It is always useful to have multi-purpose items on board – drinks bottles that double up as waterproof containers for electronics, a diving knife/bread knife, and so on. Yesterday I found a new use for Bag Balm.

You might remember that I was advised to bring several tins of Bag Balm with me, usually used for to ease chapped cow’s udders, but in this case to help protect my feet from water damage. I’ve been duly rubbing it into my feet every day (although conditions so far have been unusually calm, so my feet have stayed relatively dry).

Yesterday I was getting annoyed by the creaking of my oarlocks, as the metal pin swiveled in the metal cylinder of the outrigger. So I took out the oarlock and generously daubed its pin with Bag Balm. Problem solved – not so much as a squeak since then.

The creaking had been getting loud enough to drown out the audiobook I was listening to – Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. I’d studied this epic tome (over 1000 pages) when I was 16, and in my view it’s one of his best books, with an entertainingly scathing commentary on the legal profession. (I did a law degree, so my cynicism about the profession is not totally uninformed.).

I was also pleased to discover the origin of a phrase that had kept coming back to me when I was on the Atlantic: “Discipline must be maintained”. I’d had no idea where I’d got it from – but there it is in the pages of Bleak House, repeated frequently by a former soldier, Mr Bagnet. It’s a mantra that I’ve been thinking of again over the last few days. With any major undertaking, I find it so much easier to make progress when I get into a regular routine of work. Rowing is no different.

So I’ve fallen naturally back into the routine I used on the Atlantic, of 3 hours on, 1 hour off for logbook update and a meal. Repeat 5 times a day.

In fact, I’d better get back to it now. It’s 10pm but still one more shift to do. Discipline must be maintained!

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