Leg 2, Day 69 – Surprises of the sea

Laura PenhaulBy

Day 69 – Surprises of the sea

Feeling like a stuck record, we are once again caught in strong currents East and strong unpredictable winds from the South West, culminating in meaning a rapid track East and an increase in mileage to Samoa. As you are aware the last few weeks have been testing, I guess that why it’s called a challenge. Poor Lizanne has been a pillar of strength through a very difficult time with her uncle passing and being away from her family, the rest of the team having to come to terms with an extended time aboard Doris potentially over the Christmas period. But thanks to all of your lovely comments, words of true support and sound advice, plus a few surprise visitors from the deep blue, we are feeling revived again.

It seems amazing to us, that as soon as we reach some difficult times and we start cursing at the sea, the ocean sends us a few visitors to restore our faith and reignite our passion for being here. In the last 24hrs we have had the closest and most amazing whale encounter yet. Literally less than an oar length away from the boat, she was over twice the length of Doris and with the close encounter happening over 4 times, you could tell she was checking Doris out. She stuck around for over an hour and a half, circling the boat, rising and falling and occasionally showing a glimpse of a barnacled tail or a huge, big long mouth. She came so close at one point, that we got hit from the spray of her blow hole, it was unbelievable! That sound when they blow is unforgettable and I think it will end up being my favourite sound from the Pacific.

We have talked in recent blogs of fish frenzies that we’ve encountered. I have never seen anything like it. With my so called ‘bat ears’ (as Nats likes to call them as I hear everything!), the first thing is actually the whirring sound of what you imagine to be a rushing wave coming towards you. When you look round you don’t see anything apart from a few white breaking waves and then suddenly you see this whirlpool across a massive expanse and loads of fish jumping, belly flopping, twisting and turning rapidly underwater, all in a crazy frenzie. There are literally thousands of fish in these schools. When it happens at sunrise you can see just the fish and once or twice we have rowed straight through the middle of it with fish jumping all around us. Later in the day, the frenzie draws attention from an array of birds including all that we’ve talked of to date; boobies, magnificent frigates, turns, storm petrels to name a few.

As well as our trusty sharkies, who then decide to stick with us for a short period to see what Doris is up to or whether any of us are planning to take a dip. When we first saw Wendy the whale, it was a David Attenborough shot as she rose up from the depths with her mouth wide open, right in the middle of the frenzie, taking out most probably nearly half the fish. Without a doubt it was definitely a ‘I wish I had a camera on’ moment. But not to worry, as our personal close encounters with her we’re certainly captured on the go-pro so hopefully there’s some great shots for the LSOS documentary. I guess the take home from this is, trust that even when you’re feeling really down, something will come along, cheer you up and put a smile on your face. Have belief that the sad and hard times will pass and they are just part of the journey, but as much as things feel difficult it can be outweighed in a second if you take a time to be in the moment, experience it and enjoy it for the rarity that it is.


Leg 2, Day 68 – Team Update


Day 68 – team update

68 days is the time it took us to reach Hawaii from Santa Barbara, so any additional days from now on, will be the longest we’ve been at sea for. Our estimated arrival into Samoa is late October so we still have a few more weeks left out here before we get to landfall. With that in mind, I’m sure many of you have also done the maths, but we have reviewed where we are and what our timeline is looking like. Needless to say, we have been less than impressed with what the outcome was after speaking with Tony about future conditions and estimated speed of travel considering our history to date. If we can leave Samoa prior to 1st November, then we originally would aim to reach Cairns by mid December. This is based on a westerly current and easterly winds. Considering our last 2 legs have gone less favourable due to lack of trade winds and the ITCZ currents, our estimated time of arrival has been extended by 3-4 weeks for both legs. Therefore, our predicted arrival into Cairns if we continue to travel at the same pace, will be closer to the 1st of January. Nearly 3 months after we had planned! This news has impacted us individually in different ways and for different reasons, so we thought we’d share with you those thoughts…..

