At Sea

The power of music…

Prince’s death this week has had a huge impact on many people that we know.

His music has been playing on radio stations, TV programs, mobile phones, ipods and laptops countrywide. I had a personal hour-long Prince tribute over the weekend and we played a couple of his albums on the boat when we were out on the ocean. There are a few songs in particular (I wanna be your lover, 1999 and Kiss) that instantly transport me back to the 90’s, a time of no responsibilities, carefree fun with friends at school, my first boyfriend and days of dancing!

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The power of music has always amazed me and its power during the row was invaluable. Amongst many other performance enhancing strategy techniques that we used, music was one of the most effective tools.

We used it to shift our mind quickly from one mindset to another. Waking up at 3am and knowing we had to get up and out on the oars to row yet again or unwinding after an adrenalin filled shift and calming the mind ready to sleep.

Music is a wonderful motivator – we all had our personal power songs that we used to help us through times of monotony, discomfort and frustration on the Pacific. Everyone loves a good power mix to workout to at the gym or on a run.

Music is an effective distracter – It was a great way to pass a 2-hour row shift

Music is one of the best memory joggers – I love how memories always come flooding back when you hear a song or the way you can remember lyrics to a song even if you haven’t heard it for 15 years!

Music inspires emotion – I think most people have been overcome with great happiness and joy, sadness or reflection when listening to certain music.

It moves you. It penetrates deep into your soul and stirs emotion.

Music makes you move – A great tune will make you tap your feet, nod your head, move your hips, shake your shoulders or generally move in whatever way you feel inspired to and dance until you can’t dance no more. Dancing to music makes my heart sing! It’s also one of the best socials we had on Doris – a random 15-minute dance session with no-one watching us except the Boobies and Oceania!

Dance

Although I was unofficially banned from singing on the boat – I loved a good sing-a-long, and any opportunity that came up – LP and I would get our groove on. Some of you may remember us mention our ‘row dance’ – well…here it is…

Laura and Nat doing a little ‘row dancing’ during our journey.
(We’re even in purple – just for Prince!)

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Sometimes we forget the influence music has.

Make sure you have songs easily accessible that you know will quickly lift your spirits if you’re having a challenging moment or day, make you smile when you feel like crying, give you energy when you have none, relax you when you’re stressed and uptight, transport you back to a moment in time and make you remember that there are certain things in life that unite us all!! x

 

 

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How do we control our frustration??

What exactly is frustration?

It’s how we react to situations that make us angry, sad or disappointed. It’s OUR emotional response and so surely we should be able to control it?

We all experience frustration in one shape or form – often! I may even go as far as saying that it’s an emotion we most probably feel on a daily basis. Work, relationships, getting stuck in traffic or being delayed on the tube, when something doesn’t live up to your expectation, trying to master a new skill, forgetting to do something, having to rely on other people, the weather, bad time management…there are many elements of everyday life that can provoke this feeling of disgruntlement if not managed well enough.

There are many ways to deal with frustration and many reasons for it to surface in our thoughts.

For us, when we were out in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, I would say that frustration was an emotion we felt on more than a few occasions!

We had good reason. Our expedition was filled with challenges. We were sleep deprived, hot, continuously damp and uncomfortable. There were days where we rowed hard against current and wind but travelled negative miles or in the wrong direction. There were days where we battled to keep the 1-tonne Doris facing the right way and when she kept swinging round the waves would crash continuously across her deck. There were moments where the pain or discomfort of our salt sores and pressure wounds were so distracting that we needed to wait for 10 minutes of a rowing shift before our backsides or hands became numb and we could push through the 2 hours. Our ipods broke, we lost our favourite bikini top, flannels or tupperware overboard or we just simply got bored of eating the same food over and over again!
It was understandable that we felt discouraged.

How did we control those feelings of being annoyed when we couldn’t achieve what we wanted? How did we rise above the frustration and how did we deal with it?

I’d like to share three of the techniques that seemed to work.

  1. Control the controllable

One of the most important questions to ask in any situation is ‘can you control it?’ We can only control the controllable, so if something is truly outside your control, then surely you are wasting valuable time and energy on something that you will never be able to change. It’s amazing how often we forget this simple fact.

