All because of the cous cous…

Yesterday I cried because I couldn’t find a bag of cous cous for breakfast. That’s how tough a day it was, everything seeming to explode (metaphorically,  don’t worry – boat still intact) and make tiny things huge. Having been focused for a day of good mileage with useful winds (finally, W wind) it was very demoralizing to be screeched back by negative currents when I rested and not making the direction I wanted even when rowing. It felt pretty futile to say the least.  I hadn’t slept well for a few nights and was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  Wanting to sleep at day’s end, I noticed a tanker drifting towards me at three miles away.  I spent the next three hours pulling for all I was worth in the fog and rain to try and avoid it.  United Hope, she was called.  I spoke to the Captain but didn’t ask why she was drifting. Satisfied we wouldn’t collide for now I went to bed at midnight and slept sporadically, being woken by my AIS alarm regularly as we danced with  United Hope.

Ironic name given my current situation of touring this locale in so many circles.  Yesterday making it out of here under my own steam felt impossible and rather hopeless.  I also had to acknowledge that it is quite likely I won’t get my rudder delivery out here – I don’t think I had left enough headspace for that one.  So far attempts to find a Deliverer have not proven fruitful.  All these various things thrown together and Chimpy going wild and upset, along with various bits of trivial news from the outside world set me up for perhaps my lowest day in a long time. This morning I woke up after four hours fitful sleep and crazy dreams of leaving my boat in the ocean by mistake to go to a tea party where I then discovered I had forgotten how to interact with people. .. I was still exhausted but had to row another sprint session past Old Tanker Features as fab rose.  I still neglected to ask why they were drifting.  I assume due to a timing issue and needing to slow down a bit.  The thing that really galled was that United Hope drifted in exactly the direction I would have loved to drift.  Instead,  inspite of my best efforts I have again struggled to make the direction I want to.

Needless to say, the last 36 hrs haven’t been my favourite of recent times. However they haven’t been the worst in my life so that’s something. I also find the bag of cous cous that had made me cry in its absence yesterday.

Most of the time I can deal with the loops and frustrations and rubbish weather and use my Aleut hands to let it go or my sense of humour to mock myself or Good Things About Today to make me forget the not so good.   But from time to time, especially being solo and having no one to share with in the immediacy of the stress, or help out with rowing or sharing Looking After Rower and Boat Tasks  the pressure will build and explode and certain things need a bit more talking/ranting/crying to put aside and release.

Right now things feel better than this time yesterday evening and I haven’t cried for a few hours, so I think we’re on the up.  And I seem to be drifting in a useful direction while I type. That makes me smile. A lot.

Back to the oars now to give it some teddy, to use a phrase of my wee brother Matt.  It is imagining friends and family on the oars with me that has helped keep me going these last 36 hours.  My university pair partner Roostie was subjected to a particularly long piece in the bow seat as I screamed ‘Let’s take it up two! Push for ten…GOOOOOOO NOW!’ My pals Dave and Dan were imagined to be swimming along infront, along with Justine in a kayak and various others around about or onboard. Try it sometime if you’re struggling to carry on.  Imagine all your friends and family in a peloton around you – pushing, pulling, surging on. The power of make believe got me out here and I dare say it is going to b grr me home too.

Until next time Sarah x

P.S Thanks for all suggestions on steering etc.  I am using my ‘ rudder ‘ as a skeg at the side of the boat to help tracking.  Drogues for steering require speed which I don’t have… If I ever get following seas with no current a line trailed from the stern may be my friend.

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27 Responses to All because of the cous cous…

  1. Tony F says:

    Chin up! I forgot to purchase cous cous today. Not a disaster for us though, but I was looking forward to it. I have been racking my brains over your rudder problem, but, I am sad to say I cannot think of anything useful.

    Still and all, you are braver than me by far. Keep plodding on!

