Leg 2, Day 68 – Team Update

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Day 68 – team update

68 days is the time it took us to reach Hawaii from Santa Barbara, so any additional days from now on, will be the longest we’ve been at sea for. Our estimated arrival into Samoa is late October so we still have a few more weeks left out here before we get to landfall. With that in mind, I’m sure many of you have also done the maths, but we have reviewed where we are and what our timeline is looking like. Needless to say, we have been less than impressed with what the outcome was after speaking with Tony about future conditions and estimated speed of travel considering our history to date. If we can leave Samoa prior to 1st November, then we originally would aim to reach Cairns by mid December. This is based on a westerly current and easterly winds. Considering our last 2 legs have gone less favourable due to lack of trade winds and the ITCZ currents, our estimated time of arrival has been extended by 3-4 weeks for both legs. Therefore, our predicted arrival into Cairns if we continue to travel at the same pace, will be closer to the 1st of January. Nearly 3 months after we had planned! This news has impacted us individually in different ways and for different reasons, so we thought we’d share with you those thoughts…..

Laura: To see in black and white that we may not reach Cairns until the New Year and will have to spend Christmas out at sea, was fairly upsetting news to me. This was for more than one reason. Firstly, Christmas with my family is always special but in particular this year I have been looking forward to and planning since I stepped onto the boat. It has been a source of thought for me when on the oars, thinking of where we’ll be, what presents to buy my family, the amazing food to look forward to, seeing my lovely aunts/uncles and cousins, my niece’s first Christmas she’ll remember at the age of 3 etc. I’d been on email with my folks as they’d suggested we may spend it at my brothers this year for a change, as his house has just been built and Isla my niece would be great to see at Christmas. I’d also been co-ordinating my friends and my brothers friends for a New Years Eve celebration. Thinking that both our groups of friends would come over to our parents house in Cornwall, for a NYE house party. I’d even thought of what food I’d make and the games we could play. Christmas on Doris will certainly be a memorable one but also no doubt emotional to be missing home sweet home.
Secondly and my biggest concern since the delays started to happen, is my work. As you may now have all realised, I love my job and the athletes have always come first for me when I’m at home. So doing this row feels extremely selfish and particularly when the timing is so poor just prior to Rio. Having a responsibility to my team at home I know I’m letting them down and causing them so much hassle with not being there at such a crucial time. At the same time I can’t let my team down on the boat either. So my responsibilities feel torn. What is the right thing to do? What is the ‘what if?’ With either option. Fundamentally there is no choice. We’re out here and after 4 years of preparation to get here, there’s no way I’m walking away with just 3months left to go. However I’m coming to realise that it comes at a cost most dear to me and the biggest sacrifice to let my work down and possibly affect my chances of supporting the athletes through to Rio. Suddenly the sense of enjoyment on the last leg, I fear will feel tainted by the guilt of not being back home for work.

Emma: Like Laura I also found it hard to hear confirmation from Tony what we had started to realise out here on Doris, that we are very likely to still be out at sea at Christmas. Like Laura I had been holding on to Christmas at home with all of my family as a reward for completing the row. It also concerns me that if we arrive in Cairns around that time that it will disrupt Christmas for the rest of my family as my mum will be coming out to meet us when we arrive in Australia. To be honest also the monotony and boredom of life on Doris is beginning to wear me down. Rowing has always been my happy place and out on the oars on Doris has always been where I work out my frustration or claustrophobia but in the last couple of weeks I have been finding the hard rowing with little gain in speed or distance incredibly frustrating and have been struggling to enjoy it. The thought of an extra 3 months of this doesn’t excite me. However our journey will not feel complete until we reach Australia and it is good news that our weather window has not yet closed and that this is still a possibility. I have no doubt that we will pull together as the strong team that we are and enjoy a unique and special festive season, support each other through the difficult times and appreciate the magical moments that the ocean provides.

Natalia: I’m not going to lie, the news of the new predicted arrival date into Cairns disappointed and frustrated me. Although the experience and lessons from the almighty Pacific have been incredible, I don’t really want to spend extra time out here! To be honest, I’d already been thinking that at the rate we have been going, we would probably end up spending Xmas on Doris. So, when the news came from Tony, it was not really a huge surprise and made hearing it more manageable. The positive news for me was that because of the change in usual weather patterns this year due to El Niño, our weather window has been extended and it is still possible to make it all the way to Cairns safely. If there were to be problems outside our control with the weather, then there also are a couple of islands that we could head to if necessary. What I think is the most important thing, is that there is still an opportunity to successfully complete the journey. We’ve worked too hard to not be able to make the best attempt we can.
Although the thought of spending another 3 months on the ocean doesn’t exactly fill me with uncontrollable excitement, I do not have a job that I have to get back for or any other pressing commitments. My family are still my main concern and spending time with them over Xmas would have been wonderful, but also a luxury, as they are used to me being away during this time of year. I suppose I am fortunate in the transient and ever changing lifestyle that I have chosen, as it has allowed my family to expect me to be somewhere other than home in December, and if it so happens that I am with them, then that’s a bonus!

