Leg 2, Day 9 – Now we’ve just rowed 3,000miles and we will row 3500 more…. (Adapted by The Proclaimers)

Laura Penhaul By

Leg 2, Day 9 – Now we’ve just rowed 3,000miles and we will row 3500 more…. (Adapted by The Proclaimers)

So today is the 5th August and I can’t believe where the time is going. It was the 8th of April that we flew out from the UK and the early hours of the 19th April that we set off from San Francisco. FOUR months nearly that we’ve been out here – ridiculous! Understandably, the question we are regularly asked is, how does it feel? Is it what you expected? Etc. to be honest, the only way I can describe it, is that it is sooooo surreal! I actually liken it to the Trueman Show or the Hunger Games where we’re actually just in a little bubble that is being controlled by others outside of us. Every so often one of us will have a moment of realisation to what we’re doing and where we are. Today I had one those. When writing down in our logbook our mileage for this trip so far, I read our total trip distance: 3,320 miles! We’ve rowed over 3,000 miles! Albeit not necessarily in the right direction, but still, we’ve propelled our Doris over 3,000 miles! You’d think I should be aware of this, but I think I’ve kept myself in slight denial as I find it easier to stay focussed on moving forwards in small chunks and reaching the next goal and the next until we reach the finish line in Australia. This row and all our work with our Sport Psych Keith, has taught us the importance to stop and reflect occasionally so that moments like this don’t just pass and that we reward ourselves (which we’re particularly bad at) in recognising what we’ve achieved. I’m sure however, Keith will be cursing me for not having reflected thoroughly enough before now in order to reach this realisation sooner (sorry Keith!).

So the question is, what on earth has been happening over the last 4 months in the real world?! Our only way of keeping in touch with reality is through the wonderful messages we receive from all of you, whether it’s on our blog comments, our Facebook or to our email Doris@coxlesscrew.com. My parents, bless them, have also been really thoughtful and collected a number of videos from friends and family of mine and saved them to a memory stick so that I could watch them on this next leg to Samoa. This has been so touching and has given me so much motivation to get a wriggle on to Australia, as without wishing time away, I also can’t wait to get home to thank everyone in person for their support. One message in particular I was told to watch before we left Hawaii, was a message from one of my best friends Heather and her husband Adam, in which Heather told me they were expecting their first baby and her belly will be the size of a balloon by the time I get home. As you all now know, this row has made me emotional at the best of times, so as you can imagine, I was a ball of tears of happiness when I watched this video. Young children certainly highlight how much can develop in just 4 months. There was a video of my 2.5year old niece singing ‘row row row your boat’ and chatting away to the camera, which shows how her communication and cheeky character has massively developed. One of my other best friends’ son Harvey, has started to walk since I’ve been away and his older brother has started school. It’s crazy how much has happened, whilst all we do is row, eat, sleep, repeat, but honestly, these messages and reminders of life back home, give us so much encouragement and motivation to get back to hear your stories as well as share ours.

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Leg 2 Day 1: Aloha Hawaii, next stop Samoa!

Laura Penhaul By

Leg 2 Day 1: Aloha Hawaii, next stop Samoa!

Wow what a whirlwind, i cant believe a week has gone and we’re back on Doris! I’m sitting back in the cabin after Ems and I have just rowed our first shift, leaving the dockside of Hawaii Yacht Club and the shores of the surf, such a surreal experience.We’d always anticipated that this would beone of the hardest parts to the row, getting straight back into the row after the first leg. In true honesty it’s actually really surprised me how comfortable we all feel aboard. I’ve been hugely surprised that we all share similar feelings to the start of this leg.

It was as ever an emotional cheerio to the folks, both my parents and Emma’s mum were there to see us off, alongside all the amazing Hawaii Yacht club members. They greeted us well, hosted us amazingly and then saw us off in style! Our parents thought they’d join in the celebration by wearing hawaii t shirts with !’you can do it’!

