Day 52 – Rowing with SPIRIT

Emma MitchellBy

Day 52 – Rowing with SPIRIT

We have mentioned our team values in many of our blogs as they are something that we work to on Doris on a daily basis. Strength, Perseverance, Integrity, Resilience, Inspiration and Trust make up our team SPIRIT. Before we left the UK we blogged about these values and what they meant to us, however I have been reflecting on exactly how we are living these values and what they actually look like on board a 29ft ocean rowing boat.

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Strength – The strength of our team and supporting each other in those moments when we are feeling less strong is key to life on Doris. Physical strength is also obviously important when rowing for 12 hours a day and committing to this rowing in a positive way when we are feeling tired and achy is another type of strength. Physical strength has extended recently now that we have started to develop bums,session claw hand and loose our grip strength. It is getting harder to open and close the hatch handles, Nat can no longer get the SD cards out of the cameras or open the charging port on the iPad and my responsibilities on board have extended to the important job of opener of Laura’s chocolate pudding.

Perseverance – We have had to channel a lot of perseverance since we left San Francisco with unexpected stopovers, adverse winds and currents and over 30 days of rowing at less than 1knot. We are all pretty good at never giving up and searching for a solution to the problems we encounter. Perseverance also rears its head in other day to day activities such as the daily snack pack rummage. Nat is the queen of the rummage pulling out more and more packs from the hatch in the belief that somewhere in there is the snack pack of her dreams. We are also persevering on a nightly basis in our mission to save as many flying fish as possible. During the night we end up with literally up to a hundred small blue dragon like fish landing on our boat. Sometimes you hear them flapping around and you rush to try to pick them up and drop them overboard in time. The other day in one two hour shift 4 fish landed in my lap, one hit me in the head and another on the shoulder. I think I managed to save 3 of them. After the distress of the first morning seeing Doris look like a flying fish graveyard we are all working hard on our fish saving skills. Alan our autopilot also deserves a mention here as he is currently persevering at trying to hold us on a bearing now that we have slowed to a painfully slow pace again stuck in a northerly current.

Integrity – Out in the Pacific when sharing a 29ft space with three other people there is no room, for being anything other than your real self. It is refreshing to be completely open and vulnerable with the rest of the team and see how this contributes to our effectiveness as a team. Likewise there is no room in our cosy home for any unsaid pebbles in shoes or hiding your feelings about things. The work we did with Keith before leaving the UK got us used to giving feedback to each other and receiving this feedback in an open manner. In our occasional moments of annoyance things are aired in the open and then we move on straight away with no hard feelings or grudges, trusting that our team is still strong. It makes life so much simpler and is definitely something I will try to carry over into the real world. On a weekly basis we complete a situation report to send to Keith where we rate things like physical, mental, health and sleepiness as well as reflecting on anything that is keeping us up at night. This gives us the opportunity to discuss any issues we are going through either as a team or individually.

Resilience – When discussing before the row what resilience meant to us as a team we came up with reliability, a can do attitude, never giving up and a belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Again we have had plenty of situations so far which have required all of these characteristics. I add to these the ability to keep our sense of humour no matter what the ocean can throw at us. I’m sure I’ve said this before but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much, as consistently as we have out here on the Pacific. It is obvious that the mood in our team remains positive and we are all committed to completing what we have started.

Inspiration – During our journey so far we have all drawn inspiration from a number of areas. Our BAM wall is one of these and in any low moments a trip to the fore cabin to lie back and look up at the hundreds of names of people who are supporting us inspires all of us to get back out there on the oars. The work of our two amazing charities Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded and the resilience of the people who they support is also a huge inspiration to us and we are proud to be able to give something back to them through our fundraising efforts. Similarly our ambassadors have all inspired us through their achievements and leave us knowing that you can never achieve anything without hard work, dedication and a belief in your end goal. We hope that by sharing our journey through these blogs and later with our documentary we will be able to show people that you can achieve anything that you put your mind to and inspire them to take on whatever challenges are thrown at them.

