Leg 3, Day 31 – Aft cabin evolution

Emma Mitchell By

Day 31 – Aft cabin evolution

Being a team of six but only having four of us together at one time is an interesting thing. However, the two girls who are not physically on board Doris with us at any one time, are still with us in spirit to such an extent that it seems strange to think that they are not really there and are just on the oars/ in the cabin/ in the forecabin when you are elsewhere. Izzy, Lizanne and Meg have all brought something unique and special to the row and each leg seems to have suited perfectly the fourth team member. With three such different people, each leg of our journey has felt like an entirely different experience. It seems crazy to think that Nat, Laura and I have been living on Doris for 212 days now sharing a cabin the size of a small two man tent with three other people. Although we are only rarely all in the cabin together we do all keep our personal belongings there plus communal stuff. We cook, eat, wash, change, blog, film, sleep, all in this tiny space so it is not surprising that there is a tendency for some mess to occur. The state of the aft cabin seems to have been an evolving process as we have progressed along our journey.

aft cabin2

In leg one Izz was our glue. As she did in the journey to the start line, on board Doris she kept us all in line. She instilled our routines, nagged us to tidy our pockets and check the hatches and cleaned the footwell (her least favourite place on the boat) regularly. Often she’d even tidy up after us when she couldn’t handle the mess. Frequently since Izz left the boat in Hawaii we use the phrase ‘Izzy would be having kittens’ in relation to the state of the aft cabin. In Santa Barbara we installed some bungee behind the pockets in the aft cabin so that we could store a water bottle and our snack pack securely next to our individual pockets. In Izzy’s time this is what they held.

During leg two it was obvious that among the four of us Lizanne was the one most affected by the messy and cramped conditions in the aft cabin and the hair and other dirt that collects in the nooks and crannies on the deck. We drove her crazy by leaving the washing up sponge outside and not rinsing our tuna packets. She made a valiant effort to keep things under control, making us a bin and a pen holder which we still have. However without the experience Izz had of organising us in the months leading up to the row, Lizanne was ultimately outnumbered three against one and had to learn to embrace our slightly messy existence.

aft cabin

For leg three our fourth team member is the lovely Meg. I can’t decide whether Meg isn’t bothered by the mess or whether she just thinks that this is how life is on an ocean rowing boat but either way she seems happy with the state of our living quarters. Our autopilot shelf has never held quite so much stuff (Izzy really would be having kittens) and the gaps between our pockets have never been piled quite so high. This is slightly perilous during the rough conditions we’ve been having and we often find that the alarm clock is missing from the shelf when it goes off and we have to hunt for it among our sleeping sheets as it gets more and more angry.
UPDATE: Today I am a little bored of looking at the ocean. A little bored of the blue and grey colours, the regular soakings with salt water and our slow progress. I would like to see some trees, some fields and hills and go for a walk. Yesterday we had a sudden, exciting, increase in our speed and in 8 hours covered 12nm which is more than our daily progress recently. Sadly it didn’t last the night although we are hopeful that it is a hint of what is soon to come. Last night was black with no moon and a lot of clouds. The wind picked up again and we were subjected once again to regular salt water showers. However the huge bonus was that the flying fish don’t seem to like the rougher conditions and stayed away from Doris in the most part. Our beautiful mahi mahi nightly escort is back again and they surfed alongside us in the waves all night and regularly leaped out of the water with a big bellyflopping splash.



  1. Simon TY says:

    I find it difficult to imagine 212 days of rowing, of holding it together, of staring at waves. We know Ems you have found it difficult, and I assume that all of you have found it really tough. Leg 2 really really tested you and all of you must dread the same “middle section” where you have to fight for every mile.

    We all pray for moonlight nights, Dolphins, whales, shooting stars, currents, 50nms, peace and happiness on the oars.

    Remember, if you can, the scale of what you are achieving. In too short a time it will be over and forgotten ( or at least all melded into a blur). Never forget what you are achieving for yourselves, for the charities. Extraordinary


  2. Robert says:

    the common cormorant or shag
    lays her eggs in a paper bag
    the reason you will see no doubt
    it is to keep the lightning out
    but what these unobservant birds
    have not noticed is that herds
    of wandering bears may come with buns
    and steal the bags to hold the crumbs
    Happy Hanukkah …

  3. Jim Andrews says:

    Yearning for normality? After what you have endured it is hardly surprising that you are all Pacificked out. In just a few short weeks you will be able to fulfil your dreams of, walking on grass and through the trees, hearing bird song and smelling flowers and when this becomes the norm, I feel sure that, at some stage you will yearn for the big blue. I am fearful that after many many responses to your facinating blogs, I am repeating myself and boring you to death but I feel the need to remind you of the enormity of your acievement. The inspiration you are spreading throughout the world. It is so apparent that leg two, took it’s toll on morale, and left it’s mark on you for the remaining phase. That is what adds to your remarkable strength. You are still there. You had the courage to get back on board at Samoa. You will become a beacon to those who feel downtrodden or failures. You will be the evidence that you can get back up, dust yourself down and compete. I think you are all amazing. Stay safe. XX

  4. Michael says:

    Another very insightful blog.- thank you all for the daily injection of inspiration..
    Meg has a bedroom in our home – I don’t think that you will be worrying too much about a spring clean before you arrive in Cairns!! And there is definitely the belief that any flat or even a vaguely flat surface, needs filling and usually in the pyramid style..

    Happy rowing xx

  5. JG says:

    Hang in there Emma and I hope you find your happy place on the oars again soon – don’t like to think of you being distressed. Keep safe lovely girl

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