Leg 2, Day 57 – The Sisterhood

Natalia Cohen By

Day 57 – The sisterhood

Despite contrary belief, put a group of women together and they do not spend all their time talking about hair, clothes and men! Well actually…I suppose out here we do talk a lot about how bad our hair and clothes smell, and do spend time every day discussing the likes of Albert, Bertie, Bill, Tommy and Fernando to name a few. Hmmmm…have you noticed, dear followers, that every creature that has crossed our path out here on the almighty Pacific has been given a male name?
Apart from one white bird who I named Whitney (Whitney white bird – obviously), we have just all automatically gravitated towards masculine naming of wildlife. I wonder why this is? There is obviously a serious lack of testosterone on Doris, and although we do think about men regularly, enjoy their energy, are very much looking forward to Samoa for certain reasons, our existence right now is one of pure sisterhood. So…we embrace it.

What is it REALLY like on a small boat with 4 women is what everyone is dying to know. You all naturally assume there will be drama and hair pulling. This is not the case. None of us would ever even so much as dream of touching each other’s filthy hair!!


As well as time being a bizarre thing out here on the ocean, space is also an interesting concept. There are moments when our 29ft by 6ft (approx) home feels like the tiniest space in the world. You can walk across the deck in 4 steps and the cabins are cramped, cavelike and filled to the brim with ‘stuff’. This small area is shared by strong, independent, sleep deprived, determined women! Amazingly, there have been no cat fights, bitchiness or hormonal induced arguments. Testament to our different yet complementary personalities and way of dealing with varying situations, we face conflict, if it arises, openly and honestly and then move on. We’re all filled with empathy, look out for each other daily, are intuitive to changing moods and generally face all challenges with impressive group strength and humour. That really is the way it is. No lie.

It is indeed a random existence that we are living and breathing right now and it is not often I am surrounded by 3 women whom I spend the same 24 hour day with – day in and day out with no time on my own and no escape from the bubble that we’re encased in.

There is no personal space whatsoever; nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. You can hear everyone’s conversations and they can hear yours. You can see one another at all times on the boat apart from when you are on Poly when you sit behind the front rower and when both other girls are in the aft cabin and have their sun shade up, so cannot see out. To put it into perspective, we don’t even get to shower, or go to the toilet (a no. 1 or no. 2) without someone watching us!

If you need time on your own you have fleeting opportunities during awake shifts to escape to the minute sized fore cabin filled with the spare dagger board, excess sheepskins (they stink!!), and all the other miscellaneous equipment placed in there. It’s certainly not the most inviting retreat but there is simply nowhere else to go!

We’re exposed so completely and utterly, mentally and physically, that there is no time for modesty, embarrassment or deceit. We know each other intimately almost in the same way husbands and wives do, but obviously none of us share a romantic connection (even though we do enjoy the odd communal shower!?) So, as is to be expected, occasionally, there may be a slight disagreement, a frayed temper or a sleepy silence, but feelings are shared and then any negativity let go of quickly and easily. It amazes me the underlying respect and compassion I have for this incredible sisterhood even if on occasion someone frustrates me to the point where I want to pull faces at the back of them when on Poly.

My travels have thought me that lack of space is common place for the majority of the developing world. I’ve seen countless family homes where 4 or 6 people cram into one room, so in that respect our situation is not that unusual. However, what makes our situation completely unique is that we have nowhere to go even if we wanted to. We’re all in the same boat (literally) and we have to deal with it the best way we can.

Although it is impossible to distance yourself physically on Doris, mentally there are ways of creating personal space. Spending a row shift listening to your own music or an audiobook, is a great way to have some ‘alone time’. I also find that if I begin to feel overwhelmed by the lack of space, all I need to do is sit on the deck and stare out at the immense vastness that is the Pacific Ocean. That never ceases to provide me with the best reminder that I can create my own space in my mind, and that is what I need to draw upon when times get tough. I have always been a person that enjoys brief moments each day of solitude, so having a lack of this is something that dumbfounds me more than having spent 141 days at sea living on a 29ft pink boat. I have not really had any time on my own since leaving San Francisco, so that’s over 5 months (close to half a year) where I have simply not had my own space. This in itself has been an fascinating experience x

Visits today included Monty the Masked Booby and Daniel the dolphin and his friends.
We also have Salt and Pepper who visit us daily who I don’t believe you’ve been introduced to yet. They are a pair of beautiful, if a little loud, Sooty Terns



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    Great report Natalia. We cannot begin to imagine what it must be like in that tiny boat for 140 days. This is what makes your mental strength inspirational. I think we can all relate to your physical strength. I imagine that a prison sentence is considerably easier than what you are putting yourselves through. You are making much better progress and Samoa is getting closer by the day. Shower, bed, food space all just over 900 miles away. My admiration is at bursting point. Well done, keep with it and stay safe. XX

  2. Paul says:

    Each day I read your intrepid adventures on the high seas and am absolutely in awe (or should that be “oar”) of what you have already achieved AND continue to achieve! Bravo. Safe Travels.

  3. Simon TY says:

    Hey, sisterhood, scary Amazon Siren woman covenhood. Have emailed as Izzy says you get those each day.

    Brilliant progress. Now over 1 degree S in blink of an eye ( rather quicker than last 1 degree north took. Hope weather good, sunsets great, sharks nowhere to be seen ( god how frustrating thinking you cannot swim).

    Keep safe, keep strong for each other

    Xxx STY

  4. Very good explanation of your small little world where you can not escape and have to deal with whatever comes up just there and then. That is a great lesson for us.
    How wonderful and powerful is the mind that you can escape for a moment and in the theatre of the mind place you where ever you want to be. Keep up your good spirits. We see forward to every single blog and it is the highlight of our day to read your blogs. Samoa is creeping closer. Keep going you will be there before long.
    Keep safe XXX

  5. Simon TY says:

    Salt and Pepper. Terns always come in pairs. Why ? Because one good tern deserves another. Boom boom

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