Archive for November, 2015

Leg 3, Day 21 – Crewsaver

Emma Mitchell By

Day 21 – Crewsaver

The wind is still blowing at 21kts and the waves are still crashing over Doris on a regular basis in each rowing shift. In conditions like these our Crewsaver wet weather gear and life jackets are our constant companions every time that we leave the cabin. Crewsaver came on board as sponsors of our safety kit at the London Boat Show in 2014 where we met the lovely Greg O’Brian and they have been a huge support to us ever since.

Our Crewsaver life raft sits under the front rowing position and is there only in case of emergency. We were trained in its use at the Crewsaver office by the lovely Guy Page and also practiced our life raft drills as part of the sea survival training we completed in Plymouth with Survival Wisdom. Here we also ran through all of our risk assessments and what if scenarios and learnt that the life raft is really only a ‘slightly better than death raft’ and that if we follow all our safety procedures we should avoid ever needing it. Unlike the raft, the rest of the kit that Crewsaver has given us is used frequently on board Doris.

Launch1

Initially we had Coastal Ergofit 190 life jackets for our training on the water off Christchurch before our departure. Laura and I tested these out during our 12 hr row at the boat show and were really surprised that it didn’t really feel like we were wearing them. These were upgraded to the extreme Ergofit 290 life jackets which we have been wearing since our departure from San Francisco. Luckily they are super comfortable to row in as we wear them during anything other than super flat conditions. They are activated by a hammer which means that they will inflate if we go overboard and into the ocean but won’t inflate when we get a wave to the head, which is lucky given current conditions. Attached to each life jacket we have a small knife, a laser flare donated by Greatland Laser, personal locator beacon (PLB) and a personal AIS beacon from our other amazing sponsors McMurdo. We were lucky enough to visit Crewsaver and see how the life jackets were made which was fascinating and we were trained in all their special features and how to rearm them.

Crewsaver also provided us with the leashes which attach us to Doris at all times when we are moving about on the boat. Being leashed on at all times when on deck is our number one rule and the Orange leashes clip on to the front of our life jackets. When actually rowing we switch to an ankle surf leash but the orange leashes are reattached at changeover for our return to the cabin.

Our wet weather gear is red and black and makes us look a little like astronauts. It isn’t off shore gear so isn’t really made to deal with the extreme conditions we are currently experiencing, but it does a great job of keeping out most of the water and all of the wind and is our standard night time wear. The wonderful Hannah sent out a brand new set to Samoa for us so we are currently looking very bright and smart in our new kit.

By far our favourite Crewsaver kit is our thermals. They are the warmest, softest and most comfortable clothes any of us have ever worn and make us look like ninjas. We literally wore them every day in leg one and now that the nights are getting pretty cold again they will be making a reappearance. They are beginning to look a little worn now and I’m not sure they will ever smell the same again so we are hoping that Santa might bring us a new set for Christmas to help us survive the British winter we will be returning to in January (wink wink)!

Leg1 13

UPDATE: Same same but different. We still have the strong winds and big swell but now our speed seems to have disappeared in an unfavourable current. If you see it please send it back to us. It is a lot harder to maintain a sense of humour while getting repeatedly soaked in cold salt water when you are only travelling at 0.3kts but we seem to be managing it with hysterical laughter often filtering into the cabin from the pair on the oars. Progress may be slow but we have our advent calendars ready for the countdown to Christmas tomorrow. Doris has also now covered 7000nm!!

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Leg 3, Day 20 – Foodies!

Laura Penhaul By

I thought it about time, that considering everyone has mentioned my love for food, that I share with you my passion. I love food! Always have, always will. I’m not a vegetarian, nor vegan or pescatarian etc. I love to eat anything and everything, with the exception of, Marmite. I’m definitely in the ‘hate it’ category, but it annoys me that Marmite is the only thing I don’t like, so every few months I will re attempt having some on toast, which usually ends up in me getting half way through the piece of toast before I nearly gag and have to give it to my housemate or throw it away! One day I’ll crack it and turn to a lover of Marmite!

I have grown up with my mums amazing home cooking (roast dinner definitely tops anyone’s!), so have always eaten fresh, home cooked foods and enjoy the process of cooking myself. So when it came to doing the row and Alex (our S&C coach) and I sat down to see how much weight I needed to gain, it was looking to be 12kg’s over the coming year. A target of 30g of protein every 3-4hrs and approximately 4,000 calories per day when at home. Easy I thought, I couldn’t have chosen a better expedition, normally working on marathons or triathlon I’ve kept a healthy diet but always had a healthy appetite, but this time I’d need to include some more calorific foods and lots of it – Happy days! It started off well, but then to be honest, it suddenly became a chore. What was once an enjoyable process had become a need, a counting game of calories for the most in a meal rather than the least and alarms on my watch to remind me to eat rather than wait to feel hungry. I started off with fresh home cooking, adding extra coconut oil or olive oil to foods, drinking glasses of full fat milk, making shakes with cashews and cream in, but still it was difficult to consume the volume of calories healthily, so more chocolate, cakes, pastries crept their way in, choosing burgers on the menu instead of grilled chicken, and chips instead of vegetables. The row had been postponed for a year and then another, so I ended up eating like this for over 2years, alongside the training which meant more calories when doing endurance work and more protein with weights. I reached my 70 kg’s mark just a month before departure – yey! Although with all the stress and anxiety leading into the start line, I’d lost about 3kgs before we even left!

So the girls will tell you how much of a bossy boots I was about eating and how imperative it was for everyone to gain weight and overlook the appearance of added fat gain and the lethargy you feel with eating so much food, because no doubt we’d loose it on the row, and that we have! Typically, as being the one that eats the most in the team and the one most anal about not wanting to loose weight, I’ve lost the most! I haven’t weighed in yet, but the fact that I can see my shin bones and ribs is pretty much a sure sign of weight loss. I may have always been someone of a slim frame, but I’m not a fan of skinny, I much prefer strong over skinny, so seeing so much muscle waste away is slightly distressing.
Anyhow, it’s not for want of trying to still load up whilst out here, so to prove my eating habits, I thought I’d give you an insight into my daily diet at sea:

09:30 – BeWell Exped breakfast of ‘healthy fruit muesli’ (800cal) mixed with Maximuscle Progain protein shake (600cal).
11:30 – on the oars x 2 granola bars (190cal each)
13:30- BeWell Exped Meal of Chicken Tikka Massala (800cal) followed by Exped Dessert Chocolate Pudding (500cal)
15:30- on the oars handful of sweets (250cal total)
17:30- noodles (300cal) and foil packet of tuna added (200cal) followed by a Mars bar (240cal)
19:30 – twix bar (200cal)
23:30 – biscuits (160cal)

Obviously regain is high on the agenda for us when we return home. During the second leg it became a daily conversation topic between Lizanne and myself about ‘if you could eat any 3 course meal right now, what would it be?’. So keeping up the trend, today I have been dreaming of my dream day of food when I get home, so here it is;

Breakfast – granola and yoghurt to start with, followed by eggs benedict then some fresh fruit
Lunch – one of my Aunty Marie’s extra large, homemade Cornish pasty
Mid afternoon snack – A Chapel Porth hedgehog ice cream (2 scoops of Cornish clotted cream ice cream, with a dollop of clotted cream on top, covered in honey roasted nuts)
Mid afternoon drink – Stop off at the Blue Bar in Porthtowan for a white chocolate hot chocolate
Evening meal – mums roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings, dessert- mums profiteroles!
Evening snack – glass of full fat milk and some 80%+ dark chocolate
Think that should cover it! The only problem will be when I’m still eating this volume a year down the line and have stopped all exercise, you may not even recognise me!

Update:
Simon TY – thank you for your riddles, although you’re right, with the accumulation of sleep deprivation I feel that currently our intellect is that of a 5 year old, so maybe riddles for kids would be better suited, so we have a better chance of figuring them out!
Life aboard continues to be salty and sweaty, the winds are due to pick up again tonight and the swell continues to be rather large. Meggy Moo has taken to the waves like a fish to water! The tunes are playing on the radio daily and we are nearing our half way mark already. So taking the rough wit the smooth, all is dandy aboard Doris.

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Leg 3 Day 19, a loo with a view – bucket etiquette

Meg Dyos By

Leg 3  Day 19, a loo with a view – bucket etiquette
After losing my 2nd cap yesterday and feeling really quite sad about it I had plans to write a blog talking of my loss as in addition my spork has snapped. But then as I sat there during my sunset number 2 and pondered, I got over my losses, and again appreciated the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and decided that today I would tell you more about our loo with a view.I was talking with the girls this morning about the bucket, and how I really want to name her as she is such a big part of the daily motions (quite literally) on Doris, but it was decided as she has been nameless for all of 7 months she is to remain by the name of ‘the bucket’. The reason for my wanting to talk about this process is also because it was the most common question asked back on land before I left; but also because it is the only place on Doris where you can be out on deck in the fresh air and taking in the 360 degree horizon without being asked why you aren’t rowing!

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I want to take you through a step by step process of the bucket usage, and hope that you will get a feel for just how we relieve ourselves on board. First things first, let me introduce you – the bucket is a red plastic bucket with a spout for pouring with a rope attached to her in case of the need for her retrieval from the ocean. She was born in San Francisco, and currently resides on Doris out on deck between the two rowers and at the ripe age of 8 months has seen more angry bums than a bucket needs to see.

Stage one – accepting the fact that the time has come to relieve oneself.

Stage two – inform the other rower of the need for bucket usage. There are two reasons for this, firstly to excuse yourself from rowing and secondly to hope that the driver is cautious for the duration of the other persons time on the bucket!

Stage three – untie the bucket from the jackstay runner and place bucket in a suitable and safe position in front of rowers seat. If one is preparing for a number 2, it is crucial that they fill the bucket with approx 2 – 3 inches of water before commencing the process.

Stage four – stand up and step in front of the bucket whilst carefully removing clothing and holding onto the grab rail.

Stage five – assess the wave situation and whether any big mamas are due to strike Doris whilst preparing for placing ones rear end on the bucket.

Stage six – if the coast is clear, position rear end on bucket, and hold onto grab rail during the process.

Stage seven – relieve oneself whilst taking in the surroundings (my favourite time is the sunset number 2) and keep an eye out for any cheeky waves!

Stage eight – wipe. Depending on ones technique this may involve staying seated. Alternatively if one feels the need to stand, hold the grab rail with one hand.

Stage nine – place rear end back on rowers seat.

Stage ten – wrap bucket cord around wrist for bucket security, and empty contents into the ocean. Be sure not to empty into prevailing winds to reduce the risk of backsplash.

Stage eleven – rinse bucket with sea water.

Stage twelve – re-tie bucket to jackstay. The professional will be able to do this with one hand.

Stage thirteen – re-commence rowing!

All of that, for a quick wee! Please also note, that these guidelines are not weather dependant – this process is used in all conditions and there has not yet been an incident where someone has fallen off of the bucket!

Update: we still appear to be stuck in a current, and I’m finally beginning to understand what the girls went through on the last leg with the slow progress. Last night whilst on the oars, me and Ems saw the most incredible full moon rise. I was quite literally gobsmacked with its size and beauty. Finally today I caught a reflection of my posterior in the hatch door and am rather shocked at how angry it’s looking. Hopefully it has to get worse in order to get better?? Today is also the day that my boyfriends company Esynergy Solutions did a fundraiser for our charities. I’m awaiting the total that they have raised, but could your company do the same?
Personal update – a massive happy birthday to my babe of a cousin Goggalogs Mead, and also Nanny P Dizzle for the next few days. Thinking of you xxx
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Leg 3, Day 18 – Age: is it just a number?

Natalia Cohen By

As I sat on a tiny pink boat in the middle of the biggest ocean in the world, the sun determinedly sent rays of light shooting out from behind some dark grey clouds, and yet another day began. Wherever you are, this is how every new day begins…with a sunrise and 24 hours of infinite possibility. I love that! 

The other certainty is that also, with every new day that passes, we will all be yet another day older.  

Age is a funny thing. You spend most of your childhood wishing you were older and most of your adulthood wishing you were younger. With each decade comes a new milestone in age and with that hopefully comes a new insight, understanding into life and yourself (if you’re lucky). Lists of things you would like to have accomplished and lists of things that society dictates you should have accomplished are all hinged on age. Time seems to go quicker the older you get and the years start racing by. A strange phenomenon is that the body keeps on ageing but sometimes it feels as if the mind remains young. 

There is age restriction and minimum age for many things and we are all classified into age brackets when looking for work, needing medical attention, buying insurance and even when online dating!  So much importance is placed on age but what does someone’s age actually tell you?

This is what I pondered on the oars when thinking about our team and that we have ages that range from 25, the youngest member of our team, to 40, that’ll be me. The age we are had nothing to do with being interested in this challenge. The most important characteristics were commitment, determination and SPIRIT. There is no age hierarchy on Doris and although I may be the oldest, I don’t think you would ever really be certain of it. I am used to having people of varying ages around me and see people for who they are and not how old they are. As far as I am concerned, age in the Pacific rolls away like passing waves.  It makes no difference.

I think that someone’s life experience can override their age. I also believe that there are just some people you meet that regardless of their age, they are an old soul. In tune with themselves and this game we call life and happy to be exactly who they are. I’ve met mature 21 year olds, immature 50 year olds, a 7 year old boy that had the hands of an old man and a 75 year old woman who was as lively as a teenager! So…is age just a number?

Natalia jumping


One thing I believe and this has been highlighted on the boat, is that, quite simply, the more time you have had getting to know yourself, the more you…know yourself. This has stood me in good stead. When doing an expedition like this you have to have a deep understanding of how your mind works and unfailing self belief. It is one of the keys to the success of any monumental journey. I’ve definitely got to the stage in my life where I’m happy with who Natalia is. Understanding my strengths, aware of my weaknesses and striving continually to grow and improve and make a small positive difference in this wonderful world. 

By 40, however, there are many things that society believes I SHOULD have accomplished. There is a stable job, to own my own property, to be married and have children, to name but a few. To be settled. 

It would be easy for me to allow myself to spiral into a panic because I don’t have ANY of those things, but I’m surprisingly ok with it. My life is rich, fulfilling and fascinating and I don’t feel as if I’ve forfeited anything. I know that fear stops many from stepping outside their comfort zone and allowing themselves to be honest with how they feel about what they want, where they are, who they are with and what they do. For some reason I have not felt the need to conform to society and know that if I always choose to walk an authentic life path by being true to myself, happiness will be sure to follow.

Ageing is inevitable, but deciding how you live your life is a choice that you can make. Make the most of every 24 hour day, do all the things you have always wanted to do, leave nothing unsaid to loved ones and friends, laugh often, be compassionate to yourself and others and know that if all else fails, you have lived your life with no regrets. Well…at least that’s how I believe it goes x

UPDATE:
You’re never too old to howl at a full moon! As another random social, I decided that we were going to have a full moon party. There was still fairly large waves and a 18 knot wind, so we had to make it brief. We had some glow sticks, a colour changing disco light, music on the speakers and a cheeky dance under the glow of a bright full moon in a clear night sky. 
It was fab!
What a bizarre ocean life we lead…

Our wind is beginning to die down a little, but the swell is still huge. Big rolling waves that glitter in the sunlight and the constant rise and fall of our beautiful Doris. We’re still getting regular soakings and Ems’ towel is, unfortunately, still wet. 

**Please help:
I have a star/planet that I would like to be identified please. I’ve seen it from near the beginning of leg 2 until now. 
It is rising about 5am at the moment in the same line as Orion’s Belt. It is by far the brightest light in the sky and shines a white colour. This light, however, is not constant and it fades in and out regularly. 
If anyone has any knowledge or idea what this could be, please let us know. This is one Doris mystery I need to have solved before our arrival. Thank you x

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Leg 3, Day 17 – the towel dilemma

Emma Mitchell By
If this row has taught me anything it is to appreciate the small things. There are many uncomfortable things about living on a 29ft ocean rowing boat in the middle of the Pacific with three other people and a lot of salty ocean waves, but the worst thing in my opinion is the state of my towel.
Never again will I take for granted a soft fluffy towel when I step out of my fresh water shower at home. Now it’s bad enough that for 9 months I will have had to dry myself with a travel towel. Despite being quick drying and lightweight and perfect for the odd expedition or holiday they are no real substitute for a proper towel. But even worse out here my towel always seems to be wet, whether it’s from drying myself every time we come off the oars after being splashed, drying after a shower or from sweating in the cabin. At the moment the problem is particularly bad due to the conditions and the heat and the saddest thing about getting in to the warm cabin after a cold night shift is trying to dry myself with a towel wetter than my wet weather gear. In my eyes there are not many things worse than a soggy towel so often I take mine out with me on to the oars, peg it to the grab line in the sunshine and hope for some drying action.
Now I don’t know what it is about my towel in particular, but it seems to be like a red rag to a bull. Every time I hang it up waves come splashing over Doris and it gets soaked in salty water – it’s another of Doris’ laws. I can hang anything else up and it only gets splashed as much as anyone else’s clothes but my towel is a different story.
Now, once the first splash occurs there is a dilemma. Should I leave the towel hanging up in the hope that the splash dries, or should I bring it in before it gets any worse? Needless to say I always opt to keep the faith and leave it out. Almost every time, just as I am thinking that it is definitely drier than before and considering bringing it in, another wave will come along and the dilemma will begin again. Now it’s sometimes hard to keep your sense of humour when the waves are soaking your towel once again.
Yesterday in the pre-sunset shift Megs and I were in this position. We decided that our towels couldn’t get any wetter after two hours in the sweat box cabin so we hung them out. The sun almost instantly went behind the clouds and the splashing began. The sense of humour thought about failing but we kept the faith and left the towels hanging. We had a chill out playlist on the radio but a change of mood was required so we cracked out a cheesy playlist and began to sing. Surely, we thought, with all this wind the towels are sure to at least be drier than before by the end of our shift. Our two hours ended and we returned to the cabin. The towels were still soaking. Another night with a wet towel. Oh well there is always tomorrow…. This morning dawned and it was another sunny day so out came the towels again. Distracted by good tunes on our iPods we didn’t see the big wave coming until it hit us. Then there was an incident which resulted in Meg’s sleeping sheet and sarong coming unpegged from the grab rail and one end of each ending up in the sea. “I don’t want to dry stuff with you any more” she said. Oh dear maybe next time I should keep the towel inside.

 

UPDATE: We are still experiencing some big weather out here on the Pacific. With the boisterous trade winds up to 24 kts the waves are the size of four story houses and we have to take care not to end up beam on to them. However the crashing waves are mesmerising and turn the most beautiful shade of turquoise and sparkle in the sun. The big bright moon has been lighting our way at night and Megs and I have been sharing our life stories so the time passes quickly. We are less than 400nm from Vanuatu and are managing to hold a better course in the wind and waves today. The salt sores are multiplying by the day so the talc and sudocreme are having to work harder than ever.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Leg 3, Day 16 – What has become the ‘norm’

Laura Penhaul By

Day 16 – what has become the ‘norm’

What’s normal? ‘Conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected’. Well, with no more than just the 6 of us forming our own social etiquette to measure ourselves against, our ‘norm’ I have come to realise, may not be seen in the same light to those of you outside of our little bubble. Habits I understand, take approx. 6 weeks to form with consistency. So after 7 months at sea, Nat, Emma and I appear to have developed a number of habits that we are only enlightened to understand are not ‘normal’, when we commence a new leg with that of a fresh pair of eyes.

Here are just a few things that we have come to take for granted and if it wasn’t for Lizanne or Meg coming in to join, we would never realise the disparity of our actions and therefore I would never have thought to share with you what our ‘normal’ looks like. So in true ‘Izzy’ form, here are my bullet points:

– Surfing 40ft waves: you may expect that during this time we just hang on for dear life, but for us, these wee mole hills in the sea have become our ‘norm’ therefore during the bouncing seas you will find us; brushing our teeth, using the bucket (whilst holding on to the handrails), hanging out some washing, munching on a cereal bar whilst also rowing etc.

– coping with 40+degrees heat: in a cabin with doors that have to remain closed due to the crashing waves and inside the cabin itself is hotter than a bikram yoga room, you may come to think that we just lie still and control our breathing to cope with the heat. Well, instead we light the jetboil inside (to add a little heat!) and whip up a hot chicken tikka masala or beef curry for lunch! We still continue to blog, run the water maker and even download footage to the hard drives, all whilst literally dripping with sweat to the point where after a 2hr shift we have to wring out our dry towels of sweat!

– supporting during the emotional times: as you know, we’re a close team and there’s times when one of us maybe upset about something or feeling unwell, but there’s usually another team member that’s more upbeat. Well you may assume that the first thing we do is hug or be a listening ear, but truth be told that first thing’s first- we grab the camera! Every bit of varied emotion, or throwing up over the side has to be captured for the documentary, so we are accustomed to this and don’t take it personally when record is pressed first then hug comes second.

There are many more scenarios, routines, and habits that we have got ourselves into, but one thing I’m intrigued to see is that will these take 6 weeks to get out of the habit of after the row? If so, I can only apologise in advance to my housemates, who will therefore find multiple pots of sudocreme and talc in the bathroom and will have to put up with the airing of my derrière on a regular basis!

Update:
In the language of Lizanne:
Happiness is – still cruising currently at an average speed of 3.0knots covering a minimum of 6miles per shift and yesterday a 68 mile distance in 24hrs!
Happiness is not – constant salt splashing and very sweaty off shifts in the cabin, meaning everything is wet or damp and there’s no where to dry anything. If it gets us to Cairns quicker then we can suck it up!

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Leg 3, Day 11/15 – Cruisin’

Meg Dyos By

Day 11/15 – Cruisin’

So, I may have got the hang of the rowing bit, but not so much the working of the iridium go (the technology that sends you the blog). My apologies for the lack of day 11’s blog! Here’s a double blog to make up for it!

We continue to roll with and through the waves edging ever closer to cairns, and as my tan deepens and I begin to look less like a non rower, who has been kidnapped by 3 pro’s and their pink boat, I am now physically a part of the rowing squad! Having previously lived the row through the blogs and watching the pink dot in anticipation for my turn on the oars, I almost feel as if I have stepped into a fictional novel. But all I know, is at this current moment, I feel as if I am meant to be here in this place right now, and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

My Aunty Jane always used to tell us to respect the Ocean when my family and I were water-skiing, and I never fully understood what she meant until now. The way that the ocean moves is absolutely mesmerising and I often find myself staring, day dreaming into the waves. Lying in the stern of the aft cabin where I sit writing this blog, the power of the ocean is felt and can only be likened to lying on a trampoline when someone else is bouncing. Today (day 15) finds Doris cruisin through anything up to 40 foot waves in high winds of 21 – 24 knots! But the sun is shining and without too much rowing effort we have been pushing 3.5 knots and surfing the waves, all in the right direction!

Whilst looking out onto these big mumma waves it has made me think; how often in the modern world do we get the opportunity to completely switch off and remove ourselves? How often do we have the time to whole heartedly listen to someone’s whole life story without having to rush off, and how often do we give ourselves time to listen to our thoughts and tune in? No matter where we go it seems that wifi is readily available and phone signal is unaffected. But out here in the Pacific we have time, lots of it, and engaging with each other and also mindfully taking in where we all are is brilliant. If there’s one thing that I have realised that I will take from the row so far, it’s that it feels great to have the ability to disconnect yourself every so often and take time for your own thoughts and then being brought back to reality with a big splash!

Don’t get me wrong though, turning on the iridium go to download our emails are the highlight of our day! Please keep emailing us at doris@coxlesscrew.com

Update: The war of the salt spray versus the angry bums rages on and in the past 24 hours salt spray is winning! The cabin is 40 degrees Celsius and we can’t open the doors because the waves are too big. However it does mean that we are doing some serious surfing and there are a lot of ‘woahhhhh’ and ‘woohooo’ sounds depending on what wave touches Doris. All in all though, listening to loud music on the speakers and surfing is freaking awesome!

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Leg 3, Day 14 – Days and Direction

Natalia Cohen By

Day 14 – Days and direction

As you can imagine we’re obsessed with counting the days and getting ever closer to Cairns. We’re also all very much preoccupied with direction as obviously we need to be travelling in the right direction in order to make it successfully to our destination.

When on the oars what we spend most of our time staring at (when not gazing out at the ocean or up at the sky) is the bulkhead (our front door). So without further ado, let me introduce you to our view and entry and exit point of our home aboard Doris.

Above our ‘door’ is the word SPIRIT. This is the acronym for our values which as you all know by now is; strength, perseverance, integrity, resilience, inspiration and trust.

There also has been and will be again our quote that will go above the word SPIRIT, saying:

” You can never cross the ocean, until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. ”

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As we face the cabin from the deck, on the left is our Yellow Brick tracking device (responsible for the pink dots you follow), our McMurdo EPIRB (emergency positioning beacon) and one of our GoPro camera mounts.

To the right we have our Raymarine repeaters. These do just that, repeat information from our chart plotter that is inside the cabin to the screen on the outside. The main one we use shows the Heading (direction the boat is facing), the COG (course over ground which is the direction the boat is actually moving in), our speed and the time in UTC.

I have spent many a night staring hypnotically at this repeater!

Surrounding the repeaters are stickers. There are 3 sections corresponding to the 3 legs of the journey and they represent each day we were at sea. This was a tradition that I started and it is one that we will continue until our arrival. It gives an ordinarily dull view a little colour and variety and indeed, helps us keep track of how many days we have been at see.

Leg 1
Originally contained 68 stickers. A mix of random animals, the words Coxless Crew and each of the team members nick names. These had lasted well against the elements except for some substantial fading in colour (I don’t even want to know what the sun is doing to US!) This was until the beginning of leg 3, however, when for some reason, all the animals kept falling of the wall. I was confused. I know it has been extra splashy this leg so far, but how had they lasted so long previously? I observed goings on and then shared my theory. The lovely Meg had adopted a different way of exiting her new home than the rest of us. Once up and out of the footwell, she leans against that right side of the bulkhead to steady herself and her bum is the exact height of the area where the stickers have been disappearing. Mystery solved!

Unfortunately our leg 1 sticker section is now looking a little sparse…we will have to replenish them in Cairns.

Leg 2
Our longest leg of the journey so far. We included some words that were pertinent to this part of the adventure. The equator, doldrums, Doris, laughter, angry bum, fish frenzy, booby, Fernando, team work and aloha all feature as well as a turtle and some local Hawaiian flowers.
It was a long yet jam packed 97 days and the stickers reflect this.

Leg 3
This journey is now underway. We have some new stickers to start proceedings. Some multicoloured faces, of which we have many, and the word Hugs. The next word to be spelled out is going to be ‘bucket’. Something that the 3 of us have taken so for granted but the greatness of our red bucket has been highlighted by Meg and so we think it deserves a mention.

This leg we have various days to look forward to where something special is happening. As Ems already told you, we are giving ourselves rewards for hitting certain waypoints and as well as that, we have letters, cards, videos, riddles and games to open on certain specified days eg Day 10 or Day 20 etc. We have cards for a rainy day, a sad day, a frustrating day, a reflective day and we all have so much stuff for Christmas that I am beginning to think that this may be one of the best Xmas’s I will experience! It will certainly be one I won’t forget!

Above our front door we have 2 Raymarine VHF antennas. One has our courtesy flag attached to it (the Samoan one is still flying at the moment) and the other has some flowers (now dried) that Zita Martel gave us as a blessing when we left Samoa. There is also a grasshopper made out of Palm leaves that Wendy and Ian gave us on our departure that amazingly still seems to be flying strong where we put him attached to the blessing flowers.

As we travel backwards across this vast ocean, it’s strange to think that we all stare at this view for 12 hours a day…everyday, count up the days and count down the miles, want to enjoy the journey but look forward to its end and row, row, row our boat…life is like a dream x

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Leg 3, Day 13 – The route to Cairns

Emma Mitchell By

Day 13 – The route to Cairns

Tony had promised us that this leg would be faster than the last and so far he appears to have been right. With the prevailing winds between Samoa and Cairns being from the south east and the prevailing current taking us west it seems like we are finally getting a little helping hand from the ocean and the elements. For this part of the journey I am leading on navigation and so I thought I’d share with you what we having coming up on our way into Australia.

From Samoa we passed between the two islands and then headed off towards Fiji. We are currently passing North of the Fiji Islands although we are approximately 35nm away from them so since our sighting of Thikombia Island a small, sparsely populated island to the north of Fiji we haven’t seen any more land. Strangely we also haven’t spotted any other boats yet and the only sign we are close to an island is the leaves floating past us in the water. While passing Fiji we have also crossed the international date line. This means that since leaving San Francisco we have gone from north to south and now west to east on our chart plotter. Since Samoa put themselves on the Australia side of the date line we had already lost our day but it will be giving Tony an extra thing to think about when he calculates our daily miles made good. Once we have passed Fiji our next waypoint is Vanuatu where we will be passing between the islands south of Port Villa. We should be close enough to spot land again then too and at that point will be approximately halfway through this leg of the journey. From Vanuatu we row due west towards Cairns. As we approach Cairns we will be rowing over the Great Barrier Reef which we hope means that we will see some incredible wildlife but it also means that we will need to hold an accurate course to pass through the channel in the reef into Cairns Marina.

One of the things we have put in place for this leg is to put more waypoints into our chart plotter. This gives us achievable milestones to aim for and helps us chunk the remaining miles and when we reach each waypoint then Meg is in charge of ensuring that we reward ourselves. Our rewards to date this leg include fruit pots and watching a film on the laptop in one of our rest shifts. We are still owed a reward of hot chocolate and Baileys while watching the stars but we are waiting for a calm and clear night for this as its just not the same when your hot chocolate comes with a salty sea wave. We have a little over 60nm to go until our next waypoint and need a reward. Any creative ideas please let us know.

UPDATE: Last night was one of the roughest nights yet – I even had to get out my salopettes for the first time since leg one. We are all pretty crusty and our salt sores are coming back. Fortunately the moon was out lighting up the waves and before sunrise as the moon set, the sky was full of bright stars. LP and I watched a pink and orange sunrise as the wind died down and the sun is now shining and Doris looks like a Chinese laundry as we all try to dry our wet things.

Screen shot 2015-11-05 at 17.10.27

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