Archive for December, 2015

Leg 3, Day 52 – 2015: A year of ocean rowing

Emma Mitchell By

Day 52 – 2015: A year of ocean rowing

If you had told me at the beginning of this year that I would be waving goodbye to 2015 from Doris still out in the middle of the Pacific I would have laughed. This adventure was supposed to be all done and dusted by now and I thought I would be toasting the new year on dry land while reminiscing about the magical days on the ocean.

However best laid plans and all that, and to be honest if you are going to reflect back on the past twelve months and clear your head ready for the new challenges of the year ahead then I don’t think there’s any better place to do it than while staring out over our blue bubble of rolling waves with birds flying and clouds scuppering overhead. 2015 has been a year all about the row. The first few months busy with the final preparations and heading off to San Francisco and the start line and the months since then filled with two hours on, two hours off in the dance of life on board a 29ft rowing boat called Doris. 2015 has been a unique, special and exciting year and 2016 has a lot to live up to but the journey is not finished yet and I’m sure there are plenty more adventures and challenges to come both before and after we reach Cairns. The possibilities for this new year are endless. I was thinking about my highlights and lowlights for 2015 and unsurprisingly they all involved experiences from the Pacific so I thought I would share with you the things I have grown to love and hate about ocean rowing over the last nine months.

HATE:
1) Waves which crash over your head leaving your skin crusty with salt.
2) The constant battle to dry my towel.
3) Hot and sunny days where the sea state is rough and the only option is to keep the hatch doors firmly closed and sweat it out in the sauna which is the aft cabin.
4) Moonless nights when you can’t see the waves before they crash over your head.
5) Being on para anchor. Rather than being a well earned rest from rowing this is an uncomfortable ride involving being thoroughly shaken up in a small, hot cabin while our muscles stiffen up making us feel like old women.
6) The alarm which wakes me from a peaceful sleep after a far too short 90mins.
7) Eating rehydrated food every day. Now don’t get me wrong, as rehydrated expedition food goes it isn’t bad but after 233 days I would kill for some fresh vegetables and an apple.
8) Being slapped by flying fish at night
9) Battling adverse currents and winds and travelling at speeds of less than 1kt despite rowing as hard as possible.
10) The lack of green. We have seen every imaginable shade of blues, greys, pinks and orange but I miss the colour green and the sight of trees and rolling hills.

LOVE:
1) The days when the ocean is silent around us and the mirror flat surface reflects the sky, stretching out like an endless infinity pool.
2) Clear nights where millions of stars shine above us and the Milky Way stretches across the sky. These are the nights where I feel our insignificance and how small we really are.
3) The company. We have shared our tiny home and our life stories, laughing, singing and crying our way across the Pacific and formed a bond which will stay with us forever.
4) Being part of a strong team who come together utilising each other’s strengths and working with each other’s weaknesses to achieve something far bigger than any of us would ever have achieved alone. I count this as different to number three and feel lucky to count these five girls as both my team mates and my friends.
5) The feeling of being on top of the world as you ride up to the top of a huge wave and can see around you for miles before rolling down the other side back into the trough.
6) The whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, fish and birds we have shared our journey with. When travelling so slowly on a level with their watery home these wildlife encounters are up close and personal.
7) Days when we are flying along with following winds and favourable currents and surfing the waves towards Cairns hitting top speeds of over 5kts.
8) Swimming in the crystal clear ocean with mahi mahi cruising around below and the space to stretch out in all directions in the cool clean water.
9) Having the time and space to think, share stories and ideas and really listen to each other without the distractions of real life with its constant connectivity to phones, emails and social media getting in the way.
10) The way the waves transform into misty mountains during a heavy rainstorm which when it clears leaves the brightest rainbow in the sky which reflects on the water making us think we are headed towards the pot of gold at its base.
UPDATE: Last night, in massive swell and after a few huge waves hit us out of nowhere beam on, we had to put a line out and retire to the cabins during the dark hours. LP and I had a slumber party in the aft cabin complete with a film and snacks while Megs and Nats retired to the forecabin which was fortunately less like an oven than usual. Some of Megs ability to sleep through anything must have rubbed off on Nats as they both managed to get some shut eye and were looking amazingly chirpy this morning. It is New Year’s Eve so obviously we have some festivities planned for later. The party poppers and yellow pants are ready to help us welcome in 2016 from the Pacific in another celebration we will never forget.

