850 miles to Miami
Since I started writing about a life in the day of an ocean rowing fool the times have gotten more and more enjoyable and comfortable (at least for me they have, I can’t say for certain whether any one of the crew is slowly going crazy and plotting to kill all of us). If you haven’t read the first two parts yet, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.
15:00pm After the long, hot, sweaty 2 hours of rowing, I always have something to look forward to: a nice cool dip in the deep end of this big blue pool. I strip down in the everything space in front of the unfortunate soul who is now rowing in the stern seat, strap my surfboard leash around my ankle and dive in to the unknown. It’s a tad bit unnerving swimming with nothing below you for thousands of feet, except for perhaps some large hungry sea creatures. It’s always worth the sensation in order to get free from the small boat, feel the magical power of the ocean, move your muscles in a different way, and of course get a nice cooling cleanse.
15:05pm Crawl back on board to dry in the sunshine (to the dismay of the rowers who must tweak their necks in order to strategically avert their gaze). This is also prime time to do some quick laundry, which usually consists of just the underwear (I have 4 pairs in rotation, two guys have 2, and one only has one pair! I still haven’t figured out why, but it’s apparently a manly thing to wear only one pair of underwear across the ocean. I’m happy to be called a sissy anytime to have clean underwear.).
15:15pm Time for a 2-hour nap if weather and sea conditions permit. The unfortunate conundrum on this boat is that if we have favorable following seas and winds, we make great speed but risk getting waves in the stern hatch if open – which acts as our best source of ventilation in those conditions – so when closed our cabin doubles as a sauna. If we have headwinds, a nice wind tunnel blows right through the cabin and we have some of the most peaceful and restful sleeps, but we barely make progress.
17:15pm We often wake up in a puddle of our own sweat, so we might as well risk having a wave wake us up instead, or maybe not. I usually awake from this sleep well aware of my location but with a bizarre sensation that it’s a completely new day. Another morning to experience, but this time there’s dinner smells in the air. I crawl out of the hatch over the kitchen and Cook to my place at the oars and await tonight’s delicacy. Rice, Polenta, Couscous, or Mashed Potatoes with some combination of veggies, cheese, or (canned??) fish. Lot’s of salt and spices to keep things interesting. Yumyum.
17:30pm The dinner gets consumed between rowing strokes as the sun sets behind our backs. One of the rewards of being out on the ocean on this glorified raft is the intrinsic connection I feel with the cycle of the moon and sun. The sunsets never seem to disappoint out here, and often they surprise us with surreal forms and colors from out of the blue.
17:45pm This tends to be one of the more social times on board. We talk of some things that shall never be repeated and others that will be repeated over and over until our friends tire of hearing about them.
18:00pm An hour of rest, sometimes good for sleep as it is now cool, but the stars are coming out and wowwwwwwww…or snooooooooore…
19:00pm My alarm is usually a shake on the shoulders. A name call used to work, but as the row has progressed, the use of force has become necessary (sometimes a good ten seconds of shaking to wake people up). It’s now completely dark and I have to climb out of the cabin once more for another 2 hours of rowing. It’s about ten degrees cooler on the rowing deck and it takes a while to warm up.
19:05pm Water..mmm water! I’ve made it a habit to chug a good amount of water before every rowing shift.
19:15pm Soon I’m able to row in my undies and a light merino wool top, as long as the wind and waves aren’t too strong to splash us. ‘Operation dry bum’ continues to be a top priority.
19:30pm Food. Hunger never lasts long for me, and I eat something as soon as I feel it. Edge Bar, Seitan Jerky, Nut butter and crackers, what variety we have!
It never ceases to amaze me how resilient and adaptive our bodies and minds can be, especially when you keep a positive outlook and be as present as you can. Peace now.
Yours from the sauna we call a cabin,