Well it was never going to be glamorous but a few things have surprised me a bit. So here is a quick summary for your entertainment:
- Sleeping in the cabin is a bit uncomfortable. The boat was packed for a 3 month row to Hawaii after all so there is a lot of stuff in there. Most of the dehydrated food packs are stored in the bow for easy access, but the snack packs are stored in the stern cabin where I sleep. They line the sides of the 6 foot by 4 foot cabin (at its widest point) and were put there in case of a storm so I would still have food without risking my life to get to the bow. So I get to sleep in amongst all the snacks, happily rolling on Snickers bars and crackers during the night. The base of the cabin is a piece of foam which in hindsight is really not thick enough. Either that or my hips are becoming more boney – which could actually be the case (see my clothes are too big). And then there is the cabin environment itself. The cabins are designed to be watertight, and so when you close the hatches and get in there for the night it tends to become very stuffy very quickly. By morning condensation has formed in the cabin and invariably drops of water drip on your head while you are trying to sleep. Oh the joys of sleeping on an ocean boat.
- My clothes are too big. And already my clothes are too big. I am telling you that rowing is the best kept weight loss secret out. Of course I am doing a lot of rowing but I am also doing a lot of eating – obviously not enough though. Thank god for bike shorts which previously fit like bike shorts should, so now they look somewhat like regular shorts. My t-shirts are all getting bigger as well so I have started tucking them in so I don’t roll on them on the sliding seat. Must eat more pizza when on shore.
- Never send all your regular clothes home before a row. So I did what I thought was the sensible thing and only kept rowing clothes with me for the row. Should have been ok, but now I am on Plan B and only have rowing clothes with me. Not too bad as I have bike shorts, t-shirts, long sleeve tops and leggings, but the only jacket I have is my foul weather jacket. Great jacket, but I absolutely look like a sailor when I am out in it during the day and on land. Not to mention the fact that it is covered with light reflectors in case someone needed to find me in bad weather. It is a foul weather jacket after all. See me at night and shine a light on me though and I will light up like a Christmas tree. You can hardly miss me with all those reflectors.
- I am not a poster child for good skin care. Try as I may I just keep on getting sunburned. I’ve been smothering my arms and legs in sunscreen every half an hour, but I seem to just keep on sweating it off and getting fried. I tried rowing in long sleeves and leggings, but it is way too hot out there to keep that up – I’d be dehydrated instead. So right now I have the most amazing skin peel I have ever seen going on. Add to that some really funky tan lines. By the time I am done I am going to have stripes all over me. Oh and the “Great White Stripe” on the knee from having my knee taped is in fine form. If you thought it was an amazing white stripe before you should see it now. It’s blinding!
- Working on the boat is interesting. Most of you will not know that I am still working while I do all this. Yes – I am the rowing remote accountant. The cabin doubles as the office and with a quick change in set up my immersion suit which serves as my pillow also doubles as the desk. The comforter doubles as a cushion to sit on while I work. I mount the wireless modem up on the top hatch so I can get internet access. It’s a cozy office environment but totally doable. From someone who always needed the biggest desk possible, to an immersion suit acting as a desk, it just goes to show what we really need.
- Using the “facilities” Well we all knew that this was a bucket so not very glamorous, but rowing the coast presents some added concerns. Now I have the very real possibility that there will be another boat or even plane around when the facilities are needed, so a quick scan of the horizon is in order to make sure that the “open air facilities” are actually private. So far so good but I did have a scare the other day. I saw a post on facebook where Arby Macaw saw me off the coast and snapped a photo. My first thought – on no please tell me I was not on the bucket. Phew, the photo was taken at a distance so I was just a white blob on the water. Another thing to consider though.
- Things I can live without. Never thought I would see the day but I can live without a hairdryer and hair spray. This one is truly shocking.
So this is the first installment of Things to Know About Rowing an Ocean Boat. Believe me I have plenty more to come. You are all going to be experts by the time I am finished.