Day 58 – Questions answered and a little update

Natalia Cohen By

Day 58 – Questions answered and a little update

Less than 500 miles to go!! Woohoooo. We’ve now got strong wind and big seas again. We haven’t seen this type of sea state since we left San Fran! The swell is large and we climb slowly up the walls of water and dip or surf down them on the other side picking up speed. Occasionally we get waves washing over Doris’ deck giving us a soaking once again.

The moon is rising late these days so the night shifts are challenging as you cannot see the waves in the deep darkness. Note worthy events are:

1. LP got hit in the throat by a large flying fish!! Unfortunately her and her jacket stunk of fish but on a positive note the fish did rebound straight back into the water and therefore survived!

2. We rowed through a tropical downpour with heavy rain and wind hitting us hard. All we could do was look incredulously at one another, laugh and continue rowing!

3. I actually got catapulted out of my shoes and seat with a sudden boat lurch as my shoes have stretched out of shape and are now too large!

4. With the rain has come lots of rainbows! Who doesn’t love a good rainbow?

5. We have had large flocks of Shearwater birds visiting us daily (Manx and black-vented Shearwaters) and a couple of Magnificent Frigates . They busy themselves with a feeding frenzy then pop by to check all is good with us. *Not long to go, but still time for the mighty Pacific to throw some surprises our way… x

A huge thank you for the great response. We received some amazing questions and if we had the time  (and limitless internet credit) we would have loved to have answered them all!

Please find the 10 chosen questions below:

1. Cheryl Tree:

Hi all, In admiration for what you are all doing. My question is :

Referring to you two worthy charities and the difficult life events they support people through. What small things do you think friends and society can do to further help and support people with Breast cancer or those living with life changing injuries? these charities help immensely but is there anything you’d like to encourage from others?

LP: lovely question Cheryl. I’m certainly no expert at this so this is just in my opinion and the limited experience I have had from a physio perspective, but I guess one thing is for people to remember that the person in question is still a person and for you to put yourself in their shoes. What I mean by that, is to see and treat them as you would do normally and how you would like to be treated, don’t just see them as a cancer victim or someone with a disability. Often it’s hard to think of things to say when you hear of the diagnosis, but If they’re your friend or family, then be supportive through continuing to do and talk about the things you always have done. Create distractions and other interests rather than focussing on the problem continually as they will have enough doctors and medical staff that will do that for them.

2. Steve in Marlow:

Hi inspirational women! My question is: which toe or finger hurts the most for each of you as you complete this section? Fair winds and smooth seas! Steve

Natalia – right hand middle finger and left hand ring finger

Izzy – middle finger on my right hand

Emma – right hand ring finger which is split at the bottom.

LP – right hand middle and ring finger, left hand middle and ring fingers.

3. dovegreyreader:

Before the episode of the Broken Kindle what were you reading, how on earth are you managing without it (I might cry if it was me!) and I am intrigued to know if any of the others are reading and if so, what are the best mid-Pacific ocean books?

Natalia – 100 Year Old Man that jumped out the window (audio book), The Secret garden (audiobook)

I will definitely stock up on audiobooks and podcasts in Hawaii as I would love to listen to more.

Izzy – I’m on book number 10 or 11! Laura is kindly lending me her kindle now mine has broken. Among others I’ve really enjoyed Unbroken, Wild and A man called Ove, and I was mid way through Shantaram on the broken kindle.

Emma – I read the Mockingjay and Divergent on Izzy’s kindle before it broke. Good easy to read entertainment. I’ve also listened to The Book Thief, 100 Year Old Man and Secret Garden audio books. I’m also a fan of the ‘no such thing as a fish’ and ‘the infinite monkey cage’ podcasts in an attempt to increase my general knowledge.

4. Sam/Mike S:

Sam : What is the dreamiest meal combo that you want awaiting you when you finish your epic row? Even when I do a ridiculously unepic 10k Run I will definitely spend a lot of time considering the foodie reward that will refuel me afterwards (perhaps that’s just me)….after your killer rowing exploits I can’t imagine what you’ll be hankering after!?!?

Natalia – Frozen yogurt (first things first) then as much fresh fruit and vegetables as I can have. The meal I am most looking forward to is a breakfast! Poached eggs, muffins, avocado, fresh tomato and salad, washed down with a chai latte.

Izzy: I’ve been craving a BBQ with sweetcorn and lots of yummy salads to accompany the meat. Frozen yoghurt for pudding. Yoghurt and fresh fruit for breakfast.