Even though there are many days out on the ocean filled with so much frustration and monotony, there is also so much simplicity and beauty. I don’t want to forget that this is a once in a lifetime experience and these moments all need to be savoured, even if there are more of them than originally anticipated x

Lizanne: My journey on Doris ends in Samoa where the wonderful Meg will jump aboard to complete the last leg of the row. Our arrival into Samoa has been delayed by about a month, which has not been a surprise to me as I’ve kept a close eye on our progress and already suspected such a delay. My commitments when we get back to reality are also work related and the delay has naturally complicated things. I have been trying to imagine what it would be like to spend an extra two months out at sea after reaching Samoa, and my hands start to ache at the thought. It is a testament to their strength of character to witness how the girls are dealing with the prospect of rowing for longer than anticipated. Emotions have wavered, however these amazing women have already joked and conjured plans about what they can do to break the monotony and make it a very memorable Christmas and New Year. Knowing this lot, they will certainly not fail to amuse and entertain each other. Part of me wishes I could join them.
However…. My Christmas wish for them all is to be reunited with their families, cosy by a fire. I have been inspired to row even harder for the remainder of our journey in attempt to speed things up. We have become a family on the boat, so even though I won’t be on the boat physically, I will still be living every day with them on the ocean.

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18 Comments

  1. Simon TY says:

    My God, I admire your stoicism. It must have been creeping up on you, possibly not discussed….the slipping eta in Cairns. Now the reality hits hard.

    Laura, I was struck by your dedication to the Rio althletes and their Olympics. But: this is your Olympics. This is what you have lived, breathed, dreamed about for four years, the same Olympic cycle. Of course I cannot speak for any of the athletes, they have their won dreams, but I would be staggered if any did not say: what you are doing is staggering, as incredible as any Olympics, a journey of fortitude, strength, humour, bravery and Olympian skill as great as any of their dreams. They would say: carry on, get to the finsihing line, be strong, we understand.

    I do not know what Guiness give you for World records ( probably not free beer for life). It should be bloody great Gold medals, as valuable as any Olympic medals. And anyhow, those wimpish Olympic rowers only have to do 7 minutes, in boats that plane across the surface. Try them doing 2000m flat out in Doris !! That would sort out any respect issues.

    So, for all of you: Go for Gold. Go for it. Have no doubts. Just think you could be at Dorney Lake, in the rain, Jumbo jets taking off every 20 seconds AND NO WHALES !! What is there to envy !!

    And the best Christmas present you can give all your families is by completing the dream, safely, carefully. And last but not least Ethiopean Christmas is on January 7th, so you can still aim for Christmas.

    Thinking of you every day XXX

    PS Laura, Johnnie Lloyd is stalking you. He flies to Oz this weekend where Kate will be working for a few years. If he does not fly up to greet you in Cairns he is a wimp. Get that Lloyd ?

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    The conditions have definately hampered your progress and it is a shame that you will spend, such an important family occasion as Christmas, not only away from your loved ones but out there in the Pacific. Nothing we can write could possibly improve your feelings about that situation. It just adds another level to your achievements in that, maintaining motivation when things are grim takes exceptional courage and focus. You will be in my thoughts every day till you reach your goal and especially over the Christmas period. As to the effect on your professional lives, I am sure those dependent on your skills will have nothing but absolute admiration for your resolve and commitment. I hope you can remain positive and stay safe. XX

  3. Danielle says:

    Come on girls! Dig deep and keep positive. This Christmas will be one you will NEVER forget!
    Embrace the journey, you’ve come so far to feel disappointed!
    Sooooo proud of you Nat.