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Our host families too were so accommodating and lovely and all I can say, is that at the ripe age of 85+, i can only wish I have half the energy, spirit and positivity as those ladies do, they’re amazing! (note that whilst in America i may turn into an American and so when everyone says ‘its amazing’ so will I!)

So, for the next 60 days we’ll be out rowing, eating, sleeping as a usual etc. ,and as ever we will continue with our blogs

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Day 64 – A Mixture of Events

Laura Penhaul By

Day 64 blog- a mixture of events

I always imagined, that after 2weeks at sea i’d be struggling to find things to blog about, but yet on day 64 I have at least 3 key events that I want to share with you but with no time to separate them before we arrive in Hawaii, I’ve bundled them into this one blog.

Firstly, it was my parents 40th wedding anniversary at the weekend and I hear that their celebrations with friends was more eventful than a 21st birthday party! So many things i’d love to write about my folks and their lovely friends, but I’ll save this for another blog. One key thing though, is that my parents’ beautiful relationship is why they are amazing role models to me and why I dream of one day finding a man that will put up with me for 40 years.

Secondly, Adam Sargent (@beersargent) is a good friend of mine after he married one of my best friends Heather. As you’ll notice in his twitter handle, his job title for many years has been a ‘beer specialist’. As you can imagine, sport was never high on the agenda and was a constant debate that we’d have between us. Until 6 months ago, Adam hadn’t sat on the saddle of a bike since a child, which is why I was taken aback when I saw his Facebook post at new year which said he’d signed up to do a 204mile cycle ride in aid of his late father for a cardiac charity. Cycling is my preferred sport and any cyclist will tend to have a love of bikes and often more than one stashed in the garage. Seeing as I was now rowing and will be out of the country for 6months, I offered my Giant TCR to Adam as it was actually too big for me anyway so I figured would suit him. Seeing the start of his training was slow (ie. didn’t collect the bike until March!), I thought I’d offer an incentive that he could keep the bike as long as he finished the race. Yesterday I got a wonderful text from Ads which brought a tear to my eye, he had completed the race! Even after many times of wanting to give up he didn’t & made it across the line in last place. I can’t explain how proud I am to see him complete this & if this row creates any small motivation or inspiration to others like this, then we are truly humbled.

So, finally and certainly not least, following Izzy’s wonderful blog yesterday, I couldn’t blog today without saying a few words about Izz. I’ve realised that today will be my very last day of ever rowing with Izzy before we rotate our pairs tomorrow. Never again will we row in Doris together… Such a surreal thought.

Miss Burnham has without a doubt, been a pillar of strength to the row and to the team, both in her efforts of getting Doris prepped for the startline and whilst out at sea.

In true Izzy style, I will list here the things that I will miss the most about Izzy (note they are numerical and no more or less than 10);
1) her singing – without question izzy has the best voice by far out of any of us and whether day or night, with or without music, her dulcet tones were the Sound of Music in the Pacific.

2) Amazing Narrator – I have never met someone who can narrate in such detail, a movie/ book/story such as Izzy. Lord of the Rings with all their complicated character names and places, just dripped off the tongue like it was normal language, I felt like I’d watched the film after she finished, truly brilliant.

3) the brain – Izz is special. She has a gift like no other. In our sleep deprived, lack of energy or focused state, she can read a poem of 8 or more verses and no lie, within less than 5 minutes she would have remembered the whole poem word for word! Unbelievable!

4) ‘right then..’ – whenever Izz is about to do something, she psychs herself up and starts a sentence with ‘right then…’ And you wait to hear what next but nothing else is said, rather the phrase is just repeated until she starts to move (love this!).

5) quote queen – whether a quote from a movie, a song, a poem or a person, Izz would name it and it would be word for word. She always wondered why none of us wanted to play the ‘guess the quote’ game surprised that our minds didn’t quite work the same.

6) thoughtfulness – Izzy is always the one to remember a birthday or what people’s favourite things are. She is observational from afar and subtly picks you up if you were down.

7) peanut M&M’s – who will now eat all the packets of peanut M&M’s when izzy is gone?!

