Day 62 – Need for Speed

Natalia Cohen By

Day 62 – Need for Speed

I had a blog all planned and good to go. It was uplifting and inspiring and all about the lessons of life that have been reinforced to me while we’ve been out here journeying across the almighty Pacific.
That blog will have to wait.

For the 60 good days there has to be at least a couple not so good. The last few hours have been among my most frustrating so far and I made a deal with myself to share the real journey, with its ups and its downs, so I will write about this dip instead.

We are now 287 nm from Honolulu and mentally and physically, I think we’re all very ready to make landfall.

The last 24 hours have been challenging. We’ve had big swell and high winds in the right direction but a counter current that has halted our progress dramatically and meant we have been travelling at a very dishearteningly low speed.

This close to Hawaii, with the end now in sight, everything seems a little more urgent.
We’re ready to arrive.

All the clothes we own are filthy and always damp, we’re tired and to be honest, a little sea weary. Everything smells of fish, feet and sweat! Our electrical devices are dying and we’ve run out of snack packs. We’re all feeling a little bruised and battered.
It’s time…

The sea state was uncomfortable to row in during the day and even more so at night. I lost count of the number of times I bashed my own knees, shins, thighs, groin and stomach with the oars as they got submerged by a wave and then released with force.

With no moon for most of the night shifts, we were engulfed in an impenetrable black darkness that disguised the arrival of waves. We rowed with an expectant alertness and quiet resignation of the incessant pitch and roll of the boat.
It’s exhausting and not very pleasant but we all took it in our stride.

Inside the airless cabin the situation was also trying. We lay in a pool of sweat and rocked back and forth knocking against one another, every time Doris moved.

This was also, without a doubt my worst 24 hour’s day’s sleep so far. with an average of about 3 hours.

On my awake after my second night shift I was preparing for the 2 hour row and putting sudocrem on my behind when a huge wave lurched me forward head first into the switch panel. As both my hands were being used at the time to apply said cream, I had nothing to break my fall except for my…head. It was quite a thump and I swear I actually saw tweetie birds/stars like the cartoons.

Must have been quite amusing to witness but let me tell you – it was really quite horrendous at the time!

We all know how quickly things change – so here’s hoping that by the time you are all reading this blog the current is finally with us.

For all her beauty and majesty, the ocean can also be a little troublesome and cruel. She is always in control and has a lesson to teach.

So…we soldier on but I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say…bring on Hawaii!!! x



  1. Babs andRay says:

    We know you girls will meet this challenge like all the others you have had to face, head on. You are most probably finding it more frustrating, as you are so near to Hawaii. We are home here willing you on, and remember every 2 hour shift will hopefully get you nearer to the end of your first leg. Hope your head is not too painful. Main thing is keep safe xx

  2. JG says:

    Brave post Natalia and thank you for painting it how it is. It confirms what I have been thinking for some time now – that you are all enduring an unimaginably tough time that has not got easier as the days have passed. You are so near now to landfall that your privations must seem worse than ever. I hope you get a true heroines welcome on your arrival in Honolulu. My heart goes out to you.

  3. You girls are amazing. How you stay so positive and upbeat is incredible and you all look after each other so well. There are bound to be days that are harder than others, you’re not undertaking an easy challenge, but you’re all so strong mentally and physically, you have so many people behind you urging you on from afar, and together you can achieve anything – even rowing the Pacific!

    At Breast Cancer Care we can’t wait to hear you’ve arrived safely in Honolulu and we have a Hawaiian themed party planned to celebrate your successes so far!

    Just remember you can do this.

    Sarah x

  4. Sarah w says:

    Natalia and all, owwwwww and grossly unfair hitting your hand whilst sucocreming 🙁 Super unjust. You’re doing brilliant, I am enjoying reading your blogs so much and travelling along with you (I know some friends of Natalias friends, Ang paisley, katie Lucas and the gutensteins),everything seems tougher when the end is tangible and you are so close to Hawaii!! Dig deep!! Dry land/clothes/bums are in reach! Sarah x

  5. Sarah lee says:

    This post brings home the stark reality of what a truly incredible achievement you are all involved in. We read your posts in the comfort or our homes for a few minutes a day and then carry on with our daily lives. You are living this life with the ocean and it is incredible to get these accounts and face the reality you are living. I’m sure that in a few short days when you reach Hawaii you will be laughing about your bump on the bead whilst resting ashore. I am looking g forward to reading that post! I hope the current brings you ashore quickly xx

  6. Tog says:

    Go, go, go ladies! You are such inspirations and put the rest of us to shame. Hawaii baby …,,,come on!!!!!!

  7. You know Natalia, I’ve been lucky enough to call you my friend since 2002, and you’ve been such a light in my life, now you’re working through some really tough, actually beyond tough endurance conditions, you’re such an inspiration, I’m captivated by this epic adventure!!