So, on Doris, we would remind each other that we could only control the controllable when we saw someone get frustrated.

  1. YOU control your thoughts and how you react to situations / You are in charge of how you feel so choose a different emotion!

Understanding that we are all in charge of how we react to situations and how we choose to behave to them is in our control, makes you a lot more self-aware. Feeling frustrated is not a good, uplifting or positive feeling, so ideally we want to choose not to think in a way that will lead us to the emotion of frustration.

During the 9 months of the expedition, when I started to let my thoughts run away with themselves, I would bring myself back to the moment and find something different to concentrate my energies on. Watching the ever-changing movement and colours of the ocean or the shifting shapes of the clouds in the sky, telling each other life stories or listening to music were all great ways to transform our thoughts and shift our mindset to a more positive one.

Beauty

  1. Breathe

It is always beneficial to stop, check in with yourself and breathe!

This is an invaluable tool that can be used in almost every situation you find yourself in when you feel as if your emotions or sensations are taking over.
Just breathe slowly and deeply – in for 5 and out for 5.

It has been said that it is better to view frustration as ‘delayed success’ not as ‘failure’ and then at least you know that you can overcome it, while others say that frustration is an essential part of success…so who really knows!??

All I know that is that through all the peaks and troughs of life out on the ocean, the challenges and the frustrations, the magical moments and beauty, we did our best, as a team, to fully embrace all the emotions that came our way and learn from every situation. We must have done something right as we were not only successful, but we achieved what we set out to do… in style.
We did it with honesty, humility, SPIRIT and laughter!!

Now…let’s see if we can continue dealing with life’s challenges in the same way on dry land!!! x

Laughter

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Frustration

This week’s blog theme is frustration.  There was plenty of this on our journey, both on the way to the start line and on the water.

One particular example was our struggle to get off the Californian coast and on our way to Hawaii.  We spent 10 days battling through strong winds and large swells pushing us South towards Mexico.  Everything was new to us, and the sea sickness wasn’t helping!  But then it happened, we finally started to make progress West.  Unfortunately, just as we did, some water damage meant that we lost the ability to charge our Victron batteries using our Solbian solar panels and we had to make the difficult decision to row 6 days back into shore to Santa Barbara to repair the damage.  To say it was frustrating was an understatement.  We had started our journey after years of preparation and were finally feeling that we had started to get to grips with the challenging conditions, and then we had to turn around, row back in and do a re-start.

I am really proud of the way that we dealt with this situation as a team.  We accepted the decision and decided to put the frustration behind us, re-focuss and make the most of the opportunity.  We took advantage of the time on land to repair the damage to Doris and make other tweaks to her and our kit.  By staying focussed on the bigger picture, we transformed the frustration into a positive and left Santa Barbara feeling prepared and re-energised, ready to make it to Hawaii.

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Leg 3, Day 76 – Best laid plans

The Team By

Day 76 – Best laid plans

We are “nearly” there! Still!

It has been an exhausting and emotional few days as we make our approach to land. We expected last night to be our final one on Doris and to reach Australia this evening but the Pacific has other ideas with strong southerly currents and the wind turning against us. Best laid plans and all that. We have been told that our last chance is to row like we’ve never rowed before and make it to Cairns tomorrow morning. Now is the time to dig deep and draw on all of our mental, physical and emotional strength and the strength of support that everyone is sending us via email every time we head to the cabin to rest.

The last 8500nm don’t matter anymore, it is all about these last 20. It’s fair to say that with physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation and a lack of savoury food we are being tested to our limits. However this is where we draw on our SPIRIT, row hard, row strong, row together.

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Photo credit: Sarah Moshman, Losing Sight of Shore

 

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Leg 3, Day 75 – Land ahoy!

Laura Penhaul By

Day 75 – Land ahoy!

