Day 22 – We need to talk about Velcro

By

Day 22 – We need to talk about Velcro

Day 22 has brought us NNE winds at about 12-18 knots. The waves are bigger now and we’re back to being frequently splashed, but the sun is out and we’re having great fun on deck.
Before I go on, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Stephen and R&M Bearings International for your continued support providing additional spare full ceramic wheel bearings for us for our arrival in Hawaii.
Today, I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to explain how we feel about one of the smaller, but nonetheless crucial parts of our life onboard Doris….Velcro.

There are a number of things about life on a 29 ft ocean rowing boat that aren’t as comfortable as they would be in everyday life, and we’re fine with that. However, often in these kind of circumstances it is the small things that start as minor irritations and then gradually evolve into constant obsessions/bugbears. For us, one of these is Velcro.
Don’t get me wrong, Velcro is extremely useful. Our Icon and Skwoosh gel rowing seats are swapped around from seat to seat and attach and detach using Velcro. Our Yellowbrick tracker (which updates our position on the Where’s Doris map on our website) is attached to the bulkhead using strong Velcro. Our Crewsaver wet weather gear has Velcro around the wrists, waist and neck to allow us to fasten it tightly to keep out the water, and our ankle leashes and the storage pockets on the wall of our cabin fasten with Velcro. But……

We have come to the conclusion the Velcro simply isn’t designed for close quarter living. Every time we crawl out of our sleeping bags to get ready for the next nighttime shift on the oars, the Velcro nightmare begins. I usually start with my hair stuck on the Velcro of one of the cabin pockets, which yanks out a handful out as I sit up to get dressed. We then go to put our soggy wet weather gear on. This is a bit of a mission anyway with 2 of us in a confined space, but is made much worse by the fact that the Velcro on the tops always gets stuck. I’ll always find that I’m trapped with my arms and head inside the jacket with the Velcro on the waist stuck to the Velcro on the arms. When I finally manage to unstick myself and heave the jacket over my head, the Velcro around the neck will get stuck and pull out another chunk of hair. Out on deck the Velcro on our ankle leashes will catch on the Velcro on our trousers, or even on the leashes that we use to move around the boat when we’re not rowing, ending up tripping one or both of us up during the changeover. Once the 2 hour shift is over, this all repeats again in reverse as we leave the oars and head in to remove the wet weather gear and get some sleep.
It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, go through this mini Velcro marathon every 2 hours and after only 22 days you too may be prompted to write about it!
A few quick personal messages:

To the Ducklings and the Oundle girls – thank you so so much for all your emails, I love hearing all your news.
Katie Nixon and the A team – thought you’d like to know I’m developing a love for Snickers out here. No Pringles onboard though.
To the Fernie crew – great to hear about the reunion. We were rowing along yesterday to a rather terrible song called Fireball and I thought of you!

Izzy

Share:     

Day 15 – midnight ramblings

By

Day 15 midnight ramblings

So for the last 3 days I’ve been on shift patterns with Izz. Every 3 days we rotate our row partner so that each of us have shared time together rather than developing 2 teams of 2 on the boat. For us it works really well as its pulling us closer together and gives opportunity to spend time with one another.

Anyhew, the last 3 night shifts with Izz has been movie night on the oars and an awesome recollection of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Izz is honestly amazing at narrating the whole story, she remembers all the names of the places, people and the step by step plot from start to finish. I honestly feel like I’ve rewatched the movies and it made each 2hr night shift fly by. The only hiccup is when I try and interlude on the story when I’m trying to keep myself awake. Usually between the hours of 3-5am I am s little drowsy & this apparently is prime viewing for my midnight ramblings / gobbledegook talking. Basically what happens, is that I’m trying to stay awake so start talking but then during the conversation I drift off into daydream and my conversation apparently shifts to that also. According to Izz, An example is the following: ‘Yes I remember Frodo having an invisible jacket he also has my iPod on charge which I mustn’t forget, but I don’t know how to log out and save my file from excel on my computer like on the iPad!’ It’s not until I hear izzy say ‘You what?!!’ That it snaps me out of it and I realise where I am. So to get me back on focus, we decided to stand up and do our ‘Friday chicken dance’ (courtesy of our sport psych Keith and sorry Keith we adapted this for when needs must on alternative days!). Worked a treat and then I was fully compus mentis for the closing of Lord of the Rings.

Personal messages:
Mum – can’t believe you put pepper on Islas pasta when she meant Peppa Pig – has had me chuckling for days! Michelle and Heather – SO great to speak to you both, you felt like you weren’t that far away and I loved hearing your voices and sound words of support. Can’t wait to meet Pip!
Adam Sargent – hope the training is going well, I’ll need to do some cycling when I get back before we go out for a ride. Paul Robertson – Where did you get the daily fact of the days that you wrote with Michelle on my daily cards? Flippin love them and they are a talk of the boat on a daily basis. Current favourite ‘Donald duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn’t wear pants’ priceless!

