Leg 3, day 45 – Christmas Eve

Laura Penhaul By

Wow I never would have imagined back in April, that we would be celebrating Christmas with Doris in the big blue! But here we are. Regardless of seeing the same faces, being in the same environment, seeing the same view for over 250 days, we are definitely making the most of mixing up the monotony with some Christmas cheer. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have had my moments and just had a 2hr row shift that was a tad teary thinking of family and friends that I so desperately can’t wait to see, but as everyone keeps reminding us, this is a once in a lifetime and will be a Christmas to never forget. 

Christmas Eve for me is normally my favourite celebration over the Christmas period. It is an evening that I never want to miss and many a time have finished work to drive 5hrs home to make sure I can attend our family Eve celebrations. It was once my Nan’s ( aka Chocolate nanny when I was a child) birthday, so since I can remember, the whole family have always come together for an Eve dinner. When my nan passed away, we continued the celebrations and every year now we head up to my uncle John and Aunt Claire’s barn house. It’s a beautiful home where the fire is always lit, Aunty Jean will be sitting back in an armchair enjoying the nibbles and drinks, whilst my Aunty Claire will have made an amazing spread of food – which in the last 2 years certainly helped my weight gain – I ate seconds and maybe even thirds! My cousin Tom will have Pip his dog on his lap and both him and James, his older brother, will be fending off my Aunty Liz’s inquisition about girlfriends. My Aunty Mary (famous for her pasties!) will be knocking back a tipple or two of hot punch to start, whilst making everyone chuckle with stories she reminisces about with my mum often the kick starter to the topic of conversation. My dad, brother and Uncle John will be in cahoots with one another trying to make the funniest joke, taking the mickey often out of my poor Aunty Liz or being sarcastic about something or someone to get a laugh. My uncle Roy will be sitting back taking it all in and will then be the one to deliver the killer lines. If my brother is there with my sister in law Katie and their daughter, then Isla my niece will certainly be the centre of attention and at the ripe age of 3 she will be entertaining the room and making everyone laugh. It’s a very special evening and this year although I’m not there in person, I will be there in spirit as well as the other end of the sat phone in order to get my small fix of family time. 

We have a lot to thank in our parents who got in the Christmas spirit back in October where un be known to us, they prepared presents, quizzes, games, decorations and videos for us to have on Doris during Christmas. We can’t thank them all enough as it has certainly made it so special and without it, tomorrow would just be another day. Instead, we have had the Christmas count down to look forward to instead of endless miles or days. 

So Christmas Eve so far has kick started with wearing our Christmas hats (courtesy of my parents and the little gifts inside- thank you!) whilst partaking in Sara’s (Ems mum) Christmas quiz. The outcome I’m afraid to say, was 12/15 for Ems and Nats (think this was mainly Ems!) and a shocking 5/15 for Meg and I. I can safely say that I am absolutely useless at quizzes unless they involve sport or science my general knowledge is appalling, so I can only apologise to Megs for my poor contribution. This evening the Christmas fairies have organised a Christmas carol service with baileys and hot chocolate out on deck for midnight mass (weather permitting). 

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and know that even if we’re not there with you in person, we are in spirit. Also savour the flavour and think of us when you tuck into your roast potatoes, stuffing, pigs in blankets, Turkey and cranberry sauce….. Whilst we’ll be whipping up another chicken tikka! 

Update:A text from tony today has delivered us a Christmas present from the Pacific, hopeful calm weather for Christmas Day which is much better than what it was looking like earlier in the week. You may have noticed our course has dropped South, this was to gain some ground whilst we could. Now with the weather improving we can hopefully cruise along again West in the easterly winds to Cairns. There’s also some pre- Christmas Day pampering/ hair washing so we’re make some effort for the big day, plus singing at the top of our voices into the blue, to some Christmas carols.



  1. Andy Sloan says:

    Wishing you all, and all your support crew, a very Merry Christmas singing songs at the oars.

    From the team at Walking With The Wounded.

  2. Sue Smith says:

    OMG ladies, what a total inspiration you all are! We met you in London at the boat show at the ExCeL centre & were gobsmacked at your plans . We are wishing you all a wonderful, safe & happy Christmas time. You may be far from home but I’m certain you are closer in spirit more so than ever to your families & friends right now. You’ve nearly cracked it – keep going !
    Best wishes from a wet & windy West Norfolk UK.
    Sue Smith & family xxx

  3. Tracey Greer says:

    I hope the Pacific serves you up a calm Christmas Day girls – I have been following your blogs all the way & been amazed by your efforts, your energy & your ability to overcome whatever is thrown at you (& thought it was about time I finally commented!) Love the thought of you all singing carols later accompanied by Baileys & hot chocolate – enjoy your unique Christmas celebrations & good wishes for some good progress from here to Cairns. T xx

