Record-breaking British rower pens book to help others during lockdown solitude

A Guinness World Record-holder who rowed alone across three oceans has written a book to help people cope with solitude during the coronavirus lockdown.

Roz Savage, who has spent more than 500 days and nights alone at sea, penned the first draft in just 17 days.

The British rower said she considers herself “something of an expert on isolation after spending up to five months at a time alone on a rowboat in the middle of various oceans”.

She holds four world records for ocean rowing, including becoming the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

The 52-year-old, originally from Cheshire but seeing the lockdown through in Gloucestershire, where she now lives, wants to help others by sharing the “toolkit of mental strategies” she developed during tough times.

While it may be unpleasant to be “jolted out of business as usual” by the lockdown measures, she says there are positives to be gleaned from the current crisis.

She told the PA news agency: “I was sitting down to write my blog one Thursday, and I thought: ‘I want to say something helpful about coronavirus, but what do I know? I’m not an epidemiologist or a medic.’

“And then I realised: ‘Hold on a moment, I know a lot about solitude, and I bet there are some people finding it hard, in the way that I found it really hard at first when I was rowing my first race across ocean, the Atlantic.’

“The knowledge accumulated over 15 years of reading, thinking, writing, and speaking about solitude just poured out of me.

“Seventeen days later I had my first draft, and here we are.”

She added: “The combination of solitude and fear can be quite tough, and I know about it.”

Her advice is to focus on what you can control, acknowledge your feelings, try not to think too far ahead or worry about the future, and to be kind to yourself and others.

She continued: “There is an opportunity here for us to be thinking in a different way, to develop some new habits, to step back from our daily lives and think about if we going in the direction we want to go in, or whether there are things that, as we start to emerge from lockdown, we would like to change – whether that’s changing habits, changing jobs, which may be forced on some of us.

“So we can choose to be a victim of the situation or we can actually choose to get proactive about it and make some conscious decisions.”

Ms Savage, who has had two books published previously, decided to self-publish on Amazon to get the book released during the lockdown.

She now works as a speaker, coach and adviser on issues around the future, sustainability and the empowerment of women, but said she has lost all her keynote work due to the outbreak.

She writes in the introduction: “The current serious health situation, more than any other recent event, has emphasised our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, our shared suffering.

“Face masks have become a conspicuous reminder that we all breathe the same air.

“The need for handwashing reminds us how many surfaces, people, and lives we touch. Our worries might be different, but we do all have worries.”

The Gifts of Solitude, A Short Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Isolation, is available from Amazon.