Leg 3, Day 57 – Losing Sight Of Shore

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Day 57 – Losing Sight of Shore by Sarah Moshman

What does it mean to lose sight of shore? To me, it means pushing yourself far enough outside your comfort zone that you can no longer see the person you once were, and you are fighting to make it to the other side where you will be the person you’ve always wanted to become. Although I’m not physically on Doris (many days I wish I was), my journey to make a documentary about The Coxless Crew and to be a filmmaker has a lot of similarities.

It was late January 2015 when I got a life-changing email from Fiona Tatton, a blogger in the UK asking me if I’d like to be introduced to the Coxless Crew who were a few months from starting the row. I knew Fiona because she had interviewed me about my first feature-length documentary The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things that follows the journey of five female filmmakers driving across the US to interview inspirational women from all walks of life. Naturally, Fiona thought the Coxless Crew’s story was right up my alley. I specifically remember reading that email and thinking: “Rowing the Pacific? Wow. But I have no interest in making a film about that.” I then set up a Skype with Nat and Laura with no expectations, and I was instantly inspired. I’ve always trusted my instincts when it comes to which projects to focus on, and this was no different. Although I had no knowledge or interest in rowing, it was so clear to me that this was a story about the power of the human spirit, which was so exciting.​

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How do you make a film? Where do you even begin? The fact is, you just start taking a few steps forward and see where they get you. Then you take a couple more steps even when it feels scary, and before long you’re doing it. You’re brainstorming, planning, shooting, editing, and the shore is no longer in sight. I certainly don’t have it all planned out when I begin, and how could I? This is real life. These women are rowing the Pacific and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. All I knew was that I believed in them, I believed in my ability to pull it off, and the rest would somehow fall into place. That blind and bold determination is something I certainly share with Natalia, Laura, Emma, Lizanne, Izzy and Meg.

Before the ladies left San Francisco I armed them with cameras, microphones and hard drives and did my best to teach them how to use the tools to tell their story. I told them to think of the lens as all the people they want to inspire. I reassured them that everything they are thinking and feeling is important and fascinating. It was a big leap of faith to leave the storytelling to them, but an experiment I desperately wanted to conduct.

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I have had the pleasure of meeting the crew on land at each stop to film their triumphant arrivals in Santa Barbara, Honolulu, Samoa and soon Cairns. I’ve been present for the first steps, first bites of steak and ice cream, first showers, and always-huge smiles and hugs proud of what they’ve achieved. I feel so lucky and honored to have this front row seat to such an extraordinary story. I watch the footage from the boat giddy because I have no idea what’s coming next. I sit at my computer laughing at their goofy moments, frightened when they see sharks and whales, and crying when they feel lonely or in pain. And although we may be from different countries, I am convinced that this is a universal story of bravery, courage, determination and friendship.

When the Coxless Crew reach Cairns very soon and finish their journey, mine is really just beginning. Once I have all of the footage from boat, and I have conducted all of the interviews it’s time to officially begin post-production on Losing Sight of Shore. I have been diligently logging and transcribing all of the footage as it comes in, so that I stay organized and can move forward efficiently. From there it will be about shaping the story. Documentary filmmaking is kind of like reverse engineering a narrative. In fictional narrative films you have a script and then you shoot the movie. In documentary, you shoot the movie and then you write the script. It’s an interesting process for me, because in many ways I can’t start editing this film until I know how it ends.

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I hope to have a rough cut of the film by the Spring of 2016, and then once that major hurdle has been crossed the film will really take shape and eventually become the final cut of the film. Simultaneously we will be working on sound editing, color correcting, music composing, titles, graphics, marketing, distribution, and more. My goal is to have the film complete by the Fall of 2016. My ideal home for this film is on Netflix or HBO but all of that will be sorted out once the film is further along. I still have a considerable amount of money to raise and many hours of footage to sift through before I can really dream big about where it will end up. My main focus is to make a great film that honors the tireless hard work of The Coxless Crew so that people for years to come can be inspired. I often begin editing thinking about how I want the audience to feel when they leave the theater – and for this film I want them to feel like they can achieve anything they set their mind to.

I am currently in the middle of My Pacific in terms of making this film, but just like The Coxless Crew I believe in the process, and I approach it shift by shift, stroke by stroke. I lost sight of shore a long time ago and in my dreams I can see to the other side, and oh boy was it worth the trip.

