15 Dec, 05 – 20:11

Latitude: 25° 38′ N
Longitude: 23° 51′ W
Miles from La Gomera: see http://www.atlanticrowingrace.com
Miles to Antigua: 2120
Miles in last 24 hours: 29

Rowing conditions have been horrendous. Driving rain, gusting winds and enormous waves.

Fortunately I’ve been elsewhere. I’ve spent most of today walking the streets of New York. Not literally, of course, as I’m in a small boat somewhere in the eastern Atlantic, but in my imagination – what Ranulph Fiennes calls ‘mind-travelling’, which he does on his polar treks to keep his mind off whatever agonies he’s currently putting himself through.

It’s a technique I’d discussed with my old friend Briony Nicholls, who was number seven to my stroke seat when we rowed for the Oxford Lightweights in 1989. Bri is now training to be a sports psychologist, and we had a number of useful conversations about how I would deal with stressful or unpleasant situations during the row.

So today I took to visiting one of my ‘happy places’ – my old Manhattan haunts from when I lived in Greenwich Village for 15 months in 2000-2001 with my then husband. I adored the place, and have spent much of today meandering around galleries, stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars, blues clubs, restaurants and nightclubs, conjuring up the tastes and textures of sour cream apple pie, margaritas, sushi and BLT’s, doing some imaginary Christmas shopping (surely the best kind), ice skating in Central Park, and generally enjoying festive New York.

When not in New York, I’ve been practising another psychological technique – giving myself a pat on the back, and some words of encouragement. A bit of self-adulation has a marvellously restorative effect on the spirits. I’ve been praising myself to the skies for being tenacious, determined, disciplined etc, for carrying on rowing when any sensible person might have retreated to the cabin for the day. The best thing about this technique is that the worse the conditions get, the more I can praise myself for my tenacity.

So all in all, feeling rather smug and self-satisfied this evening. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind needing to be a bit less tenacious tomorrow, i.e. it would be nice if the weather improves. My hard-earned calluses are peeling off, and I’m more likely to suffer from trench foot than sunburn… I also need some solar power pronto so I can run the watermaker before the water situation becomes critical.

Wind: 15 kts
Weather: dark clouds, rain and wind
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 11
Thought for the day: In each of us there are heroes – speak to them and they will come forth.
(thanks to Rachel Smith for these words)

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