Be mindful…

Natalia Cohen By

What an amazing week we have had as a team with talks for ‘Night of Adventure’, the Rotary District Conference in Marlow, iSportconnect, the Cambridge University Women’s Boatclub crew, to name a few. It’s been diverse and exciting and reminded me how different we all are as a team yet how well we always pull together!

The idea for the coming months is to have different topics to discuss on a weekly basis in our blogs if there are no events to share with you.

This week is about mindfulness.


Whoever we are and whatever we do, I think that there is this undeniable feeling of disharmony in the world at the moment. Nature is giving us signs all the time and I think we have all become a little more aware of the importance to look after not only our physical health but also our mental wellbeing. Finding that time to forget the stresses of everyday life, try to quiet the mind and find the perfect work/personal life balance!

One of the best things about being in the middle of the ocean for me, was all the time we had to be mindful. No mobile phone distraction, societal pressures to consider and to be able to connect fully to the surroundings and to each other as a team. Everything we did was worthy of our undivided attention. We truly listened to one another, we tasted what we ate, we really saw what we looked at and sound and emotion was heightened. I’ve promised myself that I will always bring myself back to that mindful state and carry those oceanic moments with me wherever I find myself – even in the middle of the chaotic city of London!

For us collectively as a team, some of the most special memories from the journey are the silent star-strewn nights, the magnificent sunsets, getting to know each other’s life stories and those hysterical moments when something in that instant made us laugh uncontrollably. For me, there was something very mindful about all of these situations – as we were fully present.

Have a great weekend everyone and remember:

“ In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility ”

                                                                                                                          Victoria Moran

beauty in the ocean


Catch up with Keith

Yesterday Natalia, Emma, Laura, Izzy and Lizanne (via Skype) headed to near Bradford upon Avon to spend the day with Keith, our team psychologist (of Zeus Performance Psychology).  We were hosted by Keith at his beautiful home and spent the day looking ahead at “stage 3” of the row project.  Among other things, we considered what we want to achieve as a team in the coming months, our team dynamics now that we are back on dry land, and what we each want to take from the row individually going forward.

At lunch time, we got the chance to catch up with Keith’s wife Helen and daughter Eloise (nearly 3 now) and Pam, Helen’s mother.  As is always the case when we meet as a team and meet with Keith, we talked all day and could have kept going long after we had to leave!  Thanks to Keith, we left the session with more clarity and focus.

Tomorrow we have another team catch up.  Among other things, we will be polishing our presentation for the Night of Adventure that we are speaking at tomorrow night.  It’s a great line up of speakers and we are really excited to be among them.



International Womens Day 2016

As an all female team, who have just set 2 world records, achieving world firsts ahead of the boys, International Womens Day certainly seemed more poignant to us this year!

We are a team of ordinary women that went beyond having just a dream, we made that dream a reality and achieved what many thought would be impossible, what many thought we would fail at. It didn’t come without a few waves of ups and downs and set backs, but collectively, as a team, we stuck to our values, remained resilient in situations we faced and drew on perseverance when it mattered, which proved many people wrong about us. We weren’t just a bunch of girls in a pink boat that would fall out with each other or turn back and quit at the slightest difficulty, we were a team of women that had prepared and planned our row over 3 years previously, had tested ourselves mentally and physically in our preparations and left no stone unturned that we could have planned for. We drew strength from one another, cared for each other when someone was down, drew on humour to keep us going and allowed emotions to be shared and free flowing so that vulnerabilities were not hidden. We coped well with change and adapted quickly through the process as each leg we had a new team member. These are qualities that most women share, these are qualities that are fundamental to a dynamic and functional team, these are qualities that resonate effectiveness in any team setting, whether that’s business or sport. With equality in business still far from showing parity and in sport the exposure for women in sport is still lagging behind, hopefully days like International Womens Day, can express and share the amazing work women out there do and what great benefits a female angle can bring to a team to create diversity.

