to continue. I could also generate more power from the fixed seat having all of the experience and training that I have. I suffered the worst sores of the whole crew on my buttocks as a result.

Our auto pilot/steering system eventually failed and our crew who had sailing experience built a tiller system for steering the boat so our watch system had to change again. To try and keep 4 people at the oar and 1 steering we had to alter the fixed seat rowing station and make a place for the helmsman which I did by removing the foot stretcher and making a new one from another wooden hatch cover from inside the cabin. It wasn't a sturdy system and a lot of us would get knocked off the seat but it worked well enough. We could then have our regular watch of 4 plus 1. When we began it was 2 watches of 4 and 12 hours of rowing and 12 resting. When we got closer to the finish and the steering went out we went to 3 rowing and 1 steering keeping to the 4and 4 but people were not utilizing the rest periods in the excitement of being so close to the finish or even after we crossed the half way point and the boat was not moving as quickly with only 3 rowing so we went to the 4+1 rotating in and giving up some of our rest periods. The boat speed increased and we made it to the Finish in Mauritius ahead of all of the other boats in the race. Even if they had made it to land first they still would have had to make it there days ahead of us as we had given them a substantial head start leaving Australia 9 days after the race start date.

This having been my second ocean crossing, comparing the two and noting the differences, this was by far the most difficult. There really were no favorable conditions and it was a farther distance then there was the amount of people and personalities to deal with. Resolving all problems of all types quickly seemed to be the winning ticket even if the resolution was to table something or stuff it and let it go. When we set out I had told everyone that no one gets along 100% of the time, even the best of friends, I believed that this helped as no one had the expectation that we would all get along. I did not get along with everyone on the boat but I showed no favoritism one way or the other to anyone. I put our experienced ocean rowers in charge as the watch captains and it wasn't perfect. I don't believe I would ever choose to do it the same way again although it has been a fantastic experience! I have learned that selfish people do not belong wherever two or more have gathered!

I don't have plans to do another crossing but cannot say one way another weather I will or not. I am looking forward to staying home for a while and doing some surfing. I am available for interviews and speaking engagements. I am still working on the book and documentary, actually looking for some help with these projects.

Angela Madsen
Rowoflife.com (Atlantic Ocean) PirateRow.com (Indian Ocean)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Roz Savage Starts 2nd Leg of Her Pacific Row

Roz Savage starts 2nd Leg of Her Pacific Ocean Row
May 25, 2009

Angela’s friend and fellow ocean rower, Roz Savage, has started the second leg of her Pacific Ocean Row at sunset yesterday. Last year, Roz rowed solo from San Francisco, CA to Honolulu, HI in about 100 days. This year she is rowing from Honolulu, HI to Samoa. Next year she is rowing from Samoa to Australia.

Roz is an amazing person. She is great to listen to. She is very high tech and does her blogs and podcasts from her boat. You can check out her website at www.rozsavage.com

She also has written a book, Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean that is available for preorder at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416583289/ref=ox_ya_os_product

Roz rowed in Woodvale’s Atlantic Ocean Rowing Race 2005.

She has been featured on CBS and there is a youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48lhDVPSWqM&feature=channel_page

So good luck to Roz!

RowofLife Wins Pride Award in LB Parade

RowofLife wins Pride Award in Long Beach Parade by Deb
May 18, 2009

I pulled Angela’s pairs Ocean Rowing Boat in the Long Beach Pride Parade on May 17, 2009. It was the third straight year we have been an entry into the parade. This year we won the Pride Award. We are very excited to given this award!

I was not happy to pull the boat without Angela, but she insisted that I do so to bring awareness to the PirateRow Project. I made 11x17 prints of the PirateRow postcards and pasted them on the RowofLife boat. I handed out lots of postcards to people who pasted the boat in the staging area. Our friends Lisa Barrett, Jill Nikano, and Tina Musto were kind enough to help me. Jill and Tina rode on the boat and threw candy to the crowd, well until an official made them stop! Lisa rode with me in the RowofLife Van. All and all a successful day with lots of awareness raised for the Indian Ocean row.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