Laura: To see in black and white that we may not reach Cairns until the New Year and will have to spend Christmas out at sea, was fairly upsetting news to me. This was for more than one reason. Firstly, Christmas with my family is always special but in particular this year I have been looking forward to and planning since I stepped onto the boat. It has been a source of thought for me when on the oars, thinking of where we’ll be, what presents to buy my family, the amazing food to look forward to, seeing my lovely aunts/uncles and cousins, my niece’s first Christmas she’ll remember at the age of 3 etc. I’d been on email with my folks as they’d suggested we may spend it at my brothers this year for a change, as his house has just been built and Isla my niece would be great to see at Christmas. I’d also been co-ordinating my friends and my brothers friends for a New Years Eve celebration. Thinking that both our groups of friends would come over to our parents house in Cornwall, for a NYE house party. I’d even thought of what food I’d make and the games we could play. Christmas on Doris will certainly be a memorable one but also no doubt emotional to be missing home sweet home.
Secondly and my biggest concern since the delays started to happen, is my work. As you may now have all realised, I love my job and the athletes have always come first for me when I’m at home. So doing this row feels extremely selfish and particularly when the timing is so poor just prior to Rio. Having a responsibility to my team at home I know I’m letting them down and causing them so much hassle with not being there at such a crucial time. At the same time I can’t let my team down on the boat either. So my responsibilities feel torn. What is the right thing to do? What is the ‘what if?’ With either option. Fundamentally there is no choice. We’re out here and after 4 years of preparation to get here, there’s no way I’m walking away with just 3months left to go. However I’m coming to realise that it comes at a cost most dear to me and the biggest sacrifice to let my work down and possibly affect my chances of supporting the athletes through to Rio. Suddenly the sense of enjoyment on the last leg, I fear will feel tainted by the guilt of not being back home for work.

Emma: Like Laura I also found it hard to hear confirmation from Tony what we had started to realise out here on Doris, that we are very likely to still be out at sea at Christmas. Like Laura I had been holding on to Christmas at home with all of my family as a reward for completing the row. It also concerns me that if we arrive in Cairns around that time that it will disrupt Christmas for the rest of my family as my mum will be coming out to meet us when we arrive in Australia. To be honest also the monotony and boredom of life on Doris is beginning to wear me down. Rowing has always been my happy place and out on the oars on Doris has always been where I work out my frustration or claustrophobia but in the last couple of weeks I have been finding the hard rowing with little gain in speed or distance incredibly frustrating and have been struggling to enjoy it. The thought of an extra 3 months of this doesn’t excite me. However our journey will not feel complete until we reach Australia and it is good news that our weather window has not yet closed and that this is still a possibility. I have no doubt that we will pull together as the strong team that we are and enjoy a unique and special festive season, support each other through the difficult times and appreciate the magical moments that the ocean provides.

Natalia: I’m not going to lie, the news of the new predicted arrival date into Cairns disappointed and frustrated me. Although the experience and lessons from the almighty Pacific have been incredible, I don’t really want to spend extra time out here! To be honest, I’d already been thinking that at the rate we have been going, we would probably end up spending Xmas on Doris. So, when the news came from Tony, it was not really a huge surprise and made hearing it more manageable. The positive news for me was that because of the change in usual weather patterns this year due to El Niño, our weather window has been extended and it is still possible to make it all the way to Cairns safely. If there were to be problems outside our control with the weather, then there also are a couple of islands that we could head to if necessary. What I think is the most important thing, is that there is still an opportunity to successfully complete the journey. We’ve worked too hard to not be able to make the best attempt we can.
Although the thought of spending another 3 months on the ocean doesn’t exactly fill me with uncontrollable excitement, I do not have a job that I have to get back for or any other pressing commitments. My family are still my main concern and spending time with them over Xmas would have been wonderful, but also a luxury, as they are used to me being away during this time of year. I suppose I am fortunate in the transient and ever changing lifestyle that I have chosen, as it has allowed my family to expect me to be somewhere other than home in December, and if it so happens that I am with them, then that’s a bonus!