8) Love of her family – Izz has shared so many stories of her family in great detail that I feel I know Philippa and Emily (her sisters) extremely well.

9) kind and caring- I saw this first hand, after 5 days of vomiting and not being a fit state, partnering with izzy, she continued to support me whilst I was at my most vulnerable.

10) reading machine- most of us have listened to audiobooks and maybe managed to read 1book if we’re lucky, but Izz has exceeded that by far and has read over 10books!

Thankfully for the birds and the fish I understand that Lizanne has a wonderful singing voice, so this will make a good replacement. We will however miss the Burnham but will look forward to the regular updates from back home and can’t wait for the reunion after Australia!

Xx

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Day 60 – Introducing who’s behind Doris@coxlesscrew.com

Laura Penhaul By

Day 60 – Introducing who’s behind Doris@coxlesscrew.com

Everyday we look forward to switching on our iridium go and receiving your emails that have been sent to doris@coxlesscrew.com, it’s honestly the highlight of our day. As we only have 1 email account on the boat and it takes some time to download text, we set up doris@ so that emails could be filtered from signatures, smiley faces, attachments etc. & then forwarded on to us. There is one amazing little fairy that does this for us, once again volunteering her precious time… Kirsten Samuel. I had mentioned Kirsten in a previous blog of Nat’s this week, when asked which friends or family I’d have in the boat, kirst is on my list. However I’d like to point out this is hypothetical as having previously asked Kirsten there was no hesitation in her response- No! After taking Kirst kayaking and seeing her go white as a sheet on millpond waters, I can see why, although I guess I can’t comment after being sea sick for 10days straight! The reason I would have K in the boat is because she is a glass half full type of girl. She is one of the most generous people I know and is always so thoughtful regardless how busy she is. When Kirst and I met she was a patient of mine at Pure Sports Medicine, we clicked almost immediately and I knew then that we’d become good friends. At the time Kirsten was one of the leading females working at HP(Hewlett Packard). When I started getting involved in the row, she took the bold step to retire from HP and set up her own business. In less than a year she had set up Kamwell (www.kamwell.com) and now just 2years on she has a thriving, successful business. I’m so proud of her, Kirsten is without a doubt one of the most dedicated, focused and caring people I know. Regardless of how busy she is, she always makes time for you and the fact that she fits in sorting our emails, whilst running her own business and not to mention preparing for her own wedding in less than 3months time, the girl is a machine and an inspiration.

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If you’d like to send us or Kirsten an email, then we’d love to hear from you at doris@coxlesscrew.com.

Personal messages:
Hannah Head – thank you for your lovely email, can’t believe you were in California that wedding sounds epic! Also, 10km swim missus is monumental! Let me know if you’re doing it for charity and can you send me the date when it is? Loads of love to Henry and little Arlo plus Butler of course xx

Michelle – how did the sports day go? Did you win the mums race?? X

Heather – is Pip still chewing the house up and how’s Adams training, can you let me know the date of his cycle? X

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Day 56 – drills aboard Doris

Laura Penhaul By

Day 56- drills aboard Doris

Who would have thought that 3 out of the 4 of us (guess who?!) were little spring chickens, we went to Brownies (I’d like to add I was In the best group Sprites!) and it was the motto of being ‘best prepared’ that you lived by. 20 odd years on and this couldn’t be more relevant. The row, as you know, has been 3.5 years in the making and all that time has been spent ensuring we were the best prepared we could be. This therefore involved a number of different courses and working with as many experts in their fields to ensure that we left as little as possible to chance and learnt how to cope with most situations. So who better to head to for advice and support than those with army and military experience, who have years of training, discipline, drilling routines and procedures over and over again. They’re also well versed at coping outside of their comfort zone, how to stay calm in pressured situations and how to work well as a team, all elements that are essential for us on our 29ft Doris. So we sought the help of Fieri (www.fierifrontline.biz) who are a team ofex army that apply the skills they’ve learnt, to aid in teaching management and leadership skills. They took us through our leadership training and showed us the art of good communication and teamwork when they organised a weekend to see how we reacted under duress of sleep deprivation and a 66km slog in 24hrs across the breacons in Wales.