This is it. This is what I’ve dreamed of since getting involved in this project 4 years ago, this is what has kept me going through the times of question, just one more night and after 9 months of being at sea, we get to step onto dry land into our families’ arms. The moment that has played over and over in my head and not a day on the ocean has gone by without me thinking about this time. This moment. There have been tears and laughter, a mix of emotions I never thought I’d feel. Knowing that on this 4 year journey we have overcome having 3 restarts at the project (naively had hoped to start the row in 2013, then 2014 and finally it came to fruition in 2015). We have bounced back after team losses, for 2 years spent weekly trips from London to Christchurch during the boat build, researched and were fortunate to get the best equipment sponsors, spent hours upon hours researching into companies that aligned with our row, put pitch documents together, went to meetings and took the knock backs when it wasn’t right for their company, persisted to resource the funds and apply for various grants. For three years doing a once a month trip down the M4 to visit our sport psych (who I say has been invaluable!), reviews with our strength & conditioning coach Alex for programme updates, otherwise training daily and on the weights 4 times a week, whilst body composition and research on ourselves carried out with GSK Human Performance Lab. The list is endless but these are just a few things to highlight what was fitted in around work and occasionally (V. occasionally!) attempting to socialise before I forgot how!

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There is so much to reflect upon what has been learnt from this row and I’m sure over the coming months post row, more and more will surface, but here are a just a few that stand out to me…

– perseverance: this row has taught me and proved to me, that if you believe whole heartedly in your vision, then you can make it happen. The journey will be up and down with unexpected twists and turns, but roll with the waves and take it stroke by stroke, because eventually you will arrive at where your dreams come true and when you do, the more challenges you’ve faced, the more you appreciate the achievement to get there.

– vulnerability: having previously thought that showing emotions was a sign of weakness, how wrong could I be. Exposing my true self to those around me, allowing myself to be open and honest in what emotions I feel whether it be ecstatically happy or crying like a baby, has been so uplifting and one of the biggest learning curves from this row. When you hold yourself back and don’t express how you feel, it eats you up inside and your mind convinces itself that the problem is so much bigger than what it really is. By sharing it, by letting it out in the open means there’s nothing left to hide, there’s no emotional baggage you need to protect and those around you become your voice of reason and they get to know the real you.

– challenge your thoughts : if you only ever listen to the voice inside your head, you believe that that voice is a voice of reason and of fact. Well Keith has taught me a number of psych things but one most valuable, is to challenge those thoughts. Create another character in your head that makes you stop and step back before lunging forwards into a reactive or negative head space. I have two monkeys in my head and they often quarrel with differing opinions, but by the time they’ve figured it out, it’s given me time to pause and reflect to hopefully come to a diplomatic conclusion.

– laughter: approaching a situation which may be listed as one of your fears, such as big waves at night time, or going through something which is not pleasant like changing in and out of wet and cold weather gear, if you can laugh, joke or make light of the situation then suddenly the situation becomes so much easier and enjoyable to take on.

– Cracknell v Fogle (an earlier blog): if you’re a Fogle then appreciate and recognise the value in some Cracknell influence to get the job done, if you’re a Cracknell, then appreciate the impact some Fogle can have to make you look up every once in while and appreciate your surroundings and what you’re achieving.

– Positivity: Many people may assume that because our blogs are mainly positive, that we are either hiding or misleading the truth, but we honestly are not. Every blog is a true account of what is happening or how we are feeling etc. the difference is that we are a team that deals with things with a positive outlook and will tend to find the humour in things rather than the negative. But more importantly than that, we collectively understand that we chose to be here, we chose to challenge ourselves, so in no way do we believe that what we have achieved outweighs the challenges that people experience in day to day life.

We recognise that we are a team of fit, healthy females that are fortunate to not have endured any of the million and one things this world can throw at you, whether that’s the fight against cancer, the new life you have to develop after losing a limb, facing financial difficulties, overcoming family issues etc., the list is endless. But if we can take away from this the challenge we set ourselves and overcame, then hopefully in some small way we hope it empower others to tackle their own Pacifics, no matter how big or small.

Update:
Just one more sleep! Planned arrival is Sunday PM for us (AM for UK). As ever, the ocean is not allowing us to cruise in at good speed, instead she’s stuck in a negative current once again and so since late last night we have been travelling at a speedy 1k. We still have 40nm to go and need to do them as fast as we possibly can to get in on time.
We got to see Tony and Sarah Moshman! So flipping exciting as we haven’t seen them since Samoa and obviously their arrival signifies how close we are to the finish. Sarah wanted to capture some footage of us out at sea and stayed for a couple of hours whilst Tone scrutinised poor old Doris’ barnacles (the ones I can’t reach because of the jellyfish!).
Megs finally got to see a pod of a mink/ small whales and it was beautiful to see her reaction. So glad she has had the full experience of wildlife and journey through leg 3.

