Across the world, people are finding themselves in an unprecedented situation, forced to stay at home with limited outings and isolation from friends and family. For most, this social distancing and isolation is a new concept, but for adventurers, it's a normal part of expedition. 18 months ago, myself and two friends spent 62 days on the Pacific Ocean, in a 24ft ocean row boat with no internet, a living space the size of your bath, rationing of toilet paper and the nearest people to us often the astronauts on the International Space Station. Here's five tips for dealing with social distancing and isolation to keep your spirits high:
As the sun rose on the morning of day 60 El stopped rowing and stared at the clouds on the horizon behind us. 'I can see land' she said, excitement rising in her voice. I turned around to look, and sure enough there, rising out of the cloud, were the faint outlines of the mountains of Maui. 'Megan' we both screamed 'we can see Hawaii!!!'.
'Now don't worry or panic yourselves, but...', cue a suddenly elevated heart rate, concerned glances to the others and a small sweat attempting to break out on my already salt drenched face and body. I was on the satellite phone, ducking in and out the cabin to avoid the waves crashing over the boat whilst attempting to not lose signal and keep a line that was just about audible. The weather wasn't particularly bad, the winds were pretty average at around 20 knots, and we'd started to make some reasonable progress west. The first three weeks were becoming a distant memory and everything seemed to be improving. 'There's a hurricane heading your way' said Stokey - our weather router for the row.
If you've read the previous blogs, you'll know that six weeks prior to flying out to Monterey, California our crew of three became a two. Although it was absolutely the right decision for the crew, it threw our campaign to become the first crew of three to row the Pacific into a slight panic! Cue the entry of Eleanor Carey, a 28 year old Australian who had emailed some months previously when the crew was full, but had a long CV of previous expeditions including a rather impressive solo cycle through Europe. She listened to our story, made a few arrangements at home and joined the crew eight weeks before we would be crossing the start line. Legend!
A few weeks back we received a text from the race directors; “Let us know what race number you want on the boat. First come, first served’.
We replied straight back with ‘three’.
This might seem like the obvious number, a three person crew, the first crew of three to row the Pacific, the youngest three females to row any ocean in the world. But it’s more than that. We’ve always said three is a magic number, you only have to look around to see the power of three. Earth is the third rock from the sun, the perfect position in the solar system for life to thrive. A triangle is the most stable shape in geometry, inherently rigid and strong. Good luck is said to come in threes, and the number three is seen throughout nature. There are ‘oceans, land and sky’ and the ‘Earth, Sun and Moon’. It seems fitting to be a crew of three at the mercy of nature out on the ocean.
But that isn’t where this stops. We are rowing the Pacific for something much bigger than just a personal achievement. We are rowing to champion solutions at source to reduce the volume of plastic that enters our oceans everyday and to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity.
PLEASE NOTE THE BELOW BLOG CONTAINS INFORMATION AND STATISTICS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH.