Maybe I have not been sharing the full picture of what it is like to be rowing an ocean. This is not just about easy, breezy days in the sun, gracefully cruising along the ocean – after all, that is what sailing is for! I have mentioned sunsets, wildlife, and starry nights, but just in case there is a rush of readers wanting to row an ocean too, I should mention that it’s not all sweetness and light.
- If pushing a thousand pound boat once sounds daunting, perhaps the 10,000 daily strokes may not be for you
- No strawberries or apples or fresh salads. Say goodbye to fresh foods for a few months. Cross ice cream and cold drinks off the list too, because there is no refrigerator on board
- Feeling well rested will be but a distant memory. And you may wake up several times during the night, feeling as if you are suffocating and need to open the hatches for fresh air (I have a ventilator for air but its only a couple inches wide)
- This is a fun one to describe: Your nighttime ritual will start to match that of an infant, and it’s not the bedtime story. Having a seriously sore bum will take on a new meaning and being nicknamed “baboon butt” might be fitting
- If bull riding does not sound fun to you, neither will using the toilet (aka “the bucket”). Hold on tight!
- No matter how clean you are, it won’t last. You can expect to be a lightly-salted and greasy sun chip
- That last meal may disagree with being in your stomach and decide that over the edge of the boat is a better place to be
- Your whites will no longer be white and, with each passing day, you may start to resemble that homeless person down the street, in more ways than one
- Some days it will be so hot, you may wonder if you are melting away. So hot, almost to the point of fainting. And no shade, all day
- One step further… on those hot days, you probably won’t feel like eating and without eating you soon won’t feel like moving
- You may look at your GPS to see a boat coming alarmingly close, leaving you to wonder if you are about to become nothing more than fish food
- Forget about good smelling clothes or hair or bed
- Think of your worst hair day, multiply that by ten, and expect to see that in the mirror every morning
- If you do not like fish, you especially won’t like cleaning up the dead, smelly ones that land on your boat. You also may not be fond of the occasional “hit and run” or, better yet, “hit and swim” by the flying fish
- Medical tape will become your new best friend as you play doctor and tape yourself back together every night
- You may get a rash from the constant movement in rowing that is so painful, it may feel like you are reopening the wound with even the slightest touch
- Just when you are all nice and dry, expect Mr Big Cold Wave to drop on by. Being dry is a rare luxury
- Expect everything you do to take five times longer on a constantly moving boat
- Sometimes the satellite phone will not connect which means you now have no way for any human interaction
- You may find yourself becoming overly emotional about things you would never dream of, say realizing your last Snickers bar was spoiled by water (I assure you, I would never let this tragedy happen to me)
- You may wake up at night and wonder if your fingers are broken because of the pain from simply moving or bending them
- Say “hello” to a sore lower back and knees. Your knees may be especially confused in the morning
- The newfound liberation of being able to literally “dance like no one is watching” may leave you to cause yourself further harm, especially with losing your leg muscles that enable you to stand. Sadly, my dancing days are numbered
- And then, there is that one blister that seems to always want to remind you that its there
- Winds may push you eastward, meaning those hard earned miles are now lost
- Expect days where you will have an abusive relationship with your boat causing jammed toes, bumps, and bruises. And if you are really lucky, a quick jab-jab to the ribs or pinch-pinch to the fingers by the oars
Dirty, hot, tired, smelly – I think I have covered my bases here. Although most things listed are small, repeat any number of them for the tenth or hundredth time and they no longer feel quite so small.
But I don’t need anyone to read this and come away feeling sorry for me – pity isn’t welcome here. For where there is a will, there is a way and I have been able to work with these opportunities to practice patience. I honestly would not trade this experience for the world and feel so lucky to be here, bad hair days and all.