Day 39 & navigation update

Laura Penhaul By

Day 39 & navigation update

A few things that have brought joy to us on Doris in the last 24hrs… For the first time in nearly 2 weeks, we have sunshine!! We have had nothing but a constant blanket of grey cloud over us for as far as we could see over the recent weeks and so it’s unbelievable how good it feels to see blue sky. Secondly, our iPad is back up and running! Our iPad is our lifeline to writing the blogs and receiving mail from you, so without it we’d be limited to the phone and we all felt like we would be missing out on sharing our story, which to be honest, writing a blog and reading mail is the highlight of the day.

Finally we received our first contact on VHF. We have used our VHF plenty of times before to contact other boats, but never before has a nearby boat contacted us. So when I heard ‘Doris, Doris this is Marjorie, Marjorie, do you read me over’, we got so excited! Immediately I jumped on the VHF and responded. Chief mate Aaron and Second mate Steve were on a cruise liner from LA to Hawaii, they had contacted us after seeing Doris on AIS & noticed in our boat detail that we were just 8m long. After informing them of our project they were really supportive and turns out they will be at the Pier next to us in Honolulu in mid July when we hope to arrive. We have arranged to contact them on arrival and they plan to come over for a visit whilst also offering us a tour of their boat, which I suspect will be slightly more extravagant than Doris!

In the last 48hrs we have had to drop our course to 200 degrees nearly due South, but this has thankfully worked to help us avoid a high pressure system that would have pushed North East if we had continued West, so thanks to Uncle Tone (Tony Humphries our onshore support) we have missed it.

This is most probably as good a time as any to give a brief description of how we navigate, so that we can answer some of the questions that have been asked via our blogs. Tony Humphries (aka uncle tone to us) tracks our progress daily, whilst monitoring the currents, wind speed and direction. Tony sends us a daily update of the conditions and what course we should hold, via sat phone text, we then liaise with him with what conditions are actually like in situ, but 99% of the time Tony’s predictions are spot on, to the hour. We work to ‘course over ground’ rather than ‘heading’ because we are so influenced by wind and currents that we could be heading/ facing 90 degrees but travelling over the ground 180 degrees. On board Doris we are fortunate enough to be sponsored by Raymarine, who have fully kitted out Doris with equipment and Navionics who have kindly sponsored our maps. So here’s the list of kit aboard:

  • E7 chart plotter: this provides us with the ability to map our location, lat/long, distance travelled, ability to set waypoints and AIS signals of other boats etc.
  • AIS transceiver & receiver: this means we can see boats that are travelling within approx. 15miles of us and we set an alarm so that it alerts us when a boat enters within a 2mile radius of us. This is important when in big seas and at night time when line of sight is impaired. It also transmits a signal so that other boats who should all have an AIS onboard, can see us on their repeater even if they can’t see us by eye looking out at sea (such as boat Marjorie above).
  • p70 deck repeater: this repeats the course over ground from the chart plotter so we can see it on deck and hold ourselves on course.
  • tack tick range: for wind gauge, depth gauge and speed over ground.
  • Evo autopilot : we have only just started using this in the last week, as travelling below 1kt makes the pilot work too hard, so we stuck to hand steering during those times since we left Santa Barbara.
  • Navionics maps : Navionics gold is really clear and gives a great amount of detail when exiting or entering near land. We have maps for the U.S. That cover Hawaii and Samoa, with another card for Australian waters.
    If we were to have an electrical failure, then we have a battery powered handheld GPS as well as the Navionics uploaded via apps on our iPhones and iPads to give us real time, current location. So we’re confident we can maintain our own navigation ability aboard Doris if needed.



Hope this answers some questions but feel free to let us know if not.

Personal messages:
Heather – so lovely to receive your email hon, thank you for thinking of us it was great to hear your news of little Pip. With regards to X factor – love Grimmy but he’s not a producer/ singer to be a mentor so reckon that is twaddle & JC to finally leave Top Gear, interesting replacement!
Mary – glad all is good at home with you and Daz. In response to your question, no we don’t brush our teeth every 2hrs but usually twice a day still ;).
Jade & Kim- thanks for sorting the flat, exciting news jade about the move. Can’t wait to be back at Ullswater and finally enjoying some social time with you girls when I get back. Xx



  1. Fantastic………sunshine……..ipad back on track……and VHF!
    How wonderful to hear from a cruise liner! And we love hearing your blogs………….keep up the good work girls…….. And may the sun keep shining on you all……….Hawaii is awaiting your arrival!!!!!!

  2. Robert says:

    Uncle Tone routed you right into the high all the way from Santa Barbara, which is why your voyage has been so slow and uncomfortable. When you get south of 25 degrees north you will start to experience the winds that could have pushed you all the way from Santa Barbara to Honolulu if you had chosen to take advantage of them. Check out earth dot nullschool dot net click “earth” on bottom left for menu > & >> step forward 3 hours & 1 day, click “ocean” to see waves & currents. If your not in “now” you can change date to 2015/05/12/ in URL and you will see the surface winds on the date Doris started from Santa Barbara, you can then step forward to see the surface winds throughout the voyage. (Use mouse to zoom in & out and move map around in “earth”. If you click anywhere on the map a green circle will popup with details for that point in window on left. Click “grid” in menu to switch lat long grid on)

  3. JG says:

    Glad the iPad is working again but shame about Natalie’s Kindle. She could still read her books from the iPad/phone though. Winds looking good for you at the moment. Nice trades straight to Honolulu. Interesting navigation/back up info. Do you also have a gizmo that enlarges your image on other radar screens? You are very nearly half way now so well done team!

  4. JG says:

    Sorry – Isabels Kindle not Natalies !! Can’t edit once[posted.

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi Laura
    Saw your dad yesterday walking the dog and stopped to speak. I was out on my bike riding to Bissoe. I’m watching your progress now and again. Can only imagine what life is like in an 8 metre space – and that’s for four of you! Keep up the good work. Such an achievement what you have done so far so keep going and break all those records.
    Row row row your boat!!
    Sharon (Becki Daniell’s mum!)

  6. Maybe I’ve missed it but is there a reason there are no photos on your blog. Presume you are too busy and it takes up space>??

    But enjoying blogs so much.

    • Emma Mitchell Emma Mitchell says:

      Yes, it takes a lot of data to send photos Judith so only do them now and again! We have posted a few though. Glad you’re enjoying.

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