The ocean within…

Natalia CohenBy

Nat free

As humans, we truly are incredible creatures. So resilient and adaptable it’s quite unbelievable. I fell back instantly into a monophasic sleeping pattern and have been dealing with what is essentially the culture shock of being back on land and surrounded by so many sounds, colours, sights, smells and people. It’s amazing to eat fresh produce but I’m not feeling overly inspired by other food. My body and my mind feel really tired and all I want to do right now is watch box sets and chill!

Every minute of every day was filled with one clear goal out on the ocean and now I am disorientated. It strangely feels as if the last 9 months was a dream.

Did it really happen?

I’m used to the sensation of eras feeling like a memory soon after they happen, but I have to be honest I never expected this one to disappear into the depths as quickly as this. I have felt detached and as if everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks has happened to someone else. Not to me. It’s really bizarre.

Now, with family and slowly beginning to see friends, I am finding that I do not really want to talk about the row. I want to hear about the lives of others and what their news is that they can share. I find the perception that others have of me odd and as I have not really had the opportunity to fully appreciate or reflect on the enormity of what has just been achieved, I am struggling to understand why people are so in awe of us.

All I know is that on a personal level I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the strength of human spirit and the power of the mind that we all have access to. Collectively we wanted to create awareness and raise funds for the women supported by our two charities Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded and make a difference (however small). What I never imagined is how our expedition would impact so many other people. How by sharing our story and experiences, others would be inspired to take on their own challenges and find the belief in themselves to follow these through.

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This has been unexpected and amazingly humbling.

Our work is far from over. We still have a long way to go with the fundraising and that is what our efforts need to be concentrated on right now.

As soon as I can make sense of how I am feeling, I really hope that I will gain a better insight into the impact we have had and what we have actually done. In the meantime all I know for sure is that the ocean has penetrated deeply into my soul. I feel in many ways that I am a part of her. I’ve been breathing and moving with her for the last 9 months, feeling her anger, her calm, her frustration, her overwhelming power, her flow of life and ever changing nature. For the brief times of hardship, there were countless moments of such breathtaking beauty and freedom out in the ocean and I know that what ever happens next, I will forever carry her and her lessons within me and always feel the pull to be near her. x

Ocean Beauty

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Love the life you live, live the life you love…

Meg DyosBy

Love the life you live, live the life you love

Golly, since stepping onto our business class flight in Cairns it’s been a whirlwind of craziness and finally today I am headed home to Kent! This really has been an experience like no other, and it’s just so great to know that people are so interested in what we have done. Every bit of interest means another potential donation for our chosen charities and that’s where our main focus now lies to get us to 250k. 

I was met at the airport by my boyfriend Will who has just been such an amazing support and we headed back to his in East London. On the tube, I couldn’t believe how stressed, unhappy or just disconnected and focused on their phones people looked. It really made me swear to myself that I don’t want to become this ever – I have definitely been any one of these people above before, but if there is one thing that the row has taught me it is to take everything stroke by stroke and control the controllables, and no matter what the situation, you will be able to face it. We have only one life, and I want to choose to love the life I live and live the life I love – and in anyway I can, live in the moment. After our media week I headed down to Bath to see my best friend. I also managed to catch up with Keith, our sports psych which was great to have a personal debrief on the last leg. Whilst Rose worked in the daytime I tried to chill, but my mind has been constantly busy since our return. How can I make my dreams of helping people to live in the moment and realise and live their own dreams and make money at the same time, a reality! If anyone has any suggestions or offers of employment in this area please do let me know meg@coxlesscrew.com

I write this blog whilst in the car driving home to Kent from the West Country with my sister Amy and I can’t believe how fast we are travelling with such little effort. In fact, it has baffled me re-entering real life how little we really have to exert ourselves to do anything. My bum is still sore, and I desperately miss the girls and the bubble that we lived in. So many people are asking questions forcing me to become nostalgic at all moments, and I stand by the fact that 95 percent of the time I just loved being out at sea. I still haven’t fully understood what we have achieved, but for now, that’s fine. I plan to roll with the waves and refuse to fully acknowledge real life for a little longer before accepting that rowing quite far away from land in a boat called Doris, is a beautiful memory.

Update: Today we travelled 125 miles by car in a three hour period. We saw a beautiful sunset across fields of green, and saw a dead fox. Looking at the English channel from land has never been so inviting – and yet, I just can’t wait to see all of my family on Sunday! 

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While you were away…..

Isabel BurnhamBy

I thought I’d use my blog this week to explain what it was like to see the rest of the team again after so long.

