It’s our last day in Australia! Most of our unbelievably supportive parents have left, and it’s been amazing having a lovely day to ourselves. We have been catching up on sleep and swimming in the pool before we head back to England tomorrow.
This evening we will be heading down to Salt House where we came into last Monday to have a cocktail on Meg’s Aunty Linda who gave us some money to celebrate. We can’t believe that we have only been here for 6 days! So much has happened, but we’re still not entirely sure whether our feet have fully touched the ground.
A huge thank you to Queens Court and all of their staff, Shanna, Trish, Donna and Tracy for all of their amazing hospitality towards us.
We’ve had a few wonderful days in Australia with our families and friends and the wonderful local people that have made us feel so welcome.
We will soon be returning to the UK and several people have been asking when exactly we’ll get in, in case they’re free to meet us. Our scheduled arrival is at Heathrow, Terminal 4 on Tuesday 2nd February at 5:40 pm. Our flight number is EYO17.
This morning we were very well looked after by Hairdressers@Work, who very kindly donated their time and skills to help Nats, LP and Meg feel a little more human again!
A far cry from the all purpose soap and water bottles we had to use on Doris, this hair washing experience was rather wonderful. Good quality shampoo, a head massage and the end result of clean, soft and manageable hair! They were a little shocked to hear that Nats went 54 days without washing her hair in leg 3.
LP went for a short cut and shape, whereas Meg and Nats opted for a simple trim and blow dry. The before and after shots say it all! A HUGE thank you to Antonella (owner), Shannah and Holli.
Ems will be getting her hair done tomorrow as she was busy sightseeing with her mum this morning.
The afternoon saw each of us heading back to spend quality time with our respective families and doing some more exploring of the local area. Collectively we have been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, hugged a Koala, visited Port Douglas and Daintree Rainforest, done a river cruise to see crocodiles, travelled on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and train, done a bungee swing, eaten so much amazing food and frozen yoghurt and are slowly getting back into a monophasic sleeping pattern!! x
Wow, what a few days it has been. We have been imagining arriving into Cairns for a long time and hoped there would be some media interest but we NEVER anticipated quite so much attention! From the UK and Australia, to the US and all the way across Europe, we have even been approached by Korean and Japanese news stations for an interview!!
We really have a big thank you to say to our PR team at Carver PR who have been working around the clock getting us coverage and have managed to arrange for us to be on The One Show next Wednesday evening followed by Lorraine on Thursday morning! So keep your eyes peeled and tune in!
Sarah Moshman director and producer of our documentary film, Losing Sight Of Shore, has also been busting a gut getting footage throughout the week and her PR team, SmartHouse Creative, has generated so much coverage too across America. It really has been phenomenal. Sarah has left Australia now to head back to the US to get started on the documentary….we can’t wait!!!
And if you haven’t managed to see, here is some of that coverage….
This morning we all made our way down to Cairns Cruising Yacht Sqadron to say farewell to Doris. CCYS and in particular Steve Johnson (Commodore) have been absolutely amazing. We can’t thank them enough for helping us take Doris off the water, clean her and help tuck her safely into her container for some R&R.
She’s heading back to the UK and we will be reunited with her in between 6-8 weeks time when she arrives back home. LP felt a little emotional as it seemed to finally sink in that the journey is over, whereas Natalia, Ems and Meg were devoid of any emotion.
It’s strange. There is a kind of numbness for most of us at the moment. We need some time to assess how we’re feeling, reflect on what has just happened and re-adjust to being back on land and away from our usual oceanic environment. There are sounds, smells, people and so much visual stimulation everywhere here on land. Our heads feel heavy with tiredness, our legs are stiff and painful as they are getting used to a walking motion again, our callused hands feel hard and rough and all our salt sores are itchy as they begin drying out.
Luckily we had a visit from the amazing Aaron Darrell this afternoon who is a freelance masseuse based out of Rusty’s Markets in Cairns and he helped us to relax and begin to wind down. It was pure bliss and after the foot, hand, face and neck massage we floated away feeling fantastic.
We will all be spending a few days quality time with our respective families and then re-uniting as a team before flying back to the UK.
