Day 22 — A day in the life of an ocean rower

by Katie on January 24, 2010

I have become aware of all the schools following the row (which is fantastic!) and I have received lots of questions about my everyday life. So here we go, incorporating all your questions but before I go into all the details, I have a caveat or two:

  • One – my sense of time is completely off. I’m not even sure what time zone I am in now or what day of the week it is and my day unfolds mainly by how I feel more than a strict schedule
  • Two – for the most part, life is ridiculously boring. The most exciting thing that happened today was hearing another human voice over the VHF radio. Sorry to disappoint you but my days are not filled with fighting off pirates or riding on the back of whales or clenching to the walls of my cabin to ride out huge storms. It’s mainly just rowing along, slow and steady.

With that in mind, this is my life, sparing few details:

  • Wake up around sunrise and first check the GPS. Big smiles when I get “free miles” or pushed westward overnight by the winds and current
  • Sunset on the Atlantic

  • Breakfast time which is usually oatmeal, cereal with dried milk, rice or cous cous topped with dried fruit and nuts
  • Eat outside but first check for dead fish. Chuck any fish I find back into the sea where they belong
  • Start rowing until I am hungry again or want to change my iPod. Keep rowing until I hear a song so good that it would be rude not to stop and dance. I usually listen to music in the morning and audiobooks in the afternoon
  • Keep rowing and, if it’s too hot, take a dip in the water and wave to my fishy neighbors (while remaining connected to the boat with a safety line, of course)
  • If I’m especially tired, I’ll take a 15-20 minute powernap throughout the day
  • Keep rowing. Everyday is different but the waves have typically been 3-5ft and temperatures in the 80s
  • At midday I run the desalinator which converts the salt water into fresh water by reverse osmosis. This takes about twenty minutes to produce enough fresh water for a couple days
  • Row until sunset. On a typical day, I see a few fish and birds especially around sunset and, aside from the odd voice on my VHF radio, there is no sign of other human beings
  • Stop and have dinner, which is usually a carb-rich meal like pasta and a whey protein shake
  • Row for one more hour in the dark. I save some of my comedy audio stuff for night rowing
  • Once I am done rowing, I set the rudder and secure the oars for the night
  • Before I go to bed, I read a letter from home. Before I shipped the boat, my mom gave me 100 letters, one for every day of the trip, which usually brings me to smile, laugh, or, dare I admit, shed a tear
  • And then I check my emails and sometimes do a blog or write in my diary (in waterproof paper, might I add). I use the satellite phone for emails and calls. I have one ten-minute call a week, mainly to keep my sanity intact
  • Right before I sleep, I stuff pillows and dry bags with soft stuff (like my dry bag of clothes) around my bed and wedge myself in between. It helps keep me secure in a constantly moving boat. Sleep about 8hrs waking up several times to switch positions or let fresh air in

All I need to do now is repeat about fifty more times and I’m in Cayenne, right?

Even though I am thousands of miles away from most of my readers, now, at any given moment in the day, you can know exactly what I am doing. It’s far from glamorous but, for now, I embrace this strange and beautiful life at sea.


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