Leg 3, Day 51- hiccups

Laura Penhaul By

Day 51- hiccups

Whilst life aboard Doris is going swimmingly, I’ve come to realise that there’s often a few hiccups that arise that we don’t share, not by any reason other than it’s automatic for us to crack on and deal with it and we haven’t seen the neccessity in sharing it.

So I thought I’d give you an insight into a few scenarios which we take for granted. On Christmas Day as we had explained, we put a line out to trail behind Doris and removed the dagger board so she sat comfortably central to the prevailing waves without the need for steering. When it came to the time to pull the line in, Emma noticed that the line was caught. By this point it was pouring down with rain. I went out the port hatch to see out the back of the boat and to check the rope wasn’t caught around the rudder, which in this case it was. Trying to minimise waves crashing into the port hatch and the rain too soaking our sleeping area, I proceeded to remove the main rudder. This involves removing a pin that keeps it in place, then sliding the rudder up high out of the rudder sleeve (this is connected to the stern of the boat and has the steering lines attached). The pin normally is attached via a lanyard piece of rope (as is everything on the boat that is loose), unfortunately though I’d noticed the rope had snapped, so on removing the pin it was free. Knowing it would be a disaster to lose it, I kept it between my teeth, with one hand freeing the rope and the other hand balancing the rudder out of the sleeve, all whilst precariously perched out of the port hatch in bouncy seas. Successfully freeing the trail rope for Ems, the rudder could then be replaced, the final step was to reposition the pin. Doh! My fat, non-dexterous, ocean rowing fingers slipped and the pin dropped into the Pacific abyss. After shouting a few expletives after it, I realised we needed to secure the rudder asap otherwise we had no steering and at the time, Doris had spun to sit beam onto the waves. With a holler to the deck for Nats to grab some cable ties, I then secured the rudder with a series of cable ties linked together like a daisy chain, not pretty but certainly worked for a temporary solution!

On the electronics front, we’ve recently had a slight hiccup in that we’ve lost the use of the compass reading on our deck repeater. When we navigate, we work with both heading (the direction the bow of the boat is facing) and course over ground (cog – the path the boat is actually taking). So often we may be heading/facing 270 degrees but due to the currents and wind we are actually travelling at 320 degrees COG. Luckily the gps is still working to give us an accurate course over ground (cog) and we also have 2 compasses mounted on the boat. It’s been good to brush up on the old fashion compass use, although the slight problem on a rowing boat is that you face backwards to the way you’re moving, so because the compass reads the way you’re facing and not where the bow of the boat is, we have to +180 to calculate our heading. Always good fun in the middle of the night attempting math! Raymarine however have been amazing and given in depth advice to trouble shoot and help to sort it.  Spike bless him, was even kind enough to give us his personal contact details so we could contact him over Christmas if needed.

In the current big waves that crash across the deck, the deck gets fully washed out which causes some water to leak into hatches and in particular our life raft hatch situated under the front rower. We can often be found bilge pumping out the hatch in the middle of big waves. Also, we seem to be in cooler waters than previously rowed, so therefore there is more work placed on the water maker causing the relay to kick in when the pressure reaches too high. There has also been a couple of small leaks from the jubilee clips I can only assume from increase pressure, so therefore the screw driver has been out to tighten the jubilees and the pressure relief valve has been used to off load the relay.

These are just a couple of scenarios that mix up our daily routine, along with many other tweaks that Ems makes on the DIY front. So hopefully that gives you a little more insight into the boring side of life on Doris, just so you know that it’s only 90% of the time that we spend singing and dancing across the Pacific!

With a strong NW current and now 21k S/SE winds, we are making terrific progress up North! Here’s hoping this will be short lived and we’ll soon be back on the westerly highway to Cairns, if not, parents you might need to adjust flights to head to the Solomon Islands! Always the way, with everyone commenting on how close we are, these last 700nm I’m sure will be the longest yet.



  1. JG says:

    Dear Laura. Reading about these mini emergencies that you deal with on a daily minute by minute basis is so important for us to understand precisely what you girls are going through. Please keep this detail going because it gives the true flavour of your endeavours and for me it has increased my admiration for what you are doing. The rudder pin – made me hold my breath as I read about it.

    Joke:Epileptic goldfish.