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Leg 3, Day 51- hiccups

Laura Penhaul By

Day 51- hiccups

Whilst life aboard Doris is going swimmingly, I’ve come to realise that there’s often a few hiccups that arise that we don’t share, not by any reason other than it’s automatic for us to crack on and deal with it and we haven’t seen the neccessity in sharing it.

So I thought I’d give you an insight into a few scenarios which we take for granted. On Christmas Day as we had explained, we put a line out to trail behind Doris and removed the dagger board so she sat comfortably central to the prevailing waves without the need for steering. When it came to the time to pull the line in, Emma noticed that the line was caught. By this point it was pouring down with rain. I went out the port hatch to see out the back of the boat and to check the rope wasn’t caught around the rudder, which in this case it was. Trying to minimise waves crashing into the port hatch and the rain too soaking our sleeping area, I proceeded to remove the main rudder. This involves removing a pin that keeps it in place, then sliding the rudder up high out of the rudder sleeve (this is connected to the stern of the boat and has the steering lines attached). The pin normally is attached via a lanyard piece of rope (as is everything on the boat that is loose), unfortunately though I’d noticed the rope had snapped, so on removing the pin it was free. Knowing it would be a disaster to lose it, I kept it between my teeth, with one hand freeing the rope and the other hand balancing the rudder out of the sleeve, all whilst precariously perched out of the port hatch in bouncy seas. Successfully freeing the trail rope for Ems, the rudder could then be replaced, the final step was to reposition the pin. Doh! My fat, non-dexterous, ocean rowing fingers slipped and the pin dropped into the Pacific abyss. After shouting a few expletives after it, I realised we needed to secure the rudder asap otherwise we had no steering and at the time, Doris had spun to sit beam onto the waves. With a holler to the deck for Nats to grab some cable ties, I then secured the rudder with a series of cable ties linked together like a daisy chain, not pretty but certainly worked for a temporary solution!

On the electronics front, we’ve recently had a slight hiccup in that we’ve lost the use of the compass reading on our deck repeater. When we navigate, we work with both heading (the direction the bow of the boat is facing) and course over ground (cog – the path the boat is actually taking). So often we may be heading/facing 270 degrees but due to the currents and wind we are actually travelling at 320 degrees COG. Luckily the gps is still working to give us an accurate course over ground (cog) and we also have 2 compasses mounted on the boat. It’s been good to brush up on the old fashion compass use, although the slight problem on a rowing boat is that you face backwards to the way you’re moving, so because the compass reads the way you’re facing and not where the bow of the boat is, we have to +180 to calculate our heading. Always good fun in the middle of the night attempting math! Raymarine however have been amazing and given in depth advice to trouble shoot and help to sort it.  Spike bless him, was even kind enough to give us his personal contact details so we could contact him over Christmas if needed.

In the current big waves that crash across the deck, the deck gets fully washed out which causes some water to leak into hatches and in particular our life raft hatch situated under the front rower. We can often be found bilge pumping out the hatch in the middle of big waves. Also, we seem to be in cooler waters than previously rowed, so therefore there is more work placed on the water maker causing the relay to kick in when the pressure reaches too high. There has also been a couple of small leaks from the jubilee clips I can only assume from increase pressure, so therefore the screw driver has been out to tighten the jubilees and the pressure relief valve has been used to off load the relay.

These are just a couple of scenarios that mix up our daily routine, along with many other tweaks that Ems makes on the DIY front. So hopefully that gives you a little more insight into the boring side of life on Doris, just so you know that it’s only 90% of the time that we spend singing and dancing across the Pacific!

Update:
With a strong NW current and now 21k S/SE winds, we are making terrific progress up North! Here’s hoping this will be short lived and we’ll soon be back on the westerly highway to Cairns, if not, parents you might need to adjust flights to head to the Solomon Islands! Always the way, with everyone commenting on how close we are, these last 700nm I’m sure will be the longest yet.

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Leg 3, Day 50 – The window

Meg Dyos By

Day 50 – The window

Gilbert lay in his hospital bed at the end of the ward, next to the window. His 2nd bout of chemotherapy caused him to feel nauseous, and at the ripe age of 86 he liked to lay back and reflect on his life. His waking hours were taken up with thoughts of his family, his children, grand children and great grandchildren and what they may be up to. Late in the afternoon, the bed next to him was filled by Dudley. Dudley was also suffering from cancer, and was due to start his 4th bout of chemotherapy. Without family in the area, Dudley enjoyed engaging in conversation with other people on the ward, and was a particular favourite of the nurses.

In the days following, Gilbert and Dudley became great friends. Having discovered that they went to the same school together, both widowed and then telling each other their life stories they had lots in common. From his lying down position, Dudley requested that Gilbert look out of the window by his bed, and relay the sights that he saw. Gilbert commenced with descriptions of the park that the window overlooked, and it became a daily occurrence. From the boats on the lake, to stories of children and families playing, and joggers and dog walkers – the list continues, and Gilbert’s descriptions caused hours of entertainment to Dudley who would lay back and imagine all of the sights that Gilbert saw.

A few days later, Dudley awoke, and expecting his normal morning update on the world outside the window, he turned over and looked towards Gilbert’s bed. The bed was clean sheeted and with no sign of Gilbert, Dudley asked the nurse where Gilbert was. To which the nurse replied that Gilbert did in fact pass away in his sleep peacefully during the night and was found in the early hours. Beside himself with mourning for his friend, Dudley requested that he be moved to the bed by the window so that he could look over the park and remember his friend. To this the nurse agreed and made up the bed for Dudley to move to. Dudley also told her about Gilbert and his daily commentary of the happenings in the park outside the window. Confusedly, the nurse walked away to continue with her duties – not only did she know that Gilbert was partially sighted, but she often looked out of the window, and was always disappointed to see that it looked onto a brick wall.

This story was told to me years ago, and has particularly resonated with me during my time on Doris. The fact that Gilbert was able to cause Dudley so much enjoyment through the use of his imagination, and was able to create such beautiful descriptions of the world outside despite his poor sight and that the view from the window was in fact a brick wall I find particularly moving. The brick wall is our Pacific ocean, it is our only view from onboard Doris and we need to create distraction to sometimes move our minds away from the ocean and paint pictures of other places. On the oars we are Gilbert and Dudley, and on a day when you might not be particularly motivated and/or we have had a similar sea state for periods of time, it is the monotony of the vast expanse of the ocean that can be lifted through these distractions. Alternatively the other person on the oars can help you to re-realise the beauty of where we are through cloud watching, or pointing out the different wildlife surrounding us.

Update: the fast moving has stopped and we are rolling in another current with the miles coming down painfully slowly. However we have loved having the full moon with us and lighting up our path through the water.

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Leg 3, Day 49 – Water water everywhere…

Natalia Cohen By

Day 49 – Water water everywhere…

***In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about 2 weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere.***

Water makes up about 66% of the human body, 70% of the human brain, regulates the Earth’s temperature and is also the most common substance found on Earth.

Without a doubt, water is one of the main topics of conversation on Doris. We have been surrounded by it for nearly 9 months, it’s all we’ve drunk and it forms part of the main and only view we have. We discuss the sea state, how splashy the waves are, how much water we have drunk, how damp our sleeping sheet or towel is, how much condensation there is in the cabin, whether it’s going to rain or not, if there is enough water outside for the rowers to drink/wash with…the list really goes on.

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We make 34 litres of desalinated water a day (it takes just over an hour), ideally drink 9 litres, probably sweat on average 0.8 litres an hour, use 2 litres each to wash clothes, 2 litres to wash our selves and boil about 0.6 litres of water in our jetboil twice a day for food.

Water is really quite incredible. It’s a huge source of life yet it’s also one of the worlds biggest killers. It is said that unsafe water kills 200 children every hour and it is known that 80% of all illness in the developing world is water related.