Emma: I’m looking forward to a big salad with some real meat followed up with some frozen yoghurt and lots of fresh fruit. Also some fresh bread will have to feature somewhere.

LP – I would love one of my aunty Marie’s Cornish pasties or my mums roast beef but as neither are possible until I get back home, then I’d certainly be content with a fillet steak medium rare, fresh grilled tomato, green beans and spinach, bearnaise sauce and chunky chips, with a large ice cold and fresh lemon coke and frozen yoghurt with fresh fruit for dessert- delish!

As you can see the one thing we all have in common is the frozen yoghurt. This is going to therefore be our first port of call. Yoghurt Land here we come on touch down in Hawaii!!

5. Linda and Peter Toy:

How will you celebrate when you get your first sighting of Hawaii?????? We can only imagine your excitement at the thought of nearing completion of leg 1 !!!!!

Natalia – The moment that we first sight land will no doubt be met with loud cries of joy. The real excitement and 100% relaxation will only be once our feet are on solid ground and we feel the water from that first shower hit our faces! However, we will be ensuring that we take an hour’s social time as a team to celebrate the sight of land and swig from the bottle of bubbly we have from Ems’ birthday! I for one will call it a glitter day and ensure that I cover the others in sparkles!!

Emma: As we come into sight of land we will likely be pretty busy monitoring our AIS for other boats and checking our course is safe around the coast. However we will also take the time for a celebration of our achievements as a team while it is still just the 4 of us before we reach the craziness of land and the real world!

LP- Peter I’m sure you will recall my exhilaration when I went on Oblivion with you at Alton Towers! Now triple that and that will most probably get close to my response when we see land. Although this will be nothing in comparison to when we see land in Australia!

6. Annette Ovens:

Having just had a weeks sailing, I was wondering what you use to protect your skin – and how many bottles!?

Natalia -Hey Annette. Rocky Mountain SPF 50 sun block for our face and body plus face sticks. We ordered 20 litres for the whole trip and reapply every daytime rowing shift (every 2 hours). We also cover up wherever possible when it’s not too hot.

7. Gayle:

What is the science behind the 2 hour shifts? It seems unbelievably hard to sleep less than 2 hours each changeover. I personally would prefer longer work effort and longer sleep but I presume there is a sound reason for two hours – is it a physical or psychological decision?

LP – hi gayle. It is a mixture of both physical and psychological for the 2hr shifts. During a normal 8hr sleep you go through a number of sleep cycles, polyphasic sleeping like we’re doing, means we aim to get just one sleep cycle in before we wake up, then repeat that on at least 4 off shifts so that in total we would accumulate a 4.5hr sleep per day. If you extend beyond a 1.5hr sleep, you fall into deeper sleep and it’s therefore harder to wake up from. Secondly as you mentioned physically, it’s manageable 2hrs on the oars but any longer than that and you start to get uncomfortable with the repetitive motion. Therefore 2hrs/2hrs off has become a steady practice, but some people do mix it up.

8. JG:

Lizanne will be joining you shortly. The members of the crew remaining after Isabel has departed will have had a long time to develop their social cohesion with each other. How do you plan to help Lizanne slip into the fourth slot and quickly become a balancing member of the team?

LP & Emma: Keith our Sport Psych back in the UK, has been working hard to prepare both Lizanne and ourselves for integration into the team. We have spoken to Lizanne via our sat phone whilst out at sea as well as regular contact on email. Secondly we have put together a full handover plan for her in Hawaii including a lot of work on our individual hot buttons (what gets the best and worst out of ourselves) roles and routines on the boat plus running through our individual NEO personality scores to see how we all react in certain situations. We’ll also run through our safety drills and what if scenarios on Doris before we depart. It is going to be important for the 3 of us to remember that Lizanne will be experiencing everything for the first time and things that we have become used to will be out of her comfort zone to start with.

9. Jeff J:

So at some point you will cross the international date line. When you do will you do two blogs with the same date or skip a day entirely??? Follow up question, when you cross a time zone does that screw up the two hour shifts?

Remember always laugh and enjoy life. You only get one!!!!

I expect we’ll work out what we’re doing about blogs when we get there – it seems a long way off! It will probably depend on how many other tasks we have to do in our off shifts at the time.

Crossing a time zone does not impact on our shift pattern. We simply continue 2 hours on 2 hours off all the way. We communicate with Tony regarding forecast etc on UTC time. We have also only just ceremoniously changed our personal watches from San Francisco time to Hawaii time!

10. Babs:

Everyone talks about ‘hitting the wall’ when they do a marathon ( not that I would know!) but in rowing terms, when was the worst time for each of you, and how did you overcome it?