Trust – Out here on the ocean we are each other’s main support network and together are our own little ocean going family. For our team to work so well it is important that we trust each other fully to take responsibility for our roles on the boat and to take care of ourselves. On a purely safety basis this is obviously important but equally we trust each other enough to know that endless help and support is right there if needed and that we can rely on each other to do what we say we will. Other forms of trust on Doris include the trust in our boat that she can surf the waves and take care of us in big seas. Trust that the jet boil will work and allow us to cook our meals every day. Trust that all of our electronics and communications equipment will continue to work. Probably most importantly, trust that there are some things that happen on Doris that will stay on Doris, for example photos of shower time!!


Day 51 – Preparations for Hawaii

Laura PenhaulBy

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


Day 50 – Blame it on the weatherman

Isabel BurnhamBy

Day 50 – Blame it on the weatherman

We’ve heard that there is a bit of a heatwave in the UK at the moment. As I explained in my day 46 blog, we’ve been learning to live with some serious sunshine out on the Pacific as well of late, until about 72 hours ago. And then the rains came.

On Monday evening, just as the sunset shift was ending, the skies started looking an ominous grey colour and the wind picked up. Laura and I took over for the first night shift and the heavens opened. The whole of Monday night and much of yesterday was spent rowing through a series of mini rain storms. Out on Doris’s exposed deck, we are completely at the will of the elements. Looking out of the cabin on Monday night and yesterday you could see two figures sitting at the oars, trying their best to hide inside their wet weather gear, with the hoods pulled down over their heads to the eyes and the necks pulled up to under their noses. Laura and I wear glasses to row at night and soon could see nothing for all the water droplets on them, so were rowing blind.

The rain didn’t manage to dampen our spirits though, and the night shifts were spent singing as many songs as possible which mention the weather. Take it from me, there are a lot. While the continuous rain can get miserable, the warmer temperatures now mean that we don’t get too cold and a wash with fresh water is lovely, removing all the salt that has collected onto Doris’s deck, our skin, clothing and life jackets. The feeling of freshness is, however, very short lived, as the 12-15kt winds mean that we are still being splashed by waves crashing over the boat.

Today we are celebrating 50 days at sea since Santa Barbara (66 since San Francisco) and the rain has made me realise how lucky we have been so far to avoid much rain, or any storms. Today we are back to bright bright sunshine, another reminder of just how changeable conditions on the Pacific are.

In other news, we have started to receive a lot of visitors, particularly at night, as flying fish have started to land all over Doris. Most are tiny, 2-3cm, but the other night Laura was hit by one that was about 15cm. We have read that they can grow to be as big as 1.5 ft! Each morning as the sun rises we have to go about the process of picking them off the boat. They have a bluish tinge and dragon-like wings. We have seen the larger ones gliding through the air and they go a remarkably long way. Today we are joined by shoals of beautiful mahi-mahi, with their bright light blue bodies and yellow tails.

The last couple of nights two fast moving shearwaters have also been circling very low around the boat, close to the rowers. They make me jump when then fly by unexpected, but it’s great fun to be seeing more wildlife again and to have them so near.


Day 49 – Our Best Year Yet!

Natalia CohenBy

Day 49 – Our Best Year Yet!

Update: In the last 24 hours we’ve been treated to the highest winds we’ve had since leaving Santa Barbara. Intermittent squalls have come with dark, menacing clouds, driving rain and waves faintly visible by the misty moonlight coming at us from all angles.
Safe to say we’re all wet again but not quite as cold as we were. We are thankful for some fresh water to rinse out our salt encrusted wet weather gear but find that as soon as that happens, we get dumped on by yet another saltwater wave undoing all the good work! However, yet again, we remain in high spirits and still laugh at ourselves and with each other. Why?

I am truly dumbfounded and quite frankly astounded by how the 4 of us have dealt with life over the last 49 (or 65 from San Fran) days.
Why have we not wanted to kill one another?
Why have we not had moments of complete frustration with how long this leg is taking us?
Why are we not completely delirious from sleep exhaustion?
Why do we never complain about getting up every two hours to go and sit on the oars in driving rain, pitch black darkness, rough sea state, cold or hot conditions?
Why are we still joking, laughing, looking after each other and in essence…working amazingly well together as a team?

