Archive for August, 2015

Leg 2, Day 34 – The Yellowbrick Tracker

Emma Mitchell By

Day 34 – The Yellowbrick Tracker

During the 118 days we have so far been rowing Doris on the Pacific there have been many frustrating moments. However I’m not sure any quite compare to the feeling of rowing as hard as you can for two hours with the sole purpose of trying to make the boat go as slowly as possible. In the last week or so we have been battling an easterly current of up to 2.2 knots and mainly southerly winds of up to 15 knots. Given that Samoa is to the south west of our current position both of these are incredibly unhelpful. Despite all of the dead lifts Alex made us do before we left and all of the calories we piled on, we are still not strong enough to row South west in these conditions. Some days, like today we are able to make slow progress South but at other times the best we can do is try to slow down our progress in the wrong direction. Doing this though is only slightly more depressing than the sessions where two hours hard rowing results in a small amount of progress South with a South easterly course, only to lose all that South ground during the change over of rowing pairs no matter how efficiently we do it, due to the strong current and/ or wind. Once we have crossed the equator and escaped from the equatorial counter current we will need to make up the ground we have lost to the east.

I feel the need to explain why it may look like we are going the wrong way because you can all see our progress on the ‘Where’s Doris?’ map on our website. The map is updated via our Yellowbrick satellite tracker, which automatically sends position reports that show up as the dots on the website. I was introduced to Yellowbrick while working for True Adventure. Each of our school expedition teams carry one with them so that we, in the operations room, as well as their family and friends can see where they are. I used to enjoy getting the world map up when we had lots of teams away and zooming around the globe checking that everyone was where they were meant to be. When leading expeditions in Nepal, Tanzania, Peru and Brazil our Yellowbrick lived in the top of my rucksack, letting everyone back home know where we were, every four hours while we trekked up mountains, worked on our project sites and canoed through the flooded rainforest. The Yellowbrick team kindly agreed to sponsor our expedition by providing us with a tracker for the duration of the row so thanks to them, you our followers will always know where we are.

You can set the Yellowbrick to send position reports as often as you like, but ours is set to send one every 4 hours. This is the reason why the number of miles our chart plotter tells us we have travelled is more than the number of miles our website tells you we’ve travelled. While the website map draws a straight line between each four hour report, our chart plotter is constantly drawing our route, and as a result shows every wobble in our course, every loop the loop and every back track that happens during changeover. It’s probably for the best that Tony can’t see our sometimes interesting track, especially when at the end of a frustrating shift the only consolation is seeing that you have drawn a face or an envelope among other amusing pictures. However if Tony does need to get a better idea of how we’re progressing or wants to monitor our course more regularly as we leave or approach land, he is able to access our tracker remotely from back home and change the frequency at which it reports. This ability to change the frequency of tracking also provides yet another level of emergency backup should we ever need it. If you hover over the dots on the website you will also be able to see the speed we were travelling at when the report was sent. We’re still hoping that one day it catches us as we’re surfing down a wave at 6 knots!

When Nats asked me the other day what my favourite piece of kit on Doris was I answered the iridium Go! which allows me to send this blog but my second favourite is definitely the Yellowbrick which allows people to follow our progress. It is comforting to know that it is not just us who check everyday our track and whether we are getting closer to Samoa.

UPDATE: Last night Bertie’s cousin Bill the boobie joined us for a few sessions perched upon our bows. In the sunrise shift Nat and I enjoyed a lengthy freshwater power shower which has then been repeated in each of our subsequent shifts so we are feeling very clean.

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Leg 2, Day 33 – Unbroken

Laura Penhaul By

Day 33: Unbroken

As you know, we row, eat, sleep, repeat, but for a couple of sessions in the day, we have about 4hrs to have some ‘downtime’, this is often the time we email, blog, wash, eat etc. but sometimes cram the time in to read.

I have found it bizarre that everything that I have read so far, without consciously realising it, I’ve found a connection with, either personally or with the row. The first audiobook I listened to was ‘The fault in our stars’ a touching story of two teenagers with terminal cancer. It was an emotional read and made me reflect a lot about the challenges faced by the families as well as the sufferers of cancer shared with our charity Breast Cancer Care. Then I read the autobiography of John Bishop, my families household favourite comedian. Again I found myself totally in the moment when he was enduring the Arc De Triumph to Marble Arch challenge and I remember following it avidly on Radio 1 at the time and actually shedding a tear when he reached the finish line. It gave me a flash of feeling of what it will be like for us reaching Australia but I feel the need to push the overwhelming excitement to the back of my mind as we are far from celebrating having yet to reach half way. I’ve been listening to Clare Balding’s ‘Ramblings’ on audiobook and just a few days ago she was reminiscing of when she presented on Channel 4 for the Paralympics at London 2012. A smile suddenly beamed across my face when she talked of ‘thriller Thursday’ when Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockcroft and David Weir all won Gold. I had a sudden sense of pride as these are 3 of the athletes that I work with now in some small way and it reminded me of the team and the road to Rio which is scarily just around the corner.

There is however, one book that has connected with me the most whilst out here; Unbroken, a true story of the life of Louis Zamperini. He was an ex Olympic athlete who joined the US Airforce and went to war against the Japanese back in the 1940’s. His plane got shot down and the story evolved of his and his comrades survival in a life raft in the middle of the Pacific.

I must admit, if given the opportunity I will often choose to see the movie over reading the book, but for some reason with this story I was drawn to read the book first. I had planned to read it in the first leg but never got round to it, so started reading it when we left Hawaii. The reason that it’s pertinent, is because Louis’ plane that he was on that day, took off from Hawaii and went down approx. 1,000nm South West of the Island. So the very region of the Pacific that we are in at this precise moment! The areas they talk about bombing such as Wake Island, Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands, we can see them on our chartplotter as we pass to the East of them. The awakening thoughts that go through my head when I’m now out on the oars after reading this, is that the deep blue underneath us, that we constantly speculate what wildlife could be down there, there’s actually thousands of Japanese and US aircraft that got bombed down during that time. There are soldiers that were taken down with the planes or those that ejected but didn’t survive, all now on the Pacific sea bed below. Furthermore, what really touches me, is that normally when you read about a significant historical event and you visit that location, the building may be the same, but the surroundings have evolved over the years showing how things are dated. So you don’t necessarily get a true representation of what it looked like to them at the time of their experiences. Out here in the Pacific, what is there to change since 1943? Nothing. The varied sea state and changing sky would have been the same for Louis as it is for us. The sunrise and sunset would have looked the same. The sweltering heat and exposure to the sun he talks about, is something we can definitely relate to. Being surrounded by salt water but not feeling cooled or hydrated by it, we get it. There is however a significant difference, we’re here by choice, in a fully equipped 29ft ocean rowing boat which would have been like a cruise liner compared to what they were in. We are now on day 33 since leaving Hawaii, Louis and his comrades survived on just a life raft (& a sinking one at that!) for 47days, with no food, no jetboil, no watermaker, no change of clothes, no methods of communication to back home etc. etc.

When Lizanne talks of Strength. Perserverance.Resilience. As she did in yesterday’s blog, Louis Zamperini and his colleagues are the epitome of all of that. The life raft survival was just the start of what he had to endure, what Louis and others experience as Prisoners of War (POWs) is unbelievable and how he survived to get through the repeated knock backs, shows the testament to his mental strength, his faith and his will to get back to his family. Furthermore, the book gives a true representation of the difficulties faced when soldiers return from war, try to reintegrate back into society and how PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) can present itself. Soldiers of today who returned from Afghanistan injured at war, face these same problems. It’s one thing returning from an injury physically, but the mental and social impact of being injured at war are more long term and in the end can cause the biggest wounds. This is why we support Walking With The Wounded, as they help to support injured service personnel find a new pathway after injury, whether through expedition, re-education or re-training to create a new life plan. It’s exactly this, that Louis Zamperini struggles through alone and eventually finds his way by himself, if only he had had access to WWTW back then. We are aiming to raise £250K for our 2 charities WWTW and Breast Cancer Care. If you’re in the UK and willing to spare yourself a coffee, then please text DORIS to 70300 for a £3 donation. Further donations and outside the UK please go to our website www.coxlesscrew.com to donate. Thank you for your support.

Update: last night was one of the most beautiful I’ve experienced out here. I was on the oars with Lizanne and the waters were like velvet depicted by a beacon from the full moon. In our first night shift, LV and I raised an isotonic drink to Alex Wolf’s (our S&C coach and friend) dad, who’s birthday it would have been yesterday if not for his sudden loss just weeks ago. A reminder that opportunities should be seized and things never to be left unsaid. In our next shift, just as I was looking into the flat calm, suddenly a dolphin jumped fully out of the water right next to the boat, within seconds we were once again blessed by a pod of dolphins around the boat, where they stayed for about 10mins, it was very special.

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Leg 2, Day 32 – Perseverance

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 32 – Perseverance

Perseverance. It means persistence. Doing something till the end and not giving up despite difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.

Why do we persevere?

This question circled around in my head last night as we fought a North-East current trying to go South-West. What keeps us going when we start drifting in the wrong direction despite rowing so hard our hands ache and legs feel like jelly? What keeps us pushing on when the wind picks up and starts to blow us backwards? What keeps us up when we’re so tired we start hallucinating? And what keeps the jokes flowing when the heat is so relentless it drains our energy and leaves us dehydrated despite the litres of water and electrolytes we’re consuming. Getting a little deep here, but I guess this is part of the journey- contemplating life and trying to make sense of it all.

We’re rowing the Pacific to raise money and support for our charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care. This already gives us reason to persevere. For me it’s not as simple as comparing the physical and emotional trauma that these women have endured with the strain it takes to row an ocean, but rather recognising that to get through any struggle there are shared attributes that gets you through; resilience, strength, inspiration.

Resilience is the ability to adapt to stress and adversity, and having the strength of character to allow yourself to be flexible and bounce back after something has knocked you down. Developing coping mechanisms to navigate through a crisis is usually accompanied by optimistic and positive attitudes. If this collaborates with inspiration and the capacity to withstand great force or pressure (either emotionally or physically) it creates the baseline for perseverance.

We’re not even halfway yet, so we’re climbing that hill towards our celebratory chocolate treat, our toast to Neptune and a swim across the Equator.

For Laura, she perseveres because of the gratitude and responsibility she feels towards everyone who have dedicated tremendous time and effort into making this row possible. Having worked on something for so long highlights her attitude of doing what she says she’s going to do, and completing the task at hand. She also has a close personal relation to the chosen charities, so for her the belief that the people supported by the charities have endured so much drives her forward. “There’s no other option. Quitting is never even an option”
She draws inspiration from the determination and willpower that she sees in the athletes that she works with, and knowing now that the rough times are often short lived and that it will get better at some point.

Emma draws on the support shown by so many. “We have so many followers and supporters and I don’t want to let them down”. Emma is also one of our strongest rowers, and she always gives 110% by seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. For her, Nat and Laura this leg is only a third of the journey, so having already spent so long at sea, she’s driven by making progress in the right direction and looking forward to getting halfway.

Nat hopes to draw insight from the row, as for her this expedition is all about the journey of life, and she’s hoping it will be the catalyst into helping her understand the human spirit better. “Some say that only by experiencing suffering ourselves can we better understand the suffering of others and deepen our compassion, and for me, I have always believed that the strength of the human spirit is the most powerful force there is”.
“How one accesses that strength, I have never been certain and I was sure that during this Pacific odyssey the question would be answered. So far I have nothing tangible. There is just this inexplicable determination, this desire to keep moving forward and complete what we have set out to do. I persevere because I believe so deeply in what we are doing. I also know that when we find ourselves in any particularly challenging moment in whatever form that comes (rough sea conditions, physical pain, counter current, wanting to be with family, cabin fever), that it will eventually change and that feeling you have will pass”

For me, it’s my best friends wedding that has kept me busting my groove as the dates are tight. Back on the boat I draw inspiration from my team mates, the girls. I know it is important to all of us to progress fast and well, so I feel a strong responsibility towards them to give only my best. I get my inspiration from my faith and other people showing incredible strength; like the woman I have never met fighting cancer while staying strong for her kids

We all have our Pacific to cross. Be it sickness, grievance, relationship trouble, work struggle, an injury, a disability, or addiction. Everyone has the ability to persevere, it’s recognising what to draw inspiration from and having the belief that you are strong enough to make it to the end. What draws this together for me is that Perseverance, Resilience, Strength and Inspiration are our team values, chosen before I even got involved.

UPDATE: Despite my serious blog, aboard Doris we still have a little laugh at our misfortunes. We had another Boobie hitch a ride with us this morning for a few hours and LP and I spotted 5 plastic bottles floating on the surface of the water during one of our shifts today.

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Leg 2, Day 31 – I can’t believe it…

Natalia Cohen By

Day 31 – I can’t believe it…

Just as Ems shared her dawning realisation yesterday about how she can’t believe how small we actually are out here, I thought I would share some of my own ‘I can’t believe it’ insights.
So…here goes:

I can’t believe that…

1. …I’m still intrigued by our 360° view

One of the most special things about this unique environment that we find ourselves in, is that we are constantly surrounded by 360° of ocean and sky. We see the sunrise over the water and then we see the sunset. We see the moon rise, the moon set and the stars and planets rise and fall. There is an ever changing cloudscape and plethora of colours reflected in the water as well as dramatic sea states coming and going to make each day feel different and it seems as though we are rowing through a world that few have been fortunate enough to have seen or discovered.
There is something magical about this view and to be honest, I think that of all the wonderful memories I will keep close to my heart…the 360° circle of impermanence and beauty will be one of them.

2. …although we’ve been rowing for 115 days, we’re still not even half way yet!

I don’t think I really thought about the amount of time we were going to spend completing the expedition and I certainly didn’t think it would take us as long as it has so far to do 2 legs. We could well end up being out here for over 8 months (that’s nearly a full pregnancy cycle, and one of my dear friends will actually be giving birth to twins before my return!)
This realisation is staggering (do you know how much rowing we have already done!!!) and we’re definitely looking forward to hitting that half way point soon and knowing that it’s downhill (so to speak) all the way from there on…

3. …we do everything needed in 4 hours

I’m amazed that we really only have a 4 hour window every day to do the bare necessities like eat, relax, wash our clothes and ourselves, read, write an email/blog, make calls, do routine boat checks, run the water maker etc. Only during these 2 two hour rest shifts are we awake during a 24 hour period and where we are not spending our time rowing. Most of us also manage to get a short nap to also fit into this ‘awake’ shift!

4. …how much attention we give to our bums!

Never in my 40 years of life have I spent so much time touching, rubbing and indeed talking about my bum. At the end of every 2 hour rowing shift, we rub talc over our bum area, and then after waking and before heading out onto the oars again, we rub sudocreme over our bums. We’re constantly checking our own bums and each other’s for ‘angry bum’, pressure and salt sores. Our seat bones are also discussed as the foam in the cushions we are using has become compressed from having someone constantly sitting on them. The bum is always a hot topic of conversation.

5. …that I can now count the almighty Pacific as one of my many homes.

Having spent the last 15 years moving home and country, I’ve always believed that you need to give somewhere at least 6 months before you can know if it’s a place you would like to live and it’s a place you can say was ‘home’ for a period of time. I will soon be able to add ’29ft rowing boat, Pacific Ocean’ to the list of random places I have lived including Cairo (Egypt), Nepal, Spain, Cuzco (Peru), Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Bangkok, Safari Lodge (Saadani National Park, Tanzania)

UPDATE:
Keeping in the theme of the blog, Ems and I had a ridiculous rowing session this afternoon. The shift began with sunshine and blistering heat, draining us of all energy and inducing sweat to drip from every part of our bodies. We were fighting the varying equator currents but just managing to keep a course over ground of 160° when a squall came through and threw us completely off course. After our soaking the wind suddenly changed direction and literally sent the squall back towards us! We fought with the heading sending us East and then North and trying to at least find the heading that would take in these far from ideal directions the slowest, until about 4 minutes before the end of the shift. I can’t believe that everything then reverted back to how it was at the beginning of the shift as if nothing had ever happened just in time for LP and LV to take to the oars!! x

image1 (6)

*photo taken on a previous row shift that was not so much of a fight!!

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Leg 2, Day 30 – A realisation

