Leg 2, Day 51 – Roly and Poly

Emma Mitchell By

Day 51 – Roly and Poly

We spend a lot of time with Roly and Poly on board Doris. About 6 quality hours with each of them every single day to be precise. Roly and Poly are our two rowing seats, Roly at the front in the stern and Poly at the back in the bows. They are made of wood (the only wooden thing on the boat) and slide up and down the deck on 8 roller blade wheels. Four of these wheels are upright and roll along the top of the deck and four are sideways underneath the seat and roll along the sides of the deck to keep the seat moving in a straight line. These wheels were the bane of my life for the first leg requiring a lot of maintenance and DIY. Inside the wheels are bearings which let them roll smoothly and in the first leg the wheels kept coming loose and damaging the bearings making the seats not roll so I spent a lot of time removing wheels and replacing bearings – not the most easy thing to do on a moving ocean rowing boat and meaning that either Roly or Poly was taken out of action for a while. Thankfully after some modifications with the help of Tony and a brand new set of full ceramic bearings from our sponsors RM Bearings we seem to have solved the problem this leg ‘touch wood’.

Since we sit on Roly or Poly for 12 hours each day, comfort is very important. We velcro foam cushions covered in a green waterproof cover onto the wooden seats to provide cushioning (although after 51 days they are starting to loose their padding ability) and then place a sheepskin on top. We each have our own personal sheepskin as the lanolin in the wool is soothing to angry bums and they are all named to tell them apart. LP also uses a ‘booster seat’ giving her extra height to ease the pressure on her hip and making the rest of us look like we are rowing in go karts.


Roly and Poly bring with them different responsibilities. The rower sitting in Roly in the front is responsible for the steering and sits looking at the bulkhead of the aft cabin. This contains the deck repeater telling us what heading we are travelling at and what our course over ground is, the aft cabin hatch which depending on the time of day can provide entertainment by watching the rowers inside and the stickers we have been putting up to mark off the days which we have been at sea. The rower sitting in Poly has less responsibility but duties include shuffling sheepskins to and from the fore cabin, rummaging for snack packs and staying in time with the rower in front. The view from Poly is mainly of the back of the rower in front and you are mainly isolated from any conversations between Roly and the aft cabin due to the sound of the wind and waves. The positive of Poly is that you get complete privacy when frequenting the bucket (unless there is someone in the fore cabin) although it does come with an increased splashing potential in most conditions.

UPDATE: Two nights ago Nat and I were on the oars in the darkness when we spotted some strange lights on the horizon. With the two of us this happens more than you might think so we waited to see if they would rise and were therefore stars. They didn’t and it become obvious that there were two boats, one passing in front of us and one behind. Like buses, you don’t see a boat for 45 days and then two come along at once. They were large fishing boats on their way to a fishing ground. Unfortunately they didn’t respond to our calls on the VHF so we didn’t get to have a chat but it is nice to know that there are other people out there!
Today we also got to chat to Meg and Izzy on the phone who are doing a 24 hour ergathon to raise money for our charities. They were 12 hours in when we spoke to them and doing amazingly although despite our testing conditions and salt water showers today I would still rather be here than sat on an erg for 12 hours!
We are still edging painfully slowly but surely towards the equator and are looking forward to the rituals and celebrations when that finally happens.



  1. Simon TY says:

    Dear Roly, Poly, Pudding and Pie ( you can divi up the names amongst yourselves) as I look at the map it says 1.04 North, so hopefully by now, into that last degree. The Equator must be a mythical land, always on the horizon, always a mirage and it will be a massive boost to get past it. It must be half way on this leg, half way in the total, half way psychologically, half way round the world in fact. So God speed, currents speed, let us get you there as soon as can be done.

    Boats in the night. I wonder if they were to learn how close you were whether they will be annoyed to have missed you. Middle of nowhere and a single rowing boat and you miss it….

    Weather here very autumnal. We now have a fire in the evenings and will get caught out by the first frost. The swallows have gone and the house martins are gathering on their way……….to the Equator. Though the other side of the world to you.

    I am sure you have great plans for the Equator. Cannot wait to hear what you get up to !!!

    XX keep safe

  2. Hi Girls! Great to hear what tremendous progress you are making. You all write so well – the Roly and Poly story is amazing in the technical skills you have and the clever and kind provision you have made for each others’ bums!

    Any estimates yet for your likely fundraising total?

    All the very best of luck, from David

  3. Hi again!
    I was just looking back through some of Nat’s posts, and saw Sept 5th where you ask ‘who lives on a place like Fanning Island’?
    In case you can look at Youtube videos, here is an answer – just the first 2/3’s of it probably!


    Have fun!

  4. Simon TY says:

    Call me old fashioned, but it says 1094 to Apia. That looks to me like half way…….when are you going to celebrate ? Presumably a multiple celebration at the Equator ?


Leave A Reply