I’m a water baby. I’m a pisces. I have always loved being in, around and near water and this was definitely a big reason why I was drawn initially to this project. However, I have to say, I have never spent quite so long consistently staring out into an infinite expanse of water as we do out here 12 hours of every day, for 229 days (so far). During this journey I have been totally transfixed by the almighty Pacific Ocean. It’s the biggest ocean on earth and covers more than 30% of the earth’s surface. With a surface of close to 66 million square miles, she provides almost half of the Earth’s water area and connects and unites us all.

The choreography of Oceania’s dance is a beautiful and complicated one. Through the intricate movements of the water, this seething expanse that mirrors life so perfectly, amazes me. She ebbs and flows, rises and falls, has changing faces for different occasions and holds many secrets in her depths. So little is really known or has been chartered and some of her mysteries within may never be solved.

Through her we have experienced the roller coaster ride of life, the uncertainty of what will be thrown our way next, the understanding of turbulence and the enjoyment of absolute calm. She can be perfectly still and at peace with the world yet she can also throw tantrums and remind us of her sheer power, determination and strength.

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She always seems to be moving in one main direction and although we can fight all we want against her flow or adverse current, we often struggle to find the strength to fight against her. Sometimes we just have to surrender to this flow, embrace it and let it take us in a different direction for a while. There will always be a reason for this and soon enough we will find ourselves back on the right path.

A drop in the ocean has a ripple effect on everything it touches and I suppose in a small way we hope that Doris, our journey and what it represents, is that drop. Creating an awareness and instilling a belief that when molecules come together, a trickle becomes a stream, becomes a river, that will increase with energy and power as it flows effortlessly into the sea.

A sea of hope, a sea of trust and a sea of pure SPIRIT x

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Leg 3, Day 48 – Two Perspectives; The Parent and The Sibling

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 48 – Two Perspectives; The Parent and The Sibling
A blog from Lizanne’s mother

With all the various sports our children were involved with over the years, rowing was never one of them. Our experience with rowing was limited to a glorious day at Henley Regatta; colourful blazers, Pimms and Lemonade, picnic and a sporadic cheer for a team rowing over the finish line. I suddenly loved rowing; it was a great introduction to a calm, glamorous, short races and social sport.

When Lizanne mentioned her intention of rowing across the Pacific with three other girls I could not put these two pictures together. How was she going to cross an ocean?! She’s only little!

We were apprehensive and not very supportive at first as we cared for her safety and did not understand the scale and magnitude of this expedition. The enormity of this project scared me. Dad had a John McEnroe moment, where deep inside he wanted to shout out – “YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS!!” But she WAS serious, and four months later she was on the boat.

We realized that we needed to jump aboard her rowing journey otherwise we would be left behind. So naturally the Coxless Crew mission has taken over our lives! It has become the norm in our house to find out where the girls are first thing in the morning and last thing at night and making calculations on when they might arrive. We have enjoyed living their journey through the blogs and emails.

We have made amazing new friends having met the other parents; all wonderful people lovingly supporting their daughters, holding their hearts with hope and in dedication for this journey.

The first time I realised the greatness of this journey was when we met the girls on their arrival into Samoa. A tiny pink boat emerged from the biggest and deepest ocean with only 4 tiny/scrawney/skinny girls steering her and willing her forward with hard work, 24 hours every day. An immense feeling of pride came over me.

Meeting Tony (logistics manager), Sarah Moshman and her camera crew was also amazing!!! It was clear that this team possessed dedication, meticulous planning, integrity, work ethics, perseverance, compassion and a will to succeed.

There were many unsung heroes behind the scenes like Nicola Mills. She arranged a wonderful colourful reception for the girls in Samoa and many other treats. A humble “I felt it right to play my part in recognising their achievements!!” was her reply to our gratitude.

This journey has added a huge bonus to my life. I hope that with the money raised it will touch the lives of people who are facing many trials and difficulties.

May the Coxless Crew’s legacy provide inspiration and encouragement for people who have their own Pacific to cross.

