Continuing my series of descriptions of aspects of my day..

Rowing – that’s what I do. And today I’ve done a lot of it and I’m knackered, so I’ll keep this one short.

Some people are incredulous when I tell them what I do. This exchange is not untypical.

“What, no engine?”

“Nope, no engine.”

“What, no sail?”

“Nope, no sail.”

“Just rowing, huh?”

“Yes, just rowing.”

“What, are you crazy?”

But no, I’m not crazy. I don’t know how to sail (despite numerous attempts to learn) and I don’t know how to maintain an engine, but I do know how to row – so when I was looking for my Perfect Project, rowing across an ocean seemed to me perfectly logical.

I rowed for 3 years at Oxford University, representing the university twice against old rivals Cambridge. Then I rowed for another 5 years in London, but had retired 10 years before I decided to do the Atlantic.

Now I seem to be back into rowing – with a vengeance.

Ocean rowing is a very different proposition from river rowing, but certain fundamentals are the same. I have a sliding rowing seat that glides on runners, similar in principle to what you would find in a racing shell, but seriously beefed up – see photo. Mine was built by Gig Harbor Boat Works in Seattle. I have oars, made of solid ash and wrapped in carbon fibre, made by Sawyers Paddles and Oars of Oregon. I have 4 oars in total – 2 main and 2 spare, with the spares doubling up as guardrails. My feet are held in the boat by New Wave rowing shoes fixed to a footboard.

So far, so similar, but there are a few differences. As I spend so much time on my rowing seat I need a bit of extra cushioning, so I have a pad made by Bottomliners. It has pop fasteners that clip on and off the rowing seat so I can take it into my cabin to keep it dry. On top of that I have a homemade cover made of the same fabric that camping towels are made from – fast drying and wicking.

Instead of having ordinary rowing oarlocks, I use chunky metal oarlocks more commonly used for whitewater rafting – much stronger for when conditions get rough. These are mounted into custom-made riggers that extend about 6 inches from the sides of the boat.

And finally I have my rowing gloves – kangaroo skin golf gloves made by Kakadu of Australia. I got through 5 pairs of these on the Atlantic, and I mean REALLY got through – I wore each pair until they were more hole than glove. They stop me getting open blisters – I get calluses, but no open wounds that would be vulnerable to infection.

Depending on weather, circumstances, and energy levels, I row for between 8 and 15 hours a day, in shifts of 2 or 3 hours, with half-hour or one-hour breaks. Nothing fancy about it – I just sit on my rowing seat, and I row, row, row…

[photo: my rowing seat, looking toward the stern of the boat (the way I face when I am rowing). Beyond my rowing seat you can see the cleat that I improvised yesterday so I could retrieve the sea anchor tripline.]

Other stuff:

A good day today. Weather conditions favourable, so a busy day’s rowing, sunrise to sunset. Watermaker still working. New sea anchor rig functioning well. Life is good.

Thank yous and hellos to Rich and Marilynn Ames and Ken in Eureka, Stephanie Batzer, Cheryl Mannix, Mark York, David Jones

Special hellos to some faithful correspondents from the Atlantic crossing: Helena S-S: baffled by the riddle. Looking forward to the clue! And I shall aim to get my subjunctives correct in the future. (Oh dear, that doesn’t seem quite grammatically correct either.!) Bonjour Jean-Francois! Sounds like you are working way too hard! And John F Taylor – yes, I really am most definitely out here!!!

Rob – thanks for spreading the word.

Chuck – I will try out the GPS remedy. Thank you.

Pippa – after seeing my logbook you think I would make a good accountant?! I am mortally offended!

Thanks also for comments from Ultrathoner, Bruce, Roberto, Dana, Ross and Bob.

Randy – thanks for all the questions. I will try to get round to answering them all in future blogs.

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