Archive for February, 2015

Shipping Doris!

Isabel Burnham By

Thursday was a big day for the Coxless Crew. I went down to Southampton docks to oversee putting Doris into a container to be shipped to San Francisco. She will travel across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and up the West Coast of America before we see her again!

The drive down from London was under blue skies and it looked like it would be a beautiful day to see Doris off on her journey. Sadly, by the time we arrived at Rossiters boat yard in Christchurch some good old English rain had set in and was to last for the rest of the day. I met with the Cris and the team at Rossiters to make a few last minute adjustments to Doris. Our final Solbian solar panel was installed and some adjustments made to our Lewmar hatches and to the area on deck where we will be stowing our Crewsaver life raft.

Tony Humphreys, who will be our on-shore support during our row, was on hand to oversea the final packing of the hatches and cabins and to tow Doris on the trailer through the New Forest across to Southampton docks.


On arrival in a very very wet Southampton we had a warm welcome from the team at J&A Marshall Ltd and from Brian from PSP Logistics. Then the real fun started. I must admit, I had no idea how to go about getting a 29ft ocean rowing boat weighing nearly a tonne off a trailer and into a 40ft container! But, as ever, Tony had all the answers.


Step no.1: lift Doris off trailer using huge yellow container handler and long slings



Step no.2: lower Doris down until she is resting at one end on a small set of wheels (a dolly trolly)



Step no.3: with the stern end supported on the dolly, support the bow end by suspending it from a forklift truck and then remove the support of the slings



Step no.4: keeping Doris level, drive the forklift forward to slide her on the dolly into the container



Step no. 5: lower Doris using the forklift until she is resting on a row of tyres along the bottom of the container and then and strap her in


And it was easy as that! Thank you to everyone who helped out yesterday and along the way to get Doris ready for her journey.


Saying goodbye to Doris has made our departure suddenly feel just around the corner. It is exciting, but also a reminder of how much there is still to do before we head off to San Francisco ourselves. The next few weeks will be filled with training, press events, sponsorship meetings, fundraising and much much more, so watch this space!


Capsize drills, team psych session and deploying the para anchor

This weekend was a busy one for the team.  It really all started on Friday when we had a super exciting meeting with a super exciting new supporter of the Coxless Crew.  Stay posted to find out what that was all about!

Early doors on Saturday morning we arrived at Rossiters in Christchurch to face one of our fears for the row – the capsize!  We got into the cabins, Nats and myself in the stern cabin and Laura in the bow cabin and strapped ourselves in.  The Rossiters team used the crane to tip us over manually.  Inside the cabin it felt like a slow tipping sideways and she sat for quite a while at 90 degrees before needing an extra tip to get her to go over.  This was actually quite comforting as we now know that she can be thrown around in the waves a lot before capsizing.  The roll from 90 degrees back up to upright was surprisingly quick and smooth and before we even had time to think about it we were back the right way up.  The exercise was really useful as we can now have total faith that Doris definitely does self-right and we can also reflect on the experience to help us imagine how it will feel when it happens for real in the middle of the Pacific.

Aft Cabin Capsize

Fore Cabin Capsize

The rest of Saturday was spent in a team session with our performance psychologist Keith.  We thought about how to recognise our warning signs that stress is getting to us before, during and after an event and shared this around the table to help us to recognise the signs in others in order to be able to support the other members of the team as much as possible.  We also completed a separate questionnaire which highlighted to us the importance of keeping social and task related activities separate when we are on the boat as well as making sure that we make time to socialise with each other in a non-row related way before we leave (easier said than done).

Our day ended in what is now becoming a bit of a habit – food and wine in front of The Voice which has replaced the X Factor as the Coxless Crew Saturday night entertainment of choice.

Sunday started windy and cold and after a good breakfast we headed off to visit Doris again.  Top of the list for the day was practising deployment of the para anchor.  After carefully reviewing the instructions (men take note this actually works) and our notes and photos from a previous session with Tony we had a go ourselves.  As it was so windy we just deployed it where we were moored up.  Seemed easy enough but our opinions might change in 40ft waves and high winds!

Para Anchor

The afternoon we spent running through our ‘what if’ scenarios.  This is a really important part of preparation ensuring that we have thought through all the possible problems and situations and know what to do.  As well as the obvious safety requirements of knowing what to do if one of us falls overboard or our water maker stops working it also brought home to us all how real this all is and got us thinking about what life will be like for us aboard the boat.  A useful exercise and the start of some interesting psych homework!

Next weekend we start packing Doris ready for shipping!  So exciting!  Stay posted to see how you fit 6 months of kit into a 29ft boat!