Leg 2, Day 40 – Parents….

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Leg 2, Day 40 – Parents….

There is no unconditional love like that of a parent’s… Lucky really, for some. They teach us, lead us, care for us, and have that special ability to embarrass us and drive us bonkers, but what is life without a little crazy…..? Dull. They are our examples, our idols and for some we start to find great friends in them as we grow up. We take our parents for granted, and we often fail to realise just how much they have sacrificed for us. So I thought it about time that the people at the deepest core of this row are revealed.

We all owe some degree of us being out here on the Pacific to our parents, whether we (or they) want to admit it or not. I know my mum secretly wishes she hadn’t succeeded quite as well as she has at teaching me to believe that I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to. Combined with a calm demeanour inherited from my dad, stress rarely gets the better of me and I am able to fearlessly dive head first into many unknowns. The extent of what I achieve has been and will forever be restricted only by my own imagination.

My parents had a BBQ last night (we’re South African, so it was actually a ‘braai’) for all the ‘Rower Parents’. Sadly Izz and Nat’s parents couldn’t make it, but Laura, Ems and Meg’s parents all got together with mine, so we gave them a quick call after our first morning shift to touch base on this rare occasion. I couldn’t help but wonder if the people who had raised us would get on as well as we did on the boat. Many of them had met before, but with Meg and I being “newbies” the parents were still to be united. They were in for a treat…. My dad makes the best steak sauce.

I’m sure like many parents would agree, mine weren’t particularly thrilled at the notion of their only daughter trotting off to row an ocean. It’s been one of the questions… “Well, what do your parents say??” so universally I think it is understood that there has got to be some degree of fear, hope and trust in our abilities to safely get to the other side. Many of our blogs have talked about adapting to circumstances; sink or swim, and it’s exactly the qualities I have seen in all of our parents. Regardless of feelings, our parents have been supporting, helping, fundraising, hosting, talking to whoever will listen, praying, researching and following our progress with hawk eyes as they knew there’s no other option than to jump aboard. It’s also shown me a completely new side to them, privileged that I otherwise would not have had that opportunity.

I always knew that I will never know the extent of worry I have caused my parents until the day I have my own children, but I’m thankful to have had a baseline example of how not to fight the current, but to “roll with the waves” like my parents have.

As you might expect, on the boat we have all spoken and told stories about our parents, so I know I’m not alone when I say that we all thank our lucky stars to have been given such extraordinary parents. Yes, they do drive us crazy sometimes, but like I said… Wouldn’t life be dull if they didn’t

UPDATE: Great news!! We have finally crossed and left the Equatorial Counter Current that was pushing us East! We had one lovely shift where the effects were felt, ahhhh, what a relief…. before… Bad news! We entered into a North Easterly current with Southerly winds pushing us North. (Tony… That lovely blog about you might get retracted if you don’t bring good news soon!)

Today has been unkind to the claw hand as we again row as hard as we can. There’s always so much talk about ‘finding the man of your dreams’ where out here on the Pacific we’d rather just ‘find the current of our dreams’ to take us swiftly off our feet to Samoa.

Before our misfortune however, last night was one of the most beautiful, perfect rowing conditions. Still, calm and so flat that with mostly cloud cover, the reflection of ONE STAR shimmered brightly as a reflection on the water. The moon rise was a dark orange, and while Ems and I were on the oars we entered into a squall that appeared so suddenly, I had mere moments to save the Oreos! It was one for the memory bank as rain was coming from all angles, harder than ever, and the waves were again crashing around us.

Happiness isn’t: the 10 minute Danger Zone seems to have increased to 15 as Ems and I got a proper hair wetting this morning.

Happiness is: no sea sickness!! And Ems and I spotted a Blue Marlin this morning. Marvin the Marlin.

Love, Lizanne x



  1. Lizanne, so proud of you!! Keep safe and enjoy every moment. Die Van Wyk’s mis jou xx

  2. It never ceases to amaze me the constancy of your (all of you girls!) such articulate,inspirational and vivid blogs, given the times when you must be feeling so emotionally and physically drained. Please keep them coming in the knowledge that there are so many of us ‘landlubbers’ who are following you every step of the way and willing you on every stroke of the oar. Go girls!!!!! (and that includes Doris of course:-) )

  3. Simon TY says:

    People pay £1000s of pounds to see a Blue Marlin ( and then try and catch them). Should tell them that if you row for 40 days in the central Pacific, you can get to see one for free. Might catch on, though doubt it. What is the difference between a Blue Marlin and a White Marlin ?

    BTW does anyone on Kiritibati know you are passing by ? Assume their coastguard does not really exist ? But if there was anyone on Fanning who knew ( by short wave radio presumably), would they come out and see you ? I know they are not allowed to help or reprovision you, but just to wave, say “you are nutters, did you really row here ?” and wish you bon voyage.

    Sorry the currents are playing unfair at the moment. Come on Tone, sort them out. I want a few days of 30-40nm. And I am sure you do to claw hand adventurers

  4. Tara says:

    You ladies and a shining example to all of us. As I sit here in Seattle sipping coffee in a lovely bookstore cafe I wish I was out there pulling hard on those oars and saving oreos from squalls and watching blue marlins visit my pink boat.
    Keep rocking, keep the spirit, keep safe and hoping that seasickness is a thing of the past!!!

  5. Simon TY says:

    Men’s Eight wins gold at rowing World Champs. Glover and Stanning retain Pairs title. Para rowers get five medals, inc Gold for Mixed Four.

  6. Babs and Ray says:

    What an amazing blog again, thank you. We had the most superb meal at your parents Saturday night, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening with such good company with the other parents. If we could have bottled all the pride and positivity around the table, and then sent it to you guys, you would have already got to Samoa ( but then it would be classed as assisted) You all maybe finding it difficult now, but hopefully very soon things will improve with the help of a change in the wind direction and current. You all are digging deep, but we know you will do it. Xx

  7. JG says:

    Cruise ships visit Fanning Island periodically – perhaps there is a chance of your seeing one in that area. Maybe the currents you need are a bit further south. I wonder what your greatest concerns are as you battle across the vast Pacific ocean in your tiny boat. I presume you continue to assess the ‘what if’ situations regularly.

  8. Justine says:

    Lasagne! You go my girl! Been thinking about you out there. I’m so proud of you!! It must be tough. Keep going!! And your dad does make the best steak sauce xxxx

  9. Hi Lizaane…and all girls 😉

    Jis jou blog het my hartsnaare diep geraak vandag!
    Ons ouers IS en SAL altyd die beste bly! Partykeer moet mens ver weg wees van hulle af om die diepte en breedte van hul liefde en omgee regtig te kan besef!
    Jou ma whatsapp gereeld en vra my om te bid vir julle…ek doen..elke dag! Liewe Jesus is saam met julle in daai roei boot.
    Hou moed…wees sterk!
    jy gaan stunning bene en arms he as jy afklim..eks sommer jealous..hehehe
    Baie liefde Cheryl

  10. Abi says:

    Hi Lizzy-Anne,

    Well done so far!!!

    Even though I worry about you everyday, I make sure I check your blogs daily to see that you are all still ok, we are so proud of you all for taking on such an incredible adventure !!
    I miss you terribly my friend, but am so proud of you!!
    Stay strong and I hope your sea-sickness has finally ended for good 🙂

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