We have been blown away by the friendliness of everyone we have come across and the endless support we have received since we arrived x
We would also just like to say A HUGE thank you to:
Ferne and Pete Kemp at Cairns Queens Court for very kindly hosting our stay here in Cairns and looking after our families so well too! It’s been wonderful to be so central and to have such amazing beds to sleep in!!
John and Megg Kennedy (Motoryacht ‘Sanrod’) who were incredible with their help and support. They had a few early starts when they came out about 60 miles to film us with Sarah before our arrival and also helped escort us back to Cairns.
Marlin Marina did a wonderful job of hosting our arrival and it was the perfect place to step foot on land in Cairns. Their hospitality was very much appreciated.
The Cairns Yacht Club and in particular Trish Chalmers – thank you so much for your support and we are honoured to have received your burgee.
The attending officers of Cairns Border Control and The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for their compassion, efficiency and professionalism in conducting our arrival clearance formalities.
The Salt House in particular Vincent and Leila for providing the incredible platter of fresh fruit and our first food on arrival (burger and chips for most of us).
Paul and Sue Nash (managers at The Villas Palm Cove) – offering discounted accommodation for some family members and providing accommodation and use of a vehicle to Tony.
…Last but by no means least is the fantastic Mayor of Cairns, Bob Manning OAM. What a welcome we received and the most beautiful arrival gifts of a traditional necklace and bracelet and stunning silk scarf. You managed to make us feel like ladies again! Thank you.
It has been an overwhelming whirlwind of emotions, celebrations, media commitments and Australian hospitality and friendship since we reached Cairns yesterday morning. Our feet haven’t touched the ground and it seems so surreal that we have completed this amazing once in a lifetime challenge and will not be getting back on to Doris.
Our final approach to the Marlin Marina saw us being escorted by a fleet of sailing boats, hobie kayaks and other small craft and as we got closer we saw the crowds of people on the wall. As soon as we all saw our parents cheering us home we were all overwhelmed by emotion. A press conference, a cold drink, some fresh fruit and a tasty burger awaited us on dry land. Since then we have been blown away by the support coming at us from so many people.
Over the next few days we will be spending time with families and trying to catch up on a bit of sleep so will be only writing short update blogs but once back in the UK we will be resuming normal blog service as we return home and continue the Coxless Crew story. We still have a fundraising target of £250k for our charities Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded. Among other things, we are excitedly planning a fundraising gala dinner to take place in April in partnership with Inspiring Women, which will be a fantastic celebration of our row and our charities. The journey isn’t over yet!
It has been an exhausting and emotional few days as we make our approach to land. We expected last night to be our final one on Doris and to reach Australia this evening but the Pacific has other ideas with strong southerly currents and the wind turning against us. Best laid plans and all that. We have been told that our last chance is to row like we’ve never rowed before and make it to Cairns tomorrow morning. Now is the time to dig deep and draw on all of our mental, physical and emotional strength and the strength of support that everyone is sending us via email every time we head to the cabin to rest.
The last 8500nm don’t matter anymore, it is all about these last 20. It’s fair to say that with physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation and a lack of savoury food we are being tested to our limits. However this is where we draw on our SPIRIT, row hard, row strong, row together.
Photo credit: Sarah Moshman, Losing Sight of Shore
This is it. This is what I’ve dreamed of since getting involved in this project 4 years ago, this is what has kept me going through the times of question, just one more night and after 9 months of being at sea, we get to step onto dry land into our families’ arms. The moment that has played over and over in my head and not a day on the ocean has gone by without me thinking about this time. This moment. There have been tears and laughter, a mix of emotions I never thought I’d feel. Knowing that on this 4 year journey we have overcome having 3 restarts at the project (naively had hoped to start the row in 2013, then 2014 and finally it came to fruition in 2015). We have bounced back after team losses, for 2 years spent weekly trips from London to Christchurch during the boat build, researched and were fortunate to get the best equipment sponsors, spent hours upon hours researching into companies that aligned with our row, put pitch documents together, went to meetings and took the knock backs when it wasn’t right for their company, persisted to resource the funds and apply for various grants. For three years doing a once a month trip down the M4 to visit our sport psych (who I say has been invaluable!), reviews with our strength & conditioning coach Alex for programme updates, otherwise training daily and on the weights 4 times a week, whilst body composition and research on ourselves carried out with GSK Human Performance Lab. The list is endless but these are just a few things to highlight what was fitted in around work and occasionally (V. occasionally!) attempting to socialise before I forgot how!
