Archive for November, 2014

Doris does London

Emma Mitchell By

There’s never a dull moment for us in the Coxless Crew and eventful weekends have become worryingly normal.  Doris’ visit to London was no different…

It all started on Friday when we headed to Poplar to launch Doris from the public slipway next to Poplar Blackwall and District Rowing Club.  This was challenge number one.  The ups and downs of the slipway meant that no matter what we tried (and we tried everything from setting up pulleys to chocking up the wheels to taking a diagonal route down the slip) we couldn’t get Doris down to the water without grounding her on the concrete.  We spent about an hour and a half trying this while Alan, the legend from Globe Rowing Club who had come out in his boat to be our support crew, bobbed around on the water waiting for us.  Finally we had to hitch the trailer back up and head to a new slipway just down the road.  Here we managed with a bit of manoeuvring and another pulley to get Doris down to the water and with a big shove from Laura we were out on the water.  By this time it was pretty dark and we were running a little short on time to make it to St Katherine’s Docks so the pressure was on.  Luckily we had Jacob on board.  Jacob had never met us before but had kindly come along to take some photos of us rowing Doris through London from the support boat.  He got a bit more than he bargained for, having to act as an extra pair of hands with the trailer and then having to travel with us on Doris since he couldn’t get to the support boat.  He’s now a pro at using the VHF radio, AIS and chartplotter and is definitely a new member of the team.  Plus his photos are beautiful so we hope we haven’t scared him off!  After a truly beautiful row through a lit up London we arrived at St Katherine’s Docks, our home for the weekend.  We settled Doris in, had a well-deserved dinner and headed home.

Photos below are by Jacob Perlmutter:

Doris and Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

On Saturday we woke up to a cold but beautiful sunny day which was perfect for a day spent introducing Doris to the public.  It was lovely to see all the interest in our project and to introduce some of our sponsors to the boat.  She was particularly popular with the kids who got to come aboard and see where we would row and get inside our cabin.  Along with our brilliant helpers for the day we spread the word about our row and added lots of names to our inspiration wall.


Sunday we left St Katherine’s bright and early and had a lovely row down to Greenwich Yacht Club where we planned to get the boat out of the water.  We arrived and were met by the lovely Ian.  We were quite worried by exactly how we were going to get Doris out of the water as the tide was going out quickly and the slipway was also on two levels but were comforted by Ian who assured us that there’s always a way.  It turned out that the way was for him to get the slipmaster out to lift Doris out of the water on slings.  This ended up being a bit of a mad dash in the 5 minutes before the water would have been too low and meant that Laura arrived with the trailer to see Doris hanging in the air on slings.

Another eventful weekend over, which couldn’t have happened without all of the support we had from friends, families and people we had never met.  Recently we spoke at a Hero’s Night organised by Will aka Super Cycling Man.  All of the other speakers had completed their own expeditions and their heroes were the people they met along the way.  We won’t have that on our row as the only people we’ll see are each other on the boat.  However this weekend has highlighted again that our heroes are the people we are meeting along our journey to the start line.  So I wanted to give a special thank you to a few of Coxless Crew’s heroes from this weekend.

  • Jacob Perlmutter – came along to take some photos, ended up helping us get the boat on the water for 2 hours and then coming for an hours row down the river having to use the radio and help us navigate making him 2 hours late for his evening plans.
  • Alan from Globe Rowing Club who was our support boat on the row down to Tower Bridge and became our advisor on the ways of the Thames.
  • St Katherine’s Docks – not only gave Doris a berth for the weekend but also put us up in their beautiful floating marketing suite.
  • Sarah from Breast Cancer Care who spent the whole of Saturday with us helping to tell our story.
  • Claire and Harry from Raymarine who also came along to help us out.
  • Ian the legend from Greenwich Yacht Club who when we arrived to use their slipway on Sunday with not enough water to get Doris on the trailer winched us out using the slip master.
  • Everyone who brought a mile of our journey and who’s names on our inspiration wall will help us across the Pacific.

And last but not least my wonderful teammates who will be my heroes when we are out on the ocean with only each other to rely on.

