Leg 2, Day 82 – A day in the life of the aft cabin

Emma Mitchell By

Day 82 – A day in the life of the aft cabin

The aft cabin on Doris is the size of a small 2 man tent. For the last 82 days four of us have been sharing its space and kept all our belongings in it. It is where we spend 12 hours of every day and a lot happens inside. Here is a typical day in the aft cabin.

09.00: Emma enters the cabin for the first awake shift. Laura’s arm enters to grab her water bottle and the blue cloth to clean the solar panels. Laura enters the cabin. Both rowers change into dry pants and Emma fills in the logbook while Laura reads the numbers from the chart plotter. A quick video diary about their first morning shift follows before Ems retires to the nose of the cabin and gets out the iPad to send and receive emails and begin writing her blog.

09.20: Laura boils water in the jetboil and makes breakfast for her and Emma. This is gobbled down in seconds by the hungry rowers.

09.30: LP runs the water maker. A whirring, clicking noise ensues as fresh water trickles from the blue hose into the bottles lined up in the footwell. This job requires concentration and the occasional distressed sound is emitted as the hose fails to be transferred quickly enough and a bottle overflows to flood the footwell. Once finished the footwell is mopped dry with the conveniently placed sponge.

10.25: Ems finally gets the Iridium Go! to work and reads out emails people have sent to us as a team. This brings a big smile to the faces of both rowers. Individual emails are then read by each rower as they lie down and stretch out their legs.

10.50: “How do we only have 10 mins left” is heard followed by changing of kit, rifling in pockets and assembling of bags and water bottles to be sent out to the oars.

11.00: Ems and LP exit the cabin and are replaced by Nats and LV. Log book and video diary are completed. Nat checks the chart plotter again to see how many miles we have left to Samoa. This time it’s 396nm! Nat is sat by the hatch so she gets straight on with preparing main meals for the hungry pair. Special expedition foods are on the menu as a reward for passing the 400nm mark so Mediterranean vegetable pasta and spag bol are on the menu.

11.20: Both rowers sit side by side propped up against the overflowing personal kit pockets and eat their meals while having a good chin wag.

11.45: A shout from the oars of ‘turtle!’ brings Nat and LV to the aft cabin hatch where they both peer their heads out to try to see as the turtle passes quickly next to Doris. After the excitement they retire back inside. Nats needs to write some emails so she shuffles past LV into the nose of the boat with her towel ready to sit on. It’s a tight squeeze and involves a lot of wriggling.

12.25: LV rifles through her pocket to find a vest top. Obviously this is at the bottom and therefore involves emptying the whole contents of the pocket in an explosion all around her. It then takes 10mins to fit it all back in.

12.45: Nat stands up out of the port hatch with the Sony camera to catch some footage of the rowers in the sunshine.

13.30: Ems and LP are ready to eat. Noodles is on the menu for Ems and scrambled egg and potato for LP so a visit to the condiment hatch is required for sweet chilli and ketchup. This requires shuffling of the rowers away from the area, lifting up of one side of the cabin cushion and delving into the hatch with an arm feeling around for the right bottles.

14.20: A lot of giggling ensues from the aft cabin as Ems and LP practice their alphabet rap. A new party trick is almost learned!

15.05: Nats checks the chart plotter AGAIN to see how far away Samoa is…. 392nm now.

15.45: LV needs to wash some clothes. She wriggles past Nat to the front of the cabin, reaches out and opens the deck hatch closest to the door to remove the washing bucket. The bin and a couple of the water bottles are removed from the footwell and balanced on the cushions around her and the bucket set down. Clothes are washed with soap suds and then rinsed both in a minimal amount of water. A hunt ensues in the aft cabin by LV and Nats for any of our elusive pegs and the clothes are then passed out to LP on the oars to hang on the grab rails.

16.15: LV gets out her diary to write in it and Nats gets out her kindle to read. Both are asleep within 10mins.

18.35: A shout of ‘dolphins’ from Nats and LV on the oars sends LP out of the main hatch and Ems out of the round port hatch to take a look. Cameras are then grabbed and footage taken hanging out of each hatch.

19.15: Nats brushes her teeth out of the port hatch and LV out of the main hatch.

21.20: LP and Ems grab a quick meal of chicken and vegetable pasta before hitting the cushions for a snooze.

22.51: The alarm goes off, first gently and then getting more and more angry the longer it is ignored. LP sleepily turns it off then groans and lies back down. Ems tries to put her shorts, long sleeve top and buff on without sitting up or opening her eyes.

23.17: Time for Nats and LV to have some shepherds pie before bed.

00.51: The alarm gets angry again. Nats switches on the light to get ready. Pre row shift sudocreme application occurs. LV rocks gently by the footwell with her eyes closed until 00.59 when she collects her stuff to leave the cabin.

01.23: Ems is woken up by a head torch, visor and sunglasses falling from the autopilot shelf on to her as she sleeps. Ems resolves to tidy autopilot shelf in the morning. Ems forgets this by the time the alarm sounds.

02.51: Angry alarm. LP tries to put her vest top on. Gets stuck with her head through the arm hole. Tries again. Same problem. Lays out vest top in front of her with a sleepy frown of concentration. Orients item of clothing and body ready to don the top. Ends up inside out but head is through the right hole.

03.10: LV completes the log book in Spanish after a lesson in numbers from Nats on the oars. Sleepy video diary completed.

05.05: After a torrential rain storm on the oars LP and Ems enter the cabin one at a time and struggle out of sopping wet jackets and shorts. Copious quantities of talc are applied to bodies, cushions and sleeping sheets.

07.07: Nats and LV return to the cabin after a beautiful sunrise shift for a final snooze. A new day has begun on Doris.
UPDATE: Following on from Nats Doris tragedies blog it appears that Lizanne’s potential tragedy may in fact be a Doris crime. Yesterday it was discovered that LP was wearing LV’s green top not her own. She pleads ignorance to how this happened but now the mystery deepens. Where is LP’s green top? Surely she hasn’t lost another item to Neptune?!
We have passed the 400nm to Samoa mark – woohoo!!



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    Great report Emma, what a gruelling routine. You must be well coordinated, in allowing each other space, to move and function, given the extremely limited space. Quick update on the Rugby World Cup, there are only Southern Hemisphere teams left in. Very unlucky/controversial loss by a brave Scotland to the Wallabies completed the British interest. I am now an Argentina Supporter for the next week. You must be getting excited, as Samoa edges ever closer? I hope the next 10 days whistle by very quickly, allowing you a well earned reprieve from your labours. Stay safe. XX

  2. JG says:

    Clearly the very complex routine is responsible for the time shooting past leading to cries of “How come there are only 10 minutes left” Long periods of inactivity bnetween rowing sessions would become very hard to deal with I believe. So as always you have got the right formula. Great humour and amazing posts – thank you.

    Keep safe.

  3. Simon TY says:

    It is amazing how much I can NOT achieve in two hours. I have no idea how you do it. Makes me feel quite giddy.

    40 nm in last 24 hours, so you muct almost smell Samoa ( they can probably smell you ?)

    keep safe


  4. You are all utterly amazing girls, to remain so disciplined after all this time and in such cramped conditions! Not long to go now before a break, hopefully. How will you cope with all that space to stretch, run, jump etc?! Your bodies will need to relearn so much! What are each of you most looking forward to when you reach land?

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