Even though there are many days out on the ocean filled with so much frustration and monotony, there is also so much simplicity and beauty. I don’t want to forget that this is a once in a lifetime experience and these moments all need to be savoured, even if there are more of them than originally anticipated x

Lizanne: My journey on Doris ends in Samoa where the wonderful Meg will jump aboard to complete the last leg of the row. Our arrival into Samoa has been delayed by about a month, which has not been a surprise to me as I’ve kept a close eye on our progress and already suspected such a delay. My commitments when we get back to reality are also work related and the delay has naturally complicated things. I have been trying to imagine what it would be like to spend an extra two months out at sea after reaching Samoa, and my hands start to ache at the thought. It is a testament to their strength of character to witness how the girls are dealing with the prospect of rowing for longer than anticipated. Emotions have wavered, however these amazing women have already joked and conjured plans about what they can do to break the monotony and make it a very memorable Christmas and New Year. Knowing this lot, they will certainly not fail to amuse and entertain each other. Part of me wishes I could join them.
However…. My Christmas wish for them all is to be reunited with their families, cosy by a fire. I have been inspired to row even harder for the remainder of our journey in attempt to speed things up. We have become a family on the boat, so even though I won’t be on the boat physically, I will still be living every day with them on the ocean.


Leg 2, Day 67 – A Tribute

Lizanne Van VuurenBy

Day 67 – A Tribute

Yesterday Nat spoke about the ‘fears’ we considered before getting on Doris, as this allowed us to prepare as best we can for unfortunate circumstances. This list was accompanied by our ‘hopes’ which identified our goals and gave us a clear idea of why we are doing what we’re doing.

One of my biggest fears was receiving bad news about loved ones whilst out at sea, and unfortunately this happened earlier this week. My uncle; a devoted husband, an incredible father, a dear friend to many and one of the funniest people I knew, lost his battle with cancer. He put up an amazing fight and stayed positive throughout; testament to how he lived his life.

Last year he decided at the last minute to come and run the Two Oceans half marathon with my cousin and I. He made it across the finish line and got his medal with 30 seconds to spare…! No training, an aching body and a huge smile! His beautiful demeanour and lust for life has been passed onto his children, and as someone who was so involved in his local community his legacy and stories will live on.

As I received the news late at night the ocean was still, calm, lit up with a gorgeous large full moon and stars flickering. If I had wine onboard I would have used that, but instead with our spiced rum Nat and I gave a toast to a beautiful person.

It is strange receiving news like that when we’re so far removed from everything. In contrast to our distant existence out on the ocean, it very quickly brings you back to reality. All I really wanted to do was take a walk in the mountains. There’s no escaping on the boat…

So taking on my imaginary hike while on the oars, I pondered the dynamics and importance of family. We were born into families to be instantly connected to someone else. Families can be so complex, yet such a necessity in our lives. At times of need they can either pull together like an old fashioned knot; the bigger the load the tighter the knot, and even after the load is lifted the knot stays taught. Other times the rope can snap where is has weakened and been worn away over the years, the load too heavy to bear.

I have also once again been amazed at how a good team pulls together during tough times. We have had an array of different challenging circumstances on the boat so far, but for me nothing quite as bonding as this. Over the past two months we have become a family on the ocean and these girls have becomes my sisters. I could not have chosen three more incredible ladies to be on my boat.

I know that families can be the biggest stressing in ones life, but they can also be the biggest blessing. I know they are the people we take most for granted because they’re just ‘there’, but they’re also the ones we miss most when they’re gone.

Thank goodness we were also given the choice of friends to bring into our inner circles, as the saying goes “you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends”. I regret that I am not there to offer my support, but love and prayer crosses oceans. I’ll continue to live my life with the motto “make the circle bigger”, but first ensuring a firm core with the people who have always been there, and alway will be; blood is thicker than water.

