Leg 3, Day 29 – Women in History

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Day 29 – Women in History

Gender equality has always been a topic of conversation in all parts of my life. Coming from a family of lots of girls, turned independent women, and then going onto study English literature whereby I took particular interest in topics of gender and sexuality; it is a subject that I am hugely passionate about. I’m proud to call myself a feminist.

It was in the summer, when I received a letter from Melody Bottle, one of my grandparents’ friends, a woman in her 70’s with so much zest and passion for life and quite honestly one of the biggest babes of all babettes. In her letter, she said how lucky I was to be a part of the Coxless Crew, but she didn’t label the luck in the same way that others had. Instead she discussed it in the bigger scale of us as a team of six women, being fortunate enough to live in a society where it is socially acceptable to put our lives on hold and make history for women. She was a sailor herself in her youth, and said that she was always looking for an adventure, but instead, she conformed to society’s expectation of a woman, and in her twenties married and had children. She really is an absolute inspiration, and it’s people like Melody that come to my mind on days like today when the currents are holding us back.

Melody’s words had completely opened up another perspective for me, as I began to realise how true she was and how lucky we are to live in a society that is not patriarchal. To get the opportunity to partake in challenges such as this, without having ones role as a woman questioned is something that we shouldn’t take for granted. Nevertheless, I believe that we still have a long way to go, and looking at the media in the last year highlighting the difference in average pay between the sexes still questions just how equal we are. Personally however, I don’t feel that in my life that I have ever been directly subjected to inequality, nor have I ever not been given an opportunity because I am a woman. I discussed this with the girls, and they all had different views. Nats agreed with me, whereas Ems talked about Cambridge boat club and how the men’s team had funded kit and a nice boathouse in comparison to the girls shed, and kit that they had to pay for themselves. Laura also discussed how the world of sport and sports media is still male dominated, but with London 2012 highlighting the success of women in sport, this has certainly helped improve awareness. Next step equality of women in sport.

Before I left to fly to Samoa, I went and watched the film Suffragette, it was so insightful into exactly what these women went through in order to get us to where we are today. They fought and achieved the vote for women over the age of 30 in 1918 after years of hardship. In the film, the protagonist becomes a suffragette, and as a result, we see that her husband is embarrassed by her actions and beliefs and she is caste out of the family home. The support that we have had in undertaking this challenge has been incredible and I’m so proud to be a part of the Coxless Crew. For me, the thought that we might inspire other women to follow their dreams and fight for what they believe is what keeps me rowing. In 2015, Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote. This fills me with hope that across the world there are women continuing to fight, proving that with a little bit of strength, perseverance, integrity, resilience, inspiration, and trust anything is possible.

Update: Today could possibly be the last day that I eat Maggi noodles. The girls appear to be quite good at stashing supplies for further in the journey, however I’ve been living in the noodle moment, and will have to suffer the consequences. On the plus side, the mighty Pacific offered us a belly flopping mahi mahi, and a sea turtle that we named Tim. Wow, this wildlife tour really is getting very exciting and I was quite overwhelmed by the whole experience. Who needs whales. As I’m sure you can see, the pink dot is currently moving slower than a snail, I think even the turtle overtook us quite rapidly. Here’s to less current soon.



Leg 3, Day 24 – Ocean rowing is not that easy!!

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Day 24 – ocean rowing is not that easy!!

I’d hate to state the obvious, but really, ocean rowing is not that easy! It’s not like I joined the crew expecting top tanning and weight loss without any challenges, but it’s week 4, and the honeymoon period of experiencing newness is most certainly over for me and crossing the Pacific has become normality. This is not to say that I’m not having the time of my life, and at risk of sounding like a wimp member of the Coxless crew and aware that my mere 3 and a bit weeks in comparison to the other girls 8 months at sea, I shall elaborate…

Is it strange to say that the rowing part of ocean rowing is actually the easiest part of the experience? Being on the oars is the place where your mind can drift away, it’s where you have space, it’s the seat that you’ll see the wildlife from (still yet to see any), it’s the spot where you’ll have that moment of realisation of where we are, and what we are doing, and it is the position that will get you that tan! However, being on the oars is also where you are most subjected to the splashing, the soakings of salt water on those salt sores, and you remain the victim of a flying fish attack, as well as it being the place that you must remain awake throughout the night.