Emma Mitchell By

Day 30 – A realisation

During the first leg I remember always feeling like we were in a little bubble of the Pacific. On a clear day we can see approximately 10 miles in every direction and we could have been 100 miles from shore or 1000 miles from shore and never known. Despite the occasional ‘Oh my God we’re actually doing this’ moment, the expectation that there was land or other boats just out of sight across the horizon didn’t go away. However since leaving from Honolulu something seems to have changed for me. One night, two weeks ago, I was on the oars with Nats under a beautiful starry sky with waves lapping at the side of the boat, when all of a sudden I was struck by the realisation that we are a tiny 29ft boat, an insignificant pink dot, almost 1000 miles from the closest land mass in the middle of the worlds largest ocean. What’s more this immense ocean is an insignificant body of water on a single planet in the universe I was staring up at in the sky. I have no idea how it took me over 100 days at sea to finally have this realisation but it happened again yesterday on the oars with LP in a calm early morning shift. Surrounded by a gently rolling, silky smooth ocean I suddenly realised that we really are surrounded by water for hundreds of miles in every direction with nobody else around. We haven’t even seen another boat since our first week out of Hawaii. We are out here with no choice but to accept and deal with anything the great Pacific chooses to throw at us. You might think that this would be an intimidating thought but I actually felt a magical sense of freedom and independence, embracing and enjoying the feeling. Out here on Doris we have everything we need to survive for the (hopefully only) 60 days it will take us to reach Samoa. Our 29ft pink mobile home can ride the waves, keeping us safe and dry when necessary or letting us experience the elements in all their wild glory on the oars. We have food, water, the ability to communicate with home, the ability to know where we are and where we are going and great company to keep us entertained. Before we left the UK I remember answering the question ‘what are you most looking forward to?’ with ‘the feeling when we lose sight of land and it is just us and Doris out on the ocean on our way’. I think this is the feeling I am finally appreciating that we are out here self sufficient and unsupported (not counting our amazing support team back home). Our experiences in the first leg in all kinds of challenging conditions has built our confidence in Doris and each other and I think maybe it is this confidence which has now allowed me to think about and appreciate the scale of exactly where we are. So onwards we go towards Samoa battling the crazy weather and strong currents of the ETCZ the five of us out on the ocean.

UPDATE: The sky is blue, the clouds are like white and peach candy floss on the horizon and the temperature is high. After our last rowing shift I feel like a baked potato – roasted on the outside and squidgy in the middle. Last night was another dry and calm one under the stars. The moon is back lighting the way for most of the night but our Mahi mahi escort last night was only a single solitary fish so I think we might be leaving their stomping ground. On the oars Nat and I talked trees and flowers. If Nat was a flower she’d be an orchid and if I was a flower I’d be a bluebell.

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Leg 2, Day 29 – Never be left with ‘What If?’

Laura Penhaul By

Day 29: Never be left with ‘What If?’

In recent blogs, Nat and Lizanne have talked of life defining moments and their approaches to life, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you mine. ‘Never be left with ‘what if?” A quote by Chrissie Wellington (4 times World IronWoman Champion). I believe that this is a question that I have asked myself a million times over when I’ve been faced with a fork in the road over the years. ‘What if I take this opportunity to work with the GB Ski team but I lose my job in the NHS?’ ‘What if I stay with my job in the NHS but therefore have to say no to the opportunity of working with the GB Ski team?’ Which am I most likely to regret having not done?’. For me the answer was as clear as day, of course I’m not going to turn down an opportunity to work with the GB Ski team, even though it’s only temporary, even though there’s no longevity in it and even though it means walking away from the security of a 9-5 NHS job with pension and comfort of a steady pay packet. Why? Because deep down, regardless of the concerns of my parents for stepping away from security, I had a strong belief that it would be the best thing for me. So that’s what I did and from this stemmed more and more opportunities to work in elite sport and better still, to start specialising in what I was most interested in, Paralympic sport. 6 months after being in Argentina on a Southern Hemisphere ski training camp, I got approached by the GB Disabled Ski Team. They were just under 2 years away from Vancouver Winter Paralympics and had some good medal hopes on the team. They didn’t have any medical support at the time and were looking for a Physio. Perfect timing! I applied and got the job, albeit a Volunteer for the majority of it which in turn would result in taking up most, if not all of my spare time, but I didn’t care, I loved it and saw it as a hobby rather than a chore. After being fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Vancouver 2010 Games with them, I then crossed over to Summer sports working with Paralympics GB through to London 2012. It was in January 2012 that the row entered my life and suddenly, instead of my career being my focus, the row was. I had to make it happen, I had to make it work because again, deep down I had a strong belief and vision that it would be the challenge of a lifetime (I just hadn’t realised how much of a challenge that was going to be!). Many people questioned it and many obstacles were put in the way of getting to the startline, but it seemed strange in that the more hurdles that were overcome and the more negativity received, it only drew me more determined to make sure it happened, a little like a stubborn child! Typically when you’re on a path and pretty occupied with it, opportunities that you would have killed for before, suddenly come along in abundance. After London 2012, I was approached by a couple of sports regarding full time Physio roles. So I’d ask myself, ‘what if…. I apply and get the job but I don’t do the row? Or I do the row but I miss out on a great job? Which will I regret the most in the future?’. For a couple of options this wasn’t too hard to decide, I was doing the row and if I miss a job opportunity now I’m sure there will be others on my return if not in the near future. However, this was a different story when one of the jobs was an opportunity to be Lead Physiotherapist for Paralympic Athletics – aka. My dream job! They knew about the row and the time out it would require, but regardless they were still interested in meeting me for interview. I started working with British Athletics in April 2013. So 2013-14 was a juggling act between ensuring I gave 110% at work as well as to the row in my spare time. Work became my release from the row and the row became my space from work, which clearly left very little social time, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I was determined to ensure I could make both work out, because when it came down to it, if asked to choose between doing the row or Athletics, I honestly wouldn’t be able to. The support I’ve received from Neil Black (Performance Director of British Athletics), Dr. Rob Chakraverty (Chief Medical Officer of British Athletics Olympic and Paralympic) and Paula Dunn (Paralympic Head Coach) has been unbelievable and it has made me even more dedicated to ensure its success, so that my time away has not been wasted and more importantly driven my passion further for getting back to them and the athletes before Christmas.

Without a doubt, it is the athletes that have inspired me to be here, to be doing this row. I never expected this row to take 4years, to take a Paralympic cycle in its preparations and execution, but it has. It has thrown me curve balls, set backs and many hurdles to overcome, which I can only relate to the difficulties faced by our athletes when injury strikes at inopportune moments. If I can take from this row a glimpse of what mental strength it takes to overcome some of the difficulties our Para athletes and others have to face, then this row would have been a success. I always work hard to relate to my athletes and people I treat, so hopefully this will give me some level of deeper understanding when they need it the most.

Quick shout out to the British Team currently competing at the World Championships, wish I was able to watch it all live but thanks to Izzy and friends for the updates on email.

Update: This morning, just as Ems and I finished off our all day breakfast and granola, noises of excitement on the oars from Nats and Lizanne were heard. There was a pod of about 12-15 dolphins all swimming around the boat. It was magical and as they swam away one jumped fully out of the water as if to say a fond farewell.

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Leg 2, Day 27 – If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Natalia Cohen By

As some of you already know, this expedition has been made up of two parts. Getting to the start line and the row itself. For me, I developed not only on a personal level during the initial stage, but also managed to find new skills I never knew I had.  As we essentially set up our own company, we had to deal with all the day to day running of the company Coxless Crew including logistics, accounts, admin, social media/website, PR, media, marketing and sponsorship to name a few.

My main roles were Social Media, PR, media, marketing and overseeing the website with the help of the amazing Steph from Design by StephanieJ. These were areas of expertise that I had to develop rapidly as I had no previous experience.

When thrown in at the deep end, you sink or swim. I swam…I swam fast and furious.  I was a woman on a mission.This expedition is an extraordinary one, and I wanted as many people as possible to know about it. I told our story every day and one of the best and most important lessons I learnt was…

————————-       if you don’t ask you don’t get!       —————————

What is the worst thing that can happen if you ask someone for something? They say no. That’s it, that’s the worst thing. A slightly bruised ego…but nothing more and nothing less.

I did A LOT of asking. Everyone I knew and anyone that crossed my path. It worked. We managed to get some great media coverage (not nearly enough for my liking, but a great start) including the Evening Standard, The Independent, The Daily Mail (femail), BBC London and we got the incredible Sir Ranulph Fiennes as an ambassador. The wonderful pop icon Kylie Minogue was secured as our Patron and slowly our social media following began to grow. Perseverance is key! We now have the wonderful Carver PR driving our PR whilst we are out on the ocean.Never being one to do things by halves, we have set our sights high for the row.

The main aim of our expedition is to not only raise awareness, but also to raise £250,000 for our chosen charities, Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded. This is an ambitious target and we truly hope to hit it. The women supported by our charities need our help and we are determind to offer the best services we can. More about exactly where the donations will go in a following blog.This is where we need your help. So…I find myself asking again.

We would love to have 100,000 followers by the time we get to Cairns. This is the number I have chosen to help this expedition be a hugely successful one. At the moment we have about 4,000. It is another ambitious target but I believe we can do it.
This is what I’m asking…

– Please SPREAD THE WORD. Ask EVERYONE you know to like our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter

– Tell all your work colleagues about our challenge and ask them to ALSO spread the word

– Have a think if you know any celebrities, or friends with celebrity friends and see if they will reach out to their followers. A quick tweet or Facebook post and asking for a cheeky like/follow is all we ask.

– Talk about our Pacific odyssey to any media contacts you know or any in house marketing departments at work

– Discuss what we are doing with ALL your friends and even with people you know in any sports clubs, book clubs, yoga classes, your local church, EVERYWHERE.

