Arctic Joule in ice at Refuge Islet
Most of the books I read are non fiction and many are autobiographies. I love reading about people and I find the human mindset intriguing – why we do what we do, why we often don’t do what we really want to do and how the mind and our own “head space” can have such a huge influence over the direction our lives take. I think it’s an area of human performance that is often overlooked.

For many years now, I’ve been a big believer that the body follows the mind so in advance of departing on this trip, I did spend some time on my own mental preparation and one of the things I did was to bring some letters with me from my family. I did this when I rowed the Atlantic and found it to be a very helpful boost at tough times. Sort of like “a mental solar panel” that helps recharge the mind and spirit. Perhaps this is akin to simply chatting with a friend or loved one when something goes wrong. So this time round, I asked my family to write whatever they want in the letter knowing that I will dip into this “mental well” periodically throughout the trip.

Whether it’s down to having the experience of the Atlantic under my belt, the fact that there are four of us on this trip or perhaps just being a bit older now, I’ve found myself experiencing far less “low moments” on this expedition so I haven’t felt the need to dip into my goody bag of letters. The only real negative feeling for me has been a periodic sense of frustration at our slow progress even though I know logically that there is nothing we can do about it. Ice and wind will always trump human power.

Yesterday Denis and I were chatting about this and we both agreed that when the trip is over, we simply want to be able to look ourselves in the eye and say we did absolutely everything humanly possible to get across the North West Passage. Essentially that we emptied the tank and left it all out there.

So later in the evening, I found myself in an interesting head space where once again, we were forced to shelter from the wind’s desire to push us out towards the menacing pack ice. But rather than feeling frustrated, I actually felt some contentment because I know we’re doing everything we can to make progress and most importantly we’re being as safe as we can about it. We had set up camp for the night on land, the dinner was nearly ready so I decided to take a walk up to a quite spot looking out over Darnley Bay, to read a letter from my goodie bag – this one was from my Dad. I wasn’t feeling low but I just wanted to read a letter (something quite rare in today’s world) so I thought why not.

I went from feeling fairly good before reading it to feeling great afterwards. Thank you Dad for taking the time to do this in such a thoughtful manner. Thanks also for the reminder that my golf game is crap and that I still owe you a pint from our last outing earlier in the summer. I’m looking forward to this pint later in the year (and a rematch) and I think its fair to say we will not be having just the “one”.

Today is day 28 of our expedition, we are pushing things as hard as we humanly can so the intention is to simply keep doing this in a careful manner. The mind is in a healthy place and we are on the move today. Better not say that too loud as sometimes I think Mother Nature senses that you’re feeling good and then goes nuts on us………

~Paul