Sarah, our documentary director and producer, and us earlier today!

Sarah, our documentary director and producer, and us earlier today!

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Leg 3, Day 74 – Space

Meg Dyos By

As I have just put the phone down to some of my best friends Chanelle and Richard in Melbourne who are flying out to Cairns for our arrival over the weekend whenever that maybe, I find myself in the aft cabin. We spend fifty percent of our time on Doris in this cabin, and today I lie here hoping with all of my toes and fingers crossed that we arrive before they leave on Sunday.

I also lie here thinking of the space that I have shared with these girls for 74 days, and that they have shared for 255 days. I think of what it will feel like to have my own space again, and how I will feel about being able to stand up without holding onto and being attached to something, how it will feel to chew a main meal, to stand up and shower, to drink out of something other than a squirty bottle. I can’t even imagine what it will feel like to feel cold on a winters day, to not have to wipe the sweat off of my body, and to sit on a toilet seat. To not be able to see a 360 degree horizon, to not have to watch a wave heading towards you in slow motion, knowing that at any moment it will splash you. To not have to constantly cake your bum cheeks in sudocreme, and to not have to hold our faces in a position on the oars where we are shaded by our caps. What will it feel like to be able to stand up whenever we want to, and to not laugh at someone else’s or your own discomfort, knowing that if you don’t you might cry, and to not know that 6 hours sleep is the absolute maximum amount of sleep you will achieve in a 24 hour period – also to know that that will be broken up into 4 separate 1.5 hour naps. What will it feel like to walk more than 4 steps at any one time and in any direction, to never row again, and to not be bobbing up and down in the Pacific Ocean?!

So today I thought I’d focus on the ins and outs of the aft cabin. The aft cabin, the size of a two man tent is our lounge, our kitchen, our bedroom, our dining room, our cloak room and our office. I recall on day 40, speaking to my friend Rose, and screaming down the phone to her that I was ‘ON MY OWN IN THE CABIN’. LP had gone into the fore cabin to stretch out, and after 40 days I couldn’t believe how big the aft cabin suddenly felt. However, to put it into perspective, a sleeping shift involves two people top and tailing. The person with their head at the tail end of the aft cabin under the port hatch has the option to lie on their side, or alternatively lie on their back or front, but with no space for arms to the side of the body they must then be put above the head. The other person lies with their head by the door, metres from the bin in the footwell. At night this also becomes the end that is the cloakroom for our often wet, wet weather gear. At this end of the cabin the person has the option to lie on their back with arms to the side, or alternatively lie on their side. However if they decide to lie on their back, it must be noted that their legs will need to remain crossed, due to space issues. I also recall speaking to my sister on another occasion, explaining to her that my feet were more than a foot away from each other in the aft cabin due to Ems being in the fore cabin. Her confusion of why I was excited at this, says it all. These are just two examples of how small the aft cabin actually is, and what it begs me to question is how we have done it!

The answer I suppose, is patience and good manners! You’ll often hear from on the oars when the pair inside are getting ready to changeover, ‘would you’, ‘could you’, ‘would you mind’, ‘when you get a second’, ‘I’d be really grateful if you could,’ ‘would it be possible’ – the list goes on! Other than using the bucket, everything on Doris is a two man job in one way or another. Whether it is the constant conveyor belt of passing items to each other from one end of the boat to the other, to rowing in time with each other, to sharing the space of the aft cabin, it requires a team mentality and really there is no space for just thinking of yourself on Doris.

So, yes I’m excited about being able to lie in a bed in a star fish position under a duvet without having to worry about touching the person next to me, but at the same time, it’s the best thing in the world sharing every moment with someone, and the moment we step off of Doris, I know that it is quite unlikely that I will ever share a space as small as this with anyone else. So, on what looks like my last time, lying under the port hatch writing a blog from the Pacific Ocean, I thank you for reading, and following us in our journey across this almighty ocean, and I look forward to writing more from land!