    Dan
    Xxxxxxxx

  4. Amy says:

    Oh girls, I do feel for you! You are incredible and should be so unbelievably proud of yourselves! I know meg is super excited to join you on the boat and help lift the spirits and join in with the festive cheer on board ‘Doris’! Sending you all so much love and continued good luck ❤️ Amy (Meg’s sister) xxx

  5. Sara says:

    Hello girls
    You are amazing, awesome and strong. We were looking forward to having Ems home for Christmas of course. Our home is emptier without her But we are so proud of her and of you all and Simon is right the best present will be to see you achieve your goal. I know how long you have worked for this and how hard you have worked through adversity to get to this point. Stay strong, you are all amazing. Ems I love you and am so proud of you. Keep rowing, lets hope the great pacific gives you a break and helps you along a bit xxx

  6. Phil Steels says:

    Hey Ladies,

    It must be extremely frustrating that you are getting these delays, but having read all your thoughts I have a couple of things to say……

    Laura, you are NOT letting anyone down. What you are doing as a team is absolutely amazing. I am sure that everyone on your team for Rio are 100% behind you in this expedition.

    Emma, Laura, Natalia, Meg: I agree that it must be frustrating not to be able to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones. But in years to come, think of the stories you will be able to tell to your families, your future children and/or grand-children about where you spent Christmas 2015. It is an amazing achievement that you are all doing, and something that you should all be proud of.

    I look forward to reading your blogs each day, and am always keen to keep following you all 🙂

    Phil xx

  7. Emma Warren says:

    Oh ladies, my heart goes out to you – a dawning realisation that has now become a reality and hit you straight between the ribs – so for a little while, yell and scream at the oars and lament and moan at each other – for it hurts to miss out on something that you have looked forward to so much.
    But then, straighten your back and dig deep into your soul – you have done much harder things than this already, you have put so much into getting this far and every single one of your family and friends knows that you would be there if you could and there will be major celebrations whenever you hit land.
    They are all streaming alongside you in the running seas and whispering their encouragement into the winds that will move you forwards.
    Try not to worry about things like the weather it cannot be controlled – just focus on getting there, stroke by stroke in your own time. We are all willing you forwards xx

  8. We won’t pretend to understand because we cannot. From your blog we feel that you all ‘knew’ that being on Doris for Christmas was probable but being told something you don’t want to hear makes it feel like something new and unexpected.
    We have followed you from day 1 and continue to be in awe of your achievements and your physical and mental strengths, individually & as a team. You have always supported each other when 1 hits a difficult time but this affects 3 of you and also Lisanne who will be trying to support you. So, it is dig in deep time and true to form you are already joking and planning a Doris Christmas. Stay strong but most of all stay safe.
    We think of you all everyday and send special love to Laura. It will be Christmas whenever you get back to a Penhaul celebration. xx

  9. Christine says:

    Hi girls.

    Christmas on Doris is just another challenge to get your heads round- and if there is one thing you are amazing at its getting your heads round challenges!!!
    Keep rowing/smiling/laughing/crying/singing-whatever you do to just keep going.
    With you all the way.
    Christine. Xxx

  10. Ray & Babs says:

    As Laura’s parents and I’m sure all the other Mums and Dads as well find it as frustrating as they girls do, sometimes when we see the slow progress knowing how hard they are trying to get on the correct course you feel like putting your finger on that small boat on the map and dragging it to the right line towards Samoa, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work!! As Sara says we are so proud of you all, yes we will miss Laura at Christmas but we can have our Christmas parties when you’re all back home. There’s only one row, there will be loads of Christmas and New Years in the future. Keep digging deep girls you can do it we all know you can as do you. xxxx

  11. Keep going girls, thinking of you all out there on the ocean. You have coped amazingly well so far everyone is willlng you to succeed xxxx

  12. Jo says:

    Laura,
    I read your post today and really felt for you on both fronts.
    The charities you are raising money for will be enriched from your efforts, and the legacy of this trip will be remembered through the lives you help to save and enrich as a result. There will be many more Rio’s in your lifetime and athletes along the way, although I know I would be feeling the same in your shoes. Just remember what additional skills you will be bringing back to your work, which will benefit the athletes in the long run.
    I discovered today a good friend of mine has been diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer at the age of 39, so thankyou for everything you are doing for @BCC charity.
    Keep safe and stay motivated.
    Jo H x

  13. You girls do not fail to impress us all. It must have been a disappointment to realise that you will not make it in time for Christmas to Cairns and that you will have to readjust your mind set. I want to make a metaphorical comparison between you girls and trees. There are hardwood trees that you can use the wood to make the most beautiful furniture and ornaments. Your characters are like hardwood that can be carved and shaped and improve. On the other hand you are like palm trees with the softest wood but that can withstand the most severe hurricanes. Mind sets that can adjust to any circumstances that are thrown at them.
    Laura I will bet my bottom dollar that your athletes will draw inspiration from your perseverance , resilience and strength. That will give them extra motivation and prove to you that they can achieve above their abilities.