You are now seeing what the last 4 years in the planning has done to help you achieve this epic row. We are all so proud of you, and can’t wait to see you complete the first leg, not long now girls, keep safe xx

Natalia – Apart from the obvious disappointment of having to return to land after leaving San Francisco, I think the hardest thing for me was about 4/5 days where the conditions had been cold and wet and hadn’t shown us any variety. The monotony of the 24 hour day began to get to me and frustration creeped in. I always try to bring myself back to the moment and for this period I really had to take it stroke by stroke.

Izzy – the final night rowing into Santa Barbara was a personal low. We had one very very cold, wet shift where we were making hardly any progress. It was more challenging than normal to stay positive knowing that we were going back to land.

Emma: The only time I have wished myself off the boat was after about 5 days of being constantly cold and wet to the point that I wasn’t warming up in my sleeping bag at night. At that point we were also making very slow progress. Taking it one shift at a time was the only way to get through it and it passed pretty quickly.

LP: After 2 weeks of sea sickness and then facing the fact that we had to turn back to land, this without a doubt made me question that it wasn’t going to happen. The positivity and strength of the team together meant that these thoughts lasted for less than 2hrs before we were getting excited about food and showers!  

11. Derek M:

To keep your minds off of “rowing”, I’m keeping my questions very light-hearted and somewhat childish:

I know that you absolutely LOVE your crew mates and wouldn’t want to do this adventure with anyone else but them. BUT just for fun…

1.) If you had to toss your 3 crew mates overboard and select “3 Celebrities” to join you on this long adventure (assuming they could all row too) who would you choose & why?

2.) Same scenario but choose “3 Friends/Family members”

I can’t even imagine the mental challenges that you are facing through your amazing journey. I can only encourage you to press on because you continue to inspire women, men, children, cities, nations….the world!


1.A. The Dalai llama – to keep me mindful and at peace with myself, my team and Mother Nature! An enlightened being with humour and stories to learn from. B. The amazing Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Adventurer extraordinaire. So many incredible stories to share. He’s funny and awe inspiring and has been through it all! C. TBC…still thinking about a female partner in crime

2.This is easy. My brother, Jared. He’s funny, interesting, entertaining, super fit and strong, determined, an out of the box thinker and is a fab handyman. I couldn’t think of anyone better and would LOVE to row an ocean with him. Our dear friend Rik who is just an all round legend and never fails to make me laugh and then last but never ever least is my best friend in the whole wide world, Elisa. She is magical and knows me better than I know myself!


1. David Attenborough – for his amazing narration and endless knowledge of the sea creatures we always question. Heather Stanning (GB Gold rower & army officer) lovely personality, strength on the oars and great army mentality. Hugh Jackman – for obvious reasons!

2. My auntie Marie as I’m sure she’d figure out a way to make pasties on the boat. Michelle Robertson – 1 of my best friends who knows me inside out, she has an amazing attitude and is great fun to be around. Kirsten Samuel – great friend that is such a strength of character, full of positivity and kindness.


1. A. Katherine Grainger – GB Olympic rower. She’s a lovely person and a perfect example of why you should never give up. B. John Bishop – comedian. He’s funny, sporty, and I’ve been reading his autobiography on Laura’s kindle and he has a fascinating life story to tell. C. Ben Howard – singer songwriter. I’ve been listening to his music all the way across from San Francisco and would love a live version on the boat.

2. A. My little sister, Philippa, who is an excellent rower, has a fab sense of humour and brings light to every situation. B. My friend Katie Nixon, who I spend a lot of time in the mountains with. She is one of the most positive people I know and I can sing songs and talk rubbish to her all day long. C. My friend Caz Bullard, adventure racer supreme and all round sporting superstar. Super experienced and wonderful company.


1. I would take Kelly Holmes as she is fit, sporty and pretty hardcore when out of her comfort zone as seen in her recent trip to the jungle. Secondly Ed Sheeran with his guitar to provide musical accompaniment. Thirdly Russell Howard for some laughs.

2. Out of my friends and family I would probably take the 3 other members of the speedy Marlow lightweight four we raced for a couple of years Joey, Tamsin and Dani. All good rowers, good under pressure and a team better than the sum of its members.


1 Comment

  1. Jim Andrews says:

    I really enjoyed reading those questions (some of, which I thought but didn’t ask) and the well thought out answers. You are all legends and you are creating a new piece of history which will be admired long after your adventure is over. my admiration, like the miles covered, grows every day. Well done. Stay safe. XX

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