Update: Minutes after hearing Nat tell me how when she was young she would sit in the garden with breadcrumbs thinking that she was Snow White and that animals would come to her, the Boobie attack commenced. ‘Incoming, incoming’ I shouted, as again for the 15th time, the red footed Boobie headed straight for us, attempting to land above our heads. It landed on Nats oars, my oars, balanced on the grab rail, came inchingly close to landing on my bare legs with its sharp claws, and then after over twenty attempts it found the aft cabin roof! We have also had another Galapagos shark follow Doris over the past few days. We have named him Oscar, and believe it or not, despite my fear of these creatures, I’m actually quite a fan of this small guy!

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Day 73 – The one and only Laura Penhaul

Natalia Cohen By

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I think it’s only fair that I get to have the last say…so here we go…Miss Laura Penhaul (there’s only one of her in the world – literally and figuratively!) aka LP, Laur, Laura 2 (that’s someone you don’t really want to see), Penelope, P.
I’ll start at the very beginning as it’s a very good place to start.
When I met Laura at the first interview day at Bisham back in April 2014, I felt an instant connection with her. It wasn’t that we were similar personality types, it was more that it was obvious that we shared exactly the same life values. Although I found the Row intriguing on so many levels, LP was one of the main reasons I decided to do this expedition and I think that if anyone else was coordinating it, I very possibly may have declined.During the last year and a half, I’ve got to know almost everything there is to know about this wonderful woman. From the people she admires, the unbelievable passion she has for her work, to the men she has dated and her ability to join me in speaking in random accents!

LP is the one that keeps things running smoothly. Without her this expedition wouldn’t have started and certainly wouldn’t have kept going all these years. She is the driving force and is without a doubt one of the most determined and focused women I know. She’s a well oiled machine and makes sure everything gets done effectively. She is always able to step it up a gear when needed (except maybe during the twilight hours!) and will make sure you’re standing firmly by her side. This is why I affectionately call her the engine.

From the second my involvement in the row was confirmed, we knew that there would be moments where we may disagree or differ in opinion as we’re both incredibly strong minded, independent women who are used to holding leadership roles and not afraid to discuss how we feel. However, what united us so completely was the passion and belief we both had in the success of this project and the unfaltering way we drove it forward in getting to the start line.

LP worked tirelessly in the run up to our departure from San Francisco, juggling work, seeking sponsorship deals, coordinating logistics, physical training as well as mentally prepping for the journey with numerous chats and meetings with our sports psych Keith (who has been an invaluable part of her journey during this project). She gave up everything for the Row as it consumed her social and personal life and became her number one focus.

In a nutshell (one of my favourite expressions LP used to say), Ms Penhaul has left nothing about this project to chance. She did her research meticulously and planned for every eventuality. I have never met anyone, in fact, that has everything so perfectly pre planned in their minds as LP does. Never mind a 5 year plan, her wedding, holidays, and future career opportunities have all already been thought about.

Within every area of planning and execution of the expedition, LP has been nothing but professional throughout.  I did my best to get her to pose for a nude Coxless Crew calendar, but she was having none of it!

After consolidating our team values when the final team had been selected, it not only cemented my original intuition about the two of us but also made it glaringly obvious how totally committed to these values LP was. She epitomises true SPIRIT in every sense.

One of the main traits that has always stood out to me is the way LP is always looking to better herself or improve her skills. She’ll take on all feedback given to her and then make a point to take it onboard and action it the next time there is an opportunity to put the particular skill or change of behaviour into practice. As well as doing this on a personal level for herself, she also thrives on seeing others push and challenge themselves…and will always be near by shouting words of support and encouragement.

Sometimes this may be taken to the next level as I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite as competitive in my life. We’re not just talking how many miles you’ve rowed, what weights you can lift, how much you can eat…but LP will turn the simple pleasure of eating gummy bears into a ‘ok…let’s see how long we can keep the bear in our mouths for without biting or swallowing it’. Obviously she wins…and apparently the 43 minutes wasn’t a patch on the 1 hour and 52 minutes she has once kept a Jaffa cake on the go for on land.!!??