There is so much to reflect upon what has been learnt from this row and I’m sure over the coming months post row, more and more will surface, but here are a just a few that stand out to me…
– perseverance: this row has taught me and proved to me, that if you believe whole heartedly in your vision, then you can make it happen. The journey will be up and down with unexpected twists and turns, but roll with the waves and take it stroke by stroke, because eventually you will arrive at where your dreams come true and when you do, the more challenges you’ve faced, the more you appreciate the achievement to get there.
– vulnerability: having previously thought that showing emotions was a sign of weakness, how wrong could I be. Exposing my true self to those around me, allowing myself to be open and honest in what emotions I feel whether it be ecstatically happy or crying like a baby, has been so uplifting and one of the biggest learning curves from this row. When you hold yourself back and don’t express how you feel, it eats you up inside and your mind convinces itself that the problem is so much bigger than what it really is. By sharing it, by letting it out in the open means there’s nothing left to hide, there’s no emotional baggage you need to protect and those around you become your voice of reason and they get to know the real you.
– challenge your thoughts : if you only ever listen to the voice inside your head, you believe that that voice is a voice of reason and of fact. Well Keith has taught me a number of psych things but one most valuable, is to challenge those thoughts. Create another character in your head that makes you stop and step back before lunging forwards into a reactive or negative head space. I have two monkeys in my head and they often quarrel with differing opinions, but by the time they’ve figured it out, it’s given me time to pause and reflect to hopefully come to a diplomatic conclusion.
– laughter: approaching a situation which may be listed as one of your fears, such as big waves at night time, or going through something which is not pleasant like changing in and out of wet and cold weather gear, if you can laugh, joke or make light of the situation then suddenly the situation becomes so much easier and enjoyable to take on.
– Cracknell v Fogle (an earlier blog): if you’re a Fogle then appreciate and recognise the value in some Cracknell influence to get the job done, if you’re a Cracknell, then appreciate the impact some Fogle can have to make you look up every once in while and appreciate your surroundings and what you’re achieving.
– Positivity: Many people may assume that because our blogs are mainly positive, that we are either hiding or misleading the truth, but we honestly are not. Every blog is a true account of what is happening or how we are feeling etc. the difference is that we are a team that deals with things with a positive outlook and will tend to find the humour in things rather than the negative. But more importantly than that, we collectively understand that we chose to be here, we chose to challenge ourselves, so in no way do we believe that what we have achieved outweighs the challenges that people experience in day to day life.
We recognise that we are a team of fit, healthy females that are fortunate to not have endured any of the million and one things this world can throw at you, whether that’s the fight against cancer, the new life you have to develop after losing a limb, facing financial difficulties, overcoming family issues etc., the list is endless. But if we can take away from this the challenge we set ourselves and overcame, then hopefully in some small way we hope it empower others to tackle their own Pacifics, no matter how big or small.
Just one more sleep! Planned arrival is Sunday PM for us (AM for UK). As ever, the ocean is not allowing us to cruise in at good speed, instead she’s stuck in a negative current once again and so since late last night we have been travelling at a speedy 1k. We still have 40nm to go and need to do them as fast as we possibly can to get in on time.
We got to see Tony and Sarah Moshman! So flipping exciting as we haven’t seen them since Samoa and obviously their arrival signifies how close we are to the finish. Sarah wanted to capture some footage of us out at sea and stayed for a couple of hours whilst Tone scrutinised poor old Doris’ barnacles (the ones I can’t reach because of the jellyfish!).
Megs finally got to see a pod of a mink/ small whales and it was beautiful to see her reaction. So glad she has had the full experience of wildlife and journey through leg 3.
Sarah, our documentary director and producer, and us earlier today!
As I have just put the phone down to some of my best friends Chanelle and Richard in Melbourne who are flying out to Cairns for our arrival over the weekend whenever that maybe, I find myself in the aft cabin. We spend fifty percent of our time on Doris in this cabin, and today I lie here hoping with all of my toes and fingers crossed that we arrive before they leave on Sunday.
