Leanne Maiden 'never felt more alone' than when boat capsized in Atlantic during The World's Toughest Row

A mum-of-two who is currently rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean has said she "never felt more alone" than when her boat capsized during her epic adventure.

Leanne Maiden, 42, is taking part in The World's Toughest Row race and has passed the halfway mark after almost 40 days at sea.

Ms Maiden set off from La Gomera in the Canaries last month and is now more than 1,500 nautical miles through her 3,000-mile voyage to Antigua in the Caribbean.

The osteopath said: "This experience has been entirely new to me.

"I've not spent 12 hours in my own company in my life; now I'm approaching 40 days during which I haven't seen anything except for the deep blue sea.

"You kind of lose sense of how big, small, far or close things are.

"I never felt more alone than when my boat capsized.

"That's when it would have been great to have someone out there with me to cope with the physical and mental challenge of getting back on track.

"But I did it. I feel stronger than ever having made it this far."

'There's so much nothingness'

Ms Maiden, who lives in Bearsden in East Dunbartonshire, hopes to become the first South African woman to achieve the feat.

Only 34 solo women are believed to have attempted the challenge.

Ms Maiden, who moved to Scotland 20 years ago, has had to regularly dive into the ocean to clean barnacles off her boat.

She said: "The thing I'm missing is a flushable toilet. It's not much fun sitting on a bucket when you're on the face of a three-metre wave. That has its own challenges. I'm missing a comfy bed too.

"At the start, I felt so glad to not be in the daily grind of life. Not having to think about grocery lists and think about what everyone's going to eat every night, and make sure to do laundry, and make sure everyone's ready for school and all that kind of stuff.

"And then you come out here and it's just so weird; there's so much nothingness. You start to miss your ordinary routine.

"I have really started to appreciate the small, simple things in life. I don't know how it will change my life, whether it's my career or something else, but it will because it has shifted my internal narrative; I'm capable of amazing things."

Longing for 'extra hard cuddle' after race tragedy

Ms Maiden has experienced everything from sleep deprivation to salt sores, while psychological challenges have been made even more complex following the death of Alisdair Putt, who was skippering a rowing boat in the same Atlantic race.

The tragedy cast a shadow over the tight-knit ocean rowing community.

She said: "I was so sorry to hear the news, it was such a sad day for this fleet. It made me really want to give my children and husband an extra hard cuddle."

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Ms Maiden is raising money for three charities - The Polar Academy, Women's Fund for Scotland and The Mabel Foundation.

Her trip is being sponsored by Wolfcraig Distillers - and she treated herself to a sip of gin on Christmas Day.

Founder Jamie Lunn said: "We've been cheering Leanne every step of the way. We're all behind her.

"Her efforts so far have been nothing short of inspirational - and we can all learn a lot from how she's taken this challenge completely in her stride.

"We're very proud to sponsor her and glad we were able to provide a moment of joy. Plenty more Wolfcraig gins on us once she arrives back home."