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Our training with Fieri at the Brecon Beacons

 

We then worked with Survival Wisdom (www.survivalwisdom.com) who are ex Navy, and they helped us with our our sea survival training. I’d done the RYA course but didn’t find it very applicable learning skills in a pool when I knew we’d be out at sea if we had to employ those skills. So sea survival invited us to bring our Doris down to Plymouth to do a real, at sea drills and practice of man over board and evacuation to a life raft. They also ran us through our ‘what ifs’ scenarios and taught us the art of recognising when too many ‘lemons’ are building up (complacency that eventually leads to mishap). Finally, among other courses Medical Services off Shore (MSOS) gave us a great medical training day which included practice of suturing along with splinting and evacuating an unconscious rower.

So the reason for telling you all this, is that as much as courses are amazing, they are only useful if you repeat what you’ve learnt and continue to practice the drills. So this week we did exactly that. The plan is, that at least twice per leg, we practice our onboard safety drills, so that in the worst case scenario our actions are second nature in a stressful situation when decision making goes out the window. In our 1hr social time, we ran through the what if scenarios of an emergency evacuation due to collision with another boat and our man over board procedures. We then went on to practice how to maneuver an unconscious rower into the cabin whilst we’re bouncing around in the seas. Emma was the willing participant to play unconscious and then the 3 of us problem solved how to manoeuver Ems over the oars and into the cabin, but feet first so that the head could be easily accessible to the hatch. As ever, we worked together well as a team, we planned our steps to move her, we executed (with a lot of choice words and laughter) and we reviewed afterwards. Ems is the lightest out of all of us and must only weigh now about 58kg’s, but in our weakened state, bouncing seas and Bambi legs between us, it was an eye opener to see how difficult it was. Hopefully we will never have to employ these skills for real and if nothing else it gives us some variation on the boat and a source of banter for a few hours. Special thanks to Fieri, Surival Wisdom & MSOS for their expert advice and support.

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Day 51 – Preparations for Hawaii

Laura Penhaul By

Day 51 – Preparations for Hawaii

Day 51, over 1600miles rowed and approximately only 725miles left to go to Hawaii – woohoo, finally! So with our arrival now looking in sight of 2-3weeks, thoughts have turned to preparing for the next steps back on land in Hawaii.
Normally around now, if you were rowing the Atlantic race or the New Ocean Wave race, you’d be getting pretty excited that it felt like the home straight to finishing. Although we are certainly excited to be getting to Hawaii, the emotions are mixed. For Izzy it’s the finish line, for Emma, Nat and I, it’s just the end of the first leg and we still have 2 more to go of equal lengths. So although we will be excited to reach land, we know that the celebrations will be short lived and after a good nights kip, it’ll be straight down to the boat to get us turned around and ready to leave for Samoa in less than a week. Don’t get me wrong though, looking ahead to making landfall in Australia there will be an unbelievable amount of celebrating without a doubt!

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been closely liaising with Tony to arrange restock of certain kit or replacement kit from our sponsors back in the UK. They have all been amazingly supportive and without question have organised with Tony, delivery of equipment prior to his departure from the UK. So special thanks to:

  •  McMurdo who are sending us out additional S20’s which are personal AIS beacons (will give off a signal that can be picked up by the chart plotter if someone goes overboard) and also a replacement PLB as we dropped one over the side by accident at the beginning of the row.
  • Raymarine who have already sorted out a replacement fixed VHF for us after we broke one of the handles off by falling against it heavily.
  • RM Bearings who have turned around within 3weeks, a whole set of brand new ceramic bearings for Emma and Tony to fit when we arrive. Huge thanks to RM for this as it was technically our fault for having damaged some of the bearings due to our seat set up on the first leg part A.
  • Marlow Ropes who have kindly sent through some additional dyneema so we can adjust the steering rope, so thank you Marlow for being so efficient!