Stay tuned for updates about Losing Sight of Shore on our facebook page

Watch the trailer:

UPDATE: We’re battling a strong Southerly current. 550 miles to go. 12 days of main meals. So near yet so far x

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9 Comments

  1. Jim Andrews says:

    I never know quite what to call this ? I don’t know whether to refer to it as, an expedition, an adventure, a journey, a voyage, a mission, quest or a row? I do know that I have enjoyed following these 6 ladies putting themselves through a pretty daunting trial. They have shared their highs and lows their laughs and tears. No holds barred daily blogs, have educated us, about the perils of ocean rowing. Claw hand, Angry Bum, bucket and chuck it, Beef curry breakfasts. Mysterious losses, Oreo Challenges, the Food cache affair. Overcoming fears, Flying fish invasions, sleep deprivation……..I am so looking forward to ” The Coxless Crew. The Movie”. Losing Sight of Shore is such a good title. Doris is a, born to it, Superstar. The Cast are just amazing. I envisage honours and awards. In short. I can’t wait. Good luck Sarah, like our heroines there is a long way to go yet but I have every confidence you will make a great film worthy of the girls efforts. Progress is testing your resolve and rations ladies, stay safe. XX

  2. JG says:

    So glad that you are the one to document the girls epic voyage Sarah, because your enthusiasm is infectious and you are clearly highly professional
    In addition to Losing Sight of Shore, a film that I await with eager anticipation, I hope the girls will also eventually write a book about their expedition from inception to finish and afterwards and it will be a handbook for subsequent voyagers.
    It is such a fabulous story for both film and writing that in my mind will rank amongst the great explorers in history.
    Will you follow the Crew to the UK to document some of the post expedition stuff I wonder?
    I wish you well with your project – it’s going to be a good one.
    The winds look to be favourable in a few days time but it’s hard to discover what the currents are doing as they seem to change daily. I can sense your struggle here and a feeling of anxiety prevails in me and will prevail until you step off the boat in Cairns.
    Take care – keep safe.

  3. Ray.P says:

    Like everyone else aware of the documentary “Losing Sight of Shore” I am so looking forward to seeing the finished product. Sarah and her crew are a great group of people and I know they will do this row the justice it deserves. Having met Sarah and listening to Laura speak about her if she wasn’t filming she would have fitted into the crew as well as everyone else, she has that sort of go for it personality and commitment. Actually Sarah why don’t you and your crew row her back to San Francisco!!

  4. Simon TY says:

    It feels like the “darkest period is just before the dawn”. A lull in posts, a blasted current, exhausted and now ( er….just now ?) frustrated athletes, longing just to get this over with. Of course, the Fogle moments, and the moon, the Milky Way, phosphorescence, sunrise, but also nagging hunger, sores, overused backs and arms, and claws and bums. All the time thinking 550nm divided by 40nm per day, weekend after next. Divided by 20nm, oh God, it’s February.

    So, hang on in there. We are all still willing you on. We are all still trying to blow you forward, watching the pink dot, waiting for the blog, wishing you safety, enjoyment, laughs, fun, pride, exhilaration, turtles, leaping Dolphins.

    So, push on. Realise how strong you are….you have got dear Doris this far. Realise how strong willed you are: you pushed through the agony of Leg 2, never relenting. Realise how fit you are, no one else on the planet ( bar JB) could keep up the schedule you are on, not Olympians, not world record breakers. Realise how much you have achieved: you are over 90% of the way there, so close, so close. Realise how resilient you are: who needs main meals anyway, slim down for the cameras. Realise how much you are achieving for yourselves, for yr families, for cancer, for WWTW.

    So, sit tall, look at the furthest horizon. Straight backs, long strokes. Keep ever vigilant now you are so tired. Pull the other three home with you.

    Take care. Amazing crew

    Xxxx STY ( and one for Doris x)

    • Adri says:

      Wonderfull comment Simon. Thank you!!

    • Esther B says:

      You always find the right words to say Simon – I have enjoyed your comments almost as much as reading the girls blogs!! I feel like I keep repeating myself; I just can’t think of how best to say how amazed, inspired and proud I am on these girls, and Doris, and what they are doing purely to help other people. So I will just say “ditto”!

      Girls – the miles are slowly but surely ticking away and Cairns will be in your sights very soon xxx

  5. Just can’t wait for the blog saying you can see Australia……it will be such a momentous occasion for you all………and all your followers wishing you well and willing you to the finishing line. Take care, keep pushing and enjoy it……..

  6. Wow Sarah, I can’t wait to see this documentary of the girls’ journey. I really hope you will submit it for the Kendal Mountain Festival in Nov!! It would be an amazing film of adventure and exploration and human endurance and fits all the criteria for the Film competition as well as being of huge interest to me as a presenter at the Festival! I would love for the film to feature but also for perhaps the girls to do a full presentation/talk? Let me know if you want more details as i would love to help get the girls an even wider audience! In the meantime keep rowing girls – so nearly there and so much achieved! Willing you to Cairns!

  7. […] a post Director Sarah Moshman wrote on the coxlesscrew.com website, she said, “My main focus is to make a great film that honors the tireless hard work […]

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