Love Adri x

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A blog from Lizanne’s brother

If my sister has taught me anything about how to ‘change your life’, it’s this; commit to something, and commit big. Let me explain…

About two and half years ago, Lizanne had a moment. At the time she was doing fine – living in Cape Town, practicing her profession as an Osteopath, had a good group of friends, etc, but one day she decided that “fine” wasn’t how she wanted to live her life and she needed to ‘do something’. Something what, though? She didn’t know – the same with most people – but with hindsight I can now say that the answer is this; it doesn’t matter what the ‘something’ is, as long as it’s big and as long as you do it.

At the time Lizanne’s colleague was training for an Ironman triathlon. An Ironman! That was big and drastic enough, so she committed. The very next day she signed up to do the East London Half Ironman which consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, and a 21km run. She signed up to a training programme, changed her budget to allow for the kit, and most importantly changed her habits and timetable to allow for the rigorous training regime. Having committed, she stuck to it and 7 months later completed the Half Ironman in 7 hours something.

That was the catalyst. Having completed something so awesome and so intense, she had a template for how to tackle big challenges. First commit, then work out the details.

Needless to say, it was the same for when she joined the Coxless Crew. She wasn’t a rower, but the opportunity was there, right in front of her to take. Lizanne committed to the crew and set to work figuring out all the details in her life that needed taking care of for when she was away. It wouldn’t have been possible without these people – our dad Sarel van Vuuren, our mother Adri for her continued support, Lizanne’s business mentor Cliff Warren, practice manager Christle Hickman and all her friends and colleagues for the endless support, thank you! – I figure that people are far more amenable to helping out if you are doing something awesome.

Throughout her life (not just the row), Lizanne has been an inspiration in how she’s tackled life. She’s challenged herself, and sought out experiences to build her identity. It also helps that she has surrounded herself by a tribe of positive people in her life, all of whom have a great influence on her. Luckily for her, that positive ecosystem was recreated on a tiny pink boat in The Pacific, with three other incredible women and a mutual goal. 97 days later, that common goal, that positive group thinking got them to Apia harbour in Samoa. For Lizanne, she was back on land; for the rest of the CC, Cairns awaits. And after that? Who knows… I look forward to finding out!

Bernard x

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Update: today we want to wish John Beeden a massive congratulations for reaching Cairns. For those of you that haven’t followed john, he has rowed from San Francisco to Cairns non stop! In the 2nd leg, we came within 5 nautical miles of John! Sticking to our bet of the first one to cairns buys the drinks, John you owe us! We can only imagine how delighted Johns wife Cheryl and family must be to have him back on land! Hopefully not long until we also step onto dry land!

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Leg 3, Day 47 – Dreams

Emma Mitchell By

I have always had very vivid dreams and there are often nights in Doris where during our all too short sleep shifts I will fall into a dream and wake up not knowing where I am or what I’m doing. My dreams on the boat often involve my teammates but we are rarely on board Doris. We have been on snowy mountains, grassy hills, on ferry boats and in school and awaking from these adventures to a small cabin squashed against another person is not always a nice surprise. Sometimes friends from home will turn up on Doris in my dreams and confuse me completely.

Rowing the Pacific also provides plenty of opportunities for daydreams. Whilst on the oars (and ideally not whilst responsible for steering in big seas) and staring out across the ever changing ocean it is easy to allow the kind to wander. Thoughts of returning home and what I’m going to do for work, the friends I’m going to see and the future adventures I might have fill my head and I can take these imaginings in any direction I choose and live out my dreams in my head in practice for doing it for real.

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There are some days on Doris which feel like a dream. When the ocean is mirror flat and stretched out around our boat like an endless infinity pool, when a haze over this mirror means you can’t tell where the water ends and the sky begins or when we row along the glittering path of the moon. Even when the swell is huge and the waves are crashing I still get moments where it seems so ridiculous that we are out in the middle of the Pacific and have spent 228 days and counting in our two hours on, two hours off routine. So ridiculous that maybe I’m dreaming.

However there are other days where dry land feels like a dream. Doris feels like our home and rowing for 12 hours a day feels normal. Our departure and stopovers feel like they happened in a different life and I think our return to reality when we finally hit Cairns is going to happen with a fairly large bump.