The list of boat maintenance is slowly extending and includes things like, replacement of the hand rails that have slackened in the heat, trimming back the oar handles to stop bashing of thumbs on the overlap, making new seat cushions, buying the food for our snack packs, making up approx. 300 snack packs, cleaning and re packing the boat… etc. etc. On reflection from San Francisco, I definitely want us to have at least 1 day off from the row to have a break and appreciate Hawaii, as we were hoping to do this in San Fran but things got so busy that it got overlooked and then departure was fairly rushed. With both my parents and Nat’s parents coming out to see us, we plan to have a day with them and then the other girls will have a day off too to chill out. Being out in the ocean certainly gives you a chance to reflect and realise the importance of family and I know I have fallen short before in being complacent that my parents are always there for me, so it would be great to spend some quality time when they’ve made such an effort to fly out and support us. Keith our Sport Psych has already been in touch to get the ball rolling on preparing us mentally with our expectations pre, during and post Hawaii. We’ve always said that getting back in the boat in Hawaii will be one of the toughest things we have to do, especially seeing Izzy leave and heading for the comforts of home. The bonus though is that we have Lizanne joining us, which we can’t wait for! Lizanne, bless her, I can only imagine what she must be feeling right now, mixed emotions of excitement, with worry and anxiety of the unknown. Blimey, I know how I felt leaving San Fran and I know the project inside out, so for Lizanne coming into it just a couple of months shy of our launch is an unbelievable test of character and true testament to both her and Meg (joining us from Samoa) for the trust they show in us and the row. We have allocated time to provide Lizanne with a handover and introduction to life on Doris as well as practice drills such as emergency procedures and para anchor deployment.
So Hawaii bound we finally are, with an estimated arrival looking around 19th July but you never know the weather (especially with us!). So all being well, we can’t wait to arrive at Honolulu Yacht Club and thank Steve Dixon for all his support. We look forward to receiving our lays, drinking a cocktail, eating a good few meals, having that first amazing shower and a solid nights sleep in a comfy bed…

Personal message:
Simon Taylor-Young – Simon I wanted to take a minute to say a huge thank you for your ongoing support, I’m truly humbled. We love hearing of your news and receiving your comments on our blogs. My apologies for not writing sooner, we weren’t able to receive the blog comments until recently so we’ve been playing catch up and absolutely love that we can now read them. Love to the family xx

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Day 47- Introducing our famous peanut to the world

Laura Penhaul By

Day 47- Introducing our famous peanut to the world

Those of you that read our day 41 blog from Nats would have been enlightened to some of the physical issues we are experiencing whilst out at sea. Knowing that there are a few fellow ocean rowers planning to tackle the Atlantic later this year, I thought I’d drop down a few top physio tips on how to keep some niggles at bay…

1) top of the list is without a doubt ensuring that you do not leave without having a ‘peanut’ on board. The peanut is unfortunately not of the edible kind, however its uses are multifactorial and unlike anything else ocean rowing related, it’s inexpensive! Simply tape 2 tennis balls together and hey presto, you have a functioning peanut. Uses: – mobilise your thoracic spine (part of your spine between your shoulder blades) by lying flat onto it, so that it presses into the muscles either side of your spine. Whilst lying on it, reach your arms up and over your head, or work your ribs by taking deep breaths and long exhalations, or rotate side to side at one level of your spine. Gradually shift your body along the peanut, spending approx. 1min on each level of your spine.
– trigger point release. When the outer part of your hips get tight you can lie on your side on the peanut so it applies pressure on the tight areas. When your shoulders get tight, you can lie again on your side, but so the peanut is applying pressure on the muscles in your shoulder blade. – replacement foam roller. With lack of space aboard Doris for a foam roller, the peanut does just the job, if not in my opinion it gets in a bit deeper and therefore is even better. Tend to use it in this manner along the outside of the quad to release it from the ITB and also in the calf. If you bend your knee in and out or flex your ankle up and down respectively, whilst lying on the peanut, you’ll get a good affect on the hip or calf. – throw and catch. If all else fails and you don’t use it, you’ve now got 2 tennis balls on the boat to play throw and catch with your team mates or make into ‘Wilson 1’ and ‘Wilson 2’ (from Castaway) to hold off insanity.

