Leg 2, Day 16 – Meet Doris

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Leg 2, Day 16 – Meet Doris

Doris is one of the girls. She’s streamline, pink, and basically the glue that holds the 6 of us girls together. Like a good mother-figure she protects us, carries us and reassures us when we need it.

I am getting to know her better each day and have become fascinated by her design. There have been many nights when the waves crash onto the cabin walls inches from my head and I am amazed that she remains intact and scar-free. Similarly, when riding the waves there have been a number of times I thought she might capsize, but elegantly she just glides over unfazed.

No one knows Doris better than LP, so on our sunset shift yesterday I got the lowdown.

Doris was made by Rossiters in the UK, using Keflar and glass with a foam sandwich, and carbon fibre in the bulk heads. This basically makes Doris bullet proof yet light as a feather.

The Deck:

There are two rowing seats; one behind the other, and unless the weather is dangerously stormy these two positions will always be occupied.

The front rower is positioned next to the hand steering so will have the responsibility of maintaining our course heading. In true fashion, Doris has top-of-the-range navigation gear from Raymarine, so there is a deck repeater to the side of the hatch door which displays our heading, COG (course over ground) and speed. Our routine allows for the rowers to change position after every shift, ensuring that everyone shares the steering and navigation roles.

Below the front rower is our life raft and flares. This is easily accessible, but out of the way as we hopefully will never need to use it. Interestingly, we should in theory never need to abandon Doris as she will always float, even when the cabins are flooded. This is due to all the air pockets she has within her.

Below the second rower is the ballast water. We currently have about 110 litres of water which basically acts as a weight at the bottom of the boat. This means that Doris will need to tilt sideways at least 90 degrees before she capsizes. We could have used anything for this extra weight, but the water doubles up as emergency water if the water maker was to fail. A sneaky second function of our life raft is also to act as a ballast as it weighs 30kg.

On deck there are 3 Lumar hatches either side of the rowers. This is where we store food, mechanics bag, ropes and para-anchor and Tupperware. It’s important that the weight within these are evenly distributed to ensure Doris remains balanced. There are another 4 Henderson hatches distributed one at the front and 3 at the back which houses our snack packs, and eventually our rubbish.

If the deck gets immersed in a wave (which occasionally happens) the water drains within about 30 seconds through the scuppers as there is a slight gradient either side.

The Aft Cabin:

This is our main cabin. The size of a small two man tent, the aft cabin houses our electronics and water maker. This cabin has a footwell, which means that you can sit up-right at the door (rather than crossing legs). There is a shelf to the left which is where the autopilot sits, and the shelf becomes a bit of a “dumping ground” for sunglasses, lip balm, iPods and random snacks. To the right is our GPS, VHF Radio and battery display monitors (which allows us to see what % the batteries are charged from the solar panels).

We each have our own pocket for personal belongings (clothes, books, toiletries) and two communal pockets for everything shared. Below the cushions are hatches for our wet weather gear which has been used intermittently since leaving Hawaii.

This cabin also has a port hatch which allows for the occasional breeze to flow through the cabin. The cabin hatches are (almost) always kept closed, especially during rough sees, as this is necessary for Doris to self correct if she was to capsize. If the cabins flood this will not be possible. Luckily Tony installed my favourite piece of equipment in the cabins before we departed Hawaii… The almighty fan! (sometimes feels a bit like a fan oven, but moving air is better than nothing!)

Fore Cabin:

Another small two man tent, but without a footwell and without a port hatch. This cabin gets absolutely roasting in the heat of the day, but is lovely during the night. Occasionally one of us will sleep in there, although due to electronics and the log book being in the Aft Cabin we mainly pair up in there.

Below the cushions in this cabin is most of our “extras”. Sunscreen, soap, after sun, baby wipes, baby powder… My favourite part of Doris is in the cabin; our BAM (Buy A Mile) Wall. On the walls are all the names of the people who have sponsored us and “bought a mile”. It is so heartwarming to see the names of everyone who have contributed to our row and to see the names of loved ones, acting as little letters of support.

I have not once felt unsafe or vulnerable in Doris. She is a true resilient companion who will get us across the Pacific safely.

UPDATE:

LP and I had another swim yesterday. Within minutes we were surrounded by about 10 Mahi Mahi. The night before we rowed through the hardest torrential rain I have ever experienced! We both just laughed with a “Where on earth did this come from?!”

We have been rowing hard with slow progress over the past 24hours due to a change in current and a slight Southerly wind. To paint a picture; imagine rowing through treacle…

Lastly, a huge public apology to our new friends Freddy and Clyde, the FRIGATEBIRDS. They have actually been beautifully behaved so did not warrant being called FRIGGETS (haha oops!)

I might put that error down to a second bout of sea sickness. Won’t happen again. (Thanks for pointing this out Simon and on a side note: the full name for these birds are ‘Magnificent Frigate bird’…. What a name!

Lizanne x

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9 Comments

  1. Tashels says:

    Lizzle- how do you brush your teeth 🙂

    love reading these!!!

  2. Simon TY says:

    No further mention of meteor shower ? Maybe cloudy last night. Though past the peak, today the moon is weakest, so my paper says tonight might be the best night viewing of all. Let us know.

    Frigates. Magnificent. Are there some that are no Magnificent ? the Slightly Down in the Dumps Frigate ? I loved the blog yesterday and some of the replies were brilliant. Xxx

  3. JG says:

    Great blogpost Lizanne. I am fascinated by the electronics and technicalities of your expedition and your explanation was great reading for me. Tomorrow is VJ day and of course the Pacific was the scene for much of that conflict with reminders and relics of it on almost every atoll and island from California to New Zealand including the island from which the two atomic bombs were taken to Japan. Keep safe and have fun.

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    Thank you Lizanne for a well written description of the workings of Doris. She sounds elegant, strong, well put together,well equipped, agile and safe. A bit like the crew really. Well done so far every stroke completed is one less needed. Stay safe. XX

  5. Karla says:

    Love to hear that you guys always feel safe in trusty Doris! Your adventures sound incredible! 🙂 x

  6. Mike says:

    COG, VHF, GPS… we’ll make a sailor of you yet! Extremely jealous of your isolated adventure x

  7. Chrissi says:

    Great read Liz! Fascinating stuff. Rooting for you girls all the way, especially during Woman’s Month. You make us all proud and feeling strong. Much love… Xxx

  8. MS says:

    The downpour you rowed through was probably part of the dissipating former hurricane Hilda…now a tropical depression..translation ..lots of rain

  9. Hello Doris and The Coxless Crew –
    You are truly amazing! What a great post this is, so descriptive, I feel like I’m there. Ha! You are so brave and an amazing inspiration!
    Cheers!
    Sylvia

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