  • Laura – who can drive a 29ft ocean rowing boat through central London and has got us all hooked on xfactor.
  • Izzy – rustled up a support boat last minute, who had written our weeks to do list before we even got home and is the only one of us who can sing in tune.
  • Nat – the only person I know who can accost a passing tour and get their guide to stop and translate our story into Dutch for his tour group



Psych Blog 1

When people find out about the row, the common response is ‘are you crazy?!’. Now ask a crazy person if they think they’re crazy and I’m sure they’ll say no. So naturally of course, we would give it that same response, however, it was pretty apparent from the start, that this row was 90% about controlling the level of ‘crazy’ you become next to the 10% that’s physical strength.


The second question is usually then, ‘how’s the training?’ and the expected response is how much volume we’re doing on the ergo (rowing machine), what’s our weights programme, what cross training do we do etc.’
It is definitely more commonly accepted for someone to go to the gym and physically train for an hour a day & that to be part of a healthy well being lifestyle, no injury or illness necessary and it’s socially accepted. However, if you were to say you were heading off to see your psychologist for an hour a day – there is an immediate sense that it’s a taboo subject, people find it difficult to talk about and there is a preconceived idea, that you have an extreme mental health issue that needs attention.


What is interesting, is that generally people don’t tend to accept, that WE ALL experience mental health problems throughout our lives, but it doesn’t have to be extreme depression or Schizophrenia for it to be labelled as that, or highlighted that it’s not a ‘normal’ part of life.



Think of it as a sliding scale, for instance, for physical illness, it’s like having a common cold at one end to terminal cancer the other. We wouldn’t wish that extreme illness on anyone, but we know it unfortunately exists and there is medical support out there to help, compared to the cold which we all now know how to minimise the risk with preventative measures such as vitamin C/ echinacea/ first defense/ adequate rest etc. & the effects (depending on if your male or female ;)!), you can cope with as you know it’ll be over with within a couple of days or a week.



Mental health is no different, the one end of the scale that everyone associates with mental health or psychology, is being sectioned and whisked off to the Priory, however the common cold end is a day or two or week, of low mood, feeling stressed, being emotionally delicate etc. Now everyone experiences it, but there are very few that actively go out to seek how to cope with those situations/ understand them/ prevent them in a better way & this is where a psychologist can come in.

Keith Goddard is our team psychologist. He works with us on a 1:1 as well as helping us to optimise our team dynamic & understanding of each other as a team. Keith to us, is our rock! He is fundamental to the success of this row (no pressure Keith ;)!). Keith helps us to challenge our thoughts, to recognise that the inner script/ chitter chatter you have with yourself, is exactly that – just a thought. He has taught us how to differentiate between what’s rational or irrational thoughts, to tap into our feelings and emotional responses & recognise how they influence our thought process. He’s shown us how to recognise an emotional response will present itself in each of us; for example, if I’m upset about something, I used to keep it to myself and not want to share it because I wouldn’t want to be an emotional burden, but that emotion has to go somewhere – it’s like energy needing to expand and get out. So in me, I would feel it in my chest becoming tight, my shoulders elevating and feeling stiff & generally my posture would just become more tense. Naturally, you would possibly then go for a massage or see a Physio for acupuncture or ‘posture’ correction – but fundamentally, all that money is wasted unless you address the thought that’s driving that emotional response. The saying and feeling of ‘a weight being lifted off your shoulders’, is exactly that & a heck of a lot cheaper than seeing one of us Physio’s/Osteo’s/ chiropracters for regular treatment and the issue still coming back.

If you take anything away from reading this blog, the main thing is to tap into your mental health and awareness of your thoughts and feelings. There are times when you get an overwhelming feeling that day to day life becomes too much but you continue to try and be a superwoman (or man) and take it all on yourself, well there’s no stronger way than to seek a bit of advice which can be the nugget of information you needed to make life that little bit easier.


Values and Ethos – S.P.I.R.I.T

Natalia Cohen By

S.P.I.R.I.T – Our Values define us

What are our values and how does their importance impact our lives?

I believe that our values define us as an individual and that some are instilled and others developed. They become the underlying essence of what you are, who you will become and affect every area of your personal and working life.
These core beliefs that we have, highlight why we automatically gravitate towards certain people (as they most probably have similar values) and possibly why we choose to follow a particular career path or lifestyle.