  4. Merry Christmas to all of you beautiful and brave women. I’ve been following you, and with each post I read about this amazing experience, I confirm how real is the Wor of God that, in Psalms 139:7-12 says: Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

    8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

    10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

    11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

    12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. Undoubtedly God has been taking care of you girls, has given to all of you one of the biggest and more beautiful gifts in all your trip; to know and be immersed in the greatness of his creation, revealing a part of his creativity, intelligence, good sense of humor, joyful ness, tenderness, magnificence, and mostly HIS HUGE LOVE TO YOU. I will continue praying for you to have a safe trip until you arrive home and for you to keep enjoying it and that the Love of God reveals to you every minute of your journey. God Bless you Girls. Sincerely Claudia Romo from Mexico.

  5. Thinking of you amazing girlies and toasting your incredible achievement. I will be thinking of you throughout tomorrow and also thinking of your families as they celebrate without you. This will be an amazing Christmas to remember in the years to come – a once in a lifetime Christmas! There will only be a very small and elite number who can say they spent Christmas Day on a small boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!!! Enjoy all the little treats and great news that it will be good weather for you to enjoy the day. I am in awe of you all and wish you all a wonderful Christmas xx

  6. Big lots of Christmas cheer from the Tamar Valley (Devon side) nearly there Chums, enjoy the Baileys xx

  7. JG says:

    Nothing to add to that without being intrusive. Just to say Happy Christmas to the Crew and looking forwared to your landing in the New Year.,


    Wooden leg Xmas present.

    Man tells his friend, “I bought my wife a wooden leg for Xmas”

    Friend “Oh really was that her main present?”

    Man “No – it was just a stocking filler”

    Keep safe girls, take care and enjoy your Christmas.

    PS as I write this there are only 861 nms to go – brilliant.

  8. Mary says:

    Thinking of you all and wishing you a very merry Christmas. Raising a glass to you and hoping you enjoy your Baileys. You are doing so well and the miles are decreasing. Love from Mary, Ken and John in Cornwall xxx

  9. Jim Andrews says:

    Lovely blog Laura So nice that mums and dads were ahead of the game, in preparation for your Christmas at sea. I hope you can feel some Christmas cheer, few people in the world will have so much warmth directed at them as you brave ladies. Doris should be glowing with pride. You can reflect on an amazing feat of endurance, to get this far I think the remaining miles will speed by quite quickly and in no time you will be embracing your loved ones. Merry Christmas you amazing individuals. Stay safe. XX

  10. Will be thinking of you tomorrow, hope the sea stays calm for you.

  11. I have followed your blog since Hawaii, you cannot imagine how much motivation and strength your words give to me. Stay safe, stay strong, enjoy Xmas day and row row row to a moment to really cherish in Cairns.

  12. Simon Ty says:

    Very very very happy Christmas to all of you. Wishing you all speed, all safety and LoTS of love, hugs and kisses xxxxx

  13. Christine says:

    Happy Christmas girls!!! Xxxx

  14. mark says:

    kept this cabbie transfixed listening to you on 5live, its cold dark and wet up here but youve got a new follower, good luck girls

  15. Just heading to bed at 2am after half a day’s work in London, followed by going up a ladder to pinch some mistletoe out of a tree in my dad’s garden (thanks dad) before dashing out to sing in the local carol service; then drink some fizz and make the stuffing and sit down for something to eat with the family, before midnight mass. Have given up on the last son to sleep and left his stocking outside his bedroom door. (He is 23, so won’t lose too much faith in Santa.) So that’s Christmas in Kent, which is a bit different from Christmas on Doris, but I know that you will be having some treats today and getting into the spirit of the season. Happy Christmas to all of you and WELL DONE to be where you are. Not far now. Stay safe and be good!! With love from Anna and Marius xx

  16. Babs says:

    Poem fro Roy Davey:
    We’re here tonight at Filtrick Farm
    Great food and of course, the odd old yarn
    These are the words I’ve had to write
    Mention four girls, rowing day and night
    Taking Doris across the ocean
    Keeping oars in sequenced motion.
    Before I go on, I have to say
    Have you heard about our Ray?
    Ray’s got something up his sleeve
    A poem about the deep blue sea
    Ray sees the sea as Poetree!
    Ray, have you written one poem for me?
    I see this poem as competition
    Does Ray require some recognition?
    Will he retire after just one poem?
    Or will he want to be well knowen?!
    I could go on for many a day,
    Writing about our dearest Ray.
    Perhaps he’ll carry on with his writing
    Or will he find something more inviting?
    A happy Christmas to us all,
    Including our girl, Laura Penhaul
    Calm seas, blue skies, we wish for you,
    Be home soon, we’re so proud of you and your crew
    Happy Christmas

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