2 Feb, 06 – 20:31
It is the night shift – the last 3 hours of my rowing day – and I am busy at the oars. I am wearing just a t-shirt and a hat, and the tropical night air is velvety against my skin. The sun set about two hours ago, and the afterglow has finally faded from the western sky, where a thin crescent moon now hangs like a silver hammock. I can see its reflection dancing in the hatch door in front of my rowing position, and my moon shadow rows diligently away before me. The perspex dome of my compass nightlight glows red between my feet.
It is a calm night, and the ocean is almost silent, a faint sighing its only sound. My oars, broken and repaired, each have their own distinctive splash. The left one, with spoon intact, makes a clean entry into the water, while the right one, spoon lashed to a boathook with cable ties, makes a messier splash, with the occasional gurgle as a bubble escapes from the hollow tube of the broken shaft.
It is at night time that I am most aware of the hugeness of the ocean, and the smallness of me. But it’s not a scary or intimidating feeling – it’s a feeling of wonder and amazement that I am here, over a thousand miles from the nearest land, alone and rowing away in a little silver boat. It is at the same time an absurd and a magnificent thing to be doing.
My watch alarm goes off to signal the end of my shift and I stow my oars for the night, with a satisfying feeling of a job well done – another day and a few more miles closer to Antigua. I admire the stars while I brush my teeth, and retire to my cabin to write up my logbook and tot up my miles for the day. Then it’s time for bed, and dreams of dry land, family, friends and food.
Texts: thanks for messages from Mariya (glad you reminded me about Perfect Moment Syndrome – glad to hear you still get PMS too!), Pauline, Tiny, Duncan (would love to be at the Henley Oxford/Cambridge races, but that’s the weekend I’m speaking at the Univ reunion in NY. Too bad!), Sean Chapple (no, it was last year that Mum was in Antarctica. I can recommend her as a base camp manager – I’ll hire her out for ?25k!), Caroline Haines, John T (no, getting colder on guesses re US trip – you’ll never get it!), Liz Devoto (miss work in London? Like a hole in the head!), Margaret and Bob (glad computer has recovered. A book? Who knows?!), HSS – sorry I got your initials wrong yesterday. HHS was my Dad!
Rita Savage’s PS: Alastair Brown – she should reach your sponsored mile 1681 tomorrow! Thanks.
For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see http://www.atlanticrowingrace.co.uk
Wind: E, about 15 knots (estimate)Weather: sunshine and clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12