Leg 2, Day 87 The faces of Oceania

Natalia Cohen By

After spending 6 months out in the middle of the Almighty Pacific, I feel as if I’m slowly beginning to understand her a little better. She truly is magnificent, as I’ve said many times before, but it’s difficult to ask you to come and experience her without first preparing you for her ever changing personality. Within her vast boundaries, Oceania can be a healer, joker, protector, and teacher. This is why she provides us with the perfect environment to fight and overcome our adversities and to learn many a lesson from her variable landscape.
She is a very close ally of the wind and the sky and working in unison, they have a strong effect on her mood and behaviour.

Just like us, she has her moments of feeling either frustrated or reflective etc and when we are in sync, a deep connection is felt. She has the power to uplift and change our moods and has and will always be our constant companion throughout our odyssey.

Without further ado, may I present…

Oceania the playful – Varied sea state that changes quickly. She’ll taunt us with splashes, but they normally amount to nothing. There are sometimes 2 waves that come from different directions that we watch collide and it’s as if she is doing a high 5! She tends to rock the boat quite a lot in her playful state and will also wet whatever we have hanging on the grab rails to dry and find this very amusing. Her favourite game is hide and seek, where she hides a wave and then sneaks it up on us to give us a little fright but no soaking. 

Oceania the irritated – Big swell rolling in from one or two directions with the wind ruffling the surface of the water. White peaks breaking in the distance and also close to the boat. Bubble trails streak down the waves and you can almost see her frown. The sky will almost certainly be grey and rain will hang threateningly on the horizon. She’ll throw us some big waves and play havoc with our heading, just to try and make us as irritable as she is. This normally means that there is some one-armed rowing going on.

Oceania the confused – This is when Oceania does not really know what is going on with her. There are waves coming from all sides and angles and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the direction relative to the wind. The swell is usually average to large and we have to be extra careful with wave splashage as it can from from anywhere. Average wind speed is usually 12-15 knots and as we never really know what is happening from one moment to another, we can’t normally keep a good course. Anything can happen when she is feeling like this, so we all know to stay on our guard.

Oceania the angry – This is usually large swell with waves of a minimum of 12-15ft and wind speeds of between 12-21 knots. There is so much movement in the water that this face could be mistaken with the confused one, however, the wave direction is slightly more constant. To ensure we understand her wrath, when in this sea state, it’s normally pretty difficult to hold a steady course. She’ll crash waves down on us even though her anger wasn’t caused by us, we’re good as any to take it out on. If she’s really not happy there will normally be dark clouds nearby with thunder and lightening. Night time is when she lashes out even more.

Oceania the reflective – This is where we work together. It’s where Oceania makes some time for us and gives us space and opportunity to gaze in all directions and feel her loving kindness and presence. She will help inspire us by having a magical light shine and sparkle down on her waters from either the sun or moon and bathe us in golden, metallic, pink, purple or blue tinged light. She gives us the calmer waters to allow time for our reflections and is when we feel her healing power the most. On occasion she goes completely still and silent and this is where we know that she is sharing some of her magic with us. 

Oceania the happy – It’s always really obvious when she is happy. The water feels great to row through and we are making good speed and course. Regardless of wind strength, Oceania will normally share something sacred from within her depths with us. Dolphins, whales, turtles are among the gifts she reveals when she is feeling the happiest. She shows off her beauty in the light of a special sunrise or sunset and as the light catches her waves, it’s like a twinkle in her eye. When Oceania smiles, we feel her energy and we find ourselves smiling too.

Oceania the joker – mainly found in the Doldrums
She lulls you into a false sense of security and makes you think that you have a steady speed and course that will last a few hours or days, then changes her mind. She’ll throw in a squall that will alter the wind and speed or suddenly give you a current that halts your progress completely! She can send a squall your way and then change the wind direction and send it back again. When she’s in this mood, Oceania can either entertain or annoy us.

Whatever her mood, the almighty Pacific is always mesmerising. She has taught us so much already and we have a deep, love and respect for her that has become part of all of us x

– Sad to say we’re back on the para-anchor. After an irritated, playful then angry sea today with winds of 21 knots and up to 30ft waves, we are struggling to keep a southerly course and have had to try and halt our progress until tomorrow when the wind should be settling at 18-15 knits for the next few days.
Looks like we’re going to be fighting to keep the right course and make sure we don’t overshoot Samoa. If it was easy it would be boring – right?