I know that the nature of this blog is personal, but if you can take anything from it then realise that life is fragile, and appreciate the amazing people around you.

Lizanne x


Leg 2, Day 66 – What’s your Pacific?

Natalia CohenBy

Day 66 – What’s your Pacific?

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. What is a challenge and why do we create them for ourselves and each other?

‘A task or situation that tests someone’s abilities’ or ‘To do something that one thinks will be difficult or impossible’

I suppose for me, a challenge is something that gives you a sense of purpose. It allows you to push yourself a little further, step outside your comfort zone, develop a new skill or learn a little more about yourself and others.

Challenges make up a huge part of our lives, whether we realise it or not. They can be big or small and are where we have an opportunity to grow and improve mentally and/or physically.

What happens when we create a challenge for ourselves?

When you set a challenge, it is good to have a clear idea about what your hopes and fears are for successful completion of the task. This helps to keep you focused and to give you perspective.

Preparing mentally and physically for the challenge is vital in ensuring that you have exactly what you need to do in order to accomplish the task and not give into fears before you have even begun. Acknowledge your fears but don’t allow them to hinder your progress. They aid in helping you plan your challenge or be as prepared for it as you can be but many fears can also just be imaginings of our over active minds!

The main fear that most of us have is fear of failure or fear about what others will think. You’re never going to know if your task will be a success until you begin it. Believe in yourself, have faith in your challenge and you can also choose to not give much importance to any negative opinions that come your way. We write our own story.

Just remember that:

———– ” The cave we most fear to enter, holds the most treasure ” ———-

The hardest part of any challenge is taking the first step. The rest is easy!

Doing and completing the challenge is the most intense part of the journey, as you enter into the task or situation wholeheartedly. Be in the moment, fine tune existing skills and grow from new experiences, then whatever the outcome, you will have found success.

Last but not least is the celebrating and reflecting back on the challenge. This is a really important part of the process and surprisingly few people make time for it.

Before setting off from San Francisco (for LP, Ems, Izz and I), Hawaii (for Lizanne) and Samoa (for Meg), we all had to write down our hopes and fears for our Pacific challenge ahead. We needed to think about what they meant to us and then we had to share them with each other.
I am going to share my main ones with you:

1. Happily, safely and successfully complete the full expedition
2. Indeed prove that the power of the mind and strength of human spirit is the most positive thing you can access and tap into to get through anything that life throws your way.
3. The success of the journey is used to further enrich my life and I can take the insights gained to empower others.
4. We achieve everything we set out to do as a united team

1. The stress I’m possibly putting my family under.
2. Capsizing whilst on the oars
3. Injury that means I cannot continue with the row and will therefore let my team down.

Some hopes and fears differed but some were the same such as successful completion of the row, capsizing, putting family under stress and remaining a strong, united team on completion of the challenge.

We all had to deal with people telling us we were crazy for attempting this challenge and I think for most people a little fear and incomprehension shrouded all their thoughts about the expedition. The fact that we are unsupported, rowing an unbelievably great distance, only sleeping for 2 hour shifts, living in such a confined space, 4 women in the same boat, no proper toilet or shower facilities, 6-9 months at sea, fighting the elements etc etc

This is an almighty challenge for all of us and, to be honest, I don’t think we realise quite what an undertaking it is yet. For now, however, we live this existence every day and we find small daily challenges within this gigantic one.

A sense of achievement comes from all matter of challenges and that’s also what creates those defining moments I spoke of a while ago. How else do we enrich our lives and that of others without being the best we can be? Where would we be without challenges?

Aunty Linda and her incredible swimming students (as mentioned by Ems in her last blog) have taken on their own Pacific and have already reached their virtual Cairns, and my brother has taken on his own metaphorical Pacific by project managing a complicated building renovation. He is yet to make it to Hawaii.