RowofLife.net and Adventures of Angela Madsen

39 Days and Counting by Angela

39 days and counting

Last week Deb and I hosted 10 ocean rowers from all over the US who will be doing various crossings from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans the solos, fours and two other members of our 8. It was a blast. They did the class and survival drills portion at Orange Coast College School of sailing and seamanship and I provided the on the water overnight rowing excursions. I rowed with the first group from Long Beach down to Newport. It took much less time than anticipated due to strong tailwinds. Arriving in Newport way to soon we turned and headed up wind and out to sea so we would have enough space to practice deploying and stowing the parachute anchor, taking care not to drift south of the harbor entrance when it came time to go in. It would not be easy trying to row against the wind to enter the channel. We had permission to dock the boat at the sailing center as we were going to use the boat for man overboard drills. The first rowing group got in just in time to eat and shower before beginning classes. I waited a day before taking the next rowing group out. We left the harbor just after they finished classes and rowed again upwind and out sea. We were just about to the Huntington Beach Pier and quite a few miles out. Plenty of breathing room between us and the coast for everyone to both deploy and stow the Parachute anchor. I had to make sure they got into class on time so we went back in the morning. The conditions were excellent for the para anchor for these two groups. They got it deployed and out quickly, the parachute opened and the winds pushed the boat around so that at full deployment the tow bridal on the bow clears the boat and holds the bow to the wind and the waves. It was choppy as well as windy so it was a good simulation. After the last one finished we turned and rowed in the harbor. I just managed to get them to the dock in time for the classes. Then it came time for the last rowing group but the winds were different. It began the same so I thought we would row down the coast to Dana Harbor. We headed down wind or south and offshore a sufficient amount to do the para anchor. The first rower deployed and stowed the anchor no problem so we switched and so did the wind. Conditions can change quickly but there is a lull when they are about to change. Everything was dead calm. She threw the trip line and float out and it just sat beside the boat and went no where. Then we tried the other side. Splash, float first and then trip line. Same thing happened, nothing, it sat there right beside the boat. I new it would be about 15-20 minutes and I knew this night would not be like the others. The wind had changed to favor rowing to Long Beach so we changed course and headed north with a cross tail wind blowing slightly offshore. They may not have gotten to spend as much time doing anchor drills, but the conditions posed different challenges for this group. The class room part of the seminar was over so I had more time and we ended up needing every minute of it. They had made it as far as the Huntington Beach Pier, half of the way there and then the winds changed again to completely offshore. I did have some time restrictions as they had to be at the airport in the late afternoon to catch their flights home so rather than go forward to Long Beach we changed course again and headed back to Newport. The winds were increasing steadily and making it more difficult so I opted not to stop and deploy the parachute anchor. Seeing it done twice and watching the video should give the two remaining rowers a good Idea plus I believe Woodvale added a workshop on it and will go over it with them again. We headed back into the harbor. Deb met us at the boat ramp in the back bay at Newport. We put the boat on the trailer and headed home. It was a successful seminar. Everyone learned a great deal and they are much more confident and prepared for what it is they are about to do: Row across Oceans

I may do these seminars annually when I return from rowing across the Indian Ocean if there is enough interest. Contact me to get your name on the list for information about the next one.

E-mail Msparasurfer@aol.com with your contact info and I will e-mail everyone on the contact list when there looks to be enough people.
I have to get back to making preparations for the Indian Ocean row. Pictures of the training seminar available on website PirateRow.com


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy, Busy, Busy

Only 37 days till we leave for Australia and only 56 days till we begin our crossing of the Indian Ocean. I have begun what I now refer to as my, I am going to row 3,100 nautical miles in under 50 days ortho visits and medical care at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in preparation. Getting prescriptions to take care of the specific problems I could have out there which don’t include Sea Sickness TG. I have to worry more about UTI and pressure sores and stuff like that. Because I can’t feel my feet I can do some real damage. During the Atlantic I took off my brace and Franck said to me I was going to become one of his people, meaning, Amputee. My feet were mess. I did not have to cut off any of my toes rather I cut the shoe open so it could get air and dry out and take the antibiotics and it healed nicely. We have a med kit onboard but I always bring my own additions specific to my needs. I had to taper down the training as I was beginning to have some overuse issues. Since my double mastectomy for breast cancer in 2000 I hadn’t had any problems but started having problems when I was in Beijing so My doctor ordered some tests and they found some masses, so they ordered some more tests and a mammogram which I have not had to have in years because I had no breast tissue left. Turns out I regenerated breast tissue and now have to have mammos every 6months. I had to go to my cancer doc who looked at all the test results, examined me and told me the pain problems and masses are from scar tissue and over use issues. Sweet! Cancer free and good to go! I just had to knock off the inclined bench press and a few other exercises.

There have been many changes to the crew. Lost a couple of people to injuries and picked up a couple of new ones. Deb has updated all the information on PirateRow.com
The website is currently being updated on a regular basis with new information.

Time is going by so quickly and I am feeling a bit uneasy. That is not something I felt before the Atlantic crossing. Perhaps it is because of all of the changes so close to go time. Perhaps it is because I have had so much to do with the medical appointments, board meetings with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, special events and speaking engagements, organizing ocean rowing safety seminars, and trying to prepare the Rowoflife boat for the seminar and the fact that my calendar is so packed up until go day that I don’t know how I will manage it all. I always seem to manage everything well enough but I also tend to push it to the limits as well in everything I do. So far I don’t know where the limits are and have been successful at going from event to event. My life is like a marathon at times. I asked Deb what we were going to do when I stop rowing and we don’t have anything to do, like that will ever happen. Not the rowing because I may not always be rowing. It’s all the other things. Filling every minute of time during the day with something has become a life style for us. Neither one of us would know what to do if we had FREE TIME. I always say “If I sit still Rigermortise will set in”
So it is always full speed ahead.

Yesterday we entertained out of town guests Michelle Mc Candless and her friend Connie They are from Philadelphia. When I went to Philly to train for the Paralympics and had to live in my van (a sad but true story) after two weeks in my van I met Michelle and she offered me a place to stay. She is out here vacationing. Excited to be so close to Hollywood and the possibility of meeting a television personality I called my Friend Izetta Karp and invited her to breakfast. Izzeta’s Character is Will Smiths Grandma on Fresh Prince of Bel Air. We spent all day chatting it up. We wore Izzetta out and she was unable to go to the Laugh Factory with us.

The Laugh Factory on Pine Avenue in Long Beach did about 5 minutes live onstage acknowledging Rowoflife and Piraterow. I may do some events there in the future. It was a blast.

We will also have an upcoming fundraising event at the Chili’s Restaurant on March 18.

The count down has begun. The blogs will come more frequently from this point forward.

Angela Madsen

RowofLife Journey-YouTube Video by Sageweb