Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 38

Today a little on what rowing in big seas is like. To set the stage, when rowing I'm sitting on a sliding seat facing the back of the boat with a big hatch and bulkhead immediately in front of me. I can't see the horizon immediately over it, but can see to either side and also the sky straight ahead. In the seat I'm no more than six inches off the water, so every wave that comes my way of course looks pretty big, and nearly all of them are above eye level.

So, big seas around and a 20-footer coming my way. I can see it approaching behind several smaller waves of 5 or so feet coming from the same direction. When I see a big one coming, I'll usually ignore the small waves and start rowing hard on one side or the other (remember that the toe steering is broken, so no help from the rudder as I go from one wave to the next) to angle my stern into the oncoming wave. When I'm in position, it's simply a matter of rowing up the front side of the wave, where you can usually get a stroke or two in, and taking one hard stroke right before the top, to "pick up" the boat, which will help me get a bigger speed boost as I'm carried down the back side. If I don't get my stern around in time, I'm usually rewarded with either a soaking splash or buckets and buckets of water being deposited in the cockpit.

A big swell will start to pick up the boat and I'll reach the top about five seconds later, at which point the wave will either be breaking, splashing, and frothing its way past me (hopefully without leaving too much water on me and in the boat), or it will pass by without breaking, which is a dryer experience. In general, one wave in four or five will break, but it all depends on the wind, and on any given day all or none of them could be expected to get me wet.

The best thing about bigger waves of course is that I get a bigger speed boost from them. I also get more speed when one breaks around me (or on me!), though of course I'll usually pay for it with a soaking. I've made up to 10.1 knots "surfing" down the back side of a big wave, compared to the 2-3 knots I'd make in flat water.

I hope this is interesting and makes sense!

Finally, a big shout-out to Susan T of my Greenwich Associates family. Susan was one of Row for Hope's biggest supporters at the office and, in addition to tirelessly reminding our colleagues to donate to the cause, on her own initiative Susan organized a great bus trip that took 25 or so coworkers of ours to Mohegan Sun for a day in November, raising more than $1,000 for Row for Hope in the process. Susan, please keep in touch ( after I return) and thank you again for your generous support!

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit



Mrs. "G" said...

Hey Paul - Was a little behind in my readings of you.. I am sure your mom was looking down on you and smiling at the great tribute you are giving her. Hard as it is your doing it!! What you are doing will help others overcome this dreaded disease and Paul it does work - Look at Jon!! Best of luck with your continured journey. The Gdovin's are pulling for you.

Mrs. "G"

Teddi said...

Dear Paul,
Your mom is so proud! What a tribute to her! It was very special reading both Joy's and your blog.
You've had a lot of excitement out there in the Atlantic. Congrats on all the milestones!!!!! I'm so happy to hear that the bird is still with you. We're still rowing with you here in Bingo!
Teddi and her 2nd grade class

Wild Bill said...

I really enjoyed reading how you are dealing with rowing into the big waves.

Keep up the great work, and stay strong [and positive].

Wishing you strength and perserverance.

Wild Bill
a/k/a "the cosmo king"

Anonymous said...


All of those night trips to Green Island must have prepped you well for this...

Har, har, har !!!

Anonymous said...


-A pretty good front nine.
-An age that has you thinking about middle age, family and reading glasses.
-after 37 and before 39
-about half of your Scrabble score on Facebook
-Days at sea by an incredible guy on an epic adventure for an amazing cause.

I think the last has the most kick to it, no?

Keep the faith!


K-Rock and #1Wild Bill and The Kierecks said...

Hi Buddy - All of this sounds like you actually have to know what you're doing to row a boat in the ocean!Very impressive. You know that we love the ocean - but from a 'ooh look,it's a 20 foot wave, let's run to shore' point of view. Not from a trying to figure out where it's going to hit me point of view.Your stories are more amazing every day. Nice weekend in Bingo. Allie & John are here - I'm not sure why - I think it has something to do with mooching.Fun. We took the Jeep to the car wash for an adventure -and in your honor paid for the double underwash to scrape the barnacles. Now we can drive much faster - wish you were here - xxoo -

Anonymous said...

Hey it's Yanuzzi. Been a bit for me. I see lots of excitement your way. But when that cargo Skipper asked if you needed a couple things, should have taken him up on his offer. You could have put champange down a couple more times on your milestone chart. I'll have some whiskey at your halfway.
In fact, perhaps all of Colgate will have a drink when you hit 40W.
Any alumni interested in getting that ball rolling?

Melissa M said...

Do you know how to surf? One of the many questions I need answered when you get back home. Maybe a new hobby! We hit 50 in CT today. Just a couple more month until the "beaches" in Stamford open.