We have been and still are in ‘oar’ (sorry couldn’t help it!) of so many women that have helped and inspired us to achieve our goal, so here’s just a few, that on this International Womens Day (IWD)we wanted to celebrate…..sarah moshman

Our very own Sarah Moshman. The queen behind the camera who has already won an Emmy for a previous documentary, who led the Empowerment Project to celebrate women who are making waves in science, the military, media etc. and who is showing how it’s done as a female Director in an industry dominated by males.


Kate Philp, who was a Royal Artillary Officer who became a below knee amputee when she was injured in Afghanistan in 2008. Kate would have fought in the minority to be a female on the frontline, she would have fought to rehabilitate mentally and physically after she was injured and she has continued to fight in making sure she has a new life journey to success, which is reflected in her achievement when she reached the South Pole with Walking With The Wounded. She’s a true inspiration that whenever I started to moan about pain when I was out in the ocean, she made me stop and push on.

patricia & faily

Patricia Elouahabi, loving wife to Rashid and mother to Yasin, who died just 6 months after Yasin was born in her fight against Breast Cancer.


Chrissie Wellington, one of my heroes who I am now fortunate enough to call a friend. Chrissie is a 4 times World Ironman Champion, her timings would come in the top 5 of the mens, she has set up Park Run and campaigned for the Womens Tour Du France. Chrissie fights for what she believes in, she’s dedicated and passionate and does everything with a smile!


Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment, on the board of 30% club, has 9 children and is a loving wife. This is a woman that epitomizes ‘you CAN’.

sarah outen

Sarah Outen, has just completed her around the world London 2 London challenge via, kayak, bike and rowing boat, all whilst sharing her journey, inspiring school kids along the way and continuing to look forwards to see how she can create environments for people to say yes to more opportunities outside the norm.


Julia Immonen, a beautiful woman inside and out, who has stirred change through her campaigns to stop human trafficking. Her efforts have fed through the channels of sport by setting up Sport For Freedom and Julia herself has completed rowing the Atlantic as a team and numerous cycling multi-day events.

england womns rugby

England Womens Rugby team, having won the World Cup in 2014 for the first time in 20 years, this is one of many all female teams in sport that showed us how it’s done.


There are many more women that I could continue to talk about that inspired us as a team (my mum being one of them  for me personally!), but there isn’t enough room on this page! A day like IWD gives us a chance to celebrate all those women that are stepping out their comfort zones to facilitate change, to help improve equality in the work place and inspire the next generation to believe they CAN. Thank you to all those women that inspired us and helped us to believe that we can.









Meg Dyos By

Yesterday, we were all asked the question by Andrew at New Level Results ‘How do you feel now it is all over?’ To which I replied: ‘I feel loved’ – and it is true. Amongst so many other emotions that I have running through me on a daily basis at the moment, ‘loved’ is at the top.

I don’t have a job, I’m living between London and my parents in Kent, and I have little money, but my belly has food in it, I am so happy and I feel loved. I have amazing friends and family and I don’t need anything else in my life to make me smile. The ocean breeze blows through my hair when I walk along the coast at home, and at that moment, looking out to sea when the sun is in my eyes, I realise just how lucky I am. Stop. Breathe. Smell. Feel. Taste. Hear, and more than anything love.

If I’m in London, I wake up and turn over to see a boy who means so much to me and has been my absolute rock before and during the row, but also now in this exciting and unknown time of what the future holds. When I’m in Kent I wake up to a delicious vegetable juice made with love by Mikey Boi. My family have lived and breathed the row for the past year. My Aunty Linda who runs Dolphin Swim School with Elaina have raised countless amounts of pounds with their children swimming every length of the 25 metre pool worth a mile of the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia. My Aunty Wendy, has taken up running and yoga and ran every day that we were on the Pacific (Wendy has never run before). My Grandparents held a huge strawberry afternoon tea in the summer, raising pounds and pounds, they also sent emails to all of the local press about us, and tell every person they know about our journey. My Aunty Jane, opened up in her very own blog about her experiences of having breast cancer. My sister Amy, wrote to hairdressers all around Cairns for us to get a haircut when we arrived on land – and then there is my mum and her partner Mikey boi. My mum fills me with hope in everything I do, she is the person that says ‘you can do it’ when I come up with another crazy idea, and she is the person who last night walked across hot coals for charity saying that she wishes it had been a bonfire! Without Mikey boi, I’m not sure my mum would be standing to tell the tale of how her daughter was on an unsupported boat in the Pacific, and seeing them both in Australia just made me think how lucky I am! But that’s not even to mention, friends, other family members, and everyone who reads our daily blogs who we have never met that have made us feel so loved.