  2. JUSTINE says:

    I am soo glad you imagined me there helping you! I imagine myself there helping you too, so between us strong-headed women, you should be moving in the right direction soon! 800 miles and counting. Whoop Whoop!

  3. Byron Suley says:

    Chin up indeed, Sarah you are only 200+ miles south of some of the most hospitable people on planet earth, maybe things will change for the better in a few days.

  4. Susie says:

    Sarah!! We are all there with you cheering you on, even if you can’t always hear us. 🙂 I suppose you could say you are taking the scenic route home but that is ok, you will get there in the end. We love you and think of often!

    Right now we are packing up our last minute odds and ends to cram all of our gear into our kayaks for our trip down the Yukon River. I think the kids are freaking out a bit, but they will be so proud when it is done and Maria is very keen to have you know that she can one day tell you about HER adventure. So for the next few weeks there will be some extra paddles in the water, pulling along with you!

    Hugs to you

  5. Christine Ashdown says:

    Hello Sarah, its understandable to have days like this, you put us all to shame and even though its only 800 miles what an achievement, just wish the wind would do as its told so it will help you in the right direction.

    We are there supporting you all of the way and hope you soon be on the up again.

    Hope something gets sorted with a new rudder soon. What about your Canadian friends, cant they drop one off when they fly past. All good wishes and keep your chiin up.
    K and C xx

  6. John Perrott says:

    Remember how your Indian Ocean row started. You are twice as far now and going in the right direction. We are all with you. Somebody will find a way to reach you with the rudder. You sang and quoted this to me on the way out to the Skerries Lighthouse and I never forgot it.
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Woman my friend xx

  7. chris duff says:

    If hopes and concerns and “if only” could make the winds and the currents cooperate with all of your incredible will and energy, you would be closing in on London and your dream of completing an amazing journey. You are so much stronger than any one I know and I am so proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. I am with you in spirit- checking the pressure charts every morning, praying for west or southwest winds, telling all my friends to look up London2London and to follow along. Sign me up for a mid-night pull on the oars for you- heck sign me up for any time you need to take an imagined break. I am amazed at the fact that you can even hit the right keys on your laptop, to hold together time frames and thoughts processes, to care enough about all of us following your route. We are all pulling for you!!

  8. Gigi W. says:

    Wish we could all collectively HUG you and murmur cheery words to help lift your spirits…don’t we all need that from time to time?! This has been a particularly hard start and it was bound to give a kick to the old emotions eventually! A good, solid cry is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered to set things to rights again and “reset” the outlook! Glad to hear that this seems to be the case for you.

    If only we Americans could all take a deep breath and BLOW you across…well, you’d already be there!

    ~Gigi in Va. Beach

  9. Ray Girard says:

    Only ‘doing’ will mend your mind.
    Good words are good reading, but
    solid action talks to the soul.

    Do, Sarah.

    We are all with you.

    Langley, BC

  10. Eleanor says:

    – some great and wise comments, and I will now call on my imaginary helpers when I need them – but I must say, I always knew cous cous was evil! 🙂
    from a Canadian fan in the UK

  11. Sven says:

    champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.
    – Muhammad Ali

    And no matter what happens you will always be our champion


  12. Angela Wheatley says:

    Sarah, keep strong. My mum is with you telling you everything is ok & to keep going! You’re doing great….

    The two most important days in your life are the day that you were born and the day you find out why!
    Mark Twain

    Now fly like the wind! X

  13. Adrian Grove says:

    We all believe in you Sarah and are with every stroke of the way. You are and always will be an inspiration. X

  14. Roz Savage says:

    Sorry to hear you had one of those Days That Had Best Be Forgotten – but in fact, don’t forget it, because it is all those days of struggle and strife that will make you SOOOO proud that you stuck it out there and kept on going. Hey, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

    Wishing all power to your elbow (and some helpful winds and currents)
    Roz xx

  15. Bruce Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah
    Sara has put the dots in the right direction.
    Just keep going and you will get there. One step at a time.
    Passage weather is showing that things will get better.
    Remember the saying;
    When the going gets tough, the though get going.
    You will do it
    Cheers from sunny Queensland

  16. Andrew workum says:

    All of your friends in Chatham are cheering and praying for you. Years ago I was in the space program and astronauts are my heroes. You are one now as well. Blessings

  17. Joan Kozar says:

    Go Sarah. I admire you so much for all you do, and mostly your positive attitude. It’s ok to let it out sometimes, I’m just so glad you keep bouncing back. Big hugs from Harwich (next to Chatham).