2) Pullum Sports resistance band (I’d suggest red as you can double it up). This is x10 or more of the strength of black theraband so don’t bother with that stuff, it’s also much more robust. Uses: -Conditioning. Because you’re not walking around and don’t have any ground reaction force for your muscles to be working against, you will atrophy (muscle waste) those muscles that are not being used.The band can be used to do isometric holds (sustained resisted contraction) for your hips to at least keep some activity in your hip rotators (part of your glute/derrière muscles). Also if experiencing shoulder impingement due to rolling forwards too much, then again sustained, resisted shoulder rotation can be effective. – Stretching aid. To add additional resistance to a stretch or help gain that extra range of movement you need.

3) Stretch. Ideally after every rowing session I would target the following key areas:
– hip flexors
– quads
– hamstrings
– glutes
– thoracic spine & ribs with rotation – anterior chest/ shoulders – wrist/forearm This is often done out on the oars but can also be done in the aft cabin if your team mate allows you to use the space. If I had to target just 2 areas because of time, then I’d go hip flexors and thoracic spine for me, but these are the areas I have issues which may not be the same for all.

4) tendon gliding for ‘claw hand’. This mobilises the tendon along the sheath that it runs in. When the hand starts to adopt the claw like position, then mobilising the tendon and working the extensor tendons will create more balance.

5) self trigger point/ massage. When the claw hand starts to kick in, take 5mins pre and post row to get into your forearm and also the palm of your hand.

6) talcum powder and sudocrem. You can’t have enough of it. Talcum powder I learnt when doing triathlons, that it was a great trick to have talc in your bike shoes and trainers in transition so that you don’t spend time drying your feet or risking blisters when you run in wet shoes. So I brought this little gem to the boat by adding talc to our list and as you may be aware from the blogs, it has been the saviour of the derrières. Now Sudocrem too has multiple uses and is brilliant. I was fortunate to have less of an ‘angry bum’ than the others, I’m not sure how I got away with this, but certainly regular hygiene, strict routine of dry clothes off oars and the routine of: talc post row, sudocrem for pre row, I feel works.

7) SOS Rehydrate (www.sosrehydrate.com). I can’t recommend this stuff enough. Just like you’d take rehydration salts if you were significantly dehydrated due to vomiting/ diarrhoea, this stuff has been made more palatable with no compromise to optimising the osmolarity for hydration. Sir Ben Ainslie used it the year he turned Americas Cup around and its recently been used on the Volvo Ocean Race as well as being integrated into many main stream sports. All I can say is that it works an absolute treat for us out here and I definitely notice a change in my alertness and productivity after having it.

8) heat management strategies. Keeping cool on a 29ft ocean rowing boat where there’s no where to hide from the sun, is a slight task that we are constantly problem solving best options, so far I have these:
– battery powered hand fans – wet your head band and then regularly remove and hold it to the wind so it cools the material and then re-apply. – put your wrists as far as your pulse points in the sea to cool. If fully overheating then get your whole body in, nothing like hitting all pulse points by a wee dip in the sea.
– keep well hydrated (as above)
– wear loose, light reflecting Clothing
-wear sun cream factor 50+. We use Rocky Mountain sunscreen and their face sticks which are brilliant. They were recommended to us from one of our Ambassadors Sarah Outen who is another fellow ocean rower.

Currently to date, these are a few tips that spring to mind and I’ll keep you updated with any additions as we progress. X

Personal messages:
Michelle – so lovely to hear your news hon, can’t believe my wee man Jack has started school and Big H is walking! Amazing news, time flies in the Robertson household!
David Bowes – what a great email to receive, thank you so much for your kind words and more importantly the inspiration of music on Doris. We do indeed have Louis Armstrong ‘what a wonderful world’ so we’ll play that and think of you as we sing along, certainly changing the words to suit our environment is a past time we regularly enjoy :).

