April 23, 2018 at 4:30 am #1356TinmanParticipant
I wanted to experience rowing all night, so on Friday I did it. I rowed the Willamette River in the vicinity of Portland, starting just before sunset, and ending at sunrise, covering 32 miles. My boat is a 14 foot wherry in a fixed-seat configuration. I used a Railblaza white navigation light, which is the only battery-operated light I’ve found that meets the Coast Guard 2 mile requirement.
Here is what I learned.
* It wasn’t that bad, the dawn was glorious, and I’m glad I did it
* My rowing speed was only 80% of normal. That’s because I was turning around to look forward more than usual, since I’m paranoid about obstructions, barges, shipping and other boats.
* Futzing with gear takes longer in the dark. That includes dealing with snacks, hydration, PP and navigation
* That one white navigation light was legal, but felt inadequate. I think I want to be lit up like a cruise ship so I don’t get run over. The trick is to do that without ruining my night vision. Does anyone have any ideas?
* My energy level definitely sagged between midnight and dawn
* Three a.m. was the worst hour. I’d been fighting wind, current and rain, so I pulled ashore and dozed on the grass of Waterfront Park for 30 minutes. Afterwards I was much refreshed.
* My goto meal during daytime endurance rows is tuna salad with avocado slices. I couldn’t touch that at 3 in the morning. I craved a sausage McMuffin of all things.
* After midnight, my eyes felt full of grit, possibly due to wind and peering into the dark. I’ll bring eyedrops for the race
* I installed pushbutton LED lights under the seats, pointing down toward the bottom of the boat. They were awesome for dealing with gear, snacks and clothing
* My toes got really cold even in insulated boots
* The wherry isn’t the fastest ride, but it has plenty of space for water, clothing, raingear, snacks, navigation gear, battery packs and the like. Having all that gear available was a great luxury.
* I freely switched between spoonblade oars and straight-blade oars, depending on the wind. In strong winds I use the straight-blade to reduce windage. Otherwise I use the spoon blade. My oars are 8 foot spruce.
* The internal red lighting on my Ritchie Explorer compass wasn’t bright enough to see. A clip-on reading light worked much better. The GPS gave me the proper heading – actual steering was easier by compass.
* Podcasts or music were out of the question. I needed my hearing to detect other boat traffic.
* The scariest thing by far was the prospect of being run over by a tug or boat.
* Dawn starts at 3:30 with the earliest birdsong. At first light I said thanks out loud. I feel I earned that sunrise.
* Recovery was fast. I was back home by 7:30 am, had a big pancake breakfast and went to sleep for 4 hours. After that I was functional all day, even going to dinner and a movie. That night I slept very well, and the next day felt fully recovered and energetic.
I’m team Tinman, and I’ll see you on race day in my white Wineglass Wherry, with the red trim stripe. Has anyone else practiced night operations? What did you learn?
April 23, 2018 at 9:30 am #13571of8Participant
Experience from rowing the Atlantic, solid food is hard to stomach when your body is actually wanting to be asleep. I found that liquid meals, protein shakes etc, were brilliant. You stay hydrated and get adequate nutrition at same time. You can find some that only need fresh water to make up, not milk. Try and avoid simple sugars though, you’ll get a massive sugar crash and feel even worse. Complex carbs only at night time
Nav lights are always an issue with affecting nightvision, try to put some kind of shield between the light and the boat, so the light only goes outwards, not inwards towards you. Ideally, you see much more with no lights at all, but that’s not gonna be possible on this stretch of water
Set yourself a cut off speed, ie, if I’m going slower than 1 knot, then pull in and rest, it’s not efficient to keep rowing against stream / tide / wind. You’ll just get exhausted quicker and wont’ have gone very far.. trust me.. nothing is more vexing than to cover a tiny distance with many hours of rowing !. Wait for tide to turn / conditions to improve than get back on it
Yep, sunrise is just the best
Seeya at the start
Cath, team 1 of 8
April 25, 2018 at 8:26 pm #1383Daring AdventureParticipant
Thanks for the info on the experience. Related to the rowing at night topic, there is a new moon on the 13th, so the amount of light from the moon will be 6.2% of full on the 11th and 1.7% on the 12th. Also known as pretty damn dark.
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