UPDATE: At the end of an amazing Christmas Day the rain started to fall and it fell fairly torrentially for the whole night. Flashbacks to leg one where we spent many a night being freezing cold and soaking wet and waking up to put on soaking wet kit every two hours. Fortunately every night has its end and as the morning arrived the rain stopped. We are now hoping that the sun puts in an appearance so that we can dry some of our wet things before tonight. A 180m cargo ship called Newlead Albion passed within a mile of us this morning. We spoke with Captain Son and Carlos and to raise our spirits we asked them to blow their horn for us. They obliged and we cheered in response.

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Leg 3, Day 46 – Christmas on Doris

The Team By

Day 46 – Christmas on Doris

As the clock struck midnight and Christmas Day on Doris began, Nats and Ems rose early from their slumber and made hot chocolates all round ready for the first annual Doris carol concert. Dr Mitchell provided a reading of ”Twas the night before Christmas” and then Miss Dyos conducted her choir through a repertoire of Christmas songs and carols. Fortunately neither Izzy or Lizanne were present as the standard of singing and knowledge of lyrics were somewhat lacking although made up for with huge enthusiasm and lots of laughter.

Christmas morning dawned grey and windy with some big swell. It was feared that plans may need to change but LP and Megs put out a line while Ems and Nats cooked Christmas lunch and Doris kindly drifted along at a speedy two knots in the right direction while the festivities took place. We had a plethora of cards and presents to open including sweet treats, some presents for a Pacific pampering and festive headgear and glasses.

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I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to experience a Xmas in the middle of the almighty Pacific with 3 amazing women. Fortunately for me I am used to being away from home, family and friends during this time of year so I just busied myself getting excited and enjoying what has to be one of the most unique festive periods ever. So many presents, messages of support and well wishes, sweets, sparkly things and even an early morning visit from Eduardo (a great Xmas gift as I haven’t seen him for 2 days and feared he had headed home to spend Xmas with his family!) MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone. Love, ocean magic and glitter coming your way.
Natalia x

This has certainly been a Christmas that I’ll never forget. Although it is very strange being away from my family it has been an amazing day out here on the beautiful Pacific. It started with the best carol concert I’ve ever been to and was filled with festive cheer. I can’t think of any three people I’d rather have spent such a unique day with unless Izz and Lizanne could have been here to join us. We have been spoilt with so many messages of love and support from families, friends and supporters and feel we have shared our day with you all. Now for some Christmas pudding to finish off a rehydrated Christmas dinner! Yum!
Emma x

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The carol concert was certainly a great way to kick off the festivities under the moonlit sky and at the state of our singing, you would have thought it would have scared off the wildlife, however it seemed to have the opposite effect! Doris became the Noah’s ark of the Pacific last night, with not just one Boobie landing on her but FOUR! Plus a Petrel, all at the same time. In my eyes it was a Boobie for each of us and a petrel for Doris, with their presence a sign of support. As I mentioned yesterday, Christmas Eve is anevening I never wanted to miss at home and so a phone call in the morning gave me a chance to speak to each of the family. It was the only point in the day that I felt overwhelmed with emotion but lack of signal wasn’t helping. Anyway, I dusted myself off and after 5mins of self talk, I was back on the boat and enjoying every second of being in the moment. My Aunty Mary had sent out a Christmas pudding, so We steamed it in a Tupperware and made some custard – it was delicious! This Christmas really is one I will never forget, for the generosity of our families and friends, the beautiful messages of support worldwide and without a doubt, the humour we have shared as a team. As Ems mentioned, having Izz and Lizanne here too would be the icing on the cake, but otherwise these ladies certainly put a smile on my face and had me chuckling into the early hours. Happy Christmas to all! Laura xx

What a day! If you had told me this morning that today would have been as good as this I never would have believed you! Christmas is always an emotional time when you’re not with family and friends. However, sitting on the oars last night I was thinking of people less fortunate than myself, and am extremely thankful for the family that I will be seeing in the not to distant future. Christmas on Doris has been everything and more than I expected. Last night telling the story of ‘Elf’ to laura in between wafts of Boobie poo from our onboard zoo, and then this morning I got to speak to BBC radio Kent, and have munched on chocolate coins consistently. We have had lots of laughter, and are feeling extremely lucky with the conditions that the Pacific has offered us today. Being able to put out a rope and roll with the waves in the right direction at 2 knots is the best Christmas present ever! This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that will be remembered with three totally awesome and inspirational babes. Wishing you a very merry Christmas from onboard Doris. Meg xxx

