Ocean rowing can be quite the sensory overload. I think both surviving and thriving out here can be an interesting mix of quieting out or fully immersing and amplifying the sensory aspects and switching on or off the processing and memory banking of said experience.
For example… I have just laid back down on my bed after sitting up at the hatch looking out across the gentling seas, inking a metallic sheen as planets and stars rotate up through a rich blue, blackening sky. I can hear my breathing, calm and free, and taste the lingering banana of my protein shake, which I can feel doing good things to my energy. I am drinking all this in, allowing myself to be soothed by the swash and gurgling of quiet waves, enjoying the calm after the storm. I am grateful for the warmth of my fleece liner and pile blanket. At the same time I am trying not to smell the stale sweat and pee and general damp of the cabin, trying to unfeel the cool damp of my pillow which was soaked last night by waves smashing over the boat and through the vents by my head.
Right now, my mind is calm and positive, Chimpy contained and quiet. My list of Good Things About Today is long and my confidence boosted somewhat after getting through the storm of the last 24hrs with more mental control and calm than I had found in last week’s bouncy (albeit lesser) conditions. It was definitely a more successful attempt at stopping my fears in their tracks and quieting out the experience as the boat was picked up and slammed, thumped and thrown, heaved and swung and waves crashed into and over us. It was about being present in one sense and zoning out in another. Strapped into my harness, at times I tried to sleep and at others, especially through the worst stuff at night, listened to music or watched films on the tiny 1 x 2 inch screen in my ipod. The mindful escapism worked and if my fears started chattering too loudly, they were reigned back in. Having felt so spooked by the previous rough stuff (which wasn’t even that roughI) it felt reassuring to be back in control again. That felt good and yet today there have been many times where my mind has chatted out more unhelpful thoughts – on the slow physical progress, on more storms ahead etc etc. There is a definite correlation between cabin time and morale in rough conditions – unsurprising, if I step back and look at it with perspective. So, bring on the outside time again and the chance to pull on those oars. To do something physically helpful towards tangible progress homewards.
In terms of weather, things should have swung to something rowable by the time you read this, I think. So I shall get back on the oars and haul eastwards. For now the Gulf Stream to my south is very confused and broken up – so the goal is to avoid getting tangled up in there, if I can, while also staying away from Nova Scotia to my North.
And with that, it is time for me to fleece up and snuggle down into my bed, leaving the stars outside to keep watch and the chattering petrels to fly circles round us. After the noise of last night, it is blissful… So long as I don’t register the cabin aroma.
Until next time
Sarah and Happy Socks x