There are definitely a number of reasons…but for now I want to share one of them with you.

I love how there is a universal order to how things happen in life.
2 serendipitous moments led us to working with the amazing Andrew Duncan at New Level Results to create a Best Year Yet programme that has helped streamline us as a team and get to the start line as well as how we are functioning out here on the Pacific.

Flash back to 2001 when I was working in Nepal and I met a group of people who had just come back from the most successful summiting of Mount Everest in history. They had broken 4 World Records and their elation at conquering the roof of the world was incredible. First blind man to summit, oldest man to summit, first father/son team to summit and most people to summit at any one time.
Turns out that they had been following a Best Year Yet programme.

Flash back to 2012 when I was working in Mallorca and my path crossed with Andrew and we spent a few hours talking about values and with the aid of his value cards I had to whittle down 10 of my top important life values into only one.

Andrew and I remained friends and reconnected in the UK when I got involved with the row. Turns out that the programme offered by Andrew was the glue that allowed us to put procedures firmly in place and gave us a solid framework to follow to improve our effectiveness as a team – vital to the success of the expedition.

Although we are all very different characters, we are able to work really well together as we have a shared objective and shared values. This is very important.
We’ve always had clear objectives.
Best Year Yet (BYY) helped us set out our objectives, our top 10 goals and prioritise what needed to be done. It was just what we needed to keep all our admin together in one tidy and effective package.
We needed an online system that would not take up too much of our time and would help us all focus on the job at hand and keep us all on track. It made each of us accountable for championing certain areas and get results!

The other great thing about the program is that we have an external coach/facilitator work with us. They are objective, there is no personal tie to the project and they can offer a unique professional perspective.

Our project has been in 2 stages:
Stage 1 – Getting to the start line Essentially setting up a business. We had to deal with areas including sponsorship, PR/Media/Marketing, logistics, finances, legal and admin
Stage 2 – Successful crossing of the Pacific, the expedition

Below are some of the guidelines we came up with for Stage 2.

Coxless Guidelines
1. Believe in yourself, trust in each other and the strength of the team
2. Row with SPIRIT (our values)
3. Be unstoppable, stroke by stroke

Coxless Paradigm
Control the controllable and conquer our Pacific

Major Focus
Enjoy the journey! Live in the moment

Inspiring and encouraging others to reach their full potential is exactly what New Level Results and BYY aim to do through their programmes and is also exactly what our expedition is all about. A HUGE thank you to Andrew and the team and we look forward to our next review in Hawaii! We’re certainly doing our best to ensure we all enjoy the journey x



Day 48 – Rowing is my happy place (and the answers to the quiz)

Emma MitchellBy

Day 48 – Rowing is my happy place (and the answers to the quiz)

I started rowing at Marlow Rowing Club when I was 15 and have pretty much been rowing ever since. Before starting this row I declared that rowing was my happy place and I would enjoy being on the oars more than in the cabin. This has almost always been the case. It is regatta season back at home right now and for the first time in many years I am not spending my weekends competing at Dorney lake or Henley and am instead rowing a very different kind of boat in very different conditions. Yesterday I was wearing my Marlow rowing Lycra on the oars and thinking about the differences between river rowing and ocean rowing….


The first and very obvious difference is in the boats. In river rowing we race in nice light sculls which you can pick up and carry on your shoulder. Doris weighs over a tonne and requires either a travel lift or a slipway and some careful trailer manoeuvring to get her on the water. Doris moves slowly and feels heavy when in still water and only comes into her own when surfing big waves. After rowing in waves the size of 4 storey buildings and being constantly soaked in sea water I will never again complain about choppy water on the Bristol Docks, wind over stream on the river at Marlow or Henley or getting splashed by a certain doubles partner! Having said that a sculling boat goes fastest on flat water and I’m excited to get back in a boat where it feels like effort put in results in more boat speed rather than being at the mercy of the tide, currents and wind.