I last saw Laura, Nats, Ems and Lizanne in Hawaii at the end of July and Meg before she headed off to Samoa in November. Although I have spoken to them all during that time, actually seeing Laura, Nats, Ems and Meg walk through arrivals at Heathrow on Tuesday was a wonderful moment, although rather surreal. The rest of our week was extremely busy with media and team commitments. It was great to be together again, although Lizanne’s presence was very much missed. One of the highlights was being able to catch up with her briefly on Skype (we took a mini tour of her flat in South Africa and met her housemates, all while we were sitting at a computer in the canteen of the offices of The Times!).

In the midst of the media frenzy, it was difficult to relax and catch up properly with the girls. It felt rather like a return to the time before we set off from San Francisco when we were running around trying to get the project to the start line. This, combined with the fact that we are such good friends that it immediately felt like they had never been away, had the bizarre effect at times of making it feel like the row never happened at all! But then at other times, I would say something and be faced with a row of blank faces looking back at me and it would really bring home to me just how long Laura, Nat and Ems in particular have been away from the ‘real world’ for.  Although we were really grateful for the messages we received on the boat with updates on world news, it is difficult to keep a track of everything when you’re out on the ocean.  So, over the last few days, I have (rather poorly) provided potted summaries of some of the world news from the last 10 months: the refugee crisis, Bolt v Gatlin, the junior doctor strikes, the Paris attacks, the Rugby World Cup, the new Bond film, even Justin Beiber’s comeback and “who is Jeremy Corbyn?“.

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What’s next?

Emma MitchellBy

It has all been a bit of a whirlwind since touching down in the UK and there still hasn’t really been time to let it all sink in. It has been amazing to finally be at home with my family and have the chance to switch off and relax a bit. After such a long time isolated out on the ocean I have a stinking cold and my attempts to head out into the green countryside have been slightly hampered by weak legs and painful shin splints from walking on solid ground again. However the magic of being home is already working to help me feel better and we have given ourselves a couple of weeks to rest and recover properly at home before regrouping to crack on with our fundraising efforts. Who  knows I may even venture back out in a boat at Marlow Rowing Club at some point soon.  I am also job hunting and open to any exciting opportunities so if anyone has any good ideas then let me know! Personally I am hoping to visit schools around the country to talk to them about the row and what I have learnt from it and to encourage them to get involved in our charity fundraising as well as challenges of their own. Anyone who wants to get involved please get in touch at emma@coxlesscrew.com.

marlow-bridge-final

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Home Sweet Home

Laura PenhaulBy

Since arriving into Heathrow and receiving such a warm welcome from my wonderful family and friends, the week has flown by with a whirlwind of amazing media and meeting some lovely people and celebs. But regardless of all the hype and the make overs, there’s nothing better than being with family. First stop for me was to head down to Overton to stay with my brother and his family for a couple of days and more importantly spend some quality time with my gorgeous niece! Isla is now 3 years old and I think I can safely say she is one of the funniest people I know. Such a character and it was so special to have her run up to me as I got off the train after being away for so long. She certainly gives a great hug!

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From the first day I stepped onto Doris in San Francisco, I started dreaming of the time I would get home post row. If there were difficult times out there, one of my coping strategies I drew up with Keith our Sport Psych, was a distraction technique where I would mentally imagine the drive home from leaving the A30 to arriving at the front door. So last night when I was in the car with mum and dad and we were doing exactly the route I had envisaged over the last 9 months, once again the emotions hit me. Pulling up outside the front door, I was home sweet home in Cornwall, finally!
It was about 6pm when we got back and with the house in darkness I had no idea that unbeknown to me, my whole family were hiding inside to surprise me!

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Even my wonderful Auntie Marie (famous now for her amazing pasties!) was there with a pasty for us all and mine even had my name on it!

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The champagne flowed and I got a chance to catch up with my cousins and aunts and uncles before settling down in the evening to a log fire and just mum, dad and I in the lounge. Absolute bliss!

Today, mum & dad have been re-acquainted with the media when ITV Westcountry came round to our home to interview us. Note how my dad still has his slippers on! No wonder I used to be embarrassed at 14 years old when he would pick me up from an under 18’s nightclub and he’d be wearing these! Shocker! Now he’s on local tv wearing them, priceless!

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If you live in the South West, then it should be being aired tomorrow (Tuesday 9.2.16) in the ITV Westcountry news at 6pm. Tomorrow I’m also heading up to the BBC studios in Plymouth where I’ll be live on the couch for an interview after 6pm also, so keep an eye out on our social media twitter and facebook for more up to date timings.

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Going home for a while…

By

We had lots of fun on The Saturday Show this morning with Matt Barbet and Gaby Roslin before we all went our separate ways. The plan is for us to head home for a week to our respective families and give ourselves some time to reflect on the journey we have just completed.

This will be the first time we have been apart for the last 9 months!