– Keep sharing our blog posts, photos, Facebook, Twitter posts and Instagram.

Watching the miles count down (depressingly in the wrong direction recently) and the number of followers climb up will be a HUGE source of inspiration to us all.  So…LET’S DO THIS…let’s make this expedition one for the history books and one that shares the SPIRIT with all far and wide x

UPDATE
Yet another crazy 24 hours with all seasons in one day being thrown at us.  My personal favourite was the torrential downpour that happened just before LV and I left the oars before our first awake rest shift. We were enveloped in a heavy, grey cloud and everything went a little dark then…boom – the heavens opened. The surface of the ocean went smooth and so you could clearly see the large raindrops dance across the top of the water. The grey was split into varying  shades and the rolling waves looked like a misty mountain range stretching out around us as far as the eye can see. It was amazing x

 

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Leg 2, Day 26 – It’s the small things

Emma Mitchell By

For Nat’s blog the other day she asked us what on Doris we couldn’t live without. With the everyday items tweezers, sudocreme and sunscreen making the list it got me to thinking about the other simple things we have on board which we wouldn’t want to be without.
1) The ziplock bag. Our daily snack packs are packed into large ziplock bags which are stored in the deck hatches and on a daily basis we grab one out to add approximately 1500kcal to our daily energy intake. This grabbing out of a new snack pack happens with more or less rummaging for particular favoured items depending on who is looking and what time of the day or night it is. Each snack pack contains a portion of mixed dried fruit and a portion of mixed nuts and these are both packaged in their own small ziplock bags. These snack packs usually head out with us on to the oars at the beginning of a session along with a second ziplock bag containing additional items such as sunscreen, lip balm, a long sleeve top, an iPod and a hat or buff. This passing out of the bags to each rowing seat is often accompanied by a chorus of ‘To the back, to the back. Everything Nat owns in a ziplock to the back.’ The uses of the humble ziplock bag don’t end there though…. When giving kit briefs in my previous life as an expedition manager I always extolled the virtues of the ziplock for keeping precious or smaller items in within a rucksack. Within our individual pockets in the aft cabin we each have our clothes split into separate ziplocks to keep them dry from the condensation and general damp of the cabin. Our electrical items, diaries, bird book, matches and any other items we need to keep dry are also ziplocked and placed in their hatch. The final use of these amazing bags is to put the empty freeze dried food packets in. Once they are full they are stashed in the rubbish hatch.2) Tupperware pots. To prepare the freeze dried expedition foods which make up most of our daily calorie intake we pour the dried food into our individual Tupperware containers, boil some water using our trusty Jetboil and then add water to food, mix, leave for 10 minutes and then eat. Making the food up in the Tupperware means that the food packets stay dry and don’t collect wet food in them which would then begin to smell when we store them as rubbish. All good except it means we have to do the washing up after each meal. We tried to make sure that everything we packed on to Doris had more than one use and the Tupperware is no exception. We have also used them to sterilise our water bottle caps, to wash our hair and to bucket shower

3) Car windscreen shades. Now I have never actually owned one of these for a car although considering that I have also never owned a car with air conditioning I will definitely be purchasing one when I get home. During the sunny daylight hours we put these sun shades up in the hatches to prevent the direct sunlight from hitting us in the face and heating up the cabin any more than it already is. We also have one to cover our water containers in the footwell of the aft cabin and to cover the jet boil and gas canisters in their deck hatch.

4) Water bottles. We each have two Camelbak water bottles which we fill up and take out on deck with us when we are rowing. We fill them up back in the cabin and make sure we are drinking as much as possible to keep us hydrated in the heat. We couldn’t survive without them in the burning heat of the day but as with everything else they also have a couple of extra uses. The bottles with sports lids are often used as a kind of jet wash for washing up the Tupperware after dinner. On days where we are getting splashed by the waves we use them to give our selves a quick rinse to get rid of the salt before entering the cabin. They have also been used for hair washing and to give us a cooling spray during a particularly hot rowing shift.

5) Travel towels. We definitely couldn’t live without our towels. Apart from the obvious use to dry ourselves after we have washed we also use these to sit or lie on every time we are in the cabin to stop our sweaty selves from sticking to the mattress covers. In any particularly hot sleeping shifts we’ll sleep on them to avoid getting our silk sleeping bag liners soggy with sweat. At various times they have also been used as seat covers out on the oars and worn as skirts to protect our thighs from the sun.

