As I take in the surroundings, I notice my westbound drift take an inextricable turn north. I suddenly feel antsy. I need to eat and get behind the oars. It's such a silly feeling, considering the situation. Nevertheless, I quickly gather critical information. Yep, winds are in fact directly from the east, waves are following the wind, and I'm only seeing the white foam of breaking waves with a consistency of approximately 1 every 100 yards, nice and easy. Swells, however, are ridiculous today. 10 feet from the northwest, moving towards the southeast. This means I'll be rowing on a 230-240 course with waves hitting me from aft left and swells directly on my right beam, 90 degrees off. This isn't terrible news, I'll just burn more calories trying to keep my body vertical in the rowing seat. I'll also go slower. Much slower.
Before retreating back to the cabin, I empty the remaining saltwater from the rowing area. It's impossible to keep water clear without regular attention; waves have a habit of mocking drainage attempts. Nevertheless, I accomplish water removal using the Whale Gusher hand pump. I then adjust tension on the flaps covering the two drainage tubes. If I happen to forget and leave the flaps in a higher tension position, there is zero draining. Then I wake to new sounds. In a zero tension position, water drains until the bottom 2 inches of my heels remain submerged. Below my heels, the drainage tubes have the added bonus of transforming into filling tubes. When the boat rolls beyond about 20 degrees, the drainage exit becomes the filling entrance, despite the bungee flaps. I'm, therefore, usually on a full closed or full open drainage plan. Today, I'll be running on full closed until I sleep, with about 40 pumps an hour in these conditions. I tell myself this is good, may be it'll help balance my chest-to-back muscle ratios.
I lower the hardtop and secure it firmly with 4 of the 5 dogleg handles. Unfortunately, the remaining handle is no longer with us. A violent closure took care of that one. Luckily, it was a dogleg handle and not another finger. There were two piston style door stops that "safely" held the hardtop in the raised position. However, it turns out, when the right gust of wind hits at the right angle, it will rip the inner pistons right from their threads. Then you'll find pistons dangling helplessly until the hardtop inevitably falls, destroying them with a 60 degree bend. Usage of the hardtop is, therefore, decreased until I can find a safe and reliable solution. Prototype 1 was a failure, Prototype 2 should be ready by the next anchor break. A simple 50 cent lanyard would've saved plenty of trouble.
Once back inside the forward cabin, I begin meal preparations. Today I'm combining meals for breakfast, which is a slight deviation from the dietician-directed meal plan. It's one packet of oatmeal, two packets worth of granola, sliced almonds, dried blueberries, powdered milk, honey, and olive oil for extra calories. I think she'd approve. I heat 2 cups of water in the JetBoil stove hanging in the port-side corner of the cabin. Once I hear a slight hiss, well before the boiling point, I extinguish the flame and transfer the heated water into the collected ingredients. I stir briefly with a 9-inch titanium spoon. While the meal soaks, I begin the first application of sunscreen.
I'm less thorough with my first application of Sol Sunguard this morning. I'll apply a second layer once the clouds break a few miles from now. I probably won't need sunglasses for the first hour, which is nice. However, endless gripping of oars is putting a strain on everything hand/wrist/forearm related. It seems I can feel each individual tendon and muscle straining by the end of the day, which is expected to some extent. However, the strains recently turned to hand numbness and weird tendon-clicking sensations, which is slightly alarming. I'm now in an evaluation phase, attempting to pinpoint very specific body positions and movements which aggravate the situation. In the meantime, I rub the areas with IcyHot and two drops of Doterra soothing blend essential oils. I'm glad my Sister acquired these mysterious drops; the "soothing blend" does seem to soothe.
I finish eating and begin cleaning the rectangular shaped container I use for these meals. It helps to use the spray bottle mixed with water and small amounts of highly concentrated soap. 2 or 3 sprays is usually enough between rinses. Once complete, I change clothes in preparation for rowing. Temperatures have hovered between 65 and 75 Fahrenheit since I departed. Today is no different, reading 69.7 degrees. I'm, therefore, inclined to continue wearing a long sleeve capilene base layer and polyester shorts, with a North Face jacket on hand. A 69 degree shade with a good breeze will definitely get your attention, especially when accompanied by endless intrusions of saltwater into your personal space. Or perhaps I'm intruding into the ocean's personal space. To be continued...