    Man takes goldfish to the vet.
    Vet “What’s the problem?”
    Man “I think it’s suffering from epilepsy”
    Vet “Looks alright to me”
    Man “Ah! But you haven’t seen him out of the bowl”

    Take care and keep safe (Especially when hanging out of the stern of the boat)

  2. Simon TY says:

    Hang on in there. Neptune has a trick or two up his sleeve still. Is there any reason (? Currents) why getting south again to Cairns might be difficult ? Is there a real danger you could overshoot ? You have been here before approaching Samoa……


    PS I have just said bye to G ( in big letters on yr wall……you can now bore Meg with the story….). I will probably not see her now for seven months. That is not right …..she is my daughter…..hey, ho. Been like this for years. Anyone else know parents who have said goodbye to their daughters and not see them for months ? Xx

    • Simon, I was a daughter that set off on a couple of adventures (not quite so huge as these girls but daunting nonetheless). I didn’t realise the impact it must have had until I became a parent to a daughter myself. But will I stop her if she wants adventures? Hell, no! x

      #TheseGirlsCan #TheseGirlsWill

    • Leonie says:

      I am a daughter and I have lived 12,000 miles away from my family for 40 years, only seeing them periodically – my parents only ever supported my decisions and encouraged my adventures. Simon, get a grip. xx

      • Simon TY says:

        Thanks Leonie for winding me up, though I am sure you meant well. Thanks for your comment on a situation you know nothing about. Laura does know and SHE will understand my comment. Sorry for lowering the tone

  3. Pete Udry says:

    Laura. You and your crew are all star’s!
    You’re nearly there. And as we say crack on me ansum Weem nearly ome.!

  4. Allen says:

    Hi Ladies, Thanks for another interesting update. My friend , Mark had his Atlantic row terminated by rudder problems, culminating in their last pair of pliers heading into the abyss!
    Looking forward to seeing you all safely home. Enjoy the next 700 miles!

  5. Ray P says:

    Leonie and her husband Neil have known Laura since the day she was born, back in the early days of leg 2 Neil wrote a poem that didn’t for some reason get loaded onto the blog so I thought to keep the old boy happy I’d post it here

    A special offering that was sent to us on Doris from Neil Cannicott – we just felt that we needed to share it!

    Going through the Motions

    I’ve been following Doris’ progress
    As you haul her across the sea
    And I found that I kept thinking
    “One of those rowers could be me”

    I’m big. I’m strong. I’m willing
    I already know how to row
    Although two thousand miles
    does seem a long way to go.

    You’d find me entertaining,
    And time would never drag,
    Psychologically I fit right in,
    I hardly ever lose my rag.

    The music on my iPod
    Is so much better than yours,
    I’ve got the Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric
    Clapton, Harry Nilsson and the Doors.

    We could listen to the Beatles,
    Rod Stewart, Jonny Cash.
    Ella, Louis Armstrong,
    Oscar Petersen, wishbone Ash.

    I had a list of anecdotes
    Which I know you’d find such fun
    With hole by hole descriptions
    Of Games of Golf I won!

    I could tell you endless stories
    Where the excitement keeps on mounting
    Based on over thirty years
    In Local Government Accounting

    I wouldn’t join your skinny dips
    And it’s not that I’m too old,
    But it might be a bit embarrassing
    with the water being so cold!

    But there’s one thing that may stop me
    From Being one of the crew
    And that’s what I have to go through
    When I need to use the loo

    You see when I’ve had my nightly sleep
    And from my bed I jump,
    What I’m most looking forward to is that early morning dump!

    Our toilet seat’s so comfortable
    It wraps around my cheeks
    If I had to squat upon your bucket
    I’d carry the Scars for weeks!

    …..to be continued by Neil Cannicott.

    Just count yourselves lucky girls you didn’t need a coxswain, I’m sure Neil would have pee’d into the wind!!!

  6. Mike S. says:

    Great to hear your DIY skills being used. Why Is Emma the DIY queen -surely she can’t Multi-Task better than any male ! Only joking, I give in, I’m hopeless at MT. You girls are brilliant. This always reminds me of a Football Fantasy website I use to run & I had gifs, my favourite was of one chap at the toilet trying to pee while cleaning his teeth & trying to MT he was peeing over the floor.

  7. Judith Mills says:

    Well, after all of the comments tonight can only say great DIY out the port hatch Laura and all of you amazing women stay strong and keep safe. xxxx

  8. Jim Andrews says:

    I am glad I am so late responding tonight, so much more to read and absorb. Laura you wrote that perfectly, I too, held my breath as that pin fell inevitably into the deep. It is obvious (I would have thought) that you would have had several mini emergencies “hiccups”. It is equally obvious that you will have dealt with them, in the calm and qualified way you have. I have never underestimated the dangers you may have faced and have often wondered if maybe, to spare your nearest and dearest the angst of knowing every detail, you had maybe refrained from sharing all? The Poem by your friend cracked me up, a gifted word-smith, undoubtedly! You are almost into sub 700 Ladies, I can feel the excitement building Stay safe. XX

  9. Robert says:

    If anyone’s interested check out my tweet to @coxlesscrew
    “South West Pacific is becoming active rowing ladies & your male shore controllers” + TC Ula image …

    • JG says:

      Ula is forecast to peak today and then weaken due to wind shear and dropping sea temperatures from 02 Jan and curve SW of Fiji some 1300 nms SE of the Crew by 04 jan. I expect the shore team have this well in hand

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