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Day 43 – The team behind Doris part 2

Laura Penhaul By

Day 43 – The team behind Doris part 2

In my Day 28 blog I mentioned about how there are a certain few people back home that have and are making this journey special and that without them I have no doubt that we wouldn’t be here today.

The next influential person I want to introduce you to in more detail is our Sports Psychologist, Keith Goddard (Zeus Performance Psychology). Without a shadow of a doubt, Keith has been a rock to this project, the team and to me personally. He has contributed so much to this row, but unbelievably he has done it all in his own time and voluntarily. He has been significant in team selection, for our preparation to get to the start line, for our on the water scenarios, for individual coping strategies, for support to our families and so much more.

I know Keith through my work; Keith and I worked together at the London Paralympics 2012 with Paralympics GB. In this role Keith was working with all of the Paralympic staff/ support team to the athletes to aid our process of communication, understanding of one another and the various roles within the organisation, alongside facilitating ‘what if’ scenarios to ensure we were best prepared as a team going into the Games. We were just coming to the end of the holding camp prior to the London games starting and all the staff knew of my plans to row an ocean. Keith approached me and, for his sins, he kindly offered his services if I needed them. I am sure without doubt that poor Keith had no idea what he had in store for himself. I knew at the time that this row would be 90% mentally challenging and having seen how supportive and influential he had been with us at work, there was no hesitation how much his expertise would be an asset to our row. At the time, the row was only intended to have a 1 year prep time and 6 months at sea. 3.5 years later with delays due to team change, lack of sponsorship and finances, we finally reached the start after a number of hurdles were faced and overcome. Without question, if it wasn’t for Keith, I’m sure I would have questioned continuing forwards and making it to the start line.

So 3.5 years for Keith has encompassed; helping me to co-ordinate team selection (2 full weekends of his time for interviews, then a weekend with www.fieri.biz for army based sleep deprivation in the Brecons, plus hours of preparation for how to assess each applicant), once a month telephone or Skype conversations with each of the team members involved at that time, once a month full team meeting for a whole day (this usually resided in the Hare & Hounds Pub in Bath where the food is amazing and we could constantly feed Keith with lattes), once a month face to face when he could with each of us but certainly me throughout the time he’s been involved (often I’d meet him at 7am at Waterloo station or around 5pm before or after he had travelled up from Bath for work meetings). This is all pre-row preparations. While we’re now on the water, he’s meeting with Lizanne and Meg to facilitate their transition into the team and he liaises with our families and is a mediator as to whether negative news can be shared with us or not. He also sends us a daily quote and once a week he receives a team review from us.

Not for the first time, it makes me feel quite emotional to think of all this time, expertise, patience and shared belief in the row that Keith has volunteered. What’s worse is that so far I feel there is little we have done to return the gratitude we feel. Ideally we would have loved to get Keith out to Hawaii, not only to facilitate the transition of Lizanne swapping in from Izz, but it would also be a thanks to get him involved on the ground during the project. Unfortunately, the unexpected costs incurred in Santa Barbara have eaten into our contingency budget somewhat and with 2 more legs to go we haven’t been able to afford the cost of Keith’s flights. Skype however is a wonderful thing, so we will have to make do with learning about the Friday funky chicken dance and other quirky habits he has over Skype ;)!

There are very few Keith Goddards in this world and we are so lucky, humbled and proud to have him in our lives. Now we just need to get to Cairns so that a successful trip is a reflection on all his kind efforts. Thank you Keith. X

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Day 39 & navigation update

Laura Penhaul By

Day 39 & navigation update

A few things that have brought joy to us on Doris in the last 24hrs… For the first time in nearly 2 weeks, we have sunshine!! We have had nothing but a constant blanket of grey cloud over us for as far as we could see over the recent weeks and so it’s unbelievable how good it feels to see blue sky. Secondly, our iPad is back up and running! Our iPad is our lifeline to writing the blogs and receiving mail from you, so without it we’d be limited to the phone and we all felt like we would be missing out on sharing our story, which to be honest, writing a blog and reading mail is the highlight of the day.