From running a marathon, hitting sales targets for the month to making it through the first round of chemotherapy or making that first public speech in front of a large group of people, we have always said that we all have our own Pacific to cross. What’s yours? x


Leg 2, Day 65 – Many Miles

Emma MitchellBy

Leg 2, Day 65 – Many Miles

Yesterday we passed an impressive milestone. Doris has now covered over 5000 miles since our first outing in Christchurch almost two years ago. Adventures to the Isle of Wight, sea survival in Plymouth, a 24 hour row in Falmouth and plenty of training out of Christchurch made up the miles before we reached San Francisco. Since then she has experienced strong winds, torrential rain, burning sun and still clear night skies. She has seen whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and many birds. She has been our home for 149 days, taken good care of us and we’ve had many laughs and jokes and a few tears on board. In the next day or two we will also pass the 5000 nautical miles since San Francisco and the 2000 nautical miles since we departed from Hawaii markers.

It is hard to imagine or explain exactly how far our journey actually is but one school have found a great way to experience it for themselves. During leg one I blogged about how inspired we were to hear about a sponsored swim happening at a swim school run by Meg’s Auntie Linda. They were swimming one length for each mile of our journey and before we had reached Hawaii they had already reached their virtual Samoa. A couple of days ago Wellesley House School where the swim school is based held a final sponsored swim to reach virtual Australia. With Meg there to support the school pulled together and after a four hour long sessions, at 7pm, they arrived in Australia. Many of the pupils swam double sessions and the top swimmer swam 140 lengths. The head teacher came and swam 100 lengths and those who didn’t swim counted lengths and were on drink duty. Having known the date of this challenge for a while we thought of the swimmers during our night shifts as they swam and knowing that they wouldn’t stop until they reached their Australia were inspired to push just that little bit harder despite the current and tiredness. It is humbling to think that we have inspired young people to challenge themselves and are grateful for their help in raising money for our charities.

We have an ambitious fundraising target to reach to provide support for our charities Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded and we need your help. Do you have any ideas for covering the 8446 miles of our journey (you could add on a few if you like to cover our unplanned visit to Santa Barbara) in a sponsored event? Could you help us to provide support to those suffering from breast cancer and their families? Could you help to support an injured servicewoman build a new future? Please get in touch at info@coxlesscrew.com and let us know your fundraising ideas. If you are a school and want to get involved in our schools project then email us at schools@coxlesscrew.com.

UPDATE: Last night saw an end to the clear skies and bright moonlit rowing shifts. With heavy cloud cover and a freezing cold two hour shower for LP and I the night was dark and cool. However without a breath of wind for much of the time the ocean rolled gently like silk around us and we continued to make progress South when not stuck in a squall of wind. As changeover time arrived and I was about to exit the cabin wearing my damp kit for another two hours on the oars Nats and LV hushed us and we could hear a pod of whales passing close by. In the darkness we couldn’t see them but we could hear blowing and a gentle whistling sound as they came up for air. It was another magical moment on the Pacific. Today we appear to have come across a northerly current so are back to making painfully slow progress. We wouldn’t want it to be too easy after all!


Leg 2, Day 64 – A blog about blogs

Laura PenhaulBy

Day 64 – A blog about blogs

A number of you have kindly asked us questions in emails or in our blog comments, as to ‘when do we find the time to blog?’, ‘where do you get the inspiration about what to write?’, ‘when do you start thinking about your blog?’etc. so I thought I’d take inspiration from you all and use this time to answer your questions.

As you may now know, we rotate around the team writing a blog each day, so that we only need to write one every 4 days. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we have no idea what to write about and it feels a little arduous, but truth be told, I think writing the blogs has been a blessing, as it creates a natural distraction from the monotony of row, eat, sleep, repeat. Sometimes we have the ‘planned blogs’ where we’ve thought of a number of subjects we want to write about and have 3 or 4 lined up before it gets to our turn. Other times it will be a ‘reflective blog’ where in the preceding 3 days it occupies some thinking time whilst on the oars and therefore helps a 2hr shift fly by.

