Day 27 — The good, the bad, and the ugly

by Katie on January 29, 2010

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.


Katy January 29, 2010 at 2:10 pm

i like getting the whole picture of what this row is like! you spend so many posts sharing the beautiful things, it’s good to sometimes read the other side, too!!! take care of those hands.

ctbamafan January 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for keeping everything in perspective Katie. I’ve been stressing all week when I unexpectedly found out that my company was eliminating my team. I’ve felt a bit like you, out there by myself because I have not been able to tell anyone, especially my wife. She’s in Law School and I didn’t want to stress her further, plus I want to be able to do it in person and I’ve been away all week. So I guess you may be the 1st to know.

My perspective, while the storm clouds are brewing, I need to look past them and know that there is sunshine on the horizon. In the end, everything works out if we continue to move forward and not look back.

Thanks again for sharing your journey and brig us along with you. I’ll continue to prayer for your safe journey.

Mike D January 29, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Hello Katie!

You will endure. We have complete faith in you! BTW, thanks for another Great Blog!

You row girl!

P.S. I won’t tell anyone if you take a few extra breaks ;-)

Mike D

elli January 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Well Katie – thank you for putting it all into perspective. So, I am no longer jealous!!!!! I couldn’t do what you’re doing for 1 day, never mind 100!!!! I have to tell you though – before learning about you i never realized the problem of clean water world wide. Nor would I have donated money to the cause. What you’re doing is accomplishing SOOOO much. You truly are heroic.

Mulleeboyz January 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

We love you and you are in our prayers daily. Stay strong – we have never ans will never doubt your persistence and ability.

kevin January 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I am torn between saying “thank you for sharing this” and reminding you of your aspirations and strength. In a few weeks you will be home and clean and unsore and with a sense of accomplishment that will last you a lifetime.

It won’t be forever.

try Badly Drawn Boy “Have you fed the fish” if you’ve got it in your tunes.

Kelly Anne (Ryan) Day January 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I wish I could be there to greet you off the boat. I would happily brush your hair for you.

ycartsnhoj January 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm

keep up the good work katie you are a strong and couragous person. what did you do about the jellyfish?

habitatcrew January 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Now that you’ve gone national I’m not sure if you still remember us meeting in Geneva back when you first picked up your boat. Some of those descriptions are all too familiar- except our coastal row provided the much welcomed land stops along the way. Haha, “baboon butt”, we called it “lego butt” because of the two round cut outs we had in our seats that worked as a mold. I agree, wouldn’t trade the full experience(pain and all) for anything! -Tom

Rick Barkley January 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Vent all you want; we’re here to listen and support. You are back in the cave days, caring only about the basest human needs. Just care for yourself so you can keep going. Don’t care if it hurts, just so it won’t grow infected, etc. They taught me in the Army: row this day, and you will never have to row this day again. Also the Laws of Hidden Vigorish are on your side: the longer you go without being halfway done, the closer you are to when you will be. Carry on. Oh, and there isn’t anything wrong with you that won’t heal and clean up, when you are successfully finished.

Sara January 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I’m glad you are sharing the tougher moments on your blog. It truly does inspire me just as much as the blog posts about great moments. Sometimes we get lost in the little things and knowing that you are able to power through everything on that list and still row everyday? It amazes me and inspires me to power through the bad parts of my everyday. Keep up the great work Katie!

mandyhockenberry January 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

You are a very strong and courageous woman! I am sure you will continue to work through all those “bad” days. You continue to be in our prayers!

Anne January 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm

yes, the jelly fish!

thank you for sharing your adventure and mission with us. what a great discovery this website has been!

Tom January 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

My wife and I are retired power boaters. We did some rowing when in our teens. We know the hardships, but your memories will be priceless to you when you get a lot older. Do EVERYTHING you can now that you are able to – you will never regret it. You are an inspiration for all. HAT’S OFF TO YOU FOR YOUR LOVE OF LIFE!!!!

doo312 January 29, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Katie, just finished reading about the Good, Bad and the Ugly part of your journey! You’r journey once again allows us to realize your strengths, power and determination. We are in great awe of your accomplishments–YOU ARE IN OUR PRAYERS!

LOVE, DOO & Ellen

Bob 157 January 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Westward Row! I always enjoy reading your updates. I see a snickers commercial when your done.

lamazelady January 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Your physical and emotional strength is amazing!
One oar at a time, you are so so strong.
You are doing something people only dream about.
YOU are making it happen and we are luckyy enough to be along for the ride. Thanks for being such a strong woman.

Mike D January 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

“Oh my! I was trying to get some photos of the dorados and my hand got tangled in some kind of jellyfish. I know what to do!”

=O Add that to the list of the “ugly”! lol

Please do be carefull!

joanne January 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I continue to share your adventures with the third graders at Adrian Elementary in South Euclid. We have a time line with your postings attached. Next week we will collect money for
“water”. Keep on rowing!!

H. Thomas Kose January 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Hello Katie,
I have been sharing your story with my students all the time. I always repeat “If you really want, nothing can stop you.” You have been a great example and motivation for them. Thank you on behalf of those needy people and thank you for being a model for all of us. As I always say; “Only one person CAN stop you, YOURSELF.”
Warmest regards on behalf of the whole school.

Noble Academy has become EXCELLENT in three years. Katie Spotz has rowed the ocean at the age of 22. :)

Scott Henry January 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Katie, you just remember all of those 100′s of thousands of earthquake victims in Haiti, especially the children, that are going to benefit from the bits of hell you are going through… their everyday life is hell and because of you, that is going to improve!
God Bless you, girl! Do your thing!!!

bethP55 January 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Thanks, as so many others have already said, for the perspective. However, you are going to come away from this experience with a new found wisdom that most people never even dream of in their lives – for that all should be a little jealous and a lot inspired. We only grow from our challenges! You keep going girl – you are in my thoughts!

michelle January 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

You are one tough cookie! I have gone on extensive river trips and some of these things sound familure, but never for 100 days! Thank you for sharing, it makes it so much more real for those of us in our climate controled buildings. Its a good thing you have such a strong will, strong body, ability to “zen out” and increadible cause to row for. All these challanges are giving you the hard rock to push off of. My admiration and very best of wishes to you. ROW BABY ROW! You may never feel so alive in the rest of your life.

34woj34 January 29, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for sharing the bad and the ugly with us Katie.
I know that even with the “good” parts of your trip you had to be going through a lot of rough moments too.
But you have such a wonderful attitude throughout all of this you have made it easy for the rest of us to forget about how tough this really is.
You continue to be in our prayers.
Go Baboon Butt Go!
-Jim O

Kelly Nothstein January 29, 2010 at 9:07 pm

KATIE – It’s Kelly from Colorado!!!! Thank you soooo much for the blogging! I still want to do it even after reading the “good, bad and ugly”. I am so proud of you. I will continue to send you good vibes for cruising weather. You’re going to make it all the way. Maybe I can meet you there !! Take care baby!!! It’s amazing isn’t it!!! Oh, I think I have a friend that is going to give $4 or $5 THOUSAND dollars to Blue Planet Run. He is 95 yrs old and has decided to be cremated just to save money on a funeral and he wants to give to a company for fresh drinking water in Liberia. I turned him onto Blue Planet Run of course and showed him your picture on the web site. You Row Girl !!!! see you on the other side.

Tom January 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm


I am from Cleveland and my wife and my nine year old daughter have been following you everyday. Keep working hard and I am praying for you daily.
Will write again soon. Tom

Kandi January 29, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Hi Katie! You are doing a great thing! Don’t forget it! It’s weird to think that there are flying fish that jump up and hit you. I like the pics that you post. Keep up the great work and row!

Paul January 29, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Imagine it is now your twenty-eighth night of mac & cheese, something even your dinner guests (the fish on your deck) wouldn’t show up for. Hang in there with the food; if nothing else it is the fuel to power you across. So, grease up your rashes, tape up your blisters, pad out your seat, shake out your legs, and fly your dreadlocks for all of the ocean to see. Dance in your mind if not on your legs as you row each day closer.

Cate January 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm

It’s great that you tell these rough details! It only impresses and inspires me more. I bet it feels like you wonder how you got yourself into it, how you ended up in the middle of the ocean with only yourself to get out of it, at times — like, you didn’t sign up for some of these things (like baboon butt!) and I can imagine feeling the same way if I undertook something like that. But I am still full of admiration for you, having the chance to go through something so tranformational. Can’t wait for your next update, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, all of it. :)

Greg Kolodziejzyk January 30, 2010 at 12:07 am

You are scaring me Katie! As I read through your list, I added a half dozen items to my own list for my Pacific crossing. Thanks!

blessings from above January 30, 2010 at 12:34 am

Hang in there Katie…
It’s always darkest before the light!
Lots of people pulling for you and praying for you.
Hey, there is an update about you every Tuesday in The Plain Dealer. It is called “Where’s Katie”. Hope this picks up your spirits. We love and miss you. :):):):);)

Andrea January 30, 2010 at 12:44 am


You really should write a book! Your descriptions are fantastic, and I truly appreciate your sharing. Thoughts, prayers and wishes for a westerly wind :)


Reagan Hoyt January 30, 2010 at 12:52 am

Dear Katie,
I am doing a famous Ohioan report on you for school and I got permission from my teacher Mrs. Storey. So far I am getting my information from this website. I don’t know if you remember me but you babysat for me when I was little, but now I am in fourth grade at Notre Dame Elementary School.
Reagan Hoyt