The Saturday Show

UPDATE:

**Daily blogs to begin again on Monday**

All 6 of us will be writing over the next few weeks to keep you updated with our reflections, insights, comings and goings, ideas, events and readjustments to being back on land.

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Moving into the post-row world

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We have always said that this project was in 3 stages: (1) getting to the start line (2) crossing the Pacific (3) completing our fundraising and sharing our journey.  This week, we have been starting stage (3) in ernest.  This morning we had a break from the media whirlwind in the morning and, after a crew meeting over a coffee, we headed to the offices of Breast Cancer Care to catch up with the team there that have been such a great support to us.  It was lovely to see Sarah, Alice, Claire and Steve and also to meet the wider team at BCC and to share some of our stories with them.  We still have a huge amount of fundraising to do for Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded if we are to meet our £250,000 target, so we look forward to working with both charities over the coming months as the ‘post-row’ stage of our project continues.

Next stop was a meeting with Catherine Spencer of Inspiring Women and event manager Laura, who are presenting and organising our gala charity fundraising event.  We had a great brainstorm over a cup of tea and made some good plans.  We are so excited about our event, which we hope will be a high profile, glamorous celebration of our own Pacific crossing, adventure, sport and our wonderful charities.  We want to raise as much money as possible for Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded, so if you are reading this and think that you’d like to buy a ticket or a table, or sponsor or contribute to our event in ANY way at all, we’d LOVE to hear from you.  Please email info@coxlesscrew.com or catherine@inspiringwomen.co.uk.
Finally, Meg dashed off to appear on BBC Radio Kent and BBC South East.  She has a sore throat (that’s what being in the real world around other people will do for you!), but was a champion and did a fab job with a very husky voice.
Meg Radio Kent
This evening we are all in separate places: catching up with family, friends, preparing to get to a hen do, sorting things out in the office!  We need to get an early night to continue catching up on all our sleep – tomorrow morning will be another early start as we’re on the Saturday Show on Channel 5.
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Media frenzy!

By

It’s been an amazing couple of days. We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday evening to a reception of family and friends and it has been a media whirlwind ever since.

Arrival home

Yesterday started with Natalia visiting Radio 4 to speak on the Today Show and then we all headed to GSK Human Performance Lab for re-testing. We have been working with GSK HPL since the preparation stages of the row and we last saw them just before we departed for San Francisco in April when they did body composition, bone density and physiology testing on the team. Yesterday, we had the same tests performed and were able to see the changes to our bodies after 9 months at sea.

GSK

After GSK, we hot footed it over to the BBC and returned as guests on The One Show. It was great to see Alex and Matt again and to be back in the studio as The One Show have followed our journey from the start. We also go to meet Jack Black!  As a huge surprise, The One Show had made contact with Guinness World Records and announced to us live on air that our new World Records have been officially verified.  The Coxless Crew are the first female and the first 4s boat to have crossed the Pacific Ocean!

The One Show

For a little bit of R&R we went out for dinner after the show with Keith Goddard, our sports psychologist (of Zeus Performance Psychology), and Ella, our social media queen. It was great to catch up with them at Byrons over burgers, but we’re going to have to stop eating like this soon, now that we’re no longer rowing 12 hours a day!

We kicked off this morning with a trip to ITV to appear on the Lorraine show. It was wonderful meeting Lorraine and the crew, who were so welcoming. While we at ITV, we were lucky enough to meet Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid. Laura met Ben about 4 years ago at the start of the project, so it was great to catch up with him now that we’ve achieved what we set out to. We also bumped into the lovely Marina Fogle, who had a giggle with us about the Fogle/Cracknell blog that Laura wrote during leg 3, and Greg James, who is about to do 5 back-to-back triathlons for Sport Relief, so it was a busy morning!

LorraineBen and Susanna

After some media calls and a team meeting, kindly hosted at Izzy’s offices at Powell Gilbert LLP, we headed to London Live to appear on lunchtime news.  It was then straight on to the offices of the Times.  Keep an eye out in Monday’s edition of the Times 2 to see what we got up to while we were there!

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Last day in Australia

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It’s our last day in Australia! Most of our unbelievably supportive parents have left, and it’s been amazing having a lovely day to ourselves. We have been catching up on sleep and swimming in the pool before we head back to England tomorrow.

This evening we will be heading down to Salt House where we came into last Monday to have a cocktail on Meg’s Aunty Linda who gave us some money to celebrate. We can’t believe that we have only been here for 6 days! So much has happened, but we’re still not entirely sure whether our feet have fully touched the ground.

A huge thank you to Queens Court and all of their staff, Shanna, Trish, Donna and Tracy for all of their amazing hospitality towards us.

See you all in England!

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