So the above, is where 12 hours of our day is spent. Where do we spend the other 12? We climb through the human sized cat flap into a sweat festival. This festival allows only 2 to enter it at any one time. Upon entry, there is a process of drying and de-salting as much as possible, applying talc and sudocreme and then jobs. Jobs ranging from downloading emails, blog writing, making water, making food and then getting a few winks before heading back out for another 2 hours.

So there we are. That’s our routine, and it is this that I am struggling with the most. The monotony of everything being controlled by a 2 hour window. This window of time is regimented to the minute and when we say 2 hours on, 2 hours off – that is it – there is no excuse of ‘being stuck in traffic’, and there is no shortened shift for a dentist appointment! Thus 7 days a week and 24 hours a day we complete this routine. In normal life you might guess that my life is not governed by routine. In fact one of the only routines I have is cleaning my teeth, and that’s one that I’m struggling to maintain out here, most of the time not entirely sure whether it’s morning or evening, breakfast or supper time!

Encapsulated within this 2 hour time pattern is also sleep. Ahhh sleep I do miss you! I know in my first blog I said how I loved napping so sleeping on Doris is great. I still stand that napping is brilliant – however it’s much nicer when it is on top of a nights sleep. The horrid alarm bleeping sound that goes off at night time and causes a wake up that makes you feel like you have been hit with a sledge hammer, and the amounts of time that I have woken up and it’s a surprise that I’m on a boat in the Pacific!! Then there is the wet weather gear that we put on at night, and if it’s been splashy, putting it all on wet. Who’d have thought as a Pisces and a massive lover of water I would have become scared of being hit with any nighttime splashes! As Ems keeps reminding me – ‘if you take up water sports then expect to get wet’ – wise words from a fellow hater of the splashes!

I did have one new experience this week, that of the para-anchor. What a truly incredible piece of equipment! It was so exciting learning how it all works, and then seeing it do its business. The girls had told me not to be so excited about the para-anchor as its a very uncomfortable experience. Well I had a fabulous time! All be it a rather sweaty affair, there was a film with LP, whilst munching a twix and then there was the whole night of sleep (for me), absolute bliss!

Update: last night we had an attack of the flying fish – always fun in the dark, and then feeling a flapping fish in the lap. For LP it was the head! We do also appear to be stuck in a current that doesn’t wish us to pass Vanuatu too quickly! Watch this space!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage nine – place rear end back on rowers seat.

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

Stage eleven – rinse bucket with sea water.

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

Stage thirteen – re-commence rowing!

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

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

Leg 3, Day 11/15 – Cruisin’

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Day 11/15 – Cruisin’

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leg 3, Day 7 – A week at sea, moon where are you?

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A week at sea, moon where are you?

So it’s been 7 days that we have been on Doris and I’m torn between feeling like it’s been weeks to also being a weird kind of ground hog day! As I’m sure you read yesterday we’re having a bit of trouble finding our friend the moon at night making it awfully dark so we have put a reward of beef curry out to anyone that knows his whereabouts! If you hear anything do email doris@coxlesscrew.com…

Still writing between bouts of nausea, so apologies it’s a little short, but I thought I’d write down all of the new experiences I’ve had from the past week:

-rowing – so I learnt to row a week ago, and I have now been on the oars for 84 hours in total! Can you imagine how many hours Ems, Laura and Nat have spent on the oars!!!
-night time rowing – something I am not a fan of in any way – perhaps because it has been pretty choppy almost every night and you can’t see what is coming towards you and how big it is!
-cross bum (this cannot yet be called angry) – but it is gradually beginning to get sore! The answer to this is talc and sudocreme every 2 hours!
-expedition foods – I’ve tried hard to make beef curry my favourite but it’s just not happening!
-steering Doris – this involves hand steering and is pulling a cord or letting a cord loose depending on the direction wanted, it’s also quite nice to have something to focus on whilst rowing,
-2 hours on 2 hours off – I have slipped into this routine much easier than I expected and quite like having a nap every 2 hours! Although in the next week hopefully I’ll be able to start doing more than just ‘sleep, eat, row repeat’!
-Waves and lots of them! – the waves come in all shapes and sizes. It’s absolutely mesmerising just looking at them and assessing which ones are the ones that are going to get you wet!
The bucket – the best bathroom in the South Pacific that’s for sure!


Leg 3, Day 2 – Cairns we’re a comin’

Meg Dyos By

Cairns we’re a coming

11:30am on Tuesday morning the 4 of us jumped into Doris and headed off into the Pacific. The general question of the morning it seemed was ‘meg how are you feeling?’ – a difficult question when there’s a hundred different emotions running through my head! All in all though excitement was the answer I gave along with expressing how lucky I feel to have been given this opportunity to join the girls!

Having had a rowing lesson from Ems 2 days prior to our departure and then commencing the third leg of our journey on the oars with Ems was a bit surreal, all good though and between the four of us and the help of currents we managed to get up to 3 knots!

As I write this I am lying in the aft cabin writing each sentence between bouts of nausea – Still no physical sea sickness though which is brilliant! I’m learning so much about Doris and the way she moves through the swell, but also how the girls run like clockwork with their routines – it’s awesome and I can’t think of better people to travel in Doris with!

My first night shift on Doris was pretty much the same as daytime but in complete darkness, not even a moon! At 11pm, 30 minutes before me and Ems were due to get onto the oars, we heard Laura telling us to phone Tony and find two boats on our AIS as they had appeared out of nowhere with no lights and men were in the water by the oars with snorkels on. They told us that they were fishermen, and just fishing, Tony backed this up that this is quite possible as we were in really shallow water between two islands. So off we rowed and never saw them again – what we do know though is that LP can grab a flare within 30 seconds!

Update: woohoo we travelled 50 miles yesterday, and have also now lost sight of shore! Trade winds we are a fan of you!


Leg 2 Day 63 – Rockin’ and Rollin’ with the Waves on land

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Leg 2 Day 63 – Rockin’ and Rollin’ with the Waves on land

As I prepare for the impending adventure and last leg of our journey across the Pacific, my life more than ever seems to be revolving around the movements of the waves in the Pacific Ocean. With my original departure date having been approximated before the girls left San Francisco for late August – here I am in late September – on land, and watching the small pink dots plotting our progress like a snail trail across the Pacific. Like you, these dots inform me where the girls are, as I watch the image of ‘Doris’ addictively, and anticipate my nearing but still unknown departure date.

The girls asked me to write a blog about the build up to Samoa, and it’s difficult to know where to start! With Lizanne’s departure to Hawaii, someone who I had grown very fond of and despite the mileage between us with her in South Africa and myself in UK, she was the perfect training buddy, and general teammate! But then, with the arrival of Izz back to land it has been great listening to her wise Pacific knowledge and advice, and getting to know her better (I only met Izz once before the girls left). My training has also continued both mentally and physically, although I tell you maintaining weight gain is hard when there is so much going on! Last week myself and Izzy completed a 24 hour row in Kent. With the help of our sponsors, New Level Results it was a great event. Mentally it was brilliant to know what spending 2 hours rowing felt like at any one time, but also spending 12 hours on a rowing machine in a 24 hour period brought home the physical reality of our journey, and only makes me more in awe of the girls I will be rowing with on their 3rd and final leg across the Pacific. This row, especially since the girls have been out at sea since April, has been very much about the support team coming together and supporting each other and the girls on Doris both emotionally as well as physically, and I firmly believe that these girls will be friends for life!