Laura x

Share:     

Day 13 – this too shall pass

By

Day 13 – This too shall pass…

5 years ago I did a 10 day silent meditation course that was the hardest thing, mentally, I’d ever done. During this Vipassana course (www.dharma.org) you are simply and effectively taught the basics of a Buddhist meditation technique. The courses are run all over the world in the exact same format, are funded by donations and staffed by volunteers who have sat the course at least once before. It was a fascinating experience and one that will forever remain with me in some subtle shape or form. The ultimate goal being love and compassion for all – which is how I attempt to lead my life by looking for the best in others as well as remembering to be kind to myself.

The basic teaching is that there is this law of nature that everything changes. Attempting to change the bad habit patterns of the mind and not to have cravings or aversions to things (as they will only ever lead to unhappiness or suffering), is at the centre of the teachings. Be balanced and non reactive to situations and be safe in the knowledge that whatever it is that is happening or you are feeling right now, will change.
For this reason there is no need to hold on to stuff mentally and by not giving negative scripts more power by indulging them – you simply observe and then let it go (in the wise words of the Frozen lyrics!)

There’s all the evidence in the world for this being a good way to live life and no example more perfect then what we are experiencing right now out here in the almighty Pacific. I’m doing my best to be non reactive, but it’s difficult. I have to constantly remind myself to feel no aversion to the regular soakings and the freezing cold clothes we have to put on before rowing. My sleep deprived mind plays tricks on me, especially at night, and I’m so exhausted that I dream I’m rowing and row in a dream like state through many shifts.
I try not to get too excited when the sun shines or the wind ceases from blowing so hard so that we can row with two arms…and I know that all this is a mere taste of things to come.
We will be tested every stoke of this journey. The key is to take all moments as they come and remember that:

This too shall pass

I have a sneaky suspicion that this next few months is going to become the most difficult thing I will have done to date. Although the physical is becoming more challenging now with the bum issues, wind in a less than favourable position creating hard rowing, cold, constant dampness etc… we know that all this will change. Before long the heat and possible lack of wind will be our challenges and after that a different set of obstacles to overcome – no doubt.

How we deal with most of the physical is through the mind and the mental challenge was always going to be the biggest test out here. That was what had drawn me to the expedition. I will need to remind myself of this when I’m battling the aversions and giving in to the cravings (fresh food, more than 90 minutes sleep at a time, a shower, being able to stand steadily straight upright etc !??!)

What we are going through will be finite and nothing compared to the mental strength needed by a cancer sufferer or woman injured at war. This is where we have witnessed some real strength and spirit. The mind is our most powerful tool and it’s good to remember that.

Update: the wind has died and we were able to enjoy a couple of shifts remaining dry and discomfort free. The sun shone and the sea expanded calmly before us.
Ems and I had a peaceful sunset shift and although I’ll breathe in the moments, I won’t attach myself – as by the next 2 hour shift – who knows what the ocean will throw at us.
x

Natalia

Share:     

Day 12 – take 2

By

Day 12 – take 2

Today it has been hard going to have fun on Doris. It is still 18knot North Westerly winds which is making it hard work to hold a good course over ground and we are still getting very cold and wet every rowing shift. We are also still mainly rowing with only our right hand oar which is becoming very tiring. We are beginning to think we will arrive in Hawaii very lopsided!

However, excitingly we are now at 123 degrees West which is officially further West than we have been since leaving San Francisco! I also got to ring and speak to my Mum on our satellite phone. It was amazing to speak to home and have her sound like she was just next door. A few nights ago Laura and I were on the favourite 2am night shift and we’re talking about the people who inspire us and my Mum is definitely that person for me. Always inspiring me to go after what I want and follow my dreams no matter how crazy they might be!

Nat and I have just had a tasty meal of chicken and veg noodles and defrosted our feet and now we need to get ready to head back out into the cold and wet and head West.
Update! We saw a turtle. He was next to the boat and was about 70cm long. He initially looked a bit like a piece of debris but then he poked his head up to say hello. We called him Edward!

Leaving you with Izzy’s quote for today… “Being cold wet and tired on your own is miserable. Being cold, wet and tired with friends is an adventure.”

Emma

Share:     

Departure update…

By

Work on Doris is nearly complete, but we now need to wait for the best weather window to leave Santa Barbara for Hawaii.

It currently looks like we may be setting off early next week, but we’ll keep you updated…

Share:     

Not ideal….but we remain unstoppable!

