This year my boat put on 200 pounds. Quite an alarming weight gain, by human standards, but I was glad of it last night.

Just as I was finishing my day’s rowing the wind started to pick up, whipping the waves into whitecaps and bouncing my boat around like a cork. In similar conditions last year I capsized 3 times in 24 hours – which was not fun and I wouldn’t recommend it.

I made sure everything was either stowed away or tied down, and retreated to my cabin for the night. Everything sounds much louder from inside the cabin – the hull seems to amplify the din of the waves – so several times during the night I was woken by a deafening sound, convinced that the rudder had been torn off or the sea anchor had yanked its fixture clean out of the boat’s hull. Strange how the imagination runs riot in the small hours of the night..

And every time I heard an especially large wave slam into the side of the boat I involuntarily braced myself for an Eskimo roll – as happened last year.

But I am grateful to report that I made it to this morning without sinking, capsizing, or even losing anything overboard,. This year we installed 200 pounds of lead down low in the hull, and now when the big waves come walloping in the Brocade seems to slip sideways rather than rolling over. Happy days!

The extra weight doesn’t seem to keep the boat any more stable during the day, though – so today I’ve been forced to take a day off from rowing. If I was going downwind it would be no problem – I’d be whizzing along with the waves and making some impressive mileage – but it’s impossible to row across such big swells with the boat rolling from side to side.

So I’ve been confined to the cabin for most of the day. The sun is shining and the sea is sparkling, but I’ve come back from each of my hasty forays to the deck soaked to the skin by waves crashing over the side of the boat, so it’s safest and driest (dry being a very relative term) indoors, watching the spray fly against the round window hatch.

I seem to be drifting in a favourable direction, towards more helpful winds further south, so all is well with the world, and I’m happy that Brocade now seems to prefer being right way up rather than upside down – well worth the 200 pound weight gain on her bottom.

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