Technique gets you a long way in river rowing. Getting your catches in quickly and perfectly in time can win you a race and posture, balance and finesse are the aims for every session. On Doris especially in big waves like those we are experiencing today technique is some what overrated. Sometimes the water is there and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you manage to stay in time and sometimes a wave grabs your oar and either almost ejects you from the front of the boat or jams you in the stomach, knee or shin. In ocean rowing keeping your oars as high off the water as possible is a good thing. I think I am well suited to ocean rowing. Several coaches have previously told me my slow catches make it look like I stop for a cup of tea. In Doris drinking tea on the oars is one of life’s pleasures especially on a night shift.


Steering a river rowing boat can be done by two methods. The easy one for the rowers is to get a cox to steer. The harder option is for one of the rowers to steer either using the oars or a rudder connected to one rowers shoe. There are plenty of nightmares to be had about not hitting the booms at Henley or hitting the cross harbour ferry on the Bristol docks. On Doris we also have two steering options. The first is our Raymarine autopilot which can either hold us on a bearing or navigate us to a waypoint we have entered on our chart plotter. This is the very easy method and all we have to do is row and keep an eye on our course over ground to ensure we are travelling on the course Tony has set. When rowing in adverse winds or currents as happened for the first 35 days out of Santa Barbara and moving too slowly for the autopilot we move the rudder using a hand held line which we can jam in place. This works well but can sometimes lead to levels of frustration similar to bouncing around your lane at Dorney rather than holding a straight course.

When you want to communicate with other boats on a river you tend to shout at them. When turning the boat around at the end of a lake or section of river there is the chance to sit next to another boat for a chat and a following coaching launch can shout instructions to you. However on the Pacific we talk to other boats using our VHF radio. At 3am this morning I was woken up by a call from a boat called Mokihana who had been following our journey and wanted to say hello. They had hoped to cross paths with Doris but ended up 13 miles away so couldn’t actually see us but it was amazing to speak to someone when we are 900 miles from the nearest landfall who knew who we were and what we were doing. They’ll be making the return trip from Long Beach to Hawaii in about 8 days time and hope to get a bit closer then.

So far since we have left San Francisco we have rowed over 2000nm and each rowed for over 700 hours. I reckon this adds up to at least one summers worth of rowing already and we haven’t even made it to our first stopover yet! Here’s hoping that rowing will still be my happy place by the time we get to Cairns!

Answers to the Coxless quiz below…

1) Nat is the one with many accents although a lot of them are very silly. I find it really hard not to end up speaking back to her in my own ridiculous accent every time we are on shift together.

2) I have to admit that it was me who lost my Tupperware overboard in a butterfingers moment. I also managed to throw Laura’s mug away when trying to be really nice and wash it up for her.

3) Laura and Izzy are the two who can’t dress themselves at night. At any low moment I only have to think of watching through the hatch door as Laura tried desperately to get her head through her leggings while Nat watched and it makes me giggle.

4) Nat is the one with the bizarre food tastes. In the last few days she has taken to adding protein shake to almost everything she eats.

5) Izzy is definitely both the one who sings the most and the most tunefully. The prize for the least tuneful rendition of a song probably goes to Miss Penhaul and Miss Cohen’s version of Titanium!

6) Laura is our biggest wildlife fan and I haven’t ever heard someone use the same noise you would associate with calling a cute puppy to calling a 45ft whale or a shark.

7) Laura – Freddie, Emma – Shaun, Nat – Sally and Izzy – Bono

8) Izzy is the team member who is most offended by the footwell.

9) Nat has the most ridiculously tanned hands although all of our arms are catching up now that we have some sun so we are slowly looking less silly.

10) It was Nat and I who got a faceful of water through the port hatch. We are now both too scared to open it and just suffer the sweatiness. LP is still the bravest with opening it so I predict she will be next!


Day 47- Introducing our famous peanut to the world

Laura PenhaulBy

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 ( 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 :).


Day 46 – Rowing By Numbers

Isabel BurnhamBy

Day 46 – Rowing By Numbers

As our journey continues and we inch closer to the Hawaiian Islands, it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid constantly thinking, discussing and dreaming about numbers. How many nautical miles have we travelled in the last 48 hours? How many more days will it take us to reach Honolulu if we can average a speed of 2 kts? How many more days of snack packs do we have left?
In keeping with this theme, I thought I would share some numbers with you.