Meg family

Then there are the six amazing girls (six because Ella, our social media guru is a complete and utter babette too) that I am just so fortunate to have crossed paths with – the rest of The Coxless Crew! Me and Lizanne worked in some teamwork together yesterday – difficult when one of you is thousands of miles away, but with Facetime my laptop came alive and I loved having Lizanne on my shoulder with me xxx


That doesn’t even name half of the reasons why I feel loved, but it does name a few. Since being back on land despite not being able to catch up with everyone yet, I can’t express how much that the people in each of our lives that are special to us mean. So I suppose this blog is a thank you. Thank you to everyone that has, and continues to support us in our challenge. There is just no way that we could have done it without you, but it’s not over. With more money to raise we need to continue to share our story and raise funds! Can you help?








Lizanne Van Vuuren By


As mentioned in my previous blogs, the diary that I kept when I was on the boat was stolen about 6 weeks ago.
In a bag with my phone and some clothes; my diary got snatched outside my work one evening.

By some miracle I got it all back.
And the story is too amazing not to share…

Through the “Find My Phone” app on iPhone I tracked my phone to Mannenberg, Cape Town. In the middle of gangster territory Dan and I went to the local police station and showed them on a screen where my phone was. (The signal went off 45mins previously, but we knew it was around there somewhere).

A team of 4 hardcore policemen escorted us through the streets of Manneneberg in their hardcore SUV with their hardcore protective gear trying to find my phone (At this stage I forgot my diary was in the bag) I felt a little like I did on the ocean; not in the safest environment, but completely safe, secure and trusting of the vessel and the team around me.

I felt bad creating such a fuss about a phone, to which Constable Jordan replied “yeah maybe it’s just a phone, but today it was you, and tomorrow it could happen to our families, so we want these people off the street”. In the heart of gangster Cape Town; these police are incredible.

We drove around for about an hour, following various leads. It was getting late and the police got called on another job, so we went home after leaving our details. The next day they called and asked us to come back to the Station. As I went to greet the officer he took my phone out of his pocket and said “is this your phone?” I was amazed!

They did not stop that previous night until they found it. I am still in awe. Unfortunately there was no sign of my bag.

It doesn’t end there though.

When I realized that my diary was in the bag we started a new mission trying to track it down. We found out from the Mannenberg police that shortly after the thieves stole my bag their car broke down. They abandoned the stolen car and got a friend to pick them up, handing over my phone to their friend as payment.

What happened to the car? My bag was typically girly with flowery patterns all over it, so we assumed they would have looked through my bag, taken the phone as the only valuable item in there and left the bag in the car as it might look too suspicious carrying it around with them.

We were right.

Dan was in communication with Constable Jordan trying to get as many leads on the case, and eventually tracked down the car impound center where abandoned stolen cars get sent to.

Making a trip there Dan gave the dates and a description of the car. “Ah yes, I remember this car” the security officer at the impound said. A man came to collect his stolen car the next day, and was questioned about the very girly bag in his car. The car owner said that it wasn’t his bag and didn’t want anything to do with it, so the security officer took said bag and stored it in the confiscated box.

On Wednesday, almost 6 weeks after the incident I went to collect my bag, and was reunited with my diary.

