My father enclosed Rudyard Kipling’s ‘if’ with a letter to me, and there are two lines i really like among the many –
‘if you can meet with triumph and disaster,
and treat those two imposters just the same.
Every day there are relative triumphs and disasters out here, and its all to easy to get caught in a moment and forget the bigger picture.
it all started two evenings ago. I was on the oars on my sunset shift and the skies were heavy and thick with grey on all sides. the water looked spectacular in different strips of colours as partial sunlight changed its tones around the boat. I was looking south where the clouds were the most dense and ominous and giggling as I imagined the other boats, and in particular will and dan, getting wet and soggy. All of a sudden I looked forward, the air temperature dropped as fast as you could imagine and a fatoff cumulonimbus cloud like a black anvil had appeared from nowhere. s*** i say. Normally rain is a huge pain. it ensures a wet bottom, and therefore no purchase on the seat, Hands get soggy and skin peels, undoing days of work toughening them up. I might add that we both have to use gloves no more, our hands are tough as elephant skin, well maybe not quite but i like to think almost.
I quickly stashed my ipod and my sheepskin, and screamed for the one waterproof we share. the conditions became immense, the swell increased twice in size and the wind shoved gallons of water at a gnarly speed into my face, the droplets were so big they were hurting the backs of my hands. yet i was completely exhilarated and jubilant for some reason. I sang Jerusalem at the top of my voice and was generally screaming aaaaaahhh and mooorreee and is that all?!!!! at the elements in a voice like the dude from 300. it really got the adrenaline pumping and i thought as i seldom do, my god i’m rowing an ocean this is crazy!
it was not too cold and i was completely in the zone, although i really tired myself out in the excitement.
however the weather didn’t drop back down as usually happens when these fronts pass over. The wind and waves have hung around, and 25 knts at night is not a laugh at all. intermittent rain and big waves coming over the side kept us wet and whining, and our new autohelm was not doing its job at all. even after we swore at it for hours it still refused to hold us in a straight line, meaning that we would veer to either side, gaining no speed and have to work incredibly hard rowing with one arm and backing down with the other to prevent us from going side-on which is when capsizes are most likely to occur.
it felt like the first week all over again, and after the favourable conditions we have had before it was very easy to be put down. but in the end we managed to strap the autohelm down, so it holds position better, I also got in and scrubbed the bottom of the boat which has increased our speed dramatically. There was an entire ecosystem living down there along with a small school of fish that are following us. Now the conditions have got better again, and we have had our spirits lifted as progress is easier. Every day there are ups and downs and if this row is teaching me anything it is the ability to stay calm and wait for the clouds to clear, and at the same time to not get too excited by temporal things and not counting my chickens. Although a degree of faith and a vision of success i think are important things to have to work towards and motivate.
In other news I was attacked by a flying fish late one starry night. It was actually one of the most terrifying incidents of the whole journey for a few seconds! Behind me I heard all of a sudden a loud mechanical sounding whirring, and I thought our fuel cell was about to explode. (It is in the hatch behind where we row from). I shouted out and turned around and then the fish which was about 25 cm long buzzed into my face.
I’m lost for words of gratitude and cant really fathom how well the fundraising has gone for Breast Cancer Care – it’s simply phenomenal and It feels wonderful knowing the impact this money can have on peoples live who are having a far tougher time than us. Thank you so much for this generosity and for all the kind messages.