Leg 3, Day 22 – A blog from Laura’s parents

Laura Penhaul By

Day 22 – A blog from Laura’s parents

How can we ever follow such informative and varied blogs, but here goes! Being the parents of Laura who began her journey approx 4 years ago telling us that she planned to row the Pacific with a team of 4 girls in aid of her chosen charities and unsupported! This last word sent shivers down our spines, reflecting back on watching the likes of David Walliams, Davina McCall and John Bishop doing their charity swims, where their support was invaluable. Where did she get this idea from? Over the next few months/ years we watched the struggle to get funding to build Doris, along with building a team, with the correct dynamics. Watching her juggle work along with many courses to be able to carry out this epic journey safely. The team had to carry out sleep studies, survival training, learn about sea, electronics and mechanical skills, alongside getting fit with rowing most days and building up body mass. The dedication to detail for all the girls has been a testament to their success. Then last March the parents had a chance to meet ‘Uncle Tony’ if ever you want someone to put your mind at ease then he is the man to go to. He is their support, albeit from the land either home in Plymouth or waiting on the Marina at their chosen stops. The other major support has been Keith their psychologist who has been just as invaluable, helping to get the right team together and be at the end of the phone for the girls and us parents if required.

Remembering the first time we were taken to Rossiters boat yard to see the shell of Doris, I felt physically sick at the thought of our daughter out in the middle of the largest ocean in the world in this little 29ft boat. I think at that stage, I secretly hoped she would not get to the start line. However over the coming months, seeing the determination and the way that they were planning every detail, along with a team building weekend, where the last of the crew were chosen, we began to feel that it was going to happen. Meeting the girls was my turning point, as they seemed so focused and bonded this gave us the confidence that we needed. So by the time we got to San Francisco we were fully committed to the row and in our small way tried to help. They had to reposition the boat to the Presidio Yacht Club the afternoon before they were due to set off, this was difficult as the currents and wind in the bay around Alcatraz are very strong, and challenging, however they made it and I wish I could have bottled their smiles as they stepped off the boat. I felt then, they had shown us parents that they can do it unaided, silly I know but if you’d have been there you would understand . That night at 02.00hrs in the pitch black, with nothing more than their head torches and our torch lights, they set off out under the Golden Gate Bridge, a surreal moment. The night was still and all that could be heard were the boats clanging, oh! and our nervous laughter. I had so dreaded that moment and yet having the other parents there giving each other support, was so much better than envisaged. I do not recall any tears, just hugs and “stay safe” then we became glued to the iPad and the little pink dot. Many a time it has been very frustrating at home, as we know they have struggled against the mighty ocean, sometimes being pushed backwards, and worrying when we hear that they are in rough seas, or dealing with seasickness. However nothing prepares you for the pride we felt when we saw them arrive into Hawaii, I was so excited I thought I took a video of them, instead I have a lovely picture of the ground, the yacht club and a couple of arms and our faces! Yes I had the iPad on reverse. What has humbled us the most is the kindness shown by so many people, by the hospitality of people that did not know the girls, the support from different parts of the world, and the generosity of so many people towards their chosen charities Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and all we want now is to bring our girls home safe and sound. Roll on Cairns, we will be there waiting for our hugs with our girls, parents united.

Ray and babs

Father here, can you imagine what Laura will be like when she gets home after the row and has fully recovered, she was stubborn before God knows what she’ll be like now!! I am sure one day she’ll meet someone and get married and have a family, I can just imagine it, up at 6:00 out by 8:00 coffee at 10:00 lunch at 12:00 etc, a young child saying I can’t Mum and Mum saying you can do anything if you put your mind to it, and a husband thinking “and they say growing up is hard”!! We have made new friends and met some amazing people during this journey and yes it has been pretty stressful at times but I know when we see Laura step off the boat in Cairns it will be one of the proudest days of our lives.

