We rounded into our prospective anchorage that evening, Redonda bay, and found it wide open to the chop and waves. Fortunately, there was an empty logging camp and homestead nestled just off the beach, and we took advantage of the rare spot of cleared flat ground to erect our four season tent and wait out the weather. The homestead had been an old mussel farm, and tall pile-ons of cedar logs protruded from the low tide line, now the nesting ground for cormorants, dozens of which were perched atop the weathered beams, oblivious to the blinding snow that fell wet and heavy over a dark moonless night. We stared into the black abyss from a small covered platform and each fell into our own private trance as one can only find in the solace of wild places.
By day five my sore and achey muscles were a palpable reminder of how far we had to go in conditioning our bodies for the Northwest passage. We had been averaging about 15 miles a day, a far cry from the requirements of a 2000 mile journey over the top of Canada that would be underway in just a few short months. There were positives, however. The rowing was becoming second nature, and I found myself increasingly on auto-pilot. Able to settle into the repetitive motion of a sliding seat rower. Push with the legs, pull with the back, lift the oars, reset, repeat. Hours and miles passed without nary a thought but daydreams and preoccupations, foremost among them was food.
I could feel the weight dropping from me. I came into this trip more than a few pounds heavier than I normally carry myself, and by the end of the first week my face was taking on a leaner and more familiar healthy appearance. Matty had the opposite problem. Naturally a lean person, pulling up his shirt revealed just how little fat he had left to spare. You could see every muscle and his skin pulled taught over his frame. We were coming into this with very different body compositions and would need radically different approaches to nutrition as a result.
To counter the massive calorie deficit that came from a full day of rowing, Matty took a giant container of peanut butter into his deck bag, and would regularly scoop enormous spoonfuls into his mouth at any available opportunity. Anything to stack calories that his body was desperately craving. I felt the hunger less, but anyone who has spent time outdoors burning excessive calories knows how quickly your mind can become obsessed with food. It was a favorite topic of ours and we relished our campfire dinners. Lunch was usually a quick affair. Most days it was taken on the boats, pulled alongside each other as best we could with the oars stowed against the deck. We would stuff down a few mouthfuls of peanut butter, a couple of hardboiled eggs, protein bars, a can of kippers, and if we were lucky a piece of fruit or cheese.