I also lie here thinking of the space that I have shared with these girls for 74 days, and that they have shared for 255 days. I think of what it will feel like to have my own space again, and how I will feel about being able to stand up without holding onto and being attached to something, how it will feel to chew a main meal, to stand up and shower, to drink out of something other than a squirty bottle. I can’t even imagine what it will feel like to feel cold on a winters day, to not have to wipe the sweat off of my body, and to sit on a toilet seat. To not be able to see a 360 degree horizon, to not have to watch a wave heading towards you in slow motion, knowing that at any moment it will splash you. To not have to constantly cake your bum cheeks in sudocreme, and to not have to hold our faces in a position on the oars where we are shaded by our caps. What will it feel like to be able to stand up whenever we want to, and to not laugh at someone else’s or your own discomfort, knowing that if you don’t you might cry, and to not know that 6 hours sleep is the absolute maximum amount of sleep you will achieve in a 24 hour period – also to know that that will be broken up into 4 separate 1.5 hour naps. What will it feel like to walk more than 4 steps at any one time and in any direction, to never row again, and to not be bobbing up and down in the Pacific Ocean?!
So today I thought I’d focus on the ins and outs of the aft cabin. The aft cabin, the size of a two man tent is our lounge, our kitchen, our bedroom, our dining room, our cloak room and our office. I recall on day 40, speaking to my friend Rose, and screaming down the phone to her that I was ‘ON MY OWN IN THE CABIN’. LP had gone into the fore cabin to stretch out, and after 40 days I couldn’t believe how big the aft cabin suddenly felt. However, to put it into perspective, a sleeping shift involves two people top and tailing. The person with their head at the tail end of the aft cabin under the port hatch has the option to lie on their side, or alternatively lie on their back or front, but with no space for arms to the side of the body they must then be put above the head. The other person lies with their head by the door, metres from the bin in the footwell. At night this also becomes the end that is the cloakroom for our often wet, wet weather gear. At this end of the cabin the person has the option to lie on their back with arms to the side, or alternatively lie on their side. However if they decide to lie on their back, it must be noted that their legs will need to remain crossed, due to space issues. I also recall speaking to my sister on another occasion, explaining to her that my feet were more than a foot away from each other in the aft cabin due to Ems being in the fore cabin. Her confusion of why I was excited at this, says it all. These are just two examples of how small the aft cabin actually is, and what it begs me to question is how we have done it!
The answer I suppose, is patience and good manners! You’ll often hear from on the oars when the pair inside are getting ready to changeover, ‘would you’, ‘could you’, ‘would you mind’, ‘when you get a second’, ‘I’d be really grateful if you could,’ ‘would it be possible’ – the list goes on! Other than using the bucket, everything on Doris is a two man job in one way or another. Whether it is the constant conveyor belt of passing items to each other from one end of the boat to the other, to rowing in time with each other, to sharing the space of the aft cabin, it requires a team mentality and really there is no space for just thinking of yourself on Doris.
So, yes I’m excited about being able to lie in a bed in a star fish position under a duvet without having to worry about touching the person next to me, but at the same time, it’s the best thing in the world sharing every moment with someone, and the moment we step off of Doris, I know that it is quite unlikely that I will ever share a space as small as this with anyone else. So, on what looks like my last time, lying under the port hatch writing a blog from the Pacific Ocean, I thank you for reading, and following us in our journey across this almighty ocean, and I look forward to writing more from land!
Update: Minutes after hearing Nat tell me how when she was young she would sit in the garden with breadcrumbs thinking that she was Snow White and that animals would come to her, the Boobie attack commenced. ‘Incoming, incoming’ I shouted, as again for the 15th time, the red footed Boobie headed straight for us, attempting to land above our heads. It landed on Nats oars, my oars, balanced on the grab rail, came inchingly close to landing on my bare legs with its sharp claws, and then after over twenty attempts it found the aft cabin roof! We have also had another Galapagos shark follow Doris over the past few days. We have named him Oscar, and believe it or not, despite my fear of these creatures, I’m actually quite a fan of this small guy!