It’s been amazing to watch LP develop as a person, improve in her leadership skills and allow herself to open up and share her vulnerability. We spent hours talking in her car (pre row) and even more hours talking on the oars rowing across the Pacific Ocean. I have shared in her happiness, joy, excitement, frustration, disappointment and pain.
For the 5% of time that we have wanted to strangle one another, there is the 95% of time where we have laughed, hugged and walked this path of what we hope to be a great achievement together.

Although I know that LP was already thinking about our arrival into Cairns even before we had begun this odyssey 9 months ago, I’ve seen an amazing change in the way she has learnt to step out of her head (where there is always a million things going on) and just be in the moment.

Screen shot 2015-11-06 at 15.38.48Memorable tunes: Titanium, Happy (C2C, Tetra), Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Memorable moments: Doing a David Attenborough voice over to the rituals of waking and getting ready before a row shift, our ‘cloud shape’ row session and uncontrollable laughter, our adventure to discover the mystery of the strange debris, our times on the oars together with whales, the most magical sunrise in the world, our ‘row dance’, our time in the rain and even our noodle incident!

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It’s been an honour and a privilege being part of Laura’s vision and being able to experience the journey that we have all shared. This Row has meant different things to all of us but I know that I am not only speaking for myself but also on behalf of all 5 of us, the Coxless Crew, when I say a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to be part of the most ridiculous, incredible, rewarding, insightful, entertaining, challenging and unforgettable journey of a lifetime. Laura Penhaul WE LOVE YOU xUPDATE:
This is really happening…we are less than 100 miles from land.
Emotions are beginning to run high and the food supplies are running very low.
Our final push to make landfall before the parents leave but ensure we savour every last moment out here in the almighty Pacific too.
As a team we want to breath in the beauty of our 360 degree world, the colours of the ocean, the sounds of the wind and the waves, the movement of our small 29ft home, the utterly unique experience of conquering our Pacific and say,
THANK YOU.
Thank you Oceania, thank you Neptune, thank you Universe, thank you Doris and most importantly thank you to EVERYONE who has supported, followed and been part of our journey.
We could not have done it without you…your love and motivation has been felt every stroke of the way and we are not only humbled but also truly inspired by YOU ALL x

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Leg 3, Day 72 – In the beginning

Emma Mitchell By

Day 72 – In the beginning

As we (very slowly today) approach Cairns and our final miles aboard our beautiful Doris who has been our protector and our home for the last 9 months, I was reminiscing about the first time that she touched the water and began her adventures. At the time we were reluctant to share the full details of this exciting day as we didn’t want current or potential sponsors to doubt our boat handling abilities but since we have now navigated our way across almost 8,500nm of the worlds largest ocean I think there can no longer be any questions about our ocean rowing skills and therefore I wanted to share where it all began.

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It was mid December 2013 and three aspiring ocean rowers arrived at Rossiters boat yard in Christchurch to take their first oar strokes in their beautiful pink ocean rowing boat Doris. I had been a part of the Coxless Crew for almost four months and had seen Doris go from being a pink hull sitting on blocks in the shed to becoming a fully fledged ocean going boat with hatches on her cabins, a rowing setup on her deck and the start of her electrics box in the aft cabin. During the week we had finally heard from Cris Rossiter that he would be putting Doris on the water for us ready for the weekend so that we could go for our first paddle. It was a breezy day but after assessing the conditions we decided that it was nothing we couldn’t cope with. Laura, myself and Natalie Miles who at the time was part of the team were excited and after getting everything organised we set off with Natalie and myself on the oars and Laura stood on the deck in front of us navigating. In all the excitement of our first few strokes Laura got a little carried away taking photos and by the time she looked up we were very close to a very shiny and expensive looking boat as we tried to make it round the first corner. Fortunately we pushed off with our hands and got away without causing any damage. As we emerged from the narrow channel of the boat yard there was another 90 degree corner to navigate. It was at approximately this point that it occurred to us that we had no ballast on board. We also had no dagger board. We were effectively rowing a 29ft lilo out into Christchurch bay on a breezy Saturday. Needless to say we ended up wedged between a tree and a signpost as we rounded the corner. As we attempted to free ourselves a dragon boat came round the corner with its whole crew wearing Santa hats and as they waved and wished us merry Christmas we tried to nonchalantly look like we were deliberately taking a short break near the bank. Finally free, we continued out into the bay with only a couple of close encounters with the well known mud flats of Christchurch.

