How can I describe the aloneness of being out here? I suppose it is something that very few people experience, apart from solo sailors, climbers, polar explorers and of course ocean rowers. Who else can look around them and know that there isn’t another soul within hundreds of miles?
Often I feel this as a good thing. Like when I’m rowing along naked. I can be fairly sure that I won’t get caught unawares – which would be most embarrassing.
Occasionally I am aware that my solitude could have its downsides. To be dramatic, I could topple overboard, fall on the boat and hurt myself, or be attacked by some monster from the deep. On a more mundane level, I don’t have anybody to discuss decisions with, or to rub sun cream on my back, or prepare a meal while I carry on rowing.
Or, as today, I would love to have someone to tell me joke and enliven an otherwise very monotonous day.
It has been a beautiful day, in a relentless, hot, sunny, equatorial kind of a way. But I have found myself scanning the water and the horizon to find just anything to relieve the monotony. A ship, a bird, a creature – even a piece of litter. Anything, something. But there has been nothing.
Just me and my audiobooks.
A couple of good ones today. “Birds of a Feather”, by Jacqueline Winspear, which I think was recommended by Joan in Atlanta (sorry – wish I’d kept a record of who recommended what). A good juicy murder mystery set in 1930, which had me getting nostalgic for an age I never knew, when groceries came in greaseproof paper and brown paper bags, and packed lunches came in whicker baskets, and the remedy for all ills was a nice cup of tea. (Cue tea cravings).
Then Alan Alda’s “Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself”, in which the actor shares his 70 years of accumulated wisdom – which is considerable. I chose this book earlier this year after having a dream about Alan Alda. Not quite sure what he was doing in my dreams, but there he was. Then when I was speaking in Seattle for National Geographic there was a rumour backstage that he was in the audience. But if he was he didn’t make himself known. But I hope that one day I meet him. He seems like a wise, funny, self-deprecating guy who just wants to leave the world a better place. I think I’d like him.
I continue to meander my way along the line of latitude at 1 degree North. I’m a bit bored of it now, to be honest. I’ve been here, more or less, for about 3 days, heading west but not managing to make any south, despite constantly rowing with my bows pointed S or even SSE. Unfortunately the forecast is for winds out of the south, so the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. Sigh.
Remember you can bet on my date and time of arrival in our contest. See button in top right of my website. At this stage, your guess is as good as mine. Possibly better.
I’ve been diligently wearing my new sunhat – see photo – given to me by Liz Fischer. It may not be the hippest piece of headgear, but after getting quite bad sunburn on the sides of my face after wearing baseball caps last year, I’m grateful for the sun protection. And, as I say, there’s nobody out here to see me.
Interesting to hear about the ash cloud in northern Europe that has halted most flights. Although I’m sorry for everybody’s inconvenience, wouldn’t it be nice if some people found they don’t need to fly as much as they thought they needed to? Would save a lot of fossil fuel.
By the way, I’d just like to point out that I’m not actually lonely – just very alone. But it made a good title for the blog.