Alternatively, there is the ‘wing it blog’, when literally in the last 2hr off shift you still have no idea what you’re going to write until you pick up the iPad and start typing. Finally, there’s the ‘event blogs’ when you’re lucky enough to have something significant happen on your blog day, whether that’s an animal sighting, a storm or a key milestone achieved.

With regards to the timing of writing our blogs, this comes down to our 2 awake shifts, giving us less than 4hrs to fit it in amongst the other chores. Thankfully, being a great team, we look out for each other and often the one that isn’t blogging, will make the food and run the water maker to save time. This leaves just eating, washing and reading our emails coming in, before we can settle in to writing our blog.

Once our blog is written, we tend to do ‘story time’ for the other team mates on the oars, which is usually during the sunset shift or before depending on timing. This entails propping one self up by the aft cabin so to face the rowers and also the team mate in the cabin can hear. The blog is then read out which also gives a chance for correction of any mistakes and/or additional comments to add from the rest of the team.

The iridium Go is then run so that we can send/receive emails for the second time that day, it would be our night time so equivalent of your early morning (approx. 7am UK time). Often the sending of the blog runs over into our first sleep shift, so once the routine of logbook, talcing and sudocreme application is complete, silk liners laid out and alarm set, the blogger will lay reclined and the light off so that the team mate can snooze. Then the blogger will lay out with an arm outstretched by the hatch so that the iridium go aerial can face up to the sky. If a picture is being sent, this can often take many attempts and up to an hour, leaving just 15-30mins of snooze time before being back on the oars.

The comments and emails we receive from you all is really humbling and running the iridium go to receive emails into our inbox is honestly what we look forward to each day. Our support team back home will post us a copy of your blog or Facebook comments and then in our row partners, one of us reads the messages aloud to the other. Simon TY, JG, Jim Andrews, Andrea Herr to name a few, thank you for your unrelenting support since day 1, your comments make us feel connected to you and closer to home than what we really are. Emails received from people we have yet to meet but send us regular updates, I.e. Mike Fenwick and Aunty Linda thank you. There are also those we may never meet but send us a fleeting email to let us know they are reading and following and have been influenced by what we’re doing, we are truly humbled to think we can touch anyone’s lives, so thank you for letting us know. What is strange and difficult for us, is to have this one way relationship with you all, receiving amazing emails and messages from afar but not having the ability to return our thanks. Please know we do appreciate every comment or email we receive and we hope that one day on land we can get back to you with a personal thank you.

UPDATE: Don’t say it too loud or it might come back but we seem to have had a let up in the strong westerly current over the last 24 hours and have been able to make progress South! Woop woop about time! We appear to be in sperm whale territory at the moment. The other night on the stroke of midnight Lizanne and Ems were visited by a large pod of sperm whales swimming all around close to the boat. It was magical to see them by the light of a full moon and a really special moment. Early this morning Laura and Ems saw another pod of these beautiful whales with their big stubby noses swimming past Doris. We also watched a group of masked boobies and frigate birds catching their breakfast. We have had the most beautiful couple of nights rowing under a clear sky with the horizon lit up by a huge bright moon. Sadly there was no sign of an eclipse over here and we think it must have been over before our night time.


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

Meg DyosBy

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


Leg 2, Day 62 – Prepping for Pancakes


Day 62 – Prepping for Pancakes

There’s a saying in Afrikaans that goes “n boer maak n plan”. Quite literally that means “a farmer makes a plan”, although it’s not referring to literal farmers but locally a ‘boer’ is a word describing Afrikaans people and so is referring to the resourceful nature, persistence and perseverance of the South Africans. I perhaps shouldn’t be talking like this seeing as the rugby World Cup is going on and I heard SA lost to Japan?!! But alas, it’s a small saying that has big impact. It has been poignant in my life as I’ll generally look for ways to adapt when life throws a curve ball.

