So here we are then.. Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, nearly half way in fact at 1700m from Antigua in our ‘beautiful pea green boat’ we like to call Mrs Nelson.
Hygiene is certainly key to short term happiness out here, once a day or so teeth get brushed, hair plaited, boat scrubbed and rubbish rinsed and stored – all executed whilst we pitch and roll over 20 – 30 ft waves. These waves are enormous, but it’s not the big waves that we have found to be the problem to date, the ones to watch out for are the sneaky little sideways lickers that creep up, pitch the boat off balance and spit all over crew and contents, leaving everything drenched 5 minutes before it is time to retreat back to the warm cabins.
Small comforts today for me include a bag of chocolate raisins from mum, a fresh white cotton t-shirt, a silk scarf wrapped around a small bag of lavender to enhance sleep (thanks Eva) and a new slice of polyester cut from my rowing seat to release pressure from a sore spot threatening to blemish my (so far) surprisingly pimple free bottom.
Rowing at night is either wonderful or horrific. Nights that begin with the sunset behind moonrise ahead and colossal westerly rolling waves are the bestest… The moon’s reflection streaks across up the black sea so you can see for miles, with liquid silver flecks dancing in a straight beam. I find myself disappointed at times like these to have to give up my rowing seat and swap with Bella. One night I remember Bella waking me up through the cabin door telling me I had 10 minutes to get on the oars… I got up, rolled into the wall as we went over a wave, scoffed down some Haribo sweets and went to join the girls on deck. No moon tonight, this saddened me as its undoubtedly one of the coolest things to see, however, what came next was even better, if daytime at sea is amazing… Night-time is when the real magic happens. My eyes begin to adjust and a few minutes later – Wowee! Millions and squllions of stars arching around our little boat in an enormous dome… stars so bright that they created their own light halo through the passing clouds.
It’s these moonless black nights that are the most disconcerting too as I can’t see Gee rowing in front of me which increases chances of blades getting smashed as rhythm is lost. I can sometimes just about make out her right elbow against the light of the digital deck repeater. Every now and then this little digital screen which normally sits about eye level with me will rise up way above my head – “Ahhhhhhhhhhh it’s a bloody enormous wave” – exciting and terrifying, especially as you can’t see a god damned thing. One wave was so big and powerful that it spun our boat in a complete 360 and sent the auto helm into a tantrum.
Other times a wave will catch you off guard by lifting the boat from the side before dropping it again, this is a similar sensation to being on a horse when the creature decides to try and drop its front shoulder to try and get you off… when this happens in the boat it leaves one chucked from their seat with oars digging awkwardly into hips and shins.
There are also those nights that never seem to end, so often I have fallen asleep on the oars and ‘crunch’ the blades nip the top of a wave and send the wooden handles straight into my shins. This hurts.
Every morning the deck reveals the carnage from the night before in the form of a sort of chocolate bar massacre, with sprinkles of broken Twirl Bars and wrappers from confectionery we are scoffing to keep ourselves awake in the wee hours.
Funnies: – you literally can’t make this stuff up:
- New years eve photo preparations had Lauren balancing precariously with a pot of gold glitter at the front of the boat trying to apply it to her face in less than calm waters… suddenly her stance changes into that of Bambi and “POOF” the glitter went everywhere – all over the boat, crew, skin sores and food, leaving us all bent doubled in chronic laughter.
- Gee leaning over Mortsy to adjust the Efoy settings in the cabin, wearing nothing other than a pair of trainers and socks. As she leans into the cabin, Lauren is left to row right up to her bottom; after which Gee falls back bare buttock on Lauren’s shoulder.
- Opera plays on my iPod as Bella comes out on deck, as naked as the day she was born, bar a pair of sunglasses… continues to prance down the boat, sprawls elegantly across the deck in-between myself and Gee rowing, and continues to soak up the midday sunshine whilst tucking into her chilli con Carne ration food pack. I found this highly entertaining, she looked like some sort of nude vision from a post-modern Botticelli – ‘The Birth of Bella’ I shall call it.
- Gee was hit in the head by a flying fish last night.
- Lauren and myself cleaning the underside of the boat on a calm day – in stitches of laughter – we have a video of this so shall save that until our return.
Minor idiosyncrasy of the week:
Spectacularly two of the oars we had branded up to read www.brandwavemarketing.com down the shaft, were printed back to front and upside down – for two weeks now I have been trying to pronounce this ridiculous word in my head. IT’S DRIVING ME INSANE!