This morning at about 3 o’clock I was seriously reconsidering my career options. Surely there have to be easier ways to spread the good green word.
It was early last night when I went to bed – about 8pm, a couple of hours after sunset. It was windy and the waves were scary-big, so bed was the safest place to be – “safe” being a relative term.
By 9pm my boat had been knocked down twice already, meaning that big waves had knocked her over to an angle of greater than 90 degrees, but not all the way over to upside-down. Imagine someone abruptly rotating your bedroom through 90 degrees. It’s not that much fun.
On the second knockdown a torrent of water came gushing into the cabin through one of the ventilation holes, which I had pressed into service as an outlet for my satphone antenna cable so I could put a patch antenna on the cabin roof. Clearly I was going to have to remove the antenna so I could close the ventilation hole. But getting out of my bunk and going out into the wild night was about as appealing as root canal surgery.
Taking my knife between my teeth in time-honoured fashion, I reluctantly ventured out onto the darkness of the deck. It was wild out there – blowing a gale, boat pitching, water flying everywhere. I velcro’d on the ankle leash for safety and turned back to the cabin roof to cut down the antenna.
But something else caught my eye – one of my spare oars was flapping uselessly, the spoon broken right across, hanging on only by a few wood fibres. This broke even my Atlantic record, when I didn’t break my first oar until Day 12 (I think).
Sigh. Grr. Still, nothing to be done about that now. I had to get on with the task in hand. I wanted to get it over with and get back into the cabin before another big wave came along and tried to wash me off the deck. I cut the antenna free and threaded the long, springy and unco-operative cable back through the ventilation hole, then ducked back into the cabin and slammed the hatch closed behind me.
The boat was knocked down twice more during the night. I spent most of the night lying awake, safety-strapped to my wet bunk, flinching at the sound of onrushing waves, and generally hating ocean rowing. But I also kept reminding myself that this too would pass, and that I’ve survived worse. (For the record, a full capsize (3 times in 2007) is definitely worse than a knockdown, but I really do not recommend either as a fun way to spend a night.)
Luckily things always look better in the daylight. I had to do a lot of sorting out today – drying my bedding, airing the cabin, pumping water out of leaky lockers, restoring to their rightful places the few objects that had not been adequately tied down or stowed. In the process I finally found the salt (hurrah!) and by the end of the day the boat was looking even more shipshape than before the chaos of the night. And I officially crossed out of the dreaded Leeuwin Current at 113.7 degrees E, and re-crossed 30 degrees S, having lost some ground to the north yesterday. All in all, quite a satisfactory day’s work.
So maybe I won’t quit ocean rowing just yet.
I just hope tonight is quieter. The forecast is for the wind to drop right about now, which would be VERY welcome, because I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since…. since I left land, really.
JackFlack – let me know what difficult thing you decide to do in solidarity with me. Even better if it has an eco aspect to it. How about having a cold shower every day for the next 4 months?!
dmr1965 – love the quote: The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen.
Thanks for the nice comments about my photos. A 360 view of the sky is one of the perks of the job! I did used to be quite seriously into photography, so maybe it’s something I’ll get back to in Life After Rowing.
The great refrigerator debate: I did look at getting a little 12V refrigerator, but decided I have more than enough stuff to lug across 4,000 miles as it is. Also unlikely I could run it continuously until the fresh food ran out – not enough electricity. It would really only have been to satisfy my craving for a cold drink from time to time.
Hmmm, while I’ve been writing “other stuff” 2 big waves have come and clobbered me pretty hard. Not juggernauts, but their younger brothers. I do hope tonight is going to be a quiet one….
Kiran Prathapa, Lucie Petrickova (Adam Henton, Simon Henton, Lucie Henton ), Geoff Gassner, Penrallt Coastal Campsite, Nancy Wilhelms, Janet Maher, Larry Grandt (for Kevin), Michelle Pitman, Monica Wilcox, Jo Fothergill, Jay Peterson, Russ Neal, Bradley Kehoe, Peter Wilkinson, Chris Walroth.