I don’t mean to bore you again with the same news, but we are STILL going West, and we desperately need to make some headway South very soon. The current and wind has been relentless and is making every rowing shift difficult as it feels like we’re rowing through treacle.

“Control the controllables” Keith, our sports psych always says, so in attempt to lift the mood I dug out our ready made pancake mix and baking tray. During my reflective time on the oars recently I have been contemplating two things; what I’m going to do with the fish when I catch it, and what the best way would be to make the pancakes. It’s important stuff!image1 (13)

So onto the making of pancakes a couple of days ago. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s how it went…

Two Tupperware
Three plastic sporks (or whatever utensils you have)
Baking tray
Jet boiler
Readymade pancake mix
Nutella (essential)
Oil (we used the almond oil that collected at the top of our almond butter)

This is best done on a scorching hot day when your rowing partner has got to write their blog as there will be limited movement and disturbance in the cabin… Thanks Emma,

Preheat baking tray to (as hot as it will get) degrees by leaving it out in the sun, on the side opposite to where the waves are splashing.

Once all your utensils and ingredients are set out to take up most of the space around you in the small cabin, taste the Nutella just to make sure it’s still ok…

Scoop a spoon full of almond oil with spork 1, avoiding the almond butter and pour onto baking tray and spread out evenly over middle section of tray. Leave in the sun to heat for about 10mins (if you’re time conscious like we are). Ideally longer would yield better results.

Into Tupperware 1 put a few scoops of pancake mix, add water and mix until you have desired consistency. Seeing as we won’t be able to get the heat up very high a thinner consistency is advisable as to avoid a thick uncooked middle. Check Nutella again, still ok.

Fill the jetboil with a cup of water and turn it on waiting until water starts to boil. Bring the heat down to a simmer and place the jetboil underneath the baking tray to allow the steam to heat the tray further. Once it’s hot, pour some pancake mix onto the oil covered area of the tray.

Once the pancake mix is spread out into a thin layer with spork 2, cover it with Tupperware 2. This creates a kind of ‘greenhouse effect’ around the pancake mix which will act like a steamer.
(……and you thought you’d never use all those science experiments at school!!)

Test pancake readiness by prodding with finger. If it separates it’s not ready yet.

To remove pancake from baking tray, use a Coxless Crew postcard. It’s a perfect spatula size and wonderfully thin which causes pancake to stay intact.

No need to flip the pancake as it has been steamed from the top already. With spork 3 apply toppings. Nutella still ok? Yep, still fine.

Topping choices:

  1. Nutella (thank the stars for Nutella)
  2. Almond or peanut butter with Nutella
  3. Dried fruit with Nutella

Sadly I burnt my leg with the hot water during my science experiment which meant that the rest of pancake day will resume on a different day when the sea state allows. Leg is fine, stuck it in the sea and it has been wrapped in cellophane like a chicken fillet for the past few days, all fine now.

UPDATE:  I’ve been learning a bit of Spanish from a podcast and Nat giving me lessons. I’m back on the oars with her which means lessons resume. Vamos!

Lizanne x


Leg 2, Day 61 – Day & Night

Natalia CohenBy

Day & Night

Whenever we need help, hope, inspiration or strength, we naturally look up. I’m not sure if that upwards glance is to connect with the ‘presence’ or ‘universal energy’ we all believe in (in whatever form that comes) or by looking to the heavens above we feel the space to breathe and the opportunity to clear our minds. The one thing that connects us all no matter our destination or circumstance, is the sky and atmosphere surrounding it. I have never spent so much time studying the sky as I have out here in the almighty Pacific and I have developed a deeper adoration and amazement for what is so freely on offer to us all and that embodies the impermanence of everything. Daytime
I’ve always been a fan of the blue sky as it gives a good bright light and background colour to photos and makes any place seem happier and more alive. However, I do also believe that a cloudscape helps to add drama to a landscape and also aids in producing some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. One of our favourite pastimes out on the oars is cloud watching.

