Leg 3, Day 42 – Blog from Izzy’s mum

Isabel Burnham By

Day 42 – Blog from Izzy’s mum

“I’m doing a Skype interview today for a Pacific Row expedition”. How do you feel when your daughter makes this announcement?! You hope more than anything that she won’t be successful. This is not how mothers should respond. When she tells you, after a gruelling assessment weekend in the Brecon Beacons, that she has been selected to join the crew, you cannot start to be pleased. I don’t want to dwell on the nightmares that followed. The times I just burst into tears when I despaired about her decision and hated myself for not being able to accept her plans. So how did I go from this state of despair to following and supporting Doris on every nautical mile of the girls’ fantastic journey?

I think the key to my complete change of perspective was slowly learning to release my fears. Isabel gradually told us facts about the planning and the team of rowers and supporting professionals. With trepidation, I went to St Katherine’s dock to meet the girls and Doris. The 29 foot boat was hardly visible among the yachts she was moored alongside. I found it hard to talk to others there, but chats with Anne, Natalia’s mother, and the girls started to open my mind to understand their plans and aspirations. I then spent a dreadfully wet day down at Rossiters boatyard helping Isabel and Tony pack up Doris into her container to start the first leg of her journey to San Francisco. It was clear that the Coxless Crew were in good hands and the input of everyone to get them to this moment was highly professional and experienced. I began to gain confidence and belief in the safety and success of their journey. As Isabel and I drove home I realised I had reached the moment I knew I had to accept that the adventure would go ahead and I would try to support Isabel in any way I could. A lunch to meet all the other parents, with Tony and Keith there with us, confirmed my acceptance. Being Mothers’ Day too highlighted it more for me. The knowledge that other parents would support each other was fundamental in seeing how we could and would all cope. Only they could fully understand my worries and help me in the next few months. As it turned out, many friends helped me along the miles to Hawaii and shared with John and my celebrations when Isabel arrived safely. They still, like me, follow Doris every inch of her journey to Cairns.


So to the unforgettable week in San Francisco, where Isabel’s enthusiasm and excitement made me feel very proud of her and all the crew. The start line was before them. The image I will take from the day they left was Isabel, with head torch on, packing the last of her belongings at 2.00am smiling uncontrollably with the excitement of rowing off under the Golden Gate Bridge to take on the Pacific and everything it was to throw at them. The silence that followed in the parents’ car as we stopped on the bridge, looked out to the blackness of the Ocean and watched Doris’s tiny light disappear into the arms of the Pacific, was something else.

UPDATE: Last night we experienced the biggest seas we have rowed in so far. The swell was huge and full concentration was required for steering. However we have been making great progress with Nat and I travelling 7nm in one 2hr shift. We have been told by Tone that we should push to make as much progress as possible over the next 5 days where we should have favourable winds so we are doing as instructed. Eduardo is still with us and was surfing the waves next to Doris last night. We aren’t too sure how we feel about this when we spot him at eye level in the big swell.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a striped cane of candy.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two boats a passing.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three sharks a circling.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four Christmas hats.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five Tupperware
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six boobies flying
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven belly flopping fish
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight waves a crashing
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine carols singing




  1. Jim Andrews says:

    Well done “Izzy’s mum”, in coping with the stresses of your daughter’s decision, departure and journey. I love your description of “watching Doris’s tiny light disappearing into the arms of the Pacific”, very poignant!
    Ladies, you are flying, again, Eduardo will be exhausted.
    I wonder if it is the same shark all the time? If so what could his motives be? Maybe he (if indeed it is an “he”) looks upon Doris as a potential mate? 29 ft long pink Lady shark, with a nice Female Shark name? Who knows. He could be doing what the rest of us are doing, looking on in admiration of you fantastic ladies, taking on and overcoming that huge expanse of ocean. I hope your current pace continues but the big seas subside a little Stay safe. XX

  2. Well I’m noticing that you seem to have broken the 1000nm to go barrier, if my limited attempt to use the distance calculator on the internet, so the countdown is definitely going excellent 🙂

    I’m staggered how you can do more than 50nm in a night, you must be rowing like superstars…bet there’s a nice picture to imagine the speed your doing.


  3. Allen says:

    Well done Ladies a really good week’s work. The little pink dot is still heading in the right direction and getting closer and closer to journey’s end.
    The large waves may have something to do with a long undersea reef heading North from New Caledonia. The shallower water making the waves pick up.

    Keep on going.. Have fun, but stay safe.
    Best wishes.

  4. TaniaB says:

    Wow, the miles are counting down, passed/nearly passed the 1000 to go mark. Great to hear that you are making such good progress. Keep safe

  5. Simon TY says:

    Never quite sure when the where is Doris counter updates. Anyhow, it now shows 992miles. Amazing. Into the last stretch. Go, go go and BE SAFE


  6. Babs says:

    Brilliant blog Jean, this summed it up for us parents, I also will never forget sitting in the warmth of the car in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, watching that little light going off into the night! I will also remember Izzy’s parting words to me, Saying she will look after our daughter!
    You girls have had the amazing support of all your team, and absolutely deserve all the recognition you are getting and will get when you get to Cairns, very soon we hope. Stay safe and always in our thoughts xxx

  7. Very interesting post, thanks

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