Ed Weisheimer January 30, 2010 at 3:33 am

Katie, you have made me aware of things I never thought about as being difficulties in the journey. I wonder if any of the hardships you have encountered were surprises to you. Maybe you can answer that question later on. I hope writing the Blog gives you some restful moments away from the grind of rowing. Remember, that to just put the oars in the water and pull, even though it may not be the best stroke, is one less stroke you have to make. I expect that once you get in sight of the half way point that you will be re-energized. You are getting there, Even though you cannot hear us or see us, we are there with you givng you every bit of strenght we can. Keep on rowing. All the best to you. Ed

sweetannie January 30, 2010 at 4:20 am

Hello fellow Ohioan! Katie your such an inspiring person! I’ve been following your story ever since I heard it on NPR and I find myself wondering everyday where you are and what you’re doing and thinking and, most of all, the people you are impacting. I don’t just mean the over 1000 people your giving clean drinking water, but also people like me who are just looking for people like you to look up to. I plan to write about your journey in my school newspaper as soon as you finish. All of your blogs and twitter updates have really made me feel like I’m there with you (even though I couldn’t possibly relate to any of those negative aspects you listed above). I know you won’t lose hope! You’re making such a worldwide impact!

Love you!!

Michael January 30, 2010 at 6:39 am

You go, girl!! Keep it up. You are inspiring me.


mulleeboyz January 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Please keep sending pics of yourself – it gives us such peace of mind to see you. I know you can do this – really I cant think of anything you can’t do. Keep rowing, praying, eating, resting, swimming with animals and blogging – we miss you, we love you, and we cant wait to see you when this is all over!
Aunt Sheli

Kate January 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Katie, Chris and I woke up this morning thinking about you and imagining all these things that you describe in this blog. Then to check into your website and read about the reality for you was as we were picturing. As ugly as it might feel to be you from time to time in that boat, your light and beauty shines out to the world making us all better because of what you are doing and your inspiring us to be the best we can be wherever we are!! Kate

Ceil January 30, 2010 at 7:05 pm

It’s Saturday afternoon here in Westlake. The sun is shining and it’s cold outside. I just saw a squirrel in the very tip top of a tree that towers over our condo and wondered how he gripped the bark so he wouldn’t fall.
You have a real gift for writing, Katie, and I encourage you to pursue that when the time is right. You will certainly have enough life experiences to draw on so you will write from your heart.
I check your site sometimes two/three times a day and always pray for you and your safe passage. God bless you.
Your HandsOn friend Ceil

Claire Mullee January 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Hey I miss you ur the best

Harriman January 30, 2010 at 11:07 pm

We continue to follow your progress and reports closely. The links on our website to your website, your RSS feed and the marine tracker have been quite popular and allow our readers to participate, vicariously, in your fantastic experience. Since you began your voyage, our “hit” rate has increased significantly because of your popularity. You are an excellent writer and I agree with others who say you need to write a book about your experiences. Katie, thank you for sharing both “the good and the bad” of your days. You make us a bit more thoughtful about everyday things we take for granted! Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Harry and Judy January 31, 2010 at 2:49 am

Hey Katie: You will always be one of the lucky ones who have real experiences to look back upon. Most of us just have wishes and dreams. You made one of yours real. You give all of hope that we can too. See ya, Harry and Judy

lucy January 31, 2010 at 3:43 am

go katie! sounds like you are approaching the halfway mark. i am enjoying reading your updates. you are really inspirational! can’t wait to continue following your story!

Carol January 31, 2010 at 5:03 am

Thanks, Katie, for putting your journey into a perspective that my first graders could understand. I think they thought your adventure was full of fun and now they know that there are totally different things happening to you that aren’t so good. Several of them were afraid that you were going to give up, but I told them that those things will make you want to finish what you started even more.
We liked your comment about the albatross, the dorados, and the jelly fish encounter. We looked up pictures of all these creatures on the internet complete with pictures so the kids could see what you are seeing. They thought the albatross looked like an eagle!
My class wants you to know that they are proud of you and they hope you stay safe. They want to know if you have seen any more shark fins?
I want you to know that you inspire me to keep at all those things that I think are hard and to never give up. God speed.

Weston January 31, 2010 at 5:28 am

Okay, I am totally going to wake up early and run tomorrow. I would not last not being able to run for that long. Do you think that you’ll ever want to row again after this?

You should do a show so you can talk to all of us.

Ryan Hoyt February 5, 2010 at 1:28 am

Dear Katie,
I’m praying for you.You also babysat me when I was a baby.I am in first grade and go to the same school school as my super fantastic amazing sister Reagan.
Ryan aka the person who writes when thier brother doesn’t aka Reagan. Good Luck!

DeeAnn Tokar February 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

Hi Katie
You sure did put all this in perspective. I worry about you every day. I guess you needed to do that for all of us and make us realize what you are doing is not all glamorous.
Hang in there girl – I can’t even imagine what you are going through. I’m praying for your safe return home.
DeeAnn Tokar
Willoughby, OH

Deepa February 15, 2010 at 4:06 am


Keep writing! You are my hero! I come from a country where water is luxury and clean water is dream! But, never thought someone like you would like to work hard for it! I am sure you would be home safe! You go girl!


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