Leg 3, Day 38 – Sparkle and light

Natalia Cohen By

Now that the festive period is upon us, everyone is preoccupied with Xmas parties, decorating, mulled wine, dodgy Xmas jumpers, shopping, presents and spending time with family. The one thing that has always stood out for me during Christmas time is how much everything shines. 

For those that have been following our journey, you will know how much I love hugs. However, there is actually one thing that I love more than hugs….and that is sparkle.

Ensuring the need for sparkle and light on Doris, I packed my small bottle of fairy dust (glitter) and for Xmas we made sure there was tinsel, fairy lights and as much shiny, glittery card/paper as possible. In hindsight I would have brought my disco ball but as it goes I have been suitably happy with the amount of shine we have going on. The surprising thing is that I never realised how much natural shimmer there would be around us in the almighty Pacific.

Sun casting pathways on the water, fish glittering in the depths of the crystal clear blue sea, sunsets/sunrises reflecting metallic light across the ocean, rain drops glistening on the deck, turquoise flashes shining in the tops of breaking waves, stars twinkling in the night sky, the glimmer of the moon…the list goes on.

Sunset over Doris
There is always sparkle surrounding us, we just have to see it x

The last 12 hours has been one of my most exciting of leg 3 so far.

The 1st night shift had a small sliver of moon low in the sky shining a narrow, glittery pathway across the ocean. When LP and I went out for our 2nd night shift, we found that the moon had set and the wind had died completely. The sky was unbelievably clear with a picture perfect Milky Way amongst all the other stars and the brighter ones were all reflecting in the water. We have seen one or two stars shine their light on the water but this night there were small lines of reflection all around us.

Oceania was flat, still and perfectly calm. As we began to row I noticed that where the oar was moving through the water there were small flecks of what I can only describe as sparkle light. I was mesmerised. We’ve seen this phenomena before but nothing as bright or plentiful as what I found myself looking at. At the end of each stroke we took, there was a perfect semicircle of sparkles that drifted effortlessly across the surface of the water. 

LP had just begun narrating ‘Home Alone’ to me (it is Xmas after all) when I stopped her as I had a huge urge to explore this sparkle light further. I stopped rowing and went to lean over the side to make splashes to see if I could create even more sparkles. I could! There was small specks flying through the water in all directions. I felt like an over excited child. 

Now…the last time I splashed around in the water was when I went for a daytime dip in the Pacific with LP and as I was kicking my legs as hard as I could, she said to me, 
“Well that’s great..now you are going to attract all the sharks.”
Little did I know that as I was swooshing my hand in the inky black water making as many sparkles as possible, LP was behind me thinking exactly the same things she had that day we swam.

About 5 minutes after my sparkle splashing heaven, LP spotted a large fin slice through the  dead still water. I kid you not. We both looked at each other and then intently to our left when suddenly a large shape appeared between our oars lit up by the green tinge of our starboard navigation light. It was Eduardo!

There was no question. He was huge and looked even bigger at night as obviously our perceptions are always going to be more warped in the darkness. A bolt of adrenalin pulsated through my body. This shark was big…and had I really attracted him? The rendition of Home Alone was put on hold and for the next hour LP and I rowed wide eyed looking out for our Eduardo as well as Alonso and Juan for the remainder of the session.
Our rowing speed increased quite dramatically with our adrenaline injection and with LP looking right and me looking left, we had the boat covered. We saw Eduardo twice more. Once when we saw some sparkles and a swish of movement near our oars on the right and then again when he swam silently under the boat.

The dawn shift was magical with silver and pink light glistening across the great flat expanse of water around us. As the sun rose, the Mahi Mahi started belly flopping, the birds soaring and as we saw a large fin cut through the still water like a carving knife, we knew Eduardo was still with us.

We believe Eduardo to be a relative of Fernando. A possible Galapagos shark who is about 6ft long and solid. We’ll soon find out if he and his family are going to follow us and keep you updated. I wonder if Eduardo will become as big a household name as our Fernando?




  1. Simon TY says:

    Oh no, phosphorescence and you cannot swim in it. Disaster. One of the most extraordinary things I have ever done is swim in phosphorescence. Like swimming through a firework storm, every splash, every stroke a dazzle of light.

