Leg 3, Day 10 – Let the ocean decide

Natalia Cohen By

” Yesterday is history,
 Tomorrow is a mystery,
 Today is gift, 
 That’s why it’s called the ‘present’ “

LP and Ems have both mentioned to me that although they really want to arrive into Cairns as quickly as possible, they don’t want to miss out on being in the moment and enjoying what this final leg has to offer. It’s easy for us to become complacent and as we’re on the last stretch of the journey, some people’s minds have a tendency to project even more into the future to Australia and beyond rather than be present right here and right now. Luckily, this appreciation of the moment is something that I find comes really naturally to me and so I’ve taken it upon myself to do my best to keep bringing the team back to the moment wherever possible. 

Conversations are often started on the oars about our arrival and what we’ll eat (usually LP as she’s obsessed with food), what it will be like when we’re back and what our lives in the months after we have returned will be like. I appreciate that there are practical decisions that do need to be made in advance and planning has been one of the keys to the success of this expedition, however, outside these practicalities, I would rather not project yet.  

I tend to enter the discussion briefly to entertain my rowing partner but don’t really like dwelling on the subject as although I could easily run away with thoughts and prophesies, I feel as though I would rather deal with where we are now and keep taking things shift by shift, moment by moment. There is still a long way to go in this ever changing environment with lessons to be learnt and experiences to be had. I want to immerse myself fully in the simplicity of our way of life out here. It is unlikely that we will be as far removed from civilisation as we are right now with the lack of connection to the usual stresses and pressures of everyday life. 
There may be other types of challenges and hardships that we endure as we travel through Oceania, but I want to savour the beauty and uniqueness of this existence before retuning back to a familiar one. 

For me, it’s all about the journey.

There are some people that have always known what they have wanted to be when they grow up. From an early age they have had their life path mapped out and they just need to take the necessary steps to get there. They were either inspired by their parent’s job, a teacher or subject at school, or just had an obvious set of skills that made it easy for them to slip into a certain career.

I was never one of those people. I never really knew what I wanted to do…and to be honest, I still don’t. All I know for sure is that it makes life easier to be passionate about what you do and failing that, ‘it’s not what you do but the way that you do it’ that matters and ideally you want to ensure you make the most of life. You live, feel and breathe it.  It’s so easy to wish away your working week living only for the weekends, just as it’s so easy to wish away the experience of a journey or challenge just for the end result or reward of its completion. 

I have been really lucky in that I have managed to find or I suppose choose a path and lifestyle that has allowed me to follow my passions. One era has been followed effortlessly by another and I have always had utter faith that the wind will blow me in the right direction, or more aptly, that I will be taken by the ocean currents and waves and they will send me exactly where I am destined to be.

I gave my mum a birthday card last year before I knew that I was doing the row and the message on the front was all about Zen Dog and went a little something like this:

“He knows not where he goes,
For the ocean will decide.
It’s not the destination
But the glory of the ride.”

After discussions with my brother it was decided that I was going to be Zen Dog on this trip and amazingly, it has indeed become central to the way I have looked at life out here in the middle of the Pacific. 

This 9 month long experience will be one of our greatest adventures and for all of us the secret is living it fully NOW while it’s still happening. It’s a truly special journey, a quest, an oceanic pilgrimage and an exploration into the mind, body and spirit. 

So, as Zen Dog it is actually my responsibility to unite the team and for us all to revel in the glory of the ride x

Amazingly we are STILL travelling in the right direction at a decent speed!
The moon is now lighting our nights which have become calmer, less splashy and very beautiful and Meg had her first wildlife sighting (apart from birds) where a large marlin jumped spectacularly out of the water near the boat.
We’re very soon going to be rowing past Fiji…



  1. JG says:

    Well said Natalia. What a complete person you are, able to draw the last ounces of experience from every situation you find yourself in. Well done too in steadying the other crew members – it is so important to have someone with your outlook as a member of any team faced with challenges. Feet firmly placed, able to see the wood AND the trees, come what may. Keep safe

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    You always seem to be in the right frame of mind Natalia and I really feel your passion for the ocean. Yesterday I felt for Emma struggling to get back in the groove, to find the “happy place” on the oars. Today, I applaud your ability to soak up the moment, to extract every morsel of positivity from your experiences. I hope you can all continue to appreciate, both, the moment and the enormity of your achievement. Your lives will never be the same again. I wonder how many times in the future, your hearts will yearn for those special magical moments with Doris. The beauty of looking into the past is, rose tinted glasses are always to hand. The pain, tiredness and cold will fade with time but all those sunrises, sunsets, giggles, wildlife and kind people of Santa Barbara, Hawaii and Samoa will spring to the fore.
    You must all be so pleased with your progress with this leg. I hope you can all enjoy every moment remaining on Doris. Stay Safe.XX

  3. Aloha Natalia,
    Your words ring so true! All of life has got to be about the journey as we all know what the final destination is going to be! Most people are so fixated on their plans and goals that they completely miss all the wonders they pass by on their journey. You have really discovered the true joy of voyaging that many other sailors come to know while sitting a midnight watch and marveling at the Milky Way!
    “Be Here Now”

  4. Lovely blog post Nat. Living in the present is something I strive to do but it can be really hard at times, especially during challenging times which are easy to wish away.
    Glad to hear the moon is back and I hope this helps to lift Emma and bring her back some joy on the oars again. Lots of love to you all. Stay safe xx

  5. Elaina James says:

    I’m so please the moon has joined you for your journey, our swimmers from dolphin swim school are asking about your progress and there is excitement in the air when linda tells them how many miles you are now doing X with all my love Elaina xx

  6. Well done Natalia. JG says you are steadying the other crew members and I can confirm that as Lizanne said to me you are a pillar of strength. Keep going girls you are doing fantastic at the moment. Cherish the moments.
    Stay save XXX

  7. Simon TY says:

    Have you just crossed the date line ? The tracking map says you have done a whole circumnavigation in the last few hours and have landed in the sea near Fiji from the WEST ?

    More for your education:

    Marmon Dead, those people most worried about you
    Nerve Sprike Tan, what they hope you do not have
    Sag grapes: wishing something else had happened
    Scummin Glerser: Cairns, every day


  8. Allen says:

    Hi there,
    I am very glad that things are going well for you.
    Thanks for the post Natalie. Very important to stay in the moment.. As you say, very zen.

    The area you are rowing around has some of the most beautiful islands imaginable. It is a pity that you can’t Island hop the rest of the way!!
    I was first transported to these Islands by Paul Theroux and the Happy Isles of Oceana.. Have a great time out there. Really enjoy every second of every minute!

    England is grey, rainy and storm tossed.. Brilliant! I love it !
    Many best wishes.

  9. Simon TY says:

    No blog yesterday ? Hope all ok. Thinkin of you xxx

  10. JG says:

    Likewise but don’t anyone feel any pressure !

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