Leg 2, Day 42 – Three amazing things about…

Emma Mitchell By

Three amazing things about…..

Over the last week or so we have all been listening more and more to audio books while on the oars. They make the time pass more quickly as they transport us to another place entirely as we spend yet another two hours rowing against the current. One of the books I have listened to is called ‘Three Amazing Things About You’. An entertaining and easy to listen to ‘romcom’ of a story it filled a happy 10 hours of rowing time. However it was the title of the book which inspired me to write this blog. Many of our blogs have talked about how we keep ourselves going in the frustrating times, about perseverance and about the small things which make us happy out here on the ocean when we’ve spent another day going in the wrong direction or getting splashed for a whole shift or when we are tired after waking from another too short nap. We have talked about our team values and how well we work together but what is missing is talk of the amazing girls who I am on this boat with. They are without doubt the thing which inspires me every day, makes me get up when I am tired and achy, makes me laugh when I am having a tough time and makes me persevere when all I want is to be back home. Happiness most definitely is being in the middle of the ocean on a 29ft boat with 3 of my favourite people in the world. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share this experience with than the 5 other members of the Coxless Crew. I don’t feel like I have the words to do justice to them but just as a start here is three amazing things about….

Day out 3

Three amazing things about Laura Penhaul…
1) If it wasn’t for LP none of us would be out here on the Pacific experiencing the highs, the lows, the unbelievable beauty and the infinite frustration of an ocean row. Laura worked for over three years to make it happen, to bring our team together and drive the project forward with perseverance, tenacity and stubbornness and an unfailing belief that we and Doris would make it to California ready to take on the challenge. Our kind, caring and generous skipper leads us fearlessly into battle against the wind, waves and currents of the mighty Pacific.

2) Laura can nap like no one I’ve ever met! “I’m just going to have a quick ten minute kip” she says, then closes her eyes and is out for the count instantly, not waking for anything. I’ve also never met anyone who after one of Alex’s brutal weights sessions will lie down on the floor and take a quick five minute nap regardless of the cold gym or uncomfortable conditions. She has the best ‘I’ve just woken up’ frown, makes me giggle with her nighttime gobbledegook antics and if I’m ever having a tough shift I only have to think about watching her through the hatch try to fit her head through the leg of her leggings in the middle of the night and I start laughing.

3) Laura loves a happy ending. A hopeless romantic at heart she loves a good rom com and has recited several of them to me on the oars at night. Always routing for the hero of the story and dreaming of being whisked off her feet by Prince Harry when we get home, her biggest failure of the row so far is not managing to make me cry when telling me the story of the notebook.

Three amazing things about Natalia Cohen…
1) Nat never fails to get a smile out of me. Whether with a joke, a song, a funny face, a laugh or just by looking at me until I can’t help but smile. She keeps us laughing on the boat and her infectious vibrant and passionate personality rubs off on us all. She has endless stories, can’t sing, and where I am tempted to get my head down and row hard in an attempt to fight the current she will make me stop and admire the sunset, the path of the moon or the wildlife around the boat. I am hugely grateful for that and am hoping enough of this spirit will have infected me by the time we make it to Australia that it will stick with me when we get home.

2) Perseverance is Nat’s middle name. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Nat took on responsibility for our media and PR as well as the website in the run up to our departure. Declaring to us that we would get Kylie Minogue as a patron she set out to make it happen, persevering until one day she rang me to say that we would be meeting Kylie the following day! Even more surprising is that she doesn’t realise how amazing she is.

3)The first time I met Nat at the first selection day we held in Bisham, she told me she had never rowed before but had gone to the gym and sat on the rowing machine for 2 hours just to see if she liked it. Luckily she did and luckily for us she joined our team. She still thinks that she isn’t a rower but I’m determined that I will manage to change her mind before we make it to Australia.

Three amazing things about Lizanne Van Vuren…
1) 42 days ago I barely knew Lizanne and she barely knew us. Joining the three of us who had already spent so much time together on Doris must have been intimidating but she fitted straight in. Nothing like living together in a confined space to accelerate the friendship process and I have loved getting to know our (now not so) new, funny, kind, generous and determined team mate. With gobbledegook to rival Laura’s every night shift brings a new side to Lizanne and I particularly enjoyed the story of Aladdin where Jafar was looking for the magic bucket in the cave and Aladdin was storing away his cereal bars.

