Leg 2, Day 79 – The Doris Tragedies

Natalia Cohen By

Day 79 – The Doris Tragedies

Some of you may remember a few months ago I wrote about the sad truth about the state of pollution in our oceans. In leg 1 we rowed through part of what we believed to be the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, where the frequency of debris floating past us was alarming. In leg 2 we have definitely seen a lot less pollution, but it has still been very evident.

Please know that everything mentioned below was completely unintentional and every effort was made for retrieval of each object! I feel as though I’m best placed to write this blog as, so far, I am the only person to not have had a ‘Doris tragedy’ befall me yet and you all already know my strong feelings regarding Ocean pollution.

A Doris tragedy = when something has been very accidentally and distressingly lost at sea.

Ems was the first person to have this happen. After days of some of the roughest seas we had had in leg 1, the wind suddenly died and we had our first day of flat calm. This, of all days, when there was limited boat movement, was the day that Ems let go of her tupperware whilst cleaning it in the sea after her lunch. We still have no idea exactly how it happened.

Then, after heading off from Santa Barbara, Ems was generously cleaning LP’s new flask for her after a cup of peppermint tea and…boom…lost to the ocean as well. Ems has since made a point of informing anyone whose tupperware and/or flask she is cleaning that they do so at their own risk!

LP had an opportunity to get her own back on Ems, when a week or so after the loss of her flask, she too was kindly cleaning Ems’ tupperware before…bam…gone.

This, unfortunately, was the start of LP’s ‘Doris Tragedy’ bad luck. To date, she has lost Ems’ flask, her purple top, her favourite pink bikini top (this was a particularly tragic day), one of our hatch shades (a silver car windscreen shade), a blue flannel and a pillow case!


The pillow case is a good story.
This was in leg 2, when just after a beautiful sunset, a large silvery fat fish jumped and landed on the deck of Doris. It was thrashing around in a state of panic and LP, being our knight in shining armour, nominated herself to pick it up and release it back into the ocean. She snatched the nearest thing she could find from the cabin (one of our pillowcases) and bravely lurched forward to help save it. The fish was still flapping around dramatically and LP began losing her nerve a little. Practicing some positive speak, she began shrieking (I say shrieking as it was an extraordinarily shrill pitch that I believe the dogs on any neighbouring island would have heard), “You’re just a fish, you’re just a fish, you’re just a fish!”

With the mantra firmly in place, LP grabbed the fish with both hands and flung it into the sea. Unfortunately, instead of only releasing the fish, she also let go of the pillowcase. A life saved, but alas another ‘Doris tragedy’.

The loss of the blue flannel may be the most pertinent as it was the most used item. It was a sad day when LP realised that her flannel, normally hanging with all the others on the grab lines, was nowhere to be seen. Ems was with her at the time and sensitive to the sadness LP clearly displayed, generously offered a section of her green flannel. LP now has a flannel albeit a tiny little green one!!


Izzy in leg 1, had a couple of perturbing losses.
The first was her pink sponge. Izz had been talking about washing with her new sponge for quite a while and the day had finally come. Excitedly she remained out on deck after her row shift and was preparing for the big wash. All was in place for the procedure; the bucket, the soap and the sponge, which was placed on the side ready to do its job. Izz reached for the pink sponge and when doing so accidentally knocked it overboard. It happened so quickly, it was all a blur, but there was no rescuing the little pink sponge. The dismay on Izz’s face was priceless as she watched the pink object drift further and further away from us.

You would think a lesson had been learnt…but alas no. Days later Izz was brushing her teeth out in the oars and was rinsing the toothbrush with her trusty Camelback water bottle. She was about to finish up when the bottle accidentally knocked against the gate of the oar and…plop…into the water it fell. Make no mistake, Izz made a valiant effort to try and retrieve her beloved bottle, but as the current whisked it away, she found herself on the wrong side of the oars and, alas, could just not manage to get to it before it was floating off into the distance.