Finally we received our first contact on VHF. We have used our VHF plenty of times before to contact other boats, but never before has a nearby boat contacted us. So when I heard ‘Doris, Doris this is Marjorie, Marjorie, do you read me over’, we got so excited! Immediately I jumped on the VHF and responded. Chief mate Aaron and Second mate Steve were on a cruise liner from LA to Hawaii, they had contacted us after seeing Doris on AIS & noticed in our boat detail that we were just 8m long. After informing them of our project they were really supportive and turns out they will be at the Pier next to us in Honolulu in mid July when we hope to arrive. We have arranged to contact them on arrival and they plan to come over for a visit whilst also offering us a tour of their boat, which I suspect will be slightly more extravagant than Doris!

In the last 48hrs we have had to drop our course to 200 degrees nearly due South, but this has thankfully worked to help us avoid a high pressure system that would have pushed North East if we had continued West, so thanks to Uncle Tone (Tony Humphries our onshore support) we have missed it.

This is most probably as good a time as any to give a brief description of how we navigate, so that we can answer some of the questions that have been asked via our blogs. Tony Humphries (aka uncle tone to us) tracks our progress daily, whilst monitoring the currents, wind speed and direction. Tony sends us a daily update of the conditions and what course we should hold, via sat phone text, we then liaise with him with what conditions are actually like in situ, but 99% of the time Tony’s predictions are spot on, to the hour. We work to ‘course over ground’ rather than ‘heading’ because we are so influenced by wind and currents that we could be heading/ facing 90 degrees but travelling over the ground 180 degrees. On board Doris we are fortunate enough to be sponsored by Raymarine, who have fully kitted out Doris with equipment and Navionics who have kindly sponsored our maps. So here’s the list of kit aboard:

  • E7 chart plotter: this provides us with the ability to map our location, lat/long, distance travelled, ability to set waypoints and AIS signals of other boats etc.
  • AIS transceiver & receiver: this means we can see boats that are travelling within approx. 15miles of us and we set an alarm so that it alerts us when a boat enters within a 2mile radius of us. This is important when in big seas and at night time when line of sight is impaired. It also transmits a signal so that other boats who should all have an AIS onboard, can see us on their repeater even if they can’t see us by eye looking out at sea (such as boat Marjorie above).
  • p70 deck repeater: this repeats the course over ground from the chart plotter so we can see it on deck and hold ourselves on course.
  • tack tick range: for wind gauge, depth gauge and speed over ground.
  • Evo autopilot : we have only just started using this in the last week, as travelling below 1kt makes the pilot work too hard, so we stuck to hand steering during those times since we left Santa Barbara.
  • Navionics maps : Navionics gold is really clear and gives a great amount of detail when exiting or entering near land. We have maps for the U.S. That cover Hawaii and Samoa, with another card for Australian waters.
    If we were to have an electrical failure, then we have a battery powered handheld GPS as well as the Navionics uploaded via apps on our iPhones and iPads to give us real time, current location. So we’re confident we can maintain our own navigation ability aboard Doris if needed.

Raymarine

Navionics_Logo_BIG_zpsa3794981

Hope this answers some questions but feel free to let us know if not.

Personal messages:
Heather – so lovely to receive your email hon, thank you for thinking of us it was great to hear your news of little Pip. With regards to X factor – love Grimmy but he’s not a producer/ singer to be a mentor so reckon that is twaddle & JC to finally leave Top Gear, interesting replacement!
Mary – glad all is good at home with you and Daz. In response to your question, no we don’t brush our teeth every 2hrs but usually twice a day still ;).
Jade & Kim- thanks for sorting the flat, exciting news jade about the move. Can’t wait to be back at Ullswater and finally enjoying some social time with you girls when I get back. Xx

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