Leg 2, Day 56 – Time

Emma Mitchell By

Leg 2, Day 56 – Time

Time is a funny thing. It can go really quickly if you are with someone you love or doing something you enjoy. It can go infinitely slowly if you’re in pain or doing something boring. It can feel slow at the time and then feel like it’s passed in a second and play tricks on your mind. You can fill it or you can waste it. You can never get it back once it’s gone so if you don’t seize the opportunity then it is lost forever. Time on Doris is like a roller coaster, sometimes crawling slowly uphill and other times picking up so much speed we loose track of whether we are up or down. In many ways it seems ludicrous that we have spent 139 days at sea on Doris since leaving San Francisco and that it has been 56 days since we departed from the Hawaii Yacht Club on this leg of the journey. Especially when you consider that we have only recently passed the halfway mark. The time has flown past and I can’t even remember what has filled it all. But in other ways it feels like we have been out here forever, our normal lives forgotten and replaced with a new normal where our job is to get out on the oars and row every 2 hours and spend our down time in a tiny cabin.  San Francisco feels like another life ago, almost like it never happened and even our time in Hawaii feels like a dream.

The days on board Doris race past quickly living as we do in two hour chunks. With only three day shifts to row and a couple of awake shifts to do our daily admin, before you know it you are back to another night. Then you row and sleep through three night shifts and a new day begins before you have time to realise. I fear that readjustment to real life may be a challenge when we can’t take regular naps, have to make decisions and interact with people outside of the four of us. The days add up at frightening speed and before you know it you are writing a blog for day 56! However the days can also drag in terms of reaching our destination. We have been watching our little boat creep ever closer to the equator on our chart plotter for what seems like weeks, feeling like every time we started making good progress the winds and currents would send us erratically off in a new direction. It was hard not to get dispirited as the days went by and we still hadn’t reached that milestone. When we finally reached it in the middle of a wet and windy night it was a bit of an anticlimax. There was no sign to have our photo next to, no gift shop where we could buy the t-shirt, only four women on a boat, soggy in their wet weather jackets swigging rum from a bottle in a toast to Neptune. Now that we are over that physical and mental halfway point it already seems as if we are moving faster as we count down to Samoa rather than up to the equator.

It is in the individual two hour shifts however that I find time changes speed the most. These shifts can feel either really long or really short depending on your mood, sleepiness or activities. Out on the oars the time mainly passes fairly quickly with chit chat, music or gazing out across the ocean, but occasionally there is a rowing shift where 2 hours just seems endless. The sea feels like rowing through glue, the waves are cold, the steering won’t hold or you just can’t keep your eyes open. Clock watching makes the minutes feel like hours and once you start it is impossible to stop. In the cabin, time also seems to have a mind of its own. Sometimes you can make food, eat, wash yourself and some clothes, brush your hair, tidy your pocket and run the watermaker and still have time for a little lie down and read before heading back out on deck. Other times you manage to eat and then look at the clock and realise there are only 20mins before you need to be back out on the oars.

When time and miles start to crawl along we remind ourselves that there is only two hours until our next meal, snooze or row and then it seems more manageable. If we take care of the hours the days, weeks and months will take care of themselves.

UPDATE: There is enough salt crusted on my skin at the end of every rowing shift to season a fish and chip shop full of chips. We are less than 1000 nautical miles away from Samoa and making good progress in the windy and wet conditions. Lizanne still hasn’t managed to catch a fish despite the fact that all around us are birds managing to catch their dinner. LP provided us all with some middle of the night hysterical laughter by putting on two bikini tops over her sports bra in her sleepy getting ready to row in the cabin state.



  1. JG says:

    Well keeping busy always passes the time unnoticed. Two hours is an interesting length to do anything repetitive. Not too long and not too short. Easy to kill two hours, three hours or more not so good and could be bad for the spirit. As a driving instructor for the latter part of my working life I always provided two hour lessons. The learning curves were steeper and skills were more positively reinforced. One hour was a waste of time and three hours was more stress than most pupils could stand and dampened their enthusiasm. I therefore fully understand your blogpost Emma and applaud the Crew once again for their analytical and successful approach to their situation. As for rehabilitation into the wider community it will be your situation in reverse. How long did it take for you all to meld into the team that you are? Don’t forget, also, the practice and organisation before the expedition even started. The difference being of course that your are returning to what you know and was familiar whereas the challenge was an unknown quantity. You will never stop missing many aspects of your current existence, especially the simplicity of it, but their importance will diminish with time. JB had many sharks around his boat yesterday so you guys be careful, even in the overside loo situation! Enough from me Goodnight/morning – keep safe and have fun.

  2. Barney says:

    With Samoa the next target, I wonder how the crew changes are being viewed by Lizanne and by Meg. Lizanne has missed her best friend’s wedding, so that sense of purpose has dropped off the ‘to-do’ list, and she has already told us how her heart rules her head. Will she regret having to leave the boat? Of course she will, but by how much? Meg on the other hand has seen her start date dropping further and further down the calendar. How does she view the challenges of Leg 3 when Legs 1 and 2 have been so much tougher than envisaged. Is she cringing or salivating at the prospect? I guess we will have to wait to see the film unless my comment is picked up by L or M!!

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