But in the meantime, finding myself slightly alone on land whilst the girls have been at sea, I’ve done my best to talk to people that have rowed oceans etc, and get advice from any nook and cranny that I can! In doing this, Ben Cooper has been great to talk to! He is currently in training to SWIM the Atlantic – I REPEAT – SWIM the Atlantic! Do give him a follow at www.swimthebigblue.com – he is called ‘Bonkers Ben’ for a reason! Another person is Alan who rowed the Atlantic solo, who I met for lunch and ate chicken feet with in Chinatown (as you do) – but its people like this, amongst others that have kept me going, and talking to them about their adventures has given me a greater insight into being out at sea.

I suppose the message of my blog today is – yep I’m still here, rooting for and supporting the amazing four girls currently still rowing on Doris getting closer by the day to Samoa! The support team are spreading the word as much and more than ever – I’m prepping my body and brain with cream cakes and mindfulness – but for now, lets continue to cheer these totally amazing girls and hope that the currents push us ever closer to the end of Leg 2 – SAMOA – Extra toilet rolls and Oreo’s to be packed for leg 3!

Meg x

Update: We reached less than 800nm to go today! Woop woop! This caused for celebration with a special exped food and for me a hair wash. Unfortunately as per usual, the current was not favourable to allow us to stop rowing, but hopefully only one more degree to go until we’re out of this ridiculous ITCZ. We would have loved to go swimming and know a few of you have asked why we’re not swimming more. Fundamentally it’s because the conditions haven’t been suitable and we can’t afford to drift even a mile off course, getting in and out is disruptive to the rowers on the oars plus if you’ve gone in you have to have a shower with clean water afterwards so you don’t risk salt sores- again disrupting rowing on deck. Finally Fernando has certainly put a stop to us wanting to jump in, especially considering that he pops up out of nowhere! LP x


Day 53 – All the girls together – Hip hip hooray!

Day 53 – All the girls together -Hip hip hooray!

So, I’m Meg, houmous connoisseur and lover of all things sunshiny! I’ve never rowed, never been in the deep ocean, never had proper biceps, and am terrified of sharks – and here I am, beyond excited to get on the boat with the girls for the last leg of our 8446 mile journey from San Francisco to Cairns!

I’m on land, in a relationship with the gym, and in a love triangle with the leg press and the chest press somewhere under the arches of Bethnal Green station. Amongst a combination of grunting sounds and huge bulging muscles, as well as some interesting outfit choices that don’t leave much to the imagination is where you’ll find me – totally beginning to admire other peoples muscles, and the work that goes into creating these magical beauties. I’m currently in a conundrum of what to name my growing biceps, (suggestions welcomed) and the habit of asking anyone I meet if they wish to have a feel of my gluteus maximus has become a daily norm. Further to this, asking for seconds at a dinner party, with the only excuse of ‘my trainer told me too’ (that’s the fabulous Alex Wolf) who is helping us to look like Michelin wo(men), is a necessity in our pound gaining plans.

What I’d do without Lizanne, my weekly Skype partner! From rational to the irrational, we chat about anything that comes to mind – From the ‘what if a jellyfish lands on my head’, to the newest topic of hair management, and the potential embracing of dreadlocks (my dream)! Thanks to Keith for helping us in our mental preparation, we have laughed endlessly at each other whilst we munch on another cream cake.

Running things on land amongst a small team of us, and whilst the girls continue to row onwards, has really made me realise just how important teamwork is. I spent last weekend on The Isle of Wight with Raymarine who have provided us with our navigation equipment and met so many amazing people who were so supportive. On top of that, the inundated amount of emails/tweets/comments via all of our social media outlets is overwhelming, and we can’t thank you all enough. Every little mention gets us ever nearer to raising the 250k for these amazing charities! Please continue to share our story as we get further into our journey – we still have a long way to go in crossing the Pacific and reaching Cairns.

So anyway – here we are on land – Myself and Lizanne, (and our growing bellies and muscles) quite literally rolling with the waves that bring the girls – The Coxless Crew – onwards and closer to Hawaii as we wait for them, support them, and send them positive vibes as we prepare for our time on Doris.

‘All the girls together – Hip Hip Hooray’!