Leg 2, Day 69 – Surprises of the sea

Laura Penhaul By

Day 69 – Surprises of the sea

Feeling like a stuck record, we are once again caught in strong currents East and strong unpredictable winds from the South West, culminating in meaning a rapid track East and an increase in mileage to Samoa. As you are aware the last few weeks have been testing, I guess that why it’s called a challenge. Poor Lizanne has been a pillar of strength through a very difficult time with her uncle passing and being away from her family, the rest of the team having to come to terms with an extended time aboard Doris potentially over the Christmas period. But thanks to all of your lovely comments, words of true support and sound advice, plus a few surprise visitors from the deep blue, we are feeling revived again.

It seems amazing to us, that as soon as we reach some difficult times and we start cursing at the sea, the ocean sends us a few visitors to restore our faith and reignite our passion for being here. In the last 24hrs we have had the closest and most amazing whale encounter yet. Literally less than an oar length away from the boat, she was over twice the length of Doris and with the close encounter happening over 4 times, you could tell she was checking Doris out. She stuck around for over an hour and a half, circling the boat, rising and falling and occasionally showing a glimpse of a barnacled tail or a huge, big long mouth. She came so close at one point, that we got hit from the spray of her blow hole, it was unbelievable! That sound when they blow is unforgettable and I think it will end up being my favourite sound from the Pacific.

We have talked in recent blogs of fish frenzies that we’ve encountered. I have never seen anything like it. With my so called ‘bat ears’ (as Nats likes to call them as I hear everything!), the first thing is actually the whirring sound of what you imagine to be a rushing wave coming towards you. When you look round you don’t see anything apart from a few white breaking waves and then suddenly you see this whirlpool across a massive expanse and loads of fish jumping, belly flopping, twisting and turning rapidly underwater, all in a crazy frenzie. There are literally thousands of fish in these schools. When it happens at sunrise you can see just the fish and once or twice we have rowed straight through the middle of it with fish jumping all around us. Later in the day, the frenzie draws attention from an array of birds including all that we’ve talked of to date; boobies, magnificent frigates, turns, storm petrels to name a few.

As well as our trusty sharkies, who then decide to stick with us for a short period to see what Doris is up to or whether any of us are planning to take a dip. When we first saw Wendy the whale, it was a David Attenborough shot as she rose up from the depths with her mouth wide open, right in the middle of the frenzie, taking out most probably nearly half the fish. Without a doubt it was definitely a ‘I wish I had a camera on’ moment. But not to worry, as our personal close encounters with her we’re certainly captured on the go-pro so hopefully there’s some great shots for the LSOS documentary. I guess the take home from this is, trust that even when you’re feeling really down, something will come along, cheer you up and put a smile on your face. Have belief that the sad and hard times will pass and they are just part of the journey, but as much as things feel difficult it can be outweighed in a second if you take a time to be in the moment, experience it and enjoy it for the rarity that it is.



  1. Wouldn’t it have been fascinating to have had an underwater camera fitted to Doris!

    And, we bet Doris is actually delighted to have the company of you all for Christmas, instead of being all alone in a strange land……….

    Keep safe..

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    The whale visit was a real treat and I am glad her timely visit lifted the spirits. Just a quick return to the subject of Christmas at sea, You will be so close to Cairn by then that the euphoria of being so close to achieving your goal will, I imagine, help lift you through those difficult few days. going back to Wendy the Whale! I wonder what went through her mind, seeing such a small craft in her territory? She probably thought you were competing for her lunch. I am so glad that you have each other to lift yourselves during testing times. I have no idea how solo sailors cope! Keep smiling, Stay safe. XX

  3. Simon TY says:

    Whales….your David Attenborough gorilla moments. I wonder whether anyone has seen Wendy before ? Certainly not that close. Is extraordinary that there are beasts as big as that roaming undetected. Hope she safe from plastics and fishing nets ( and a country that will not be mentioned, but inexplicably still hunts them….that is a whole other campaign).

    So, Davine, Davina, Devine and Deeva Attenborough, a very special encounter that no one else will ever have the privilege of seeing ( unless they are nuts and row 70 days out into the Pacific for the experience).

    PS, you have never mentioned quite how smelly whale breath is……like getting coated in a greasy, fish smelling film of snot. Sorry, but that is what it is like ? ( and no Wendy, I am not saying you have bad breath ……just whalitosis…..boom boom)

  4. You ladies never cease to amaze and astound me every evening. A day after having your your extra time at sea confirmed and then moving 12 miles backwards you come up with another full on positive blog detailing wonders of nature which most of us will never be that close to in our lifetimes. You’ll remember those things for ever while Christmases, however happy, will, over time,blur in your memory- except perhaps the one you may have this time!

    Just keep at it – you are inspiring so many people. Stay happy, stay safe xxxx

  5. corinna says:

    I just found out about your venture via facebook and I do know saying you girls “rock” is very easily said from a living room couch BUT you are truly inspiring and amazing and I mean it ..YOU ROCK :-))) keep your faith and strength .. I will send you all positive vibes from Canada !! Cheers Corinna

  6. Whilst Mother Nature toys with Doris, you are the talk of the Pacific, every creature wants to know about you, they are curious to know why you’re doing this so they come for a meet n greet.

    Know this though with all the whales finding you there has to be a whale song about you being sung all across the Pacific!!

Leave A Reply