Leg 2, Day 32 – Perseverance

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 32 – Perseverance

Perseverance. It means persistence. Doing something till the end and not giving up despite difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.

Why do we persevere?

This question circled around in my head last night as we fought a North-East current trying to go South-West. What keeps us going when we start drifting in the wrong direction despite rowing so hard our hands ache and legs feel like jelly? What keeps us pushing on when the wind picks up and starts to blow us backwards? What keeps us up when we’re so tired we start hallucinating? And what keeps the jokes flowing when the heat is so relentless it drains our energy and leaves us dehydrated despite the litres of water and electrolytes we’re consuming. Getting a little deep here, but I guess this is part of the journey- contemplating life and trying to make sense of it all.

We’re rowing the Pacific to raise money and support for our charities Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care. This already gives us reason to persevere. For me it’s not as simple as comparing the physical and emotional trauma that these women have endured with the strain it takes to row an ocean, but rather recognising that to get through any struggle there are shared attributes that gets you through; resilience, strength, inspiration.

Resilience is the ability to adapt to stress and adversity, and having the strength of character to allow yourself to be flexible and bounce back after something has knocked you down. Developing coping mechanisms to navigate through a crisis is usually accompanied by optimistic and positive attitudes. If this collaborates with inspiration and the capacity to withstand great force or pressure (either emotionally or physically) it creates the baseline for perseverance.

We’re not even halfway yet, so we’re climbing that hill towards our celebratory chocolate treat, our toast to Neptune and a swim across the Equator.

For Laura, she perseveres because of the gratitude and responsibility she feels towards everyone who have dedicated tremendous time and effort into making this row possible. Having worked on something for so long highlights her attitude of doing what she says she’s going to do, and completing the task at hand. She also has a close personal relation to the chosen charities, so for her the belief that the people supported by the charities have endured so much drives her forward. “There’s no other option. Quitting is never even an option”
She draws inspiration from the determination and willpower that she sees in the athletes that she works with, and knowing now that the rough times are often short lived and that it will get better at some point.

Emma draws on the support shown by so many. “We have so many followers and supporters and I don’t want to let them down”. Emma is also one of our strongest rowers, and she always gives 110% by seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. For her, Nat and Laura this leg is only a third of the journey, so having already spent so long at sea, she’s driven by making progress in the right direction and looking forward to getting halfway.

Nat hopes to draw insight from the row, as for her this expedition is all about the journey of life, and she’s hoping it will be the catalyst into helping her understand the human spirit better. “Some say that only by experiencing suffering ourselves can we better understand the suffering of others and deepen our compassion, and for me, I have always believed that the strength of the human spirit is the most powerful force there is”.
“How one accesses that strength, I have never been certain and I was sure that during this Pacific odyssey the question would be answered. So far I have nothing tangible. There is just this inexplicable determination, this desire to keep moving forward and complete what we have set out to do. I persevere because I believe so deeply in what we are doing. I also know that when we find ourselves in any particularly challenging moment in whatever form that comes (rough sea conditions, physical pain, counter current, wanting to be with family, cabin fever), that it will eventually change and that feeling you have will pass”

For me, it’s my best friends wedding that has kept me busting my groove as the dates are tight. Back on the boat I draw inspiration from my team mates, the girls. I know it is important to all of us to progress fast and well, so I feel a strong responsibility towards them to give only my best. I get my inspiration from my faith and other people showing incredible strength; like the woman I have never met fighting cancer while staying strong for her kids

We all have our Pacific to cross. Be it sickness, grievance, relationship trouble, work struggle, an injury, a disability, or addiction. Everyone has the ability to persevere, it’s recognising what to draw inspiration from and having the belief that you are strong enough to make it to the end. What draws this together for me is that Perseverance, Resilience, Strength and Inspiration are our team values, chosen before I even got involved.

UPDATE: Despite my serious blog, aboard Doris we still have a little laugh at our misfortunes. We had another Boobie hitch a ride with us this morning for a few hours and LP and I spotted 5 plastic bottles floating on the surface of the water during one of our shifts today.



  1. Amy says:

    LOVE the blogs! And it is not “too deep”- it is powerful and inspiring. I wish I had the courage and strength to do half of what you are accomplishing!
    Keep Going!
    Keep Believing!
    Keep Laughing!
    Keep Loving!
    Keep passionate!
    Keep Sharing the Deep thoughts of wisdom!!!

    ps: being an environmentalist
    it makes me sad to hear of the plastic pollution in our oceans. I’m sure there is a lot more than you speak of, I wish I was there to pick it out of the water and recycle it. 🙂

  2. Babs says:

    You girls never cease to amaze me with your very interesting blogs. The last few days have been so inspiring for us mere mortals on the homeland. How you all keep so cheerful, whilst battling such difficult circumstances, is incredible. Keep positive and most of all don’t loose that sense of humour, when your body aches and you crave sleep.I don’t think you realise how many people are following your progress. Stay safe and remember each stroke brings you nearer to your goal. Xx

  3. JG says:

    Its the ‘Dunkirk’ spirit over and over again – so well ilustrated by you girls. Ther great thing about it for me is that we read about it from your amazing blogposts as it is happening instead of so much later in a book, TV series or magazine article. I just wish the BBC would gets it’s brain in gear and start following you all. As a live series it would be fascinating. At the moment they are poncing about in Monteray Bay, Calif. having orgasms over stuff that you are seeing almost every day, Its almost embarrassing watrching their puerile antics. Writing these clever pieces whilst you are bouncing about on the Pacific like a demented pink poing pong ball is, to me anyway, an amazing feat in itself. Stay safe girls – with you all the way.

  4. Really, really good line: We all have our Pacifics to cross….

    Stay strong and safe, we are thinking of you every day!

    – Rob

  5. Simon TY says:

    Lizanne, another amazing blog. I had felt I was getting to know the other girls before Hawaii and can now begin to say the same. Unbelieveably spirit, unbelievable grit. I an only imagine how frustrating it must be to be moving across the water, at 110%, but seeing the blasted GPS showing you moving backwards

    Keep laughing, keep inspiring and realise what a special achievement this will be

    XX Simon TY

  6. Barbara says:

    Amazing blog Liz,you are so wise beyond your years and a true inspiration to all that cross your path lol Barbs

  7. sonja says:

    Just been led to this blog by our cornish friends. very inspiring. wishing you all the best for the rest of your journey. Sonja

  8. Robert says:

    1 – sensible perseverance, you plan to do something taking into account all the factors involved but “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft agley”, things go pear shaped, but perseverance in the face of adversity pulls you through.
    2 – dumb perseverance, we fail to adequately prepare for something and are forced to persevere through unnecessary hardship as a consequence.

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