10 days at sea, and you too can have hands like these – calluses coming along nicely

10 Dec, 05 – 20:39

Latitude: 26° 08′ N
Longitude: 22° 16′ W
Miles to Antigua: 2211
Miles in last 24 hours: 26

There are some days out here when wind and waves seem to be conspiring to make the rower’s life easy. Today was not one of those days.

Oily calm seas and barely a breath of wind. I was very aware that I’m going to cross this ocean stroke by stroke.

The rowing was monotonous, so I had plenty of thinking time. I’ve been re-evaluating my objectives for this race.

Originally I hadn’t planned to race at all – I just wanted to get my own boat and bimble off into the sunset. It was a very simple, very pure concept, but faster than you can say ‘sponsorship drive’ it started to accumulate other people’s agendas, ideas and objectives.

I was offered Sedna, on the condition that I take part in the race. Simon Chalk started me on the competitive thing when he said to me, ‘In this boat you could beat some of the solo guys.’ At that point there were 5 solo male entries. Now there is only one – Chris Martin, former international oarsman. So no slouch, as he is currently proving.

Then there were other people encouraging me to aim for a specific time target or a record. It was all very flattering and great fun and I went along with it. I do still aim to do a good time, and will be rowing hard to make it happen, but I need to keep the time objective in its proper place in my scale of priorities.

So it’s up to me how competitive I want to be. I’m the only solo female, so provided I make it to Antigua I win my class.

Given that it will be tough to beat Chris, I could aim at beating the slower pairs. I think that I am right in saying that if I were in this position at this point of the race in previous years, I would be ahead of a number of them. But we seem to have an exceptionally high quality field this year.

Or I could compare myself with previous solo female rowers. Tori Murden took 81 days, Diana Hoff 113 days, Peggy Bouchet 47 days (significantly shorter route, so not counted as the record) and Anne Quemere 56 days. That’s it. If I finish, I’ll be only the 5th woman to row the Atlantic east to west. Not a bad achievement in itself.

So I can choose to enjoy rather than endure – I would prefer that this be an enjoyance event rather than an endurance event. I came out here to learn about myself, and one thing I’ve learned is that I don’t enjoy suffering. Yes, I could push myself through the pain and the exhaustion, and arrive in Antigua an exhausted husk of a woman. Or I can enjoy my time out here… and still win my class.

Difficult decision? I don’t think so.

This may, of course, sound like sour grapes. I am happy to defend my point of view to anybody. Critics should have rowed the Atlantic or similar qualifying ocean.


Miraculously, my shoulder is 95% better. I’m off the painkillers and barely a twinge from it today. Relief.

Wind: 3 kts
Weather: sunny
Sea state: calm
Hours rowing: 14
Hours sleeping: 6
Thought for the day: Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should
(from Go Placidly, by Max Ehrmann)

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