A huge thank you to the amazing team at Mannenberg police station. It is amazing to see that there are policemen who are truly trying to make the streets safer!




As it happens, Nats mum Anne is in Cape Town at the moment. Seeing as it was Nats birthday this week we saw it only fitting for the two of us to meet up and have a cocktail together to celebrate. We had a great catch up too. Happy birthday to the lovely Nat!


Health, relationships and happiness…

Natalia Cohen By

Health, friendship and happiness

I can’t believe it’s been one month since we stepped foot on land and ended our oceanic journey and one year since my last birthday!

Time certainly flies.

It’s been a fantastic week. The sun has been shining, my body is slowly healing and I’ve spent quality time with beautiful friends – old and new.

I have always believed that being as healthy as you can and having strong relationships are the main things you need to maintain a positive mindset and happy existence. Everything else that happens in life is incidental. Wealth, success, fame, adventure; they all mean different things to different people and don’t necessarily make you happy.

This week I’ve been tending to my physical and emotional well-being.

I’ve been stretching and strengthening my body slowly by doing some walking, pilates and yoga. It’s going to be a gradual process getting my tone back and increasing my strength again, but I’m being gentle with myself and enjoying the non-impact exercise. I’ve had a dental check up and tooth clean (very necessary after the 9 months of snack pack consuming) and received results back from my blood test showing that I have no deficiencies.

One of my biggest health concerns caused by our relentless sun exposure has also now been alleviated after a visit to the dermatologist and a skin check completed with the all clear given.

As well as spending a lot of time with my amazing brother and father (my mum is in Cape Town), I have been catching up with a number of friends and enjoying quality time with special people that I share a long history and deep connection with.

On my birthday yesterday I received messages from friends from all over the world (Facebook is a wonderful thing!) and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the incredible relationships I have developed over my 41 years of life and in particular over the last year with the girls. There is definitely something to be said for having strong, supportive, positive relationships with your family, friends, partners and/or community.



As I head to Oxfordshire this weekend to continue birthday celebrations and spend time with my best friend in the whole wide world, I have just watched a very wonderful TED talk about ‘What makes a good life?’ by Robert Waldinger who actually shares my belief on the importance of good relationships.

Having done a 75-year-old study on adult development he has access to data on true happiness and satisfaction and what it is that actually does keep us happy and healthy are in fact having close relationships and real social connections.

So as we move into the weekend, I urge you to re-connect with an old friend, forgive someone you’ve been holding a grudge against for so long that you can’t even remember why or make the time to connect genuinely with your partner/friend/parent/sibling/self.

Life is short and the one thing we have in common is that we all want to live it happily and healthily! x




Always remember…

Natalia Cohen By

Always remember…



Yes Expectations

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

This is a follow on blog from what Nat wrote yesterday.

From a young age many of us are taught to have high expectations. The media portrays what the perfect body, job, lifestyle or family should be. For most people it’s something to strive for, but how are we supposed to have it all? Surely somewhere along the line we are setting ourselves up for disappointment?

This consumed a large part of discussion Nats and I had on the ores. Hoouuurs spent discussing if expectations are good or bad in the early morning light as I tried to stay awake! Conversations with Nat always challenged me; making me decipher my ideologies into understanding why I believe what I believe.

(Time is an amazing tool offered to everyone. Take the time to think, you might get to know yourself a little better)

Personally, I’ve always had high expectations. I believe that in the same way that your thoughts depict reality, your expectations lay the foundation of your experience. If you expect something you believe it will happen, and by believing you can create the world you imagine. The “shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you will land amongst the stars” sort of thing.

It was refreshing walking into the row where some of us had never rowed before. Refreshing in the sense that I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve always thought this to be a positive, similar to Nat. Would we have done it if we really knew what we were in for?

For me the ocean was an unknown. Sitting on a beach the ocean often shows you glimpses of its power and the waves acting as a barrier to entry. Many people will never have the opportunity to witness the beauty or a 360 degree ocean view, or the blackness of an ocean night. I really had no idea.

