Leg 3, Day 21 – Crewsaver

Emma Mitchell By

Day 21 – Crewsaver

The wind is still blowing at 21kts and the waves are still crashing over Doris on a regular basis in each rowing shift. In conditions like these our Crewsaver wet weather gear and life jackets are our constant companions every time that we leave the cabin. Crewsaver came on board as sponsors of our safety kit at the London Boat Show in 2014 where we met the lovely Greg O’Brian and they have been a huge support to us ever since.

Our Crewsaver life raft sits under the front rowing position and is there only in case of emergency. We were trained in its use at the Crewsaver office by the lovely Guy Page and also practiced our life raft drills as part of the sea survival training we completed in Plymouth with Survival Wisdom. Here we also ran through all of our risk assessments and what if scenarios and learnt that the life raft is really only a ‘slightly better than death raft’ and that if we follow all our safety procedures we should avoid ever needing it. Unlike the raft, the rest of the kit that Crewsaver has given us is used frequently on board Doris.


Initially we had Coastal Ergofit 190 life jackets for our training on the water off Christchurch before our departure. Laura and I tested these out during our 12 hr row at the boat show and were really surprised that it didn’t really feel like we were wearing them. These were upgraded to the extreme Ergofit 290 life jackets which we have been wearing since our departure from San Francisco. Luckily they are super comfortable to row in as we wear them during anything other than super flat conditions. They are activated by a hammer which means that they will inflate if we go overboard and into the ocean but won’t inflate when we get a wave to the head, which is lucky given current conditions. Attached to each life jacket we have a small knife – one of the survival gear units, a laser flare donated by Greatland Laser, personal locator beacon (PLB) and a personal AIS beacon from our other amazing sponsors McMurdo. We were lucky enough to visit Crewsaver and see how the life jackets were made which was fascinating and we were trained in all their special features and how to rearm them.

Crewsaver also provided us with the leashes which attach us to Doris at all times when we are moving about on the boat. Being leashed on at all times when on deck is our number one rule and the Orange leashes clip on to the front of our life jackets. When actually rowing we switch to an ankle surf leash but the orange leashes are reattached at changeover for our return to the cabin.

Our wet weather gear is red and black and makes us look a little like astronauts. It isn’t off shore gear so isn’t really made to deal with the extreme conditions we are currently experiencing, but it does a great job of keeping out most of the water and all of the wind and is our standard night time wear. The wonderful Hannah sent out a brand new set to Samoa for us so we are currently looking very bright and smart in our new kit.

By far our favourite Crewsaver kit is our thermals. They are the warmest, softest and most comfortable clothes any of us have ever worn and make us look like ninjas. We literally wore them every day in leg one and now that the nights are getting pretty cold again they will be making a reappearance. They are beginning to look a little worn now and I’m not sure they will ever smell the same again so we are hoping that Santa might bring us a new set for Christmas to help us survive the British winter we will be returning to in January (wink wink)!

Leg1 13

UPDATE: Same same but different. We still have the strong winds and big swell but now our speed seems to have disappeared in an unfavourable current. If you see it please send it back to us. It is a lot harder to maintain a sense of humour while getting repeatedly soaked in cold salt water when you are only travelling at 0.3kts but we seem to be managing it with hysterical laughter often filtering into the cabin from the pair on the oars. Progress may be slow but we have our advent calendars ready for the countdown to Christmas tomorrow. Doris has also now covered 7000nm!!



  1. Simon TY says:

    No one has written. Cannot have that. But nothing to write that is witty, amusing, or interesting. Big vote on Wednesday as to whether we should bomb IS in Syria. Global climate change conference started today in Paris. Scotland won the Davis Cup at the weekend.

    Night night xxx

  2. Ray P says:

    Does seem strange to hear you girls talking about thermals when you’ve also been talking about the heat in the cabin, but then when you think about it it’s the same in the Sahara Desert, baking by day and freezing by night, not to worry though because when you get home it’ll be freezing 24/7!!

  3. JG says:

    Great blogpost from Emma. It is always fascinating to learn about the details of what you are doing and the mental strength displayed by you all is truly astonishing. The book you wite will be a tome of understanding because I am sure there have been bleak moments individually – but not much longer now!! As i write this I think you have less than 1.5K nms to Cairns. JB, slightly ahead of you, has been experiencing a benevolent current which on occasion has pushed him up to over 3kts so with any luck you should soon be doing the same. Fingers crossed. We have had 3 ‘cyclones’ pass over the UK recently the last one being yesterday with 100 mph gusts being recorded in Copenhagen. Getting as bad as the Caribbean for heavens sake (without the sunshine).

    ” Wife’s waters break and junior is on the way. Husband panics and rings the doctor.

    Husband ” Come quickly the baby’s on its way!”

    Doctor “Is this the firstborn?”

    Husband “No! this is her husband – hurry””

    I can hear the groans from here! Keep safe keep warm keep on smiling.

  4. pete mewton says:

    Bit of a reality check, that one! Gear sounds amazing but sure Doris will keep you safe. She is the seventh heroine out there on the Pacific. Dont know if you know this LP but Doris is the name of Heathers lovely kind and loving Maternal grandmother so sure her spirit is also in your Doris.
    Dont quite understand how you make ANY progress in those conditions. Perhaps its because….your all Amazing!
    Keep going. Calm seas on the way.

  5. Great to have confidence in your equipment and understand how it all works, and the girls really worked hard in their preparations phases understanding in detail and planning for lots of eventualities. This shows particularly when they have had to make difficult decisions, remember life is about looking for “Lemons”!

    It must seem such a long time ago when you came down to Cornwall and we “chucked” you in the sea!!! Very proud of your achievments!!!

  6. Jean Burnham says:

    This blog reminds us of how long you have been on the Ocean and of the excited faces only a few hours before you set out under the Golden Gate Bridge into the mouth of the Pacific.
    Glad your gear is keeping you warm. Enjoy your advent calendars and no peeping at the Christmas presents!!

  7. Jim Andrews says:

    Loved your line about the “slightly better than death raft”. Your preparation prior to April and the equipment you have written about all sound top notch. Gladly, the “better than death” rafts, have not been called into use,nor, hopefully, will they. Progress has slowed slightly but enthusiasm, pluck and spirit all sound healthy. The Advent Calendars have a different poignancy in their countdown this year. I say this, almost every day but I hope conditions improve to assist your progress and make your last few weeks comfortable and pleasant. Stay safe. XX

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