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Laura and I were on the oars and making good progress but as we reached the more open area we could feel the wind picking up. We were enjoying ourselves so much that maybe we waited for slightly too long before deciding that it would probably be best to turn around and head back to more sheltered waters. When we went to turn the boat we just couldn’t do it. Despite rowing as hard as we could and even getting two of us on one set of oars we still couldn’t get Doris to move past 90 degrees as the wind blew us rapidly towards the breakwater. Not wanting to get swept out to sea it was time to put our backup plan into action. Our options were basically to call the Coastguards or to call a lovely guy called Mark who we had met the previous week at Christchurch Rowing Club. We decided that on balance it would be less embarrassing to call Mark than the Coastguards so LP gave him a call from the aft cabin. Cue a hilarious conversation where LP started a chat about how we were taking Doris out for our first paddle and how we were wondering if he was around at the rowing club just in case and finished with asking him for a tow. Fortunately he arrived in the rowing club’s coaching launch before we were swept out to sea and we threw him a rope so he could help us turn around. Once we reached the more sheltered part of the bay we thought we would be ok and so Mark threw us the rope and we started to row. However within about 30 seconds we were stuck in the mud and LP had to get out and try to push us off the bank. After getting pretty wet we decided to admit defeat and accept a tow all the way back to the boat yard. With Doris safely moored up again we could reflect on the lessons learnt from our first rowing experience and ensure that the next time LP and I took Doris for a paddle it would be a far more successful exercise.

UPDATE: We are currently headed slightly North towards our final waypoint before we hit the Great Barrier Reef. This is in anticipation of hitting a strong southerly current shortly before reaching the entrance to Grafton Passage which we will pass through to reach Cairns.
Last night a boobie landed on Nats’ head while she was rowing!

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Leg 3, Day 71 – Our last ocean SitRep

The Team By

Day 71 – Our last ocean SitRep

Our SitRep (situation report) is something we complete weekly on the boat. We discuss the answers as a team and then email the report to Keith (our sports psychologist)
Each section is marked out of 10.
1 equates to poor and 10 to excellent with a sliding scale between the two.

Please find the 19th of Jan sitrep below:

Emma

Physically 9 – body very heavy and tired but no other issues or injuries
Mentally 9 – can’t decide whether I am excited to finally reach Cairns or sad that this incredible journey is almost over but trying to stay in the moment and enjoy the time we have left on Doris
Medically 9 – pressure sores on the bum and some rashes on my skin from the salt and sweating
Health 10
Sea Sickness 10
Group 10 – these amazing women have made this journey what it has been and am proud to be part of such a strong and joyful team
Boat & Equipment 8.5 – we have managed to fully charge one of our batteries but since we are working off only this battery and are prioritising charging of camera equipment we are still having to hand pump water for a shift each per day as we don’t have the power to run our electric water maker
Sleepiness 9 – struggle to sleep in our first sleep shift as it is so hot and takes me about 10-15min to become awake but once on the oars I can stay awake and alert
Boat routines 8.5 – always room for improvement but generally all on time for shift changeovers just need to keep an eye on hatch checking and keeping the autopilot shelf under control
Keeping you up at night: Hoping we arrive into Cairns before my mum’s flight home so that she doesn’t have to change it.
How prepared are you for land: Have been thinking about and discussing what I/ we want our last few days aboard Doris to look like and what we envision our arrival to be. Bit overwhelmed that at the moment our feet touch land as we step off Doris together that means we have completed our challenge together. Looking forward to seeing our families and also having some time before flying home to properly reflect on what we have achieved and what I have learned along the way.