  18. Clare says:

    Keep going Sarah! You are doing an amazing job. We are all thinking of you and willing you closer to home. Lots of hugs! xx

  19. Elizabeth Cunningham says:

    Hi Sarah, I think of you as often as I can. Sometimes I find myself suddenly remembering that you are where you are and doing what you are doing and you are so utterly amazing. If we could give everyone in this world an iota of your courage, determination and daring to dream, this world would be such a different place. I believe in you so much. I know you are ‘Sarah’ and always will be the blend of quirkiness and fun that is so you, as well as a woman who loves and fights for what is important in her world. Keep the faith dear Sarah. I am thinking of you and praying for you. Keep strong!!!!! From Rev. Elizabeth Cunningham, Mount Albert, Canada

  20. Lynn says:

    Hello Sarah!
    You are one in (several!) million…and I agree with Elizabeth, above, who says she thinks of you as often as she can….so do I. I actually think you’re doing very well—Ridgway and Blyth, when they rowed from Cape Cod in 1966 — also took much longer than expected and ran into adverse weather conditions…it’s to be expected! You’re building memories for a lifetime and we are thankful (speaking for myself) to accompany you virtually. I often wonder what it REALLY feels like to be in whiteout conditions or how it feels to have access to a 360 degree uncluttered, limitless horizon or experience a brilliant canopy of stars, if you’re lucky enough to get a clear night!
    Press on…the other shore awaits — even if you do have to deal with those Easterlies on the way!

  21. Hey Sarah – sorry you’re having a rubbish time, with everything appearing to conspire against you. But the main thing is that you are dealing with tit – and future bad times will be all relative to – and in the knowledge of – this bad spell. The stars will align and the wind and current will rurn in your favour at some point and then the good times will roll (and Happy Socks will not!).

    Give it Teddy! Or as they say in Scotland – “Gi’e it Laldy!”

  22. Scala says:

    Hey Sarah,

    Know that you’ve got a cheering group from all over the world sending you hugs and strength (mental and physical). Keep on keeping on!

  23. Susie Hewson says:

    Now your route tracker is looking as incredible as the New Horizons spacecraft journey around Pluto! The Azores are particularly lovely at this time of year too. Chimpy tamed and cous cous consumed – pulling on those oars brings you ever closer even if not as quickly or as straight forward as you might have wanted but its progress and that has to be loaded with positive vibes… and crying is a natural way of releasing stress and tension and its completely free so howl away whenever you like Sarah -in fact we could all join in 🙂

  24. Ray Girard says:

    YOU…….being out there in the ocean………struggling against wind & weather, mind & memory, effort & ego…..makes all of my lame excuses for not doing things…….pitiful. I just think of you….and get up and do them.

    Such a ‘real time’ inspiration.

    Let us all carry you on wings of admiration. (silly but true)



    Contacted my mate (55) the other day. He dare not even get in a dinghy now his Fibromyalgia is so bad.
    Called in at ladyfriend’s (40) house and she now has significant difficulty trying to cope bringing up the kids on her own – again Fibromyalgia.
    Your dad is with you in spirit.
    So is barmy ‘Old Mac’. I went to the local swimming baths the other day for the first time in very many years. Dare I say, it actually needed my pathetic courage. I will be 78 this year and somehow I am now hopeless.
    I am going again today and will dedicate my current hopeless efforts to you.
    We all still love you you know!

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