Day 52 – 2015: A year of ocean rowing
If you had told me at the beginning of this year that I would be waving goodbye to 2015 from Doris still out in the middle of the Pacific I would have laughed. This adventure was supposed to be all done and dusted by now and I thought I would be toasting the new year on dry land while reminiscing about the magical days on the ocean.
However best laid plans and all that, and to be honest if you are going to reflect back on the past twelve months and clear your head ready for the new challenges of the year ahead then I don’t think there’s any better place to do it than while staring out over our blue bubble of rolling waves with birds flying and clouds scuppering overhead. 2015 has been a year all about the row. The first few months busy with the final preparations and heading off to San Francisco and the start line and the months since then filled with two hours on, two hours off in the dance of life on board a 29ft rowing boat called Doris. 2015 has been a unique, special and exciting year and 2016 has a lot to live up to but the journey is not finished yet and I’m sure there are plenty more adventures and challenges to come both before and after we reach Cairns. The possibilities for this new year are endless. I was thinking about my highlights and lowlights for 2015 and unsurprisingly they all involved experiences from the Pacific so I thought I would share with you the things I have grown to love and hate about ocean rowing over the last nine months.
1) Waves which crash over your head leaving your skin crusty with salt.
2) The constant battle to dry my towel.
3) Hot and sunny days where the sea state is rough and the only option is to keep the hatch doors firmly closed and sweat it out in the sauna which is the aft cabin.
4) Moonless nights when you can’t see the waves before they crash over your head.
5) Being on para anchor. Rather than being a well earned rest from rowing this is an uncomfortable ride involving being thoroughly shaken up in a small, hot cabin while our muscles stiffen up making us feel like old women.
6) The alarm which wakes me from a peaceful sleep after a far too short 90mins.
7) Eating rehydrated food every day. Now don’t get me wrong, as rehydrated expedition food goes it isn’t bad but after 233 days I would kill for some fresh vegetables and an apple.
8) Being slapped by flying fish at night
9) Battling adverse currents and winds and travelling at speeds of less than 1kt despite rowing as hard as possible.
10) The lack of green. We have seen every imaginable shade of blues, greys, pinks and orange but I miss the colour green and the sight of trees and rolling hills.
1) The days when the ocean is silent around us and the mirror flat surface reflects the sky, stretching out like an endless infinity pool.
2) Clear nights where millions of stars shine above us and the Milky Way stretches across the sky. These are the nights where I feel our insignificance and how small we really are.
3) The company. We have shared our tiny home and our life stories, laughing, singing and crying our way across the Pacific and formed a bond which will stay with us forever.
4) Being part of a strong team who come together utilising each other’s strengths and working with each other’s weaknesses to achieve something far bigger than any of us would ever have achieved alone. I count this as different to number three and feel lucky to count these five girls as both my team mates and my friends.
5) The feeling of being on top of the world as you ride up to the top of a huge wave and can see around you for miles before rolling down the other side back into the trough.
6) The whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, fish and birds we have shared our journey with. When travelling so slowly on a level with their watery home these wildlife encounters are up close and personal.
7) Days when we are flying along with following winds and favourable currents and surfing the waves towards Cairns hitting top speeds of over 5kts.
8) Swimming in the crystal clear ocean with mahi mahi cruising around below and the space to stretch out in all directions in the cool clean water.
9) Having the time and space to think, share stories and ideas and really listen to each other without the distractions of real life with its constant connectivity to phones, emails and social media getting in the way.
10) The way the waves transform into misty mountains during a heavy rainstorm which when it clears leaves the brightest rainbow in the sky which reflects on the water making us think we are headed towards the pot of gold at its base.
UPDATE: Last night, in massive swell and after a few huge waves hit us out of nowhere beam on, we had to put a line out and retire to the cabins during the dark hours. LP and I had a slumber party in the aft cabin complete with a film and snacks while Megs and Nats retired to the forecabin which was fortunately less like an oven than usual. Some of Megs ability to sleep through anything must have rubbed off on Nats as they both managed to get some shut eye and were looking amazingly chirpy this morning. It is New Year’s Eve so obviously we have some festivities planned for later. The party poppers and yellow pants are ready to help us welcome in 2016 from the Pacific in another celebration we will never forget.