I did however expect us all to get along, and I did expect the journey to be a success, and I did expect that my life would be different after the row. The foundation was there, and the particulars were colored in along the way.

I guess it should be said that expectations do need to be managed. Reading Nats blog from yesterday you might imagine how we debated this subject… Good or bad? I agree that expectations feed frustration, but my conclusion is that your expectations should be for yourself and the things you can control. The things you cannot control will either disappoint or amaze you, so be prepared for that too



UPDATE: If you read my blog last week you will know that the journal that I kept on the boat has been stolen.
It is almost unbelievable, but… Wait for it… WE KNOW WHERE IT IS! The boy Dan managed to track it down to a car impound complex in Cape Town. Amazing right??!! I need to collect it with proof of identification, so have booked off some time this coming week to retrieve it.

I also had wonderful catch up Skypes with Nats and Laura this week. Gosh it’s great to have them back on land x



No Expectations

Natalia Cohen By

No expectations…

This blog is dedicated to the lovely Lizanne as we had many a discussion on the oars regarding this subject. We never did come to an agreement but we enjoyed this fact, as we actually seemed to agree on pretty much everything else.

in the rain

What exactly are expectations and are they a good thing to have?

Having an anticipated outcome in your mind already of how you are going to feel about a place, person, situation or experience is an expectation.

How can we possibly know what will happen in the future?

Surely we are just setting ourselves up for disappointment with this preconceived idea or notion? So why do we do it?

I make an effort, wherever possible, not to have expectations as the reality very rarely is as good as what the imagination can create.

I have hope rather than expectations.

Being prepared is very different to having expectations and I do believe you can prepare fully for most events mentally and practically.

I had no expectations whatsoever for the row and, to be honest, I think that was the best way to be. I was able to experience things when they happened in a balanced and openhearted way without any predetermined ideas.

I’m not going to lie though; I did have hope for Samoa. I think the main reason was that when I travelled Hawaii in 2013 I went to the Polynesian Cultural Centre and of all the islands represented, Samoa was the one that grabbed my interest the most. There was something that resonated with me and a seed was sown that Samoa had to make it on to my list of top travel destinations. A year later the Row came along!

The island’s deep cultural connection with the ocean inspired me and, as it turned out, for me personally, our arrival into Samoa moved me more than our arrival into Cairns.


(In Samoa. Photo by Alana Fickes)

What has been interesting being back on land are the expectations and often misconceptions everyone has had of us.

‘You must be really fit!’, ‘you must have been so scared’, ‘Are you finding it tough to adjust?’, ‘have you found it difficult to sleep for 8 hours?’ and now and the main question on everyone’s lips…

’What are you going to do next?’

I have absolutely no idea.

I am, however, open to any interesting opportunities that may come my way. Although the travel industry is where my experience lies, I now know that we can achieve anything we set our minds to, so I am excited to see what prospects are out there.

In the meantime I stumbled across a very distinctive company that offer a unique travel concept that I find fascinating and was instantly intrigued. It is a company called Traveleyes that allow blind and partial sighted travellers to unite with sighted travellers and have the experience of a lifetime.

Over the last 15 years I have lived and worked in a variety of different destinations and immersed myself in many cultures. It it always the multi-sensory experience of each place that amazes me. Not only the sights but also the sounds, smells, flavours and feelings you get from exploring somewhere new.

During the row there were hours, days and months of only the ocean as our view, and we often needed to draw upon the other senses to create variety for ourselves. I would regularly spend time concentrating my attention on a different sense to that of sight and, especially at night time, in the pitch black endless sea, it was incredible to learn about the power of the mind and how heightened the other senses would become. It’s amazing how, with some mindfulness and concentration we can tune into these other senses and the sensations they provoke.

 x —————————– x

So…with no expectations, I have set my intention to be relaxed and open-minded over the next few weeks and see where the current of life takes me. Just as the waves will eventually wash up onto the shore, I know that the universe will guide me to my next adventure x