Ocean Sheroes | P's First 10 Days At Sea
4 min read
I think we are now on day 11 and it's taken me this long to find the energy and time to write to share news from the ocean. It was such a relief to finally be on our way on 31 May and after a 3am get up, to row out under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise was epic. There were people standing cheering us on from a viewpoint, and the support yacht and crew were all cheering us on, which was so exciting.
And so off we went… we rowed straight in to 4 days of cross winds and waves and what was possibly one of the most brutal 4 days I can remember. I was seasick, constantly throwing up all day and night. After 24 hours I couldn't row any longer at night. With a tiny moon and the night sky, waves coming from all angles, it was just too much. I ended up missing 4-6 hours rowing for 2 days. My amazing team mates covered me while I stayed in the cabin fully clothed, wet, cold, shivering and lying as flat as I could with my eyes closed to stop the feeling of nausea. It was a pretty brutal few days, every bone in my body wanted to give up and I really thought I was going to die. But all I kept telling myself was that I managed 15 weeks of morning sickness with the boys and I could do this. Eventually the race doctor recommended I take anti-nausea medicine and this really started to help. I eventually found my sea legs on deck and was thankful to get out of life in the cabin, where even at 5ft 4 tall I was squished in with the amount of stuff we have stored.
I share one cabin with Bella who is epic and the perfect roomie. We row on opposite shifts which generally means there is only one of us in the cabin at any stage. We've taken to writing motivational messages in the cabin walls for each other which keeps us going. By Day 6, as we inched our way away from shore we picked up some waves and went surfing for 2 days. The only way I can describe this is like being on a white knuckle fairground ride for 48 hours facing backwards. When night-time approached this was the first time I felt frightened. It was pitch black, waves were coming at us from all angles and we were basically driving the boat blind. Mary, our skipper, and a total legend, has so much experience… she's calm and we all trust her implicitly. She kept us all going until eventually she made the call that it would be too dangerous to continue moving in the dark. The sea state had become unpredictable and we were concerned that if a wave pushed us sideways, it could result in a capsize. So we deployed the para anchor, a big parachute tethered to the front of the boat which sits 40 metres underwater and helps us hold our position with minimal drift. It did mean we were directly in to the waves and Bella and I in the front cabin were in for a seriously rocky night. The cabins are so noisy with waves constantly slapping on the sides. We stayed here for 10 hours and eventually got moving again.
More surfing and into the night it was slightly calmer; we managed to go through the whole night. One person hand steering the boat, guided by the other reading out compass settings to make sure we were going in the right direction. Pretty exhausting stuff and we were all on our knees by the end. Plenty of tears that first week. And then all of a sudden we found we had rowed ourselves into the flattest and calmest few days. Hard rowing but a chance to dry out our sodden clothes and cabins, do some laundry and take stock. None of us had eaten well that first week; I hadn't had any food for 4 days and one of the most miserable things has to be putting wet clothes on in the middle of the night to go and row for 2 hours freezing cold! So the flat calm sea came with much needed sunshine, we got out our boat speaker and for the first time put on some tunes, we figured out a new routine and felt light relief we could catch our breath.
The most magical days and nights have been in the last 24 hours. We had a day when the sea was like glass, it was unbelievably flat, still, not a ripple at all, glassy and shimmering. Last night was the first night we had an entire 360 sunset without any clouds . We could see the whole horizon, the curve of planet earth and the sun setting on one side, orange and yellow with the most amazing purple blue on the other side. It was incredible and the sky was clear all night and littered with stars. Absolutely magical.
Our bodies are battered and bruised; blistered hands from rowing, sore bums from sitting for so long, aching backs and limbs, but we are keeping each other going and it feels a privilege to be doing this challenge. Even the night shifts which feel brutal at the time are made up for by the enjoyment we are having as a team sharing this experience together. I can't tell you how welcome and uplifting it has been to have all of the messages of support from home. Particularly in that first week we were so lifted after those tough days. It is the excitement of each day to connect up to the satellite and to download messages from you all. We have enjoyed reading every message sent, it's the greatest boost and very much appreciated. So I'm going to sign off here, my next shift is due. The sun is shining, we are all rowing in just our pants today! Lol! Hair has been brushed twice, eating packet food, tooth brushing once a day, and the loo is a bucket, but we are all still smiling.
Please keep the messages and donations coming… it really does keep us going.