People often ask me if I get scared, being alone out on the ocean, so I thought it might be worth blogging a few thoughts on the subject.
First of all, yes I do get scared, even after all this time at sea. Since I set out from Fremantle I’ve been in some big waves, and the boat has been knocked down four times as well as subjected times beyond count to those cruel waves I call juggernauts and boatfillers. This is especially unpleasant at night, when I’m inside my cabin attempting to sleep. After a couple of clobberings I find I’m bracing myself every time I hear an oncoming wave, and really wishing I was anywhere else.
When that happens, I have to try and rationalize my fear away. My boat has suffered worse onslaughts before. I have survived worse nights before. Provided I stay in my cabin, strapped to my bunk, there’s not too much harm I can come to. If I get really scared I can put my crash helmet on. It’s not really rational to be scared in that situation, but I don’t think I’d be human if I wasn’t.
Then there’s fear of serious problems. That was the kind of fear that clutched at my heart when I realized my solar panels weren’t working properly. The problem wouldn’t have been fatal, but would have had a major impact on the enjoyability of this voyage. Luckily I was in a position to do something about it, by pulling in at the Abrolhos for repair. It would not have been wise to push on regardless and hope for the best. Many fears can be allayed by facing up to the issue and taking appropriate pre-emptive action.
Then there are the 3am fears, the kind that haunt those vulnerable hours of the night. Such as: 1) Being run down by a container ship. 2) Having my arm bitten off by a shark. 3) Being attacked by pirates. The chances of any of these things happening are minimal, but the potential downside is huge. I just have to remind myself that I’ve done all I can to prevent them… and it also helps to remind myself that these fears always seem so BIG at 3am, but generally vanish come the first rays of the morning sun.
It helps to have faith. There are lots of things an ocean rower can have faith in – God/a god, a good luck charm or mascot, the strength of their boat, their own ability to cope, or the belief that what they are doing might contribute something to their own personal growth or to the greater good of their fellow humans. Any or all of the above. They all help put the fear into perspective, and make it more bearable.
And if all else fails, I find that putting on a pair of happy socks (credit to Sarah Outen’s mum) and singing “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” helps too!
Tonight is thankfully extremely un-scary. It is quite and calm, and I’m looking out across a dark, silent ocean with a beautiful crescent moon painting a path across the gentle waves, and the stars twinkling a reminder of the grand cosmic scale of the universe. Right now, fear seems very far away, and I wonder how anybody could ever imagine the ocean a scary place.
A respectable 42 nautical miles today – not as spectacular as yesterday, but a heck of a lot more comfortable.
I am delighted to report that my experiment with the draft-sealing tape around the galley locker hatch was a resounding success. I have now extended the experiment to two further hatches, and have now used up all the tape.
I was using today’s mild conditions to dry out various lockers, and discovered to my chagrin that water had got into my Oats2Go and some of my sprouting beans. Unfortunately the beans had swelled inside their bags and burst out of them, making the worst mess I’d seen since a tube of shower gel and a bag of nuts both exploded in my rucksack during a flight last year, creating a nutty green gooey mess all over everything. I have done my best to salvage the Oats2Go – see photo.
Our latest Roz Roams podcast with Vic Phillipson is now live.
Good luck to Alec Loorz. I’m glad to see someone holding government accountable for the trashing of our planet, and wish him all the best with his campaign – and those in the other 24 countries holding marches tomorrow. I was most impressed with the young people I met in Copenhagen at COP15 in 2009. Their passion and eloquence gave me hope for the future. Go Alec!
Uwe – thanks for introducing me to the idea of the Big Five for Life. Now I’m pondering what my Big Five things (to do, see, or experience) would be. Hmmm, material for a future blog.
Bruce – thanks for the limericks. Limericking is horribly contagious, isn’t it?!
Photos: happy socks courtesy of Smartwool at Sea To Summit (please overlook toes in dire need of pedicure!)
Oats2Go drying out in the sunshine
Doug Grandt, Lance and Kay Mamiya, Bradley Kehoe, Dennis Baum, Charles Uyeda Jr., Sindy Davis, John Ash, Larry Grandt. Not many names today, but some of these have sponsored quite a number of miles each, for which many thanks.