Every one of us has values, but maybe not everyone has ever sat down and worked out what their top 5 are. There are literally hundreds to choose from and some resonate stronger than others for each person.

As the COXLESS CREW have become a new team, we have also had to re-evaluate our team dynamic and make sure that everyone has identified their own values. Collectively we need to be aligned in the things we believe in and what will keep driving us forward in our challenge.

These core values will need to be prevalent throughout our process as we work together to get us to the start line, develop our group dynamic and then help us to cross an ocean.

Although we are from varying backgrounds and have slightly different motivations, Laura, Emma, Izzy and I have one very important thing that connects us in this project. S.P.I.R.I.T
We are determined to make this adventure happen.

This S.P.I.R.I.T is the thing that we hold special and represents our key values and ethos.



– Strength of character, purpose and mind.
– There is an inner strength and a physical strength that will be developed and fine-tuned through various training schedules and exercises.
– Strength to face our fears, enter the unknown and prove that anyone can overcome adversity and do anything they set their mind to with the right preparation, support and commitment.
– Strength to keep moving forward when most people around you fail to understand the reason.

– The determination to get the boat to the start line. To find the sponsors and make this challenge happen so that we can raise the awareness and the support for our charities. To find the media coverage to make this story as big as it can possibly be and thereby generate the excitement for this women’s first attempt and significance for women once it has been achieved.
– That mental resolve to keep pushing through when the body has all but given up hope and the perseverance to keep moving forward however challenging or impossible the task at hand may seem.

– Honesty is vital to the success of this project. There needs to be a transparency in what we are doing and how we are going to achieve it in order to capture the hearts of our followers and to ensure that we can maintain a working relationship on our boat.
– There cannot be any secrets now as they will only be exposed and highlighted in a detrimental way on the boat. We need to be truthful and authentic to whom each of us is as a person and how we are feeling at any one time through the process. We need to constantly reflect and share with each other.

– There are going to be moments on a daily basis where we will need to find the drive and will to push through.
– During the ‘getting to the start line’ phase, we need to keep pushing to find our sponsors, organise the logistics for the physical training, team meetings, events, media opportunities, mental training, fundraising, coordination of the shipping, food, sea survival skills, DIY courses, the list goes on.
– We will all have our personal fears and doubts that will surface and disappear during the next six months.
– The true test of resilience will come when we’re out on the ocean. This is when we will really have to fight out our demons and push ourselves to our physical, psychological and emotional limits.
– All the women fighting to overcome adversity from our chosen charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care, also show this undeniable resilience. Whether it is a woman overcoming breast cancer or an ex-servicewoman who is learning to be re-introduced into a new life, they will need to bounce back from an extreme hardship.
– Equality and diversity within the workplace and also sport has begun a shift towards change but women still have to fight to be heard and to progress.

This is another key value for us.
Life is all about being inspired by amazing people and hoping in return to inspire others. This is a huge part of what our journey is about. We have been truly humbled and amazed by the number of people so far that have willingly donated their time and expertise to the project. We would not be where we are today without them all and they will definitely be a big source of our inspiration out in the Pacific. Our existing sponsors have been amazing and we so greatly appreciate their continual support.

Obviously our charities are our major source of inspiration. They are the very reason we are putting ourselves through the challenge and their stories and journey are the ones we are hoping to share and raise awareness of.
Our Ambassadors are also key. They are pioneers, athletes and great adventurers who we admire, respect and pull great inspiration from.

As will our followers, and through ‘BUY A MILE’ we are excited to have the names of everyone that has contributed to buying a mile for our adventure to actually be there in black and white (as well as in spirit) to travel the journey with us. The more miles you buy, the larger/bolder the name

BUY A MILE – Be Part of our Journey


We need to put trust in ourselves, in others, in the ocean and in the universe!
We are going to have to trust each other implicitly as basically our lives will depend on it. If we don’t have this trust, within the immediate team, our support team and our followers, the project will not be a successful one.
We trust fully in this incredible yet long, challenging journey we have embarked upon and will learn from all challenges we will face every step of the way.


Your values are an amazing driving force in life, so don’t forget to recognise and follow them, then allow them to work their magic.

We wish everyone love and S.P.I.R.I.T x