Today I’ve been thinking a lot about my sister, and not just because it’s her birthday (she’s exactly 17 months younger than me). It was more because today I needed every ounce of courage, and my sister was my inspiration.
It’s often helpful, I find, when in an unhappy situation to think of someone in even more challenging circumstances. It makes things seem more tolerable. And today, I was not a happy rower.
The ocean seemed to have got it into its head (if it had one) that ocean rowing is a contact sport. Sedna was repeatedly pummeled by waves, and in the most painful incident, a huge wave completely swamped the deck, tipping the boat almost on her side. There was foaming water everywhere, oar handles went flying, I fell sideways off my rowing seat, and an oar clobbered me hard on the kneecap. Owww.
I felt a little shaken after that, and needed to find some gumption from somewhere. I remembered my sister describing how, during her epic trek on Europe’s Haute Route last year, there were some pretty sketchy sections, on narrow paths along sharp ridges, with high winds thrown in for good measure. Not fun when you’re carrying a big heavy pack on your back, increasing your wind resistance and making you top-heavy.
Suddenly getting back on the rowing seat and facing 20-foot waves didn’t seem quite so bad.
The ocean doesn’t quite seem to understand the deal here. In exchange for general discomfort and scariness I’m supposed to be compensated with fast conditions and big daily mileages. But I seem to be getting the worst of both worlds at the moment. I was spoiled last year on the final stage of the Pacific when fast currents gave me a big helping hand and relatively calm seas. I’d be better comparing this row with the Atlantic, which was absolutely brutal. I got through it then and I’ll get through it again now.
Inspiring quote for the day: “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.” (William Shedd)
Photo: It’s very difficult to take a photo to convey the size of the waves today. Here’s a pic from the Atlantic in 2005. I’d say today’s waves were about 5 times higher. You’d have to be almost on top of my boat to see it down amidst the waves. (photo by Dan Byles)
Mariya Gold, Catherine Langford, John Kay. Some miles unsponsored.