    Simon I agree with everything you say in your comments. Everyday I see forward to read the girls’ blog and also your comments. I want to thank you for your very enthusiastic and inspirational comments throughout the whole journey.
    Just some more phrases from my phrase book.

    When a person SPLICES THE MAINBRACE , they are celebrating the successful outcome of an event. The phrase is another dating back to the days of the tall ships that relied upon the wind in their sails. During heavy seas the bosun granted extra rum rations to the sailors who undertook the dangerous duty of climbing the highest rigging, known as the mainbrace. Such sailors were able to celebrate a little more than the others who were given more menial tasks to perform.
    To PUSH THE BOAT OUT is used to describe a large celebration or expense. This is obviously a nautical expression and relates to the large parties and celebration sailors would have before setting out on long voyages. A ‘pushing the boat out ‘ celebration was always a popular one to attend. So when you reach Cairns you can splice the mainbrace or push the boat out however you want to call it.
    Go girls and like everybody in the comments say : Stay safe. The victory will be sweet. XXX

  14. Sad news that you will not make it home in time for Christmas but you are all so resourceful I am sure you will find a way to have a memorable day on Doris. We will all be thinking of you and looking forward to seeing you arrive in Cairns, albeit a little later than anticipated. You are doing such an amazing thing with such strength and courage, it’s just taking a little longer but you all can do it. Think of Alice in Wonderland and the “UnChristmas Party” you can have when you get home !

  15. I read your blog today with tears in my eyes trying to imagine the disappointment you were all feeling and the frustration of working so hard and making such slow progress. However, having read all your previous blogs I have absolutely no doubt that you will manage this in the same way you have handled every other set back – with enormous courage and resilience and positivity. Laura, I echo everything Simon said in that your athletes can only have renewed respect and admiration for your achievements and draw inspiration from the incredible task you have set yourself and WILL achieve. I can only imagine the respect and awe with which they will greet you when you get back as someone who has faced hardships and struggles much as they have to get where they want to be. How much better will that allow you to relate to their own struggles and journeys? It can only enhance your relationship with the athletes not harm it.
    As for Christmas, well the idea that a set date is the only time you can make those arrangements for the big party is one that no doubt you will overcome as well, disappointing though it is to have to readjust that mindset. Whilst the literal date had given you a focus, the actual Christmas party will be all the sweeter when you get home having achieved your goal! You will also now have to go through the seemingly endless Christmas songs routine that we all have to in every shop we go into! I wish I could hear your renditions rather than those in the shops!
    Your families are all in this with you and will no doubt support you through and the homecoming will be all the sweeter because of it!
    You are all an inspiration and I am humbled by your journey and your strength.
    Keep rowing, keep positive and best wishes to all of you.

  16. JG says:

    Take strength from your strap line quoting Ranulf Feinnes. You all suspected that the challenge would last longer than originally planned because El Nino has played havoc with the currents particularly on this leg. The hope remains that leg 3 will be a more rewarding experience for you all. As for your letting people down I believe the opposite to be true.Completing your challenge will be an enormous fillip to all those who know you and to the many who follow your progress myself included. Easy for us to pontificate but we are not living on a cramped little boat bouncing about on the high seas alternately being baked and soaked in saltwater. I am not a bit surprised that you suffer a period of doubt occasionally. I am amazed that has taken so long to manifest itself and that is testament to your strength and resilience. Clearly it was triggered by dampening news from base. I spent 8 years working in the desert separated from family and didn’t spend a single Xmas at home. There were compensations, great holidays for wife and daughters all over the world. The celebrations you will have with everyone in Oz and the UK will compensate for Xmas. Believe me. Keep safe Crew

  17. Esther B says:

    Hi girls
    I was also sad to read that you won’t be on dry land for Christmas and to see that it has put a dint in your cheery dispositions but I do not doubt that you have already picked yourselves up and are taking this extra challenge in your stride (or should that be stroke?!). You are NOT letting anyone down, only inspiring and motivating people to be the best that they can be and not to let anything stop them achieving their goals – however big or small these may be. As you can see from the comments above, you are truly an inspiration to us all and we are with you all the way.

    We are all so proud of you and I can only imagine the celebrations and partying that will go on once you do finish, which you will. You will never have another Christmas like this and I just know you will savour every moment of it.

    Keep going girls, we are all behind you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  18. Barney says:

    There will be other Xmases but never another Pacific row! Yes, the Rio team is a unique opportunity to miss out on so I feel for you there, but don’t spoil the experience for a missed Xmas, that you will regret!

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