Natalia

Physically – 10
Mentally 9 – amazed that this journey’s end is so close. It’s been an incredible 9 months and now is the time that I will begin to reflect on what lessons have been learnt and what positives I’ll take with with me back onto land.
Medically 8 – still have my blistered lip (hasn’t healed for 3 months!), 2 pressure sores (one on each bum cheek), palms of my hands still peeling, unbelievably itchy rash on both forearms.
Health 10
Sea Sickness 10
Group 10 – after clearing the air with LP and Ems, I feel like we are a fiercely united team once again and can’t wait to row into Cairns with these 3 fantabulous women!
Boat & Equipment 9 – batteries doing much better but having been used to certain charging ease of camera equipment and personal music devices etc, it’s a shame to end the journey working off one battery and not two.
Sleepiness 9 – generally speaking I’m feeling alert and awake during row shifts. Sleeping well in the cabin despite the extreme heat.
Boat routines 8.5
Keeping you up at night: Hoping we arrive in time (by the 25th) so my parents don’t have to change their flights.
How prepared are you for land: I’m still focussing on taking it shift by shift as anything can still happen, but I’ve started reflections on the journey and projections for our arrival. Seeing my parents and the relief our arrival will give them and then thinking about how I may feel. Overwhelmed is definitely the overriding emotion that I sense I will experience.

team

Laura

Physically 6 – currently I have issues with a couple of ribs, my left hip and left side of my lower back but anti inflammatories, stretching and directing some treatment from the other girls, is helping. My hands are also in bits!
Mentally 8 – starting to feel quite overwhelmed with the realisation of arriving into Cairns and to not have to step back on to Doris again.
Medically 7 – The skin on my hands is shredding off and causing salt sores where there’s cuts.
Health 8 – the condition of my skin and nails is poor, looking forward to some fresh food and rest to allow things to heal.
Sea Sickness 10
Group 9.5 – there’s been lots of sharing this week and awareness that everyone is in a different head space so openly discussing it has helped to provide awareness of how we respond to one another.
Boat & Equipment 8 – battery 2 is fully charged back up now but reluctant to charge up battery 1 without having to return to rationing usage of equipment. With just a few days left, decided to stick with working off the full battery as it has plenty of capacity for our needs. In the meantime we will continue to handpump once a day to reduce the load on the electric water maker.
Sleepiness 8 – really frustrating at night time as gobbledegook has been on a high this week in at least one session per night. Otherwise bright eyed and bushy tailed in the daytime regardless of having just 3-4hrs.
Boat routines 9 – team are working well together and focussing on their roles, but changeovers at night time and keeping the boat moving is an ongoing improvement.
Keeping you up at night: the overwhelming feelings of emotion when we reach land, see our families and get a sense of what we’ve just achieved.
How prepared are you for land: I’ve been thinking of reaching land since I stepped on in April, so I’m ready but I’m preparing myself for the onslaught of emotion. I have prepared my diary plan for the coming day/month/ 6 months post arrival to aid in my transition back to work and the reintegration to focus on the next goal of Rio in August.

Meg
Physically 10
Mentally 9 – beginning to get very reflective, and thinking about the experience that I have had on Doris. I also am apprehensive and excited for our return to the UK, and where my life will take me next.
Medically – 8.5 – pressure sores on each bum cheek. Salt sores on under thigh, bum cheeks and bum crack. Think that these have flared up again from constant sweating, also the two days when we couldn’t wash due to a lack of fresh water. Rash on both inner elbows, again potentially from salt. Hands, especially fingers and thumbs claw handing.
Health – 10
Sea Sickness 10
Group – 10 – I can’t imagine not sharing my waking (and sleeping) moments with these girls when we are back on land.
Boat & Equipment – 8 – due to our battery issues, we have not been able to charge all of our devices, email and also phone people.
Sleepiness – 6 – falling asleep on the oars is no longer a rarity! This morning LP caught it on camera!
Boat routines – 10
Keeping you up at night: Nothing! I can’t stay awake at night!
How prepared are you for land: I’m currently doing lots of visualisations of what our arrival into cairns is going to look like, and feel excited to see my family. However I am trying to stay in the moment and enjoy these final experiences as the things we are seeing now, we might not see again. I also know that crossing the Great Barrier Reef is going to be one of the toughest challenges so I am focusing on the mental preparation for that.

UPDATE:
– We saw a boat last night and Nats spoke to them on the handheld VHF radio…in a Scottish accent. It was highly amusing.
– We currently have 130 miles to go!
– Nats spoke to the Universe two days ago and asked very nicely for 48 hours of good speed. The Universe took her very literally and on the 49th hour, our speed seems to have dropped.
– Megs faced one of her biggest fears…and got her legs waxed in the aft cabin by a very happily pain inflicting LP.
– Ems is a water pumping machine.

The team x

together

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