So much so in fact, that we decided that we were going to create a cloud appreciation society on our return and were completely dismayed to find that someone has beaten us to it!!

Shapes, sizes and textures constantly shift, merge and break. Huge towers climb upwards and wispy tufts streak across the sky. Cloud colours Include white and varying hues of grey and blues during the day and pinks, oranges and reds during sunrise and sunsets.


There are numerous types of cloud and although I am yet to educate myself on all of them (which would be an amazing thing to know)…here are a handful I can share:

– Cumulus – are the fluffy cotton wool type of clouds that drift happily across the sky on sunny days. Normally this type of cloud does not produce rain and so they are also known as fair- weather clouds. They can however form a tall tower which is then known as a Cumulus Congestus and can give short showers.

– Stratocumulus – is the most widespread of all cloud types. This is a low layer or patch of cloud and normally what you see when the sky is overcast. Stratocumulus comes in many varieties and can be thick whereby it blocks the sun or moon completely, has more than one layer, is quite wave like in appearance, or thin and therefore shows the outline of the sun or moon.

– Cirrus – are those beautiful clouds that form the tufted wispy streaks and are usually found high in the sky. These usually turn an iridescent pink during our sunsets out here.

– Stratus – is the continuous horizontal sheet of cloud that forms and more than often comes with rain. We’ve seen a lot of these in the doldrums.

Rather than point at clouds and shout “look, a stratocumulus opacus”, we do what everyone else does and find as many shapes, forms and stories as we can hidden in the clouds.

LP and I are definitely the main cloud namers. Between us we have seen elephants, dogs, cats, mice, angels, robots, rabbits and camels, to name a few. We had a cat and dog, one in front of each other, watching the sunset one evening and I have seen a couple dancing the tango, with the woman’s leg placed high on the man’s shoulder.
Leading on from the lack of testosterone theme of my last blog, we have on more than a few occasions also spotted certain male body parts shaped clouds!

Daytime treats in the sky include: – rainbows – birds (Boobies, Frigates, Terns, Petrels, Shearwaters)
– sun halos Nighttime The cycle of the moon creates variety for us at night out here in the middle of nothingness.
With a new moon and clear sky, the galaxy stretches above us shining infinite starlight down upon us. The more you stare, the more you see. As the moon waxes (gets bigger) or wanes (gets smaller) you get varied skies and light. With a full moon our oceanic world is lit up as if a giant torch is shining on and around Doris and everything from the waves and clouds to the dolphins and whales are more easily seen. Only the brightest of the constellations are visible and depending on the moon’s position we are either bathed in small moonlight sparkles or are rowing in a white gold shining pathway.
When we have agreeable sea state, night time rows are some of my favourite times to be out on the oars.
A simple highlight during a night shift is either seeing a boat (has only happened 3 times this leg) or an airplane. On spotting an airplane, someone usually cries “airplane, airplane!” while explaining the direction to look and then waiting for confirmation from the other rower. Once both have see the flying object there is always great excitement and a chorus of “yaaayyy!”
I think it’s just good knowing that there are indeed other life forms out here…as most of the time it feels like we are all alone.

Nighttime treats in the sky include:
– moon halos – shooting stars
– satellites
– strange unidentifiable lights
– airplanes

*Make time when you can every day to stop and contemplate the sky and then think of us. Also remember, that however thick or dark the clouds, there is always blue sky and sunshine or stars and moon above them. Stay strong. Keep positive. Be happy x

Light on oar

As if the universe knew I was writing this blog, tonight LV and I were treated to the most magnificent night sky. An almost full moon was surrounded by a burnt orange thick halo, thin cloud and then around the halo was a rainbow (moonbow?!) Surrounding the moon was an impressive collection of small broken clouds creating a patchwork effect. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it looked almost other worldly. It was magical.

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