    I did ask ( in about May) whether you had seen any. One tip: find something you do not need and drop. It into the depths…..the light sparkles down 10-15 metres, like a Wierd underwater display. Not good for the environment…..but great light show.

    Be careful, be safe.


  2. Jeff Sissons says:

    I feel as if I know you ladies from your blogs even though we don’t know each other. More importantly I’ve been following your progress from well before the rowing began through our mutual good friend, Keith Goddard.

    Knowing from arms length about the time and effort it took to bring this whole adventure together in recent years adds to my admiration of you.

    Truly inspirational and good luck for the rest of the journey.

  3. On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five minutes of sparkle splashing heaven.

  4. JG says:

    Sharks are majorly creepy and the most higly tuned predators on the planet. I used to come across nurse sharks when snorkelling off the coast of Muscat and there is no more eerie feeling than knowing you are in their environment – even the dolphins had that effect on me. I also shared the environment with black and white tipped sharks in the Maldives and for some reason that wasn’t eerie at all. They ignored me – probably because there was an abundant supply of food available. Your blue sparkle is caused by micro-organisms in the sea creating a chemical reaction that produces light when they are disturned. You would be able to see them under a microscope. Tke care with that swimming now – keep safe

  5. Ray P says:

    Oh to be parents who’s daughters are out on the sea
    Splashing around making a loud sounds
    For all the sharks to hear and see
    Their spirits are high and decorations are up
    And Eduardo’s swimming around
    Have a tipple girls and raise a cup
    But stop making so much b—-y sound.

    Oh to be their parents!!! the girls upon the sea
    Rowing across the Pacific raising money for charity
    We are so proud of you all and jealous of what you see
    Out there on your own on the mighty sea.

    This is what happens with parents of girls out on the sea
    They sit at home and after dinner try to write poetry
    Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t you can all decide
    But one things for sure when you girls come home
    The pen will be retired

  6. Liz davey says:

    Gosh Ray, we never knew you were so talented another muse in the family, Roy has now got serious competition! Loving your blogs girls can’t wait to read the book. Xx

  7. Laura (and the rest of the crew),

    I am hurt! How come Ray gets his poem “published” whereas mine (sent in July) never made it past the censor? xxx

  8. Not to worry Neil, our message yesterday is still awaiting moderation……….but on reading it again we can probably understand why!!!!!!!!!

    But it would have given the girls a laugh!

  9. Jim Andrews says:

    To the tune of the Seekers, “Rocking rolling, riding, out along the bay”. 60’s hit.

    Rowing sleeping rowing, every night and day
    Heading down to Ozzy-land, many miles away.
    Laura, Natalia Emma, Meg is also here
    Pulling Doris closer, Ozzy-land is getting near.

    Izzy and Lizanne have been, and now they’re sadly gone
    The memory of their presence will live on and on.
    Rowing sleeping rowing, every night and day
    Heading for the new year its just two weeks away.

    Six courageous Ladies, rowing day and night
    all for other Ladies, to help them in their plight
    Records have been broken, the bar has been reset
    6 courageous Ladies the World will not forget.

    Please make me stop! 🙂

  10. Jim Andrews says:

    The Seekers song was titled, “Morning Town Ride”!
    Stay safe XX

  11. Wow – some of the magic sparkles obviously rubbed off on your readers ! First it was my bro the Blogger, now my bro the Poet – what next I wonder ! Sounds as if it was a lovely night – not so sure about the shark though, better keep those hands out of the water Natalia.

  12. Wow! What a magical sight that must be. Remember though that the most sparkly things in the Pacific Ocean right now are you. You are bright stars twinkling and giving out inspiration, warmth and beauty each and every day. A real shining example of how people can overcome anything and achieve big things.

    We’re all thinking of you, especially as the festive season is upon us. x

  13. pete mewton says:

    A very happy and sparkly christmas to you all Laura Natalia Emma and Meg. Bound to be a memorable one and very I hope very sparkly.(or Was?).
    I guess the sparkles that attracted Ediardo were…..SHARKLES!…. Boom Boom!
    Row on rowing on!

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