0 – fish caught (this does not include squid and flying fish washing onto deck)

1 – Albert the albatross – our daily visitor and good luck charm

2 – starts – one from San Francisco on 20 April and one from Santa Barbara on 12 May following an unscheduled stop to resolve a problem with our battery charging system caused by water damage

3 – buckets on board – red bucket, black bucket, washing bucket

4 – boats seen in the last 3 weeks, all cargo ships

5 – girls on the Pacific – Izzy, Laura, Emma, Natalia and Doris

6 – majestic whales that swam alongside Doris on 18 June

7 – our top speed – 7.4kts reached surfing big waves

8 – times each crew member has called home since 20 April

9 – items of clothing currently hanging off Doris drying in the sun

10 – times we have listened to Nat’s cheesy RnB/HipHop playlist

13 – hair washes aboard Doris

16 – days at sea between San Francisco and Santa Barbara

17 – movies/books retold as entertainment for the other rower on the oars in a night shift: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hitch, Gladiator, Pride and Prejudice, Cool Runnings, The Proposal, Notting Hill, Braveheart, Les Miserables, The Holiday, Good Will Hunting, Forrest Gump, The Notebook, Top Gun, The Book Thief

46 – days at sea since we left Santa Barbara

62 – total days at sea

248 – 2000kcal snack packs consumed

283 – times we have boiled our Jetboil stove to make our freeze dried meals or hot drinks

348 – 2 hour shifts rowed by each rower since San Francisco

696 – times our alarm clock has gone off

750 – grams of of talcum powder used

1420 – nautical miles rowed since we left Santa Barbara (this value will differ slightly from that on our website as our onboard GPS tracks us continually while the Yellowbrick tracker which provides the data for our website polls every 4 hours)

1930 – nautical miles rowed since we left San Francisco

2784 – litres of water drunk

7926 – diameter of the Earth in miles

8446 – total number of miles Doris will travel from the USA to Australia

70300 – number you can text DORIS to (in the UK) to donate £3 to our amazing charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care


Day 45 – The Inspiration Wall

Natalia CohenBy

Day 45 – The Inspiration Wall

Update: – Less than 990 miles to go to Hawaii!! Yeeeehhhaaaaaa!
– We are all getting really dodgy tan lines!

As well as being the ‘entertainer’ aboard Doris, I am also the mindfulness monitor. I am responsible for ensuring that we all enjoy as many of the moments out here that we can, or at least reflect on the journey so far and find the time to think about daily highlights and lowlights, hopes and fears.
From time to time I’ll throw a random question out to the girls or suggest we do a body scan or just stop rowing and watch the orange globe sink behind the sea to end another day or drink in a star filled sky.

The one luxury we do have out here is time…and plenty of it. Time to be practical, ridiculous, to ponder, to reflect, to think and to stop thinking.
One of the ‘easy’ questions I’ve been asking the girls is, “what is the most important thing in life for you?”

I don’t have my definitive answer yet and apart from the usual replies of love, happiness, family, talc powder (!!) the one thing that stands out for me is that I have always made an effort in my life to enjoy the journey. During the different eras and experiences that I have had, apart from the natural beauty and energy of a place, the highlight for me has always been the people that I have met along the way.

Whether for a reason, a season or a lifetime, most of the people that have crossed my path have had an impact on my journey of life. Whilst having the time to recount all these personal life stories out here in the middle of the deep blue, I find myself following many of the names of a person who features in a story with,

“They’re on the wall”.


The wall being referred to is our ‘Buy A Mile inspiration Wall’. This is the ceiling of our fore cabin that is covered with the names of all our followers, family and friends. The names are all different sizes depending on how many miles a person has bought (£10 per mile and the more miles you buy, the bigger your name).

This wall of names is our inspiration, our drive, our motivation and for some of us, almost a condensed version of the people that have touched our lives and those we hope to still meet. I have been truly humbled and at times felt totally in awe of the support that we have received not only on a personal level from people that I know but also by the incredible generosity from random strangers as well as the friends and colleagues of the other girls.