– We took the opportunity to try and dry some of our stuff that seems to be perpetually damp. Towels and sleeping sheets were among the worst affected, so we all gathered on deck for a mass dry by wind session. There was much laughter and flapping of materials. Ems was doing so well, with her towel finally not so wet that you could wring it, when a huge wave came over the bow (front) of the boat and soaked it again!! 
– The body is truly a wonderful thing. From about day 86 our bodies have been speaking to us. They are saying, “Enough is enough ladies, we can’t take it no more. We’re ready for some rest and recovery and we want to be dry, clean and salt free. Please get to land as quickly as possible and look after us!!” We are getting all manners of skin rashes, irritations, salt sores and pressure sores and there is no opportunity for them to heal properly as we’re constantly wet. Last leg on day 60 my body told me it was enough and luckily 8 days later we arrived in Hawaii. I’m hoping that the 8 day rule will apply now too, let’s see if we make it Samoa by then!!



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    I have never thought of the oceans in male or female terms. I have to say that the mood swings the Pacific is displaying doesn’t put me in mind of any female, I know 😉 I ducked, as I typed that but I was too slow. Ouch! You are so deserving of a rest now girls, I am not surprised your bodies are crying out “enough”! The physical and mental thrashing you have/are putting yourselves through is terrifying to me. The sleep deprivation alone would do me in, let alone the constant beating from the weather and sea and the physical endurance of rowing so many unbelievably difficult miles. Then on top of that, you entertain your selfish audience with your fantastic daily reports, always tinged with humour, humility, patience and excellent descriptions of your surroundings. I can actually visualise from your descriptions. I am so wishing for your improved progress. Stay strong. Stay safe. XX

  2. JG says:

    Brilliant blog post Natalia and once more my mind boggles at how you manage that whilst being thrown about by 30foot waves. I hope the bodies hold out until Samoa because you’ve all far exceeded normal survival limits. Fingers crossed for a change in the weather.Keep safe dear girls.

  3. Inspiring comment and descriptions Nat! Great to hear you all, in good spirits on the TV the other day! Ladies, you are joining a very priveledged few, who have achieved greatness in human endeavours, whatever outcomes, this will shape, who you are forever!!
    We are very proud of you, with every stroke on the way!

    “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

  4. Ray.P says:

    You girls amaze me and make me feel so proud of you all, I went to Trewirgie Junior school today (Laura’s old school) who recently did a 14 hour Rowathon for your charities and after seeing the photos and video clip of the day I felt a great big lump in my throat!!. The work and effort put into the day by the staff and pupils is really quite humbling. All I can say Laura is that when you see the photos and video your lump in the throat will pop right out!!

  5. Simon TY says:

    Praying the next few days are kind. I feel a tiredness in the blog that raises its head rarely. The end is so close, yet that mischievous Pacific offers you her Taunting Face and slaps you back. Come on, bloomin Neptune, give them credit for their endeavour; the girls are not trying to “beat” you or overcome you, the respect is far too deep. They are writing about you, loving you, enjoying you, wanting to tidy you. Respect their courage and give them a hand, a push, a blow. Just a little one, just to get them to beds, sleep,steaks and cocktails. Hey, give them a break, surfing swell all the way into Samoa. Pretty please


  6. Hang in there ladies, you’re almost at the finish! I am amazed everyday when I open my email and get an update form Doris. What an amazing crew and an amazing vessel!

  7. Judith Mills says:

    Great blog Nat, lovely descriptions & could almost visualise it all. You are all ready for dry land, rest, relaxation and no beef curry. Hoping for a happy Oceania over the next few days to give you a smoother, quicker arrival in Samoa.
    Amazingly you are still laughing! Stay safe. xx

  8. Anna C says:

    Well, I loved the reference to you doing 15-18 knits. I can see you all on board Doris, knitting needles in hand, making new bikini tops and other items to replace the mysterious lost clothing. Knit one, purl one … Knit one, purl one …
    Ok, so maybe you meant knots, but it was still nice to imagine.
    We do so hope that the beef curry is still going down, and that your food imagination is keeping you going until you can make it reality. Row on!! You’re so nearly there. A & M xx

  9. Simon TY says:

    Anna, maybe they meant nits ?

  10. Jules Curtis says:

    So proud of you all. That was so beautifully written and ik forward to your blogs as you each have such a unique way of expressing yourselves. It makes us, your readers, feel like we are there watching you from above, like vicarious flies on the wall. Keep rowing ladies, row strong, row safe and land will come your way soon. You have done the hard part. This is the final stretch and we are with you all the way. Sending love, luck and best wishes. Can’t wait for the final installment xx

  11. Lorraine R says:

    Wonderful blog. You are so close and you must be so tired but not much longer and you can rest and hopefully recover ready for the last lap.
    An absolutely amazing achievement by all of you, something that will go down in history. So many people will want a part of you when you have finished this – you will probably begin to wish you were back on the boat, imagine that! So nearly there. Love from the Rogers family- Cornwall

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