UPDATE:
– We are caught in the equatorial counter current (ECC) which is pushing us East. This is despite our best efforts to row hard in every session and means that we are not currently making many miles towards Samoa.
– Last night when LP and I were on the oars in a beautiful starry night shift a huge (approx 3ft long) sailfish landed on Doris hitting LP on the way. Luckily the tongs were at hand to get him back in the water quickly where he swam off but it nearly gave both of us a heart attack, woke LP from her sleepy state and woke Nats and LV up from their sleep in the cabin.
– This afternoon LP and I headed out from the sweaty cabin to go rowing. I complained that I was hot and hadn’t even started rowing so Mother Nature kindly provided a squall of cold wind and torrential rain with a accompanying tornado twister lasting over an hour to cool us off. Later the sun came out and a pod of dolphins then came past on a visit.

 

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Leg 2, Day 25 – Building Queen Doris 2 (QD2)

Laura Penhaul By

Over the last few blogs you have heard from Doris herself and a description from Lizanne, how well Doris is looking after us.  Hopefully with the detail from Lizanne and the images you have seen of Doris, for those of you that have not met her in person, we hope you have been able to build a good picture of our current home sweet home on the ocean. Now not to distract from the perfectness (if that is such a word?!) of Doris now, but whilst out here, we have developed many an idea of how to renovate Doris when we return home, or potentially these ideas could be shared with Rossiters if a new build is under way. So here are a few of our ideas……:

- A garbage compressor: this would be ideal as space is limited and we seem to accumulate a lot of garbage that we have to keep on the boat until disposal when we reach land.

– An invisible shield: this is to go up at the sides of the boat without compromising the oar stroke. This predominantly was for nighttime to protect from flying fish, but thinking about it, it could also double up to be used 24/7 to protect from the waves and therefore minimise being salty.

- A robot cleaner: this you would set to work in the morning and it would make its way around the boat,cleaning every nook and cranny including the hatches, to leave Doris spotless and smelling fresh.

– Air conditioning: a spot of air con in the cabins would be pure bliss!

- A fridge freezer: this way we could have ice for drinks, a frozen yoghurt supply, chocolate (especially Snickers) kept cool and even keep some fresh fruit and meat.

- A bbq: this could be gas so that’s it’s easier to clean and manage. It could be concealed on deck with a sliding door over it so that it doesn’t take up too much walking space on deck.

- A clear glass hull: This way we could see what fishes and wildlife swim beneath us and would mean we wouldn’t have to dunk our heads into the sea first to check for sharks before jumping in.

- A power shower outside: we do have a solar shower but no where high enough to hang it so we have to take it in turns to hold it for the other person. 

- A Parasol : I would suggest this could be mounted in the middle between the 2 rowers, so that when it either rains or you require protection from the sun, this pops open and covers the entire rowing positions and the rowers themselves. Unfortunately a screen that slides out from the aft to the Forecabin was something thought of previously, but it wasn’t suitable as the rowers sit higher than the cabins.

- Free wifi with unlimited download ability: this would be pretty perfect as we could share photos and videos with you all via Social media, plus live Skype calls, the communications would be endless.

- A washing machine!: we try and rinse our clothes in a bucket of clean water and soap regularly but slowly they deteriorate as there is an accumulation of sweat and/or not drying properly. There would be nothing better than laundry fresh clothes on Doris. 

- the pièce de la resistance!!……A projector screen mounted between the 2 aerials with the projector mounted on the Forecabin hatch so we can merrily watch films as we row. Perfect! Although we do love being in touch with nature and listening to the sounds of birds,  being able to watch a few episodes of Greys Anatomy or to watch a film whilst out on the oars would certainly help break the monotony!

Update: last night was a beautiful star filled sky and we woke this morning to pan flat water conditions. Nat was right …’ You never know what you’re gona get!’ Now at just 10am I’m already sitting in a pool of my own sweat in the cabin yet there’s a torrential downpour out on the oars, bizarre!

This morning we received a sat phone to sat phone call from the lovely Sarah Outen who is currently rowing solo on the Atlantic. We shared a ‘100days at sea’ celebration, whilst we toasted with an isotonic drink to her, she apparently sipped on a G&T (so jealous). Sarah will be finishing in Falmouth approx. same timing as we reach Oz, so Cornish folk keep your eyes and ears peeled and pop down to support if you can, she’s a legend and has been a true inspiration and support to our row. We’ve just reached 900miles! Nearing half way and the equator is an exciting thought for us all.

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