By

Try as we might, the universe seems to have been a little against us these last couple of weeks. We have done everything in our power to head West and catch the trade winds that blow from the East to help us in our journey to Hawaii. We’ve battled sea sickness, huge ocean swells and 25 knot winds and we were happy to keep moving when we could stroke by stroke and eventually head in the right direction. This has unfortunately had to be halted for the moment. You may notice that we are now moving East. We have had a frustrating and totally depressing last 48 hours with not only losing one of our MPPT boxes (connection between solar panels and batteries) but now both of them. There appears to have been a leak somewhere in one of the hatches that made its way into the battery hatch yesterday. Despite us carefully double checking everything as well as having all battery and MPPT parts covered in IP65 waterproof cases, battery 2 MPPT blew and just as we had made a group decision to continue on MPPT 1 and battery 1 (as many ocean rowers only have 1 battery to begin with), we lost the MPPT to battery 1 yesterday afternoon!

We have been informed that we can make it back to Santa Barbara and there our intention is to get the battery system looked at and still make it within our weather window to get back out and hopefully make it into the illusive trade winds to complete the first leg of the journey to Hawaii and keep raising the money and awareness for our charities.

Thank you all for ongoing support. It means so much to us.

We will fight and overcome all our adversities as that is what our challenge is all about!

x

Share:     

Update

By

Due to an electrical charging problem the Coxless Crew have taken the decision to return to California whilst the weather forecast is favourable to do so.  There is no imminent danger to the crew and they’re expected to make landfall in the next 3-4 days. More details to follow.

Share:     

Day 2 at Sea

By

Day 2 at Sea

Today was the day we lost sight of shore! The days are already beginning to blur and the ocean showed her power by treating us to humpback whales. We were surrounded by 3 of them for a large portion of the day. Wow! What a spectacular and petrifying sight to see one of these magnificent creatures breaching a mere 15m from the boat. The adrenaline was pumping and we didn’t know where to look. Even the sounds they make are awe inspiring. Got a message from Tony with the forecast for the next 48 hrs. As expected wind speed will be increasing and with it bringing large swells. We rowed over and dropped down 20/30ft waves until nightfall and then lashed everything down on deck, put out a line, went into the cabins and spent the night battened down and putting our faith in Doris. We’re being pushed East instead of West/Southwest, so not ideal. Most still feeling seasick.

Share:     

A Mother’s strength…

By
Patricia Elouahabi, a mother who found a profound inner strength to deal with an aggressive form of breast cancer during her pregnancy, died 6 months after her baby was born. Her husband Rashid, will never forget Patricia’s incredible resilience and spirit and baby Yasin’s who also fought for 3 months in intensive care. The Coxless Crew (aiming to be the first four’s boat to row across the Pacific), will be sharing this story, amongst others, by facing their own adversities and creating awareness for women like Patricia and their two charities they are rowing for, Breast Cancer Care and Walking With The Wounded!

 

“There will come a point when we will all be tested. Tricia faced her battle and so did Yasin. As long as we are willing to fight, we will always succeed.” Rashid Elouahabi

Mother’s day is a time to celebrate and reflect the courage, inspiration and wisdom that mothers seem to automatically have. The Coxless Crew (aiming to be the first fours boat to row across the Pacific Ocean) wanted to share one of their stories of a particular mother that has made a huge impact on their lives.

Patricia Elouahabi, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer when she fell pregnant with her first child in 2012. Having been informed that she would need radical surgery as well as strong treatment, that would affect her unborn baby, she fought through the symptoms of the cancer during her pregnancy and despite knowing that it was detrimental to her own health, wanted to ensure that her son would have the best chance and be the strongest that he could be. They were given a reprieve of a ‘2 week’ window which meant that their little baby boy Yasin could be delivered by C-section at 28 weeks old, weighing in at only 2 pounds!

Two days after the delivery, Patricia began the arduous journey of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed by a major chest surgery. Even during the hardship of the therapies, Trish would take herself to the intensive care unit to spend the day with Yasin, wanting to feed, wash and change him, regardless of how weak she may have felt. She found an incredible inner strength and continued to be positive and smile for her son and husband. However after 3 months of treatment, battling against the odds, Patricia was diagnosed with secondaries in her spine. She was given 3 months to live that was cut even shorter.

Although this story does not have a fairytale ending, it shows the immense strength of human spirit and the resilience and strength shown by not only Patricia but also her husband Rashid.

It is this story, as well as others, that are the source of inspiration for the Coxless Crew taking on their huge challenge and they want to take this opportunity to share the wise words from Patricia and to celebrate the strength of all mothers everywhere.

‘Live and laugh every day, spend time with your family and love your family, live with nothing left un-said or undone, knowing that if today was your last there would be no regrets.’ Patricia Elouahabi

IMG_9203

Share: