Leg 2, Day 48 – Breaking Routines

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 48 – Breaking Routines

I am always amazed at how the human body adapts to the different variables it gets exposed to and how there is always something left in your body to give even though you think you’ve given it all. It’s a topic I can ramble on about for hours.

We have now had almost 7 weeks of 2 hour stints; rowing, resting, rowing, sleeping, and so on. Due to the recent unfavourable conditions we had to break this routine for about 14 hours. After we deployed the para-anchor and had a team Greys Anatomy watching session a few days ago, I found that suddenly for a brief moment we were at a slight loss of what to do…!! We have been so set in our 2 hour lifestyle that breaking it felt like finishing a school term and not really knowing what to do with all that free time. We have one goal and that’s to move closer to our destination every day, so life on the boat with no rowing?? Absurd.

LP and I quickly snapped out of it and started the ‘The Ultimate Oreo Challenge’. It’s unfortunately not a “how many can you eat?” challenge, because at this point in time Oreos are too precious. Due to our delay in getting to Samoa we are going to run out of snack packs, and hence I need to imagine a life aboard Doris with no Oreos! (Don’t fret, we still have plenty of food, just not our snacks and sweets)

So the challenge is; getting an Oreo from your forehead, to your mouth, no hands, then getting it between your teeth and separating it in half, eating the one side that doesn’t have icing on, licking the icing off the other side, and then eating the other half of the Oreo….. Doing all of that with no hands, and no dropping it. LP does the latter part of this challenge while on the oars! It’s pretty impressive.

Laura and Lizanne doing the Oreo challenge

Laura and Lizanne doing the Oreo challenge

The four of us had a great time playing games and chatting before retiring to our humble abodes. Like Nat said, she went with Ems into the Fore cabin for the night while LP and I the Aft Cabin (slightly bigger). Worst night sleep of my life. After about 3 hours my body started to ache like I’d just run a marathon with a fridge on my back. I strangely welcomed the 2 hour alarm beckoning us to monitor our track and fill in the logbook. I am amazed, I longed for routine and so did my body.. It had gone into a complete inflammatory state with muscle spasm! It eased quickly with stretches and movement, but we all emerged from the cabins that morning groaning and moving like we were 101 yrs old.

It struck me then that the 8 hours sleep that was normal to us in our lives back on land, was suddenly too much for our bodies to handle. We got used to the 2 hour rhythm, and any more time gave leeway for inflammation to enter our repetitively strained joints and muscles. I started looking closely at our bodies to see exactly how they had changed since we started the row. More to come on this in detail.

Since I got on the boat I have wondered in astonishment how our bodies have coped so well with such little aches or pains. With Laura being a Physiotherapist and myself an Osteopath we do focus on preventative measures, but I’m still astonished. I guess it’s just another case of ‘sink or swim’, as rowing is the only way for us to get to our destination, and so our bodies instinctively adapt.

No doubt we will settle back into a monophonic sleeping pattern when we get home, but before then I hope it is smooth rowing all the way to Samoa so that we can avoid having to “rest” for a few hours again. Sounds ridiculous to say it, right??

UPDATE: thanks so much to everyone who helped with the fishing advice, I’m on it. We’ve unfortunately not had one single flying fish land on the boat for weeks, hence why I’ve not used them.

Last night however LP and I had just finished our sunset rowing shift and on my way into the cabin I asked Nats and Ems to keep any flying fish for me if by chance they see any jump on board so I can use it for bait. I went inside and was talking to LP when 2 minutes later I heard a ‘plop’ next to me and we looked at Nat (facing into the cabin from the oars) thinking she threw something, she hadn’t. When Laura asked what that was I joked and said “a fish”. Funniest moment so far…. It was in fact a fish! In the footwell! A tiny flying fish. We all burst out laughing as I took my fish with the bbq tongs and kept it safely to use for bait the next morning.

Since my bait had literally landed into my lap, I was sure i’d catch something today. Sad to say I didn’t. Better luck tomorrow

Love Lizanne x



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    I hope you realise that people up and down the UK are now attempting the Oreo challenge? You really made me laugh, at what people will do for entertainment, or to stave off boredom. I think on the fishing front, that a bit of silver and a feather tied to a hook towed behind Doris will bag you a Bonito or such like. Lets hope conditions improve so that you don’t have to endure, what sounds like, painful interuptions to your routine, Loving the different dailly updates, been reading them since 19th April……Wow! Stay Safe. XX

  2. JG says:

    Good to see how normal you all are with the situation and each other. Clearly a highly intelligent understanding and analytical approach to your existence has helped to bypass the usual pitfalls created by endless repetition and deprivation. I look forward to reading about how the crew have changed physiologically after so long at sea. In a couple of days you should have some winds behind you and as you near the Equator the current should pick up in your favour. I am only just beginning to learn about El Nino but it seems that might be affecting things in the Pacific. In the meantime keep safe – with you all the way.

  3. Great to see a much better 24hr distance today. Certainly hope it continues. The four of you never cease to amaze us with the way you deal with everything. Your blogs inform, amuse and make us think everyday. Today the Oreo challenge made us laugh out loud and then made us think what a great opportunity for your PR team to liase with the makers of Oreos. Make a great advert for them and money for your charities.
    We wish you winds and currents in the right direction.
    Keep blogging and stay safe. xx

  4. You girls amaze me every time . There is no limits to you skills and imagination. I thought the only way to eat an oreos is to lick it, dunk it and then eat it.
    Keep up the good spirits. We love your blogs everyday
    Keep safe . XXX

  5. Robert says:

    John Beeden is 13 nm ahead of you & leaving you in his wake.
    4 women in a boat with a waterline length speed approx 1 knot faster than John’s with about the same loaded weight as John’s boat who took a break in Hawaii & took on a fresh crew member & started from Santa Barbara about 3 weeks before John started from San Francisco. You always have a pair on watch rowing. When John is sleeping his boat is not being rowed. The extra weight of 2 non rowing women has a negligible effect on the speed of a 29ft 1 ton loaded hull. You have a problem. You need to rethink your strategy. Check the bottom of your boat to see if it is covered in weed and barnacles. Row with 1 oar each like a surfboat. Change to longer (8 hour?) watches. Don’t catch fish it encourages sharks which makes it hairy cleaning the bottom of Doris. Ask John for some tips!

  6. Catherine says:

    I thought the same re Oreo. Worth contacting them. Even if they only supplied you with Oreos for the next leg it would be worth it. And maybe they have some new challenges for you!

  7. Charl JVR says:

    Lizzy Lizzy Lizzy super awesome and amazed at the rithm you guys keep, the hours of rowing and the amazingness of the Oreo game, next game to happen this weekend. Just keep Rowing(finding Nemo”just keep swimming”) and see you back home! So proud of you as a friend and and a South African!

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