Last, but never by any means least is the lovely Lizanne. Now we are still unsure if this story is one of ‘Doris mystery’ or ‘Doris tragedy’, but whichever it may be it has caused our LV great distress. We all have matching blue green long sleeved Ripcurl UV protected tops that we wear to row in and this seems to have completely disappeared. Most of us presume it has been given as gift to Neptune along with LP’s purple top and bikini, but LV just refuses to believe. We’re hoping she’ll come to the realisation soon enough and are all ready to support and help her deal with the loss x

We had a HUGE Mahi Mahi jump up onto the boat last night and smack poor Ems on the leg. It then flew into a flapping panic releasing fish scales and a very strong fishy smell of fear while Ems and LV screamed like girls. Our night in shining armour came to the rescue again. This time LP grabbed MY sheepskin and proceeded to enter the same scenario as the silver fish. This time, however, she learnt from her previous mistake and managed to keep hold of the object that had aided her in saving the fish’s life. Not so good for me. The sheepskin reeked of fish, so rendered it unusable.

In other news…we have had a breeze today which has made rowing slightly more bearable. I broke my non hair washing record from leg 1 (40 days) and finally cleaned it after a staggering 52 days!! Who knows what will happen in leg 3!!?



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    Thank goodness, I was seriously concerned for your welfare after 24 hours of silence, I was scanning everything I could scan to learn of your whereabouts…Nothing. I looked forward to your link up with the “One Show” and thought it was nice but limited. I thought a bit more commitment to your cause and a bit more coverage would have been good. I am surprised how well you have done regarding, losses over the side of Doris. It is inevitable that Murphy’s law will claim little gifts for Neptune. It must be heart breaking to lose things when you are so restricted in what you can take with you. Good progress during those silent 24 hours. Keep up the good work and tie those little treasures down. Stay safe XX

  2. Perhaps Fernando has a wardrobe in the depths of the ocean and you may yet see him wearing Laura’s pink bikini top, along with the other items sometime!!!!!,

    He did make a grand appearance on The One Show though………..

  3. Simon TY says:

    Sorry for yr losses. All surplus. Cannot remember which book, but an Antartic one, where they. Had to carry everything. And they looked at the end and were staggered there were things they had never used, and not seen since the beginning. Like Nat’s shampoo.

    My geography lesson has restarted. Due south is PukaPuka part of the Cook Islands. Three US sailors survived 34 days at sea on an 8ft raft, then landed there and lived off coconuts. There was a book apparently The Raft.

    It has its own language and an island called Frigate Island ( Motu Kotawa). So maybe some visitors soon.

    Under 500 miles. Keep safe, keep concentrating.


  4. ALC says:

    Had a really good laugh! Sorry Ladies, but this was hilarious.

    It’s a pity you didn’t take your black puffer coat, Maybe that would have fallen overboard, too!!!

    Keep blogging – all your posts keep me going and are absolutely addictive.

    Wishing good weather, good winds and good currents.

  5. Simon TY says:

    No talk of losing food, not even the crumbs in an Oreos packet. Suspect that would have been mourned more heavily. Tupperware, bikinis, bottles, all forgivable. But if anyone had dropped food….can you imagine the repercussions ?

    How big is a big Mahi Mahi ? You throw them into blogs as if we land lubbers know. Was the main fish-thrower-awayer grappling with a sardine of a metre long thrashing mess of dorsal fins ? I did months ago say be very careful with the fish, some have vicious and poisonous barbs in their fins.


  6. Sara says:

    Sad losses one and all but hilarious reading for us all. I was going to tell you that all the shops are now having to charge 6p for every bag that we use which may play a small part in saving our ocean but perhaps this is the wrong time to celebrate with all The Coxless Crew Tupperware dishes and water bottles being delivered to the sea! Look out Fernando who knows what may land on you next!
    Take care, loads of love xxx

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