Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 51

Busy day today as the winds and seas got going stronger and bigger than I've seen in a couple of weeks - pretty consistent winds, I'd guess in the 20-25 knot range, and seas bubbling/breaking in the 15 foot range generally, with some big ones here and there. I think there's a storm to the North of me that was sending some good sized swells my way from that direction, too, which meant I had to be on top of things more than normal all day. Not a bad thing though, as keeping focused and watching the miles tick by makes the day go by faster than normal.

I have the knotted line back out tonight from my stern, which I haven't been doing for the last couple of weeks in hopes of getting better mileage at night. I'm understanding the behavior of the boat better and better as time goes by, and I think I have a general rule of thumb for how she'll steer at night without me to keep her on track.

Without towing a line, it seems like she takes an angle of 20-40 degrees off the wind direction, and I can choose to make it either higher or lower (Northwest or Southwest if the wind is blowing due west, for example) than the wind by setting the rudder slightly to port or starboard before turning in for the night. As long as the wind direction stays constant, the boat direction should stay constant as well at the same angle off the wind, unless its knocked over to the other side by a big wave or something, in which case the boat will travel 20-40 degrees off the wind in the other direction.

With the line out and being towed from the stern, she'll take a course much closer, if not equal to the wind. This makes sense because the purpose of the line is to keep her stern into the waves, and if the wind and waves are coming from generally the same direction, this would point the bow and carry the boat downwind.

All very logical, right? Well it only took me the better part of 50 days to figure that out! Oh well, maybe it will help all of you future ocean rowers out there -- even those of you that don't yet know that you're "future ocean rowers!"

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



Marlene said...

Hi Paul, It sounds like that at the rate you are going you will have Liv all figured out when you reach Antigua :)
I was praying for stronger winds to help you move faster but it sounds like I could have toned it down a little. Maybe all of the hot air from Robert talking up in heaven is being sent down to move you along and let me tell you - he talked. He once talked the entire ride from New York to North Carolina so that is a lot of hot air up in heaven that could be used to move Liv along.
I will keep it short tonight. Take care. Love, Marlene

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,been folowing you since the beginning. We had hoped you would be in Antigua before we left for home. I will follow you also when we get back to upstate NY. Keep up the good work and be safe. Gods speed,

Fred Jones
West winfield ny(near Colgate)

pebs said...


you are closer to home then there is only one thing left to do...come home.

Anonymous said...

Hey Paul, its Skeeter...I long ago resolved to write you a nice lengthy post sometime late in your trip after others' posting enthusiasm seemed to dwindle, although fortunately for you it doesn't seem to have dwindled very much. So I finally sat down and put together an extended discussion with some questions to give you something to think about while you row, hopefully sitting down to read it will not aggravate your butt-sores.

First of all, the task you've set for yourself is overwhelmingly difficult, and I don't envy your position right now. I also don't pretend to equate my own experiences with yours on the open ocean, but it does make me think about my time as a college athlete, so I wondered if your thoughts about it were at all analogous. How do you feel about potentially completing something so monumental, and do you think this is the end of the road for adventures like this or do you see yourself doing something similar in the future? Obviously this is special because you've been inspired by your mother's memory, but do you anticipate returning to your normal life after this and feeling a bit bored and antsy for the rush of what you're trying to accomplish again, or do you at least think you'll miss the thrill of it a little bit?

Assuming that you decide not to become a professional ocean rower or other worldwide adventurer, what kind of lessons do you think you'll take away from the experience? One thing that my athletic career forced me to do was balance immediate rewards and long-term goals, and I think that's something that I struggle with in my life even today. I think that as kids we are taught that we should somehow both "seize the day" and treat every moment as though it were our last while at the same time remaining goal oriented and accepting that nothing worthwhile comes without consistent dedication and effort. Obviously you’ve forgone a lot of immediate happiness in the name of a much greater ambition, and I wonder if at the end of the day you think that sort of project is worth the sacrifice. Have you found that the daily strain towards a distant reward is itself enjoyable? Do you have any regrets about setting such a long-term goal that kept you (I'm sure) from enjoying so many of the great things about daily life? Would you recommend such extended personal projects like this to others? Do you think that most people are capable of greater things, but simple choose to accept immediate rewards instead of applying themselves to distant goals?

Your trip has also made me realize how shallow our understanding of the people around us everyday usually is - you lived next door to me for an entire year at Colgate and I had no idea what your family history was, or that you were capable of the sort of thing you’re achieving right now. Like everyone else, I tend to see myself as the center of the universe and not acknowledge that the world goes on outside of me and people I don’t know or hadn’t thought about are out there achieving incredible things entirely without my own contribution. Suffice it to say that I think I underestimated you, or at least didn’t step outside of myself enough to realize that there is more depth to you than I originally thought. I commend you on your efforts thus far and am sure you will see the project through. I hope that you have found your solo row fulfilling and that you and your family find it a fitting tribute and honor for your mother. What you’ve done is completely unfathomable to me, and I look forward to talking about your journey when you get back stateside.

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

Hi Buddy - Now, day 51 - the bigger the numbers the more amazing. And we love hearing how much thought actually goes into accomplishing the row. It's not just your brute strength that's getting you through. This is definitely a challenge where brains need to kick in over the brawn. Everyone reading and writing is pumped - all are telling your story and hitting people hard for donations - it would be nice to see a steady stream of dollars coming in during these last days! xxoo -

Susan T. said...

Hey Paul -

Congrats on that halfway point! Sorry the champagne was a disappointment, but there'll be plenty waiting in Antigua, I'm sure.

As you might remember, we're neighbors, and I did see that pesky "for sale" sign in front of your house today! But have I got a deal for you.... if you like the area, turns out I am actually moving to Virginia Beach in mid-March so there will be an empty half duplex on Mathews St. very soon.... 3 beds (one very small - just an office), 1 1/2 baths, huge kitchen, full finished basement, sun room. It would be a short distance move! If you want landlord contact info just let me know - I'll give it to Joy or something....

Sadly, I will miss the welcome home parties there will undoubtedly be upon your return to CT, as I will be gone by then, but the move made sense for us. We will be moving close to a cousin of mine and her family, and I already have a few interviews lined up when I get there.

Also, in a very bittersweet twist of fate, it turns out that another cousin of mine (actually the mother of the cousin in Va. Beach), collapsed at work on Monday - the diagnosis was Stage IV skin cancer that has gone into the lymph and bone. So she is also being moved to Va. Beach where we can all be together and help care for her. So once again I will be helping a family member through this process that we both know too well. I obviously couldn't help but think of you once again, and thank you for all you are doing to help eradicate this terrible disease.

Keep up the great rowing!

Susan T.