    I draw you to a memory lane moment, you sent an email back in June 2002, who knew where it would lead you, but there you are, keep going, you’ve made it this far, you can make it a bit further 🙂

    “I re-kindled my interest in boats by doing a short sailing course in Durban. It was like being back at school – but worse – studying in the evenings, writing three exams – the difference being I had to ….I had paid to be there!!
    Now I can day skipper a boat up to 60ft – in theory. Scary thought I know – but maybe after an Atlantic crossing I’d have the experience I’d need!?”

  8. Antonia says:

    Ah girls, hang on in there! It was actually heartening for me to hear your tale, as it means you are actually human and not some group of invincible superwomen. I am sending you heartfelt hugs and squeezes across the airwaves. Remember: ‘This too shall pass’.
    Love to you all from a complete, but inspired and admiring, stranger! xx

  9. I endorse everything said above. Having met you at the Adventure travel show (quite by chance) I feel privileged to be following your journey!

  10. Simon Teague says:

    Hi ladies,

    Wow again. Another incredibly insightful blog. All the team here at New Level Results are right behind you. We cannot begin to imagine the ‘real’ adversity and difficulties you are facing. Your whole lives have led to this point so there are two things I really want to share with you.
    The first is that everything you are facing right now is meant to happen. You are experiencing the depth of adversity that seems impossible to overcome – yet, like so many of the women you are there for, you will overcome it. That’s your power. That’s the test. That’s what you are there to prove. It can be done, because you have a burning desire to prove it can be done, a definite plan, and a determined and persistent mindset.
    The second comes from one of the greatest books ever written: Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich. It says that the most successful ventures in the world can only ever be achieved through experiencing and overcoming ‘failure’. ‘Failure’ has to come first. Its like a test. If you pass then success comes in abundance. Thomas Edison took 10,000 failures before inventing the light bulb. Dyson 4324 failures before success with the Dyson Vacuum. Countless attempts in the world of sports to reach the top – failure after failure finally leading to success. The biggest ingredient to all their success and your success is persistence.
    “Those who have cultivated the habit of persistence seem to enjoy insurance against failure. No matter how many times they are defeated, they finally arrive at their destination. Sometimes it seems that there is a hidden Guide whose duty it is to test men and women to the limit through all sorts of discouraging experiences. Those who pick themselves up after defeat and keep on trying, arrive; and the world cries, “Bravo! We knew you could do it!” The hidden Guide lets no one enjoy great achievement without passing the persistence test (Stroke by stroke). Those who can take it are bountifully rewarded for their persistence. The receive, as their compensation, whatever goal they are pursuing. That’s not all! They receive something infinitely more important than material compensation – the knowledge that ‘every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.”
    We love you ladies and all you are doing. Stay strong – let the Guide pull you through.

  11. Thankyou for this Natalia – you painted a very vivid picture and it really brought home the difficulties you are all experiencing. We are full of admiration for you and the rest of the team. Roll on Hawaii! You are nearly there, just wish we could have joined you there to give you all a big hug on your arrival (post shower, that is!!). Ray and Babs will have to do it on our behalf.

  12. Simon TY says:

    Bad luck about yr head……be safe, be careful.

    Really hope that next few days bring the right winds and currents. Being so close ( well actually about the length of England) from Hawaii yet having to battle must be sooooo frustrating. If there is one book to download for the Kindle is is Francis Chichester “The lonely sea and the sky”. About resolve, picking yourself up, anything is possible, try again, enjoy, be modest, embrace the middle of nowhere. He had some knocks, but just picked,himself up. I lent it to LP probably two years ago. You all should read it.

    By the time you read this, hope a whale alongside you, a dolphin on yr bow, turtles in yr wake, Albert guiding you home, phosphorescence ( PS you not told us if you seen amazing phosphorescence yet) on yr oars. Xxxx

  13. Lynda says:

    You are all so brave and strong. Thank you for sharing the bad times along with the good. I know it doesn’t make it any easier for you, but it does make it feel even more as if we are there with you. I’m sure a shower, clean clothes and the first meal on landfall will all be the best you have ever had! Although I know none of you personally I will be (virtually) cheering for you arrival (cheers all the way from your starting point in SoCal!)

  14. Jim Andrews says:

    Oh dear, not so good, I don’t want to undermine your discomfort by saying something silly, like, chins up or nearly there but, having been at sea for a very long time in such a tiny craft, I imagine the thought of some home comforts and personal space must be akin to a lottery win? Hence the frustration when Honolulu is now closer than Liverpool to London! I hope the last few days provide you with friendlier conditions and no more bumps! Stay safe. XX

  15. Sarah says:

    You are all amazing and are so close now to Hawaii and all under your own steam.
    After a lot of discussion on the outdoor swimming society’s Facebook page about the merits of different things, including sudocream, to prevent sunburn whilst swimming…….we want to know how Nat finds the time to tan her bottom amidst pacific rowing duties? 😉

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