Sunset about 5pm Antigua time.

7 Feb, 06 – 20:40

Yesterday’s oar trouble was inconvenient, not least because it disrupted my routine, and I’ve come to treasure my routine like a new best friend.

It took me a long time to settle into the rhythm of life at sea, partly because of the storms-and-sea-anchor stage, when every day brought different circumstances, and partly because being solo it’s entirely up to me to set my own schedule, and free choice can be a tricky thing.

I had this notion that there was a ‘right’ routine waiting to be discovered, so I kept experimenting with 3 hour shifts and 4 hour shifts, catnaps and night shifts, row all day and a full night’s sleep, in the hope that one particular pattern would feel easier, more natural, than the others. Eventually I realised that when it comes to routine it doesn’t matter what it is – you simply have to define it and stick to it. And that no matter what routine you use, there is no easy way to row an ocean.

So what is my routine?

0430 (Antigua time) Alarm goes off, have breakfast
0445 (0845 GMT) Phone Mum to talk admin, messages, race news, etc
0500-0800 Rowing shift #1
Break and nap
0900-1200 Rowing shift #2
Break and nap
1300-1600 Rowing shift #3
Break and post dispatch
1700-2000 Rowing shift #4
2030 Bedtime – bliss!

I also take a 10 minute mini-break in every hour. During my breaks I write up the ship’s log, have a snack, tend to my sprouting seeds, work on my dispatch, pick up text messages, have a sponge bath, etc.

It works for me. I’ve discovered the hard way that when there’s a huge task to be done, like rowing 3000 miles, the least painful way to do it is set up a routine and stick to it… weather and oars permitting.

Other stuff:

The going/rowing continues to be heavy in an adverse swell and unhelpful NE wind. These conditions are due to last until Friday at least… Oh sweet water, where art thou?

Other stuff:

Congratulations to Chris Martin on his arrival in Antigua. He went through so much to get there – a thoroughly deserved success, and I hope he’s now enjoying a few celebratory drinkies ashore.

A couple of texters have strongly encouraged me to get replacement oars. I appreciate your concern, but realistically, the oars wouldn’t get to me for about 2 weeks (unless the support yacht already has some on board, and I don’t think it does), and if I’ve managed for that long with these ones, I may as well carry on…

Thanks for texts and messages from Pauline Appleby (thanks for drinks money awaiting me in Antigua!), Caroline Haines, John T (Mum will video Cracknell/Fogle programme for me), Brian, Jo Allen (hi to Furnivall RC!), James Oglethorpe (lovely message, and joke made me smile!), DB (I dreamed about flapjacks last night – sad but true! And your mother’s ARE the best), HSS (my boat is completely different construction from Chris’s, so unfortunately bed slat splints not an option), Di Hewlett, Jane Bond, Tom Kucharski in Poland.

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see http://www.atlanticrowingrace.co.uk

Wind: NE, about 15 knots (estimate)
Weather: cloudy morning, sunshine and clouds later
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12
Lyric of the day: Any way the wind blows
/ Doesn’t really matter to me (Bohemian Rhapsody)

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