Leg 2, Day 36 – Happiness is…

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 36 – Happiness is…

A state of mind, a collection of stolen moments elevating the spirit and raising the corners of your mouth into a cheeky grin or causing you to laugh out loud. It’s the purpose of life for many and we all strive to have some form of happiness in our lives. It comes in many forms; guilty pleasures, spending time with loved ones, completing goals, helping someone in need etc. it depends again on what is important to you in life and love.

My dad has always said “find pleasure in the small things”, and it’s the piece of advice I hope to live by forever. Unfortunately the past week has been my worst since getting on the boat, all because of a little misunderstanding between what my eyes can see and what my vestibular system can feel… Aka sea sickness, my nemesis.

I expected to get sea sick. I mean, I get car sick if I even just glance at a book. I can sleep in a 10min car journey because it’s how I dealt with feeling sick and it’s been such a common occurrence in my life I have even adopted a ‘brace position’; lying curled up in a ball on my front with my head cupped in my hands. The thing I was not expecting however is the duration of my nemesis remaining on the boat. We’ve been out here for over a month now and every time the sea state picks up a little, that’s me gone.

Pushing through physical pain is something I’m used to doing with sports throughout my life. No pain no gain and all that. It’s the pain where you can stick your earphones in and pretend to be Rocky Balboa. It’s what all the motivational videos are about on YouTube and it’s the conversations you have with yourself to keep pushing until you’re over the finish line, and then the pride you feel for having pushed yourself to the limit.
I’ve just never seen someone fighting sea sickness to the theme tune “Eye of the Tiger”. It’s so uncool, if only Rocky hung his head over the side of a boat every few hours…

The girls have once again shown the strength of this team. Like a good Adventure Racing team, when one person is struggling the others pull together to pull them up, an act that will go full circle as we all ride our roller coaster of emotion and physical ailments.

So I digress. It’s basically just highlighted the small things I need to hold onto to find happiness in my days.

Emma wrote in her blog in leg one that ‘Happiness is a dry pair of socks’, more relevant now perhaps would be a wet pair of socks as we chase rain clouds across the Pacific on these sunny days. So without further ado, happiness is…

Washing your hair- we don’t do this everyday, mainly due to the hassle it takes, but when one person does you’ll often find the rest will follow as the envy of clean hair is just too much. (Nat is still trying to get us a fourth world record though; Female who has endured the longest duration on a boat without washing her hair)

Travelling over 1.5 knots- and better yet, travelling over 2 knots and being able to use the autopilot

A clean towel

A clean bed sheet- basically just clean anything.

Wildlife- it seems that no one wants to be stuck in the doldrums, even the wildlife has been scarce! But when we do see a fish, a bird, a whale or some dolphins there is a buzz on the boat.

Cool shift- this can be in the form of a breeze, cloud cover from the sun rays, rainfall or a night shift. Every few days a good rain shower is a real treat to get all the saltiness washed from the boat.

Making it through a shift without getting splashed- this is especially exciting if you get through the 10min danger zone without getting wet.

Finding the perfect snack pack- Oreos, crackers, cereal bars, dried fruit and more… Finding the perfect combo will usually prelude to everyone being told that their perfect snack pack has been found.

A chocolate pot- these are little pots of chocolatey goodness that serve as a treat on the boat for when we reward ourselves or need a pick-up after a really tough few weeks.

Talc- “Hi my name is Natalia, and I’m a Talc-aholic” this was actually said the other day as Nat applied her talc after a night shift. We will be embracing and fully incorporating talc into our lives when we get home. Initially meant for our feet to keep them dry after rowing shifts, it now gets applied to pretty much everything

Sudocreme- closely follows the talc in being an essential on the boat. Again, it’s not just for salt sores, everything slightly red or angry gets an application of sudocreme.

Swimming in the big blue- I think I have found my ultimate happiness, which is a problem as I certainly don’t want to return to the Pacific every time to get my fix of happiness, but nothing can quite compare to swimming in this ocean amongst the fish and a drop below you, not even really sure how deep it goes

Watching the speckled starry night- no light pollution, no moon, the night sky comes alive with the occasional shooting star

Having the deck speakers blaring music as we row- recently Laura played a song that took me back to the summer when I was 18! Music is a very important part of the row…

Myself and Laura coming out of a hallucinative state on our dawn shift, realising what we were just talking about made absolutely no sense and laughing so hard we woke Nat and Ems and all the fish in the sea below us

Lightening- being able to admire it’s beauty from a distance

Lizanne x



  1. Sarah says:

    Fabulous blog ladies and in answer to your question

    The average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet . The deepest part of the ocean is called the Challenger Deep and is located beneath the western Pacific Ocean in the southern end of the Mariana Trench, which runs several hundred kilometers southwest of the U.S. territorial island of Guam.. This is the equivalent of 2.3 miles. Just think of all the amazing sea life below you.

  2. Barney says:

    I noticed you had missed a turn as the blog writer a few days back and I doubted you had run out of things to say Lizanne, so do I gather it was the mal de mer which was responsible? Can only sympathise as I had the same problem with all forms of transport as a kid. I grew out of it eventually but I guess you were not so lucky. In planes I do believe I beat the nausea by having to fly in small planes (2-seaters, 4-seaters) and starting to enjoy the ups and the downs, the banking and the sudden drops. It was mostly psychological by the time I was into my 20’s. So my suggestion, as a veteran of motion sickness, is to learn to enjoy the ‘sea state when it picks up a little’ and convince yourself you will conquer the curse.

  3. Simon TY says:

    Lizanne, you poor thing. I witnessed my father in appalling state with sea sickness and there is no escape. I was always told that a swim, however roughy the swell, will take the sickness away. It did work for me once. However, cannot add whether the relief is sustained……worth a try if can be fitted into the shifts very quickly. Has anyone tried swimming alongside Doris ? At 1 knot should be able to keep up ? Or are sea beasties too much of a worry.

    As an aside, your blogs are now posted late evening UK time, so if you wonder why no one is responding, we are asleep. We are all still following and looking for your dots. But there may be a10 hr delay ( as now) before some of us wake up.

    You are not aware of any seasons on the equator. Here it is feeling very autumnal. Worst August ever and September has started misty and chilly. The swallows are gathering in the bean fields around us in their thousands. It has been amazing sight as midgies or something must just have hatched and the swallows were skimming in massive numbers at waist height. All ready to leave our horrid summer and head back to Africa. Blackberries are a bumper crop. Yesterday the bushes behind our farm were a swarm of blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, chaffinches and the occasional bullfinch…..the berries must suddenly be ripe. There are medlars, sloes, hawthorn, rose hips and the obvious blackberries in abundance. Time to fatten up for autumn for all the little birds.

    The sun is getting lower. It is dark now by eight on a gloomy evening. The dew is heavy and takes longer to clear. It lies on a mass of cobwebs on the grass, like silk handkerchiefs. And the fairy rings of mushrooms have reappeared. You have not commented on the speed of the sunsets: how on the Equator it drops like a stone, and really quickly. Here it slides across to the horizon sideways. With you, it sets vertically below the point it was an hour before. And so quickly. I remember talking to a professional Chinese couple ( accountant and engineer) in Malaysia and saying Scotland was so lovely in June as the days are so long. They looked blank. Their education had never covered the tilt of the earth and they had no conception of longer and shorter days. KL has no seasons, not really even a monsoon, and the days are pretty much all the same length. I also told them that many of our trees lose their leaves in winter and they did not believe me. Never heard of it !!

    I cannot remember if anyone has told you…..One Direction are splitting up.

    School starts today. Georgina has been back a few days. Laura I need some exercises as she has an intercostal (?) tear ( sort of below her sternum) which is restricting her football career and just not getting better. Tilly starts in Reception today. Max at nursery. Laura I can always place when you told me about the row. I said ” I have some news, we are having a second child”. And that was Max who was born Jan 2012. So must have been about July 2011. And you replied ” I also have some news: I am going to row across the Pacific”. And I thought you were nuts ( still are). So all of Max’ life you have been planning this, training, fundraising, enthusing, never giving up, cajoling, persuading, explaining, more training, driving back and forth, more training, despair, then back on track again. Amazing. I only know your story over the last four years, but it must be similar for the rest of you. Unbelievable grit and determination to get to the starting line ( and unbelievable courage to set off again from Santa Barbara). I admire you all more than I can describe.

    I hope you have a good day. Good day ? Well clean hair, unsplashed shifts, cool rain, the right snack packs, decent progress across the map, Dolphins, birds, sunsets, messages from home. Those are the important things !!!

    Well done xxxxx

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    You have my utmost sympathy, the thought of being constantly nauseous must be pretty grim. I am off to the Lake District (Silverdale) for a weeks walking and meditation. Our little Westie Buster will be accompanying us. It is only a couple of hours away but the poor little lad gets travel sick. Not on the same scale as being on the Pacific, I know but he will be just as miserable. I hope the sea state remains bearable for you and your 3 shipmates give you lots of support. Progress is improving and the mid way point is imminent. Chin up, You have several thousand people rooting for you. Stay

  5. Simon TY says:

    Have bothered to look at a proper map to work out where the Equator is. That little island straight ahead is Fanning Island ( Tabuaeran) at Latitude 3*52 N. The bigger one ahead is Christmas Island ( u are a few months early) or Kiritimati and that is 1*53N. So, answered my question, just below the bigger island. Go for it xxxx

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