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Leg 3, day 45 – Christmas Eve

Laura Penhaul By

Wow I never would have imagined back in April, that we would be celebrating Christmas with Doris in the big blue! But here we are. Regardless of seeing the same faces, being in the same environment, seeing the same view for over 250 days, we are definitely making the most of mixing up the monotony with some Christmas cheer. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have had my moments and just had a 2hr row shift that was a tad teary thinking of family and friends that I so desperately can’t wait to see, but as everyone keeps reminding us, this is a once in a lifetime and will be a Christmas to never forget. 

Christmas Eve for me is normally my favourite celebration over the Christmas period. It is an evening that I never want to miss and many a time have finished work to drive 5hrs home to make sure I can attend our family Eve celebrations. It was once my Nan’s ( aka Chocolate nanny when I was a child) birthday, so since I can remember, the whole family have always come together for an Eve dinner. When my nan passed away, we continued the celebrations and every year now we head up to my uncle John and Aunt Claire’s barn house. It’s a beautiful home where the fire is always lit, Aunty Jean will be sitting back in an armchair enjoying the nibbles and drinks, whilst my Aunty Claire will have made an amazing spread of food – which in the last 2 years certainly helped my weight gain – I ate seconds and maybe even thirds! My cousin Tom will have Pip his dog on his lap and both him and James, his older brother, will be fending off my Aunty Liz’s inquisition about girlfriends. My Aunty Mary (famous for her pasties!) will be knocking back a tipple or two of hot punch to start, whilst making everyone chuckle with stories she reminisces about with my mum often the kick starter to the topic of conversation. My dad, brother and Uncle John will be in cahoots with one another trying to make the funniest joke, taking the mickey often out of my poor Aunty Liz or being sarcastic about something or someone to get a laugh. My uncle Roy will be sitting back taking it all in and will then be the one to deliver the killer lines. If my brother is there with my sister in law Katie and their daughter, then Isla my niece will certainly be the centre of attention and at the ripe age of 3 she will be entertaining the room and making everyone laugh. It’s a very special evening and this year although I’m not there in person, I will be there in spirit as well as the other end of the sat phone in order to get my small fix of family time. 

We have a lot to thank in our parents who got in the Christmas spirit back in October where un be known to us, they prepared presents, quizzes, games, decorations and videos for us to have on Doris during Christmas. We can’t thank them all enough as it has certainly made it so special and without it, tomorrow would just be another day. Instead, we have had the Christmas count down to look forward to instead of endless miles or days. 

So Christmas Eve so far has kick started with wearing our Christmas hats (courtesy of my parents and the little gifts inside- thank you!) whilst partaking in Sara’s (Ems mum) Christmas quiz. The outcome I’m afraid to say, was 12/15 for Ems and Nats (think this was mainly Ems!) and a shocking 5/15 for Meg and I. I can safely say that I am absolutely useless at quizzes unless they involve sport or science my general knowledge is appalling, so I can only apologise to Megs for my poor contribution. This evening the Christmas fairies have organised a Christmas carol service with baileys and hot chocolate out on deck for midnight mass (weather permitting). 

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and know that even if we’re not there with you in person, we are in spirit. Also savour the flavour and think of us when you tuck into your roast potatoes, stuffing, pigs in blankets, Turkey and cranberry sauce….. Whilst we’ll be whipping up another chicken tikka! 

Update:A text from tony today has delivered us a Christmas present from the Pacific, hopeful calm weather for Christmas Day which is much better than what it was looking like earlier in the week. You may have noticed our course has dropped South, this was to gain some ground whilst we could. Now with the weather improving we can hopefully cruise along again West in the easterly winds to Cairns. There’s also some pre- Christmas Day pampering/ hair washing so we’re make some effort for the big day, plus singing at the top of our voices into the blue, to some Christmas carols.

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Merry Christmas from the Coxless Crew!

The Team By

image1 (6)Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Coxless Crew…

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