2) Lizanne always seems to be able to see the positive side, to smile even when things aren’t going so well. Suffering with seasickness until a week ago every time the sea state changed she just got on with things even while hanging over the side every shift. If perseverance is Nat’s middle name then resilience must be Lizanne’s.

3) Lizanne can still look glamorous after 40 days at sea, seasickness, sleep deprivation and rowing for 12 hours every day. I think it’s her South African tan, blond hair and long legs coupled with the fact she is always smiling and laughing even when she’s spent most of a rowing shift hanging over the side of the boat.

Three amazing things about Isabel Burnham…
1) Izzy and I met at college when we were both trialing for the Cambridge boat race crew. That year we were both made ‘spares’ meaning that we wouldn’t be racing against Oxford but that we would be required to sub for ill or injured rowers during their training during the run up to the race and then be in Henley during race week in case we were needed. I found this a character building experience to say the least but Izz worked tirelessly and selflessly for the rest of the squad never complaining. She brings the same caring and generous spirit to our team.

2) It’s been said before and it’ll be said again but Izzy’s ability to remember stuff is phenomenal. Some of my favourite memories of our time together on Doris are of her learning poems in 5 minutes flat and then teaching them to me on the oars at 3 in the morning. Her sense of humour and storytelling ability passed many an hour of rowing.

3) As Nat always says, Izzy is the glue that holds together our team with organisation and planning that the rest of us slightly lack. You can always trust her to be doing better than her best and working tirelessly for the good of the team.

Three amazing things about Meg Dyos…
1) Meg is possibly the most enthusiastic person I know. We’re excited to have her bubbly and fun personality with us on Doris soon. She has attacked preparations for the row full on despite the fact that she has mainly had to do it on her own.

2) Meg has only ever met Doris on a trailer in the shed at Rossiters, has never slept in her or rowed in her and yet her adventurous spirit means she has signed up to row what may be the toughest leg yet of our journey.

3) The most amazing thing about Meg is that I have all the fun of getting to know her still to come once she joins us in Samoa to row the final leg to Cairns and I can’t wait.

UPDATE: As a wise rabbit once said ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. So suffice to say we have made it out of the North easterly current but are now stuck in a strong westerly current which means we are still struggling to go south and travelling at a painfully slow speed. However as a friend of Izzy said to us in an email yesterday ‘It’s shit going nowhere in a boat but it’s part of your present. Enjoy your moment. You will be back home for a long time.’ Wise words and ones we will try to heed.



  1. Ray Penhaul says:

    When you read a blog like this you can understand how they all stay so chirpy and positive, they understand and appreciate each others individualities and gel them together to form a very successful team of great lasses.

  2. Barney says:

    Crew selection will have been so vital in the preparation phase and to have found 4 humans to weld together as the first crew, then to remove one and substitute with a virtual stranger (“42 days ago I barely knew Lizanne and she barely knew us”) and still achieve a rock solid team dynamic is awesome. We were told in a previous blog that they have a number of experiments running with bone density changes and whatnot, but there must be a thesis in the making on personality interactions.

  3. Robert says:

    1.2 knots for 16 hours (19.2nm) what changed to get such a consistent speed over 8 watches?

  4. Robert says:

    Google street & boat views of American Samoa, & street views of the two small islands to the East!!! go check them out. Also street views of Canary Islands!

  5. Simon TY says:

    Another great blog. You all know each other so well, you will probably flatshare in a public phone box when you get back !! Or that may be too big as you can stand up.

    The miles seem suddenly to be moving and you are well south of Fanny Island. I wonder whether the island chain of the Line Islands provides any tiniest barrier to the current ? You have been very close ( ? Looked like 30-50 miles) from Fanning. Assuming it is a fishing community, I wonder how far they venture ? And surprising not a lot more bird life close to islands ?

    The Queen today becomes the longest serving British monarch. So raise an isotonic drink to Brenda.


  6. Jim Andrews says:

    What a fantastic and generous gift that was. Thank you and I think your shipmates will appreciate those well written and kind words. I wish for good weather fair winds and your safety. XX

  7. Robert says:

    Window of opportunity to make Kiritimati is about to open if you’re interested?

  8. Simon TY says:

    3.03 it says, I hope by now under 3……closer and closer to the Equator. Go go go xxx

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