We do not have words to express our deepest gratitude for your support and the money that has gone into Buy A Mile (BAM), has been instrumental to getting us here where we are today and will hopefully help us to complete this extraordinary expedition.
We are happy and honoured to not only have each of you in spirit, but also to have your name physically share in our long, arduous journey riding the waves of the mighty Pacific with us!

I can safely say that almost everyone that has touched my heart, features on the BAM wall and there is something quite magical about lying beneath it and drinking in all the love and support.
In difficult times, I know that this will be a great source of energy for me.

There will be many more BAM blogs to come from all of us over the coming months as we all have our own stories to share of friendships, inspiration, romance and insight gained by people that feature on the wall.
In the meantime, to those of you that are already travelling with us – THANK YOU, and to those that would still like to be part of the journey from Hawaii or from Samoa, we very much look forward to having you join us x



Day 44 – The Coxless Quiz!

Emma MitchellBy

Day 44 – The Coxless Quiz

It’s Coxless quiz time!

Life on Doris is mainly very repetitive interspersed with moments of pure hilarity, complete peace, grinning happiness and exhilaration. Excitingly we’ve had two consecutive days where we have travelled our furthest yet miles in the right direction. The sun is out and in comparison to the first half of this leg we are flying along towards Hawaii with high spirits amongst the team. We’ve been writing our daily blogs for over two months now and have hopefully given you a bit of an idea of what it’s like to live on a 29ft ocean rowing boat as well as an insight into our different personalities. As such I have put together some ‘who dunnit?’ questions for you our followers. See if you can guess which of us was involved in each of the situations described below. A mystery prize might be in store for the first person to get all 10 questions correct. Answers to follow in my next blog.

1) We get variety and entertainment in our day in a number of ways on board Doris. One of us has taken to speaking in a ridiculous accent at all times? Depending on the accent of the day this can either be hilariously funny or slightly annoying. Who is the one with many voices?

2) There are many perilous jobs on Doris especially in rough conditions including washing up but which one of us stupidly managed to throw their Tupperware overboard on the calmest day we’ve had?

3) Sleep deprivation is a funny thing and getting up for each night rowing shift is like being woken unceremoniously in the middle of the night and it takes us a while to wake up properly. Which two of us have got their heads stuck in the leg of their leggings when mistaking them for a top while getting ready for the night shift?

4) Food is a hot topic on Doris and when on the oars we are always checking what the other pair are eating on their off shift. It’s been a while and we’re starting to get a bit inventive with our meals. Which one of us mixed an all day breakfast with a beef curry for dinner but thought it was disgusting when another of us ate toffee pudding with apple and custard?

5) We all love a good singsong on the oars and are working on Coxless Crew the musical with a few hit numbers such as ‘Glamorous’, ‘ Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me’ and ‘I see you baby talcing that arse’. Some of us are more tuneful than others but which of us sings the most?

6) We are really lucky so far on our journey to have seen a lot of different wildlife. Which team member has a generic call she uses to attract all animals from household pets to whales, dolphins, birds and turtles?

7) We all have a piece of sheepskin to put on our seats while rowing and have each named them. They are called Bono, Shaun, Sally and Freddie. Can you guess which belongs to each crew member?

8) The footwell in the aft cabin has many uses including washing, jetboiling, making water and storing our kit at night to name a few? However the area also tends to collect water, hair, sweet wrappers etc which particularly upsets one team member. Who is it that hates the footwell the most?

9) Until a few days ago for the majority of the time the backs of our hands were the only parts of us exposed to the sun while the rest of us was wrapped up in wet weather gear, hats, buffs and glasses. We all have very brown hands but who has the most tanned hands?

10) The last few days has seen a shift in conditions on Doris from cloudy and cool to hot and sunny. As such our cabin has turned into a very sweaty sauna. One way to let in some air is to open the port hatch a little. In the last couple of days two rowers have ended up with a faceful of seawater whilst doing this when an errant wave washed over the stern. Which rowers are in trouble with the hatch monitor? For a bonus point who is the hatch monitor?

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