Anyone reading this especially those that have children I’m sure will appreciate and understand when I say that they are the most important part of your life and when they achieve great things you can’t be anything but immensely proud of them. We have two wonderful children so I must also mention Adam who along with his lovely wife Katie designed a massive extension to their property and did a great deal of the work themselves whilst also bringing up our gorgeous granddaughter Isla, I’m sitting here now in their house writing this and thinking WOW! this is some achievement. So with what they have both achieved so far in their lives, both determined to reach their goals and doing so I think I can safely say not only are we very proud but also very lucky. Anyway Father is signing off now before I write something I shouldn’t, like for example the night Laura deprived our dog of his bed (bet that gets edited)!
We have just passed the 1000 mile mark. Woooohhhooooo! Reward is a shot of Baileys.
No boats for 22 days and today we saw 2.
Everything is still damp and salt sores continue to decline…today might be a double chocolate bar day!!



  1. MB says:

    Great blog Babs and Ray
    Looking forward to standing on the pontoon in Cairns with you and celebrating the arrival of these truly ‘magnificent girls and their rowing machine’ !

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    Well said mum and dad. I have thought from the start how tough this must be for family, friends and loved ones. I have feared for your daughters and don’t know them from Adam, or is that Eve, so what must you be feeling? Four people, one of which is your daughter, in a little rowing boat in that vast unpredictable ocean is hard enough but rowing unsupported for 8500 miles! Although I have felt nervous at times about those huge seas, strong winds and individuals morale, I have never really doubted that those amazing Ladies would bring Doris home. You are so obviously and justifiably proud of Laura and the girls. I have been honoured to follow and contribute to their daily blog. I wish them and you well and look forward to the arrival, reunion and celebrations you will enjoy in Cairns. Stay safe. XX

  3. Dawn says:

    Babs, lovely blog. I think of you and how worried you must be often. Won’t be long now and you can hug Laura…and possibly slap her at the same time. Keep strong lots of love Dawn xx

  4. JG says:

    As parents there is no way you can distance yourselves from the fact that in many ways your daughter’s resilience determination and sheer guts has started with you. We are what our parents make us both genetically and in upbringing so I suspect the pride works both ways. I have two daughters and four grandchildren. Thery are all doing well and are a constant source of joy and worry. The Crew are amazing. They have planned and executed this expedition with military precision and professionalism and there is no doubt that it will succeed. I hope they keep safe and that the meteorologics improve for them soon.

  5. Andy says:

    Great parent blog,
    You can’t leave the dog bed story untold, please.

  6. We think about you often Babs and Ray, and am sure you must have been living on a knife edge all this time, especially when the girls hit difficult conditions on the previous leg. So proud of you all and keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Roll on Cairns, when, after the celebrations are over, you will be able to sleep easily again, love from Carole, Eddie, Auntie Emily and family XX

  7. pete mewton says:

    Nice one Ray & Babs. Yours has been a parental journey almost as epic as Lauras & crew. Her thoroughness and dedication must have helped allay any doubts you had and with 2 legs done and 1000nm to go, have and are paying off, big time. Your accomplished offspring obviously owe a big debt to the nature & nurture you have unstintingly given them. Well done you!

  8. Sarah says:

    Amazing blog guys. You are such wonderful parents, who have been such a great support to Laura. I got rather teary when you said about Laura getting married and having her own children one day. X

  9. Simon TY says:

    Lovely blog. I have a daughter and could not imagine her on high seas…..yet alone not seeing her for months, that it always tough.

    Hope to meet you both when all back on terra firma.

    One question: has Laura always been like this ?

    Xx STY

  10. Mary says:

    Brilliant blog, so pleased for you both that they are now on the home straight and you will soon be able to see their arrival in Cairns and give Laura a hug. Keep safe girls. Mary & Ken xx

  11. I enjoyed reading your blog about Laura and the girls and their challenge of a lifetime and can only imagine how you both must be feeling…..worried most of the time yet so immensely proud too.

    I wonder if she will want to do a similar adventure in the future?

    Stay safe and take care and we shall continue to follow them too.

  12. Michele says:

    Hi babs, i worked with you a few years ago. Fantastic blog, well done to your daughter to achieve her dream. Enjoy your time wit her. Michele. X x x

  13. Esther B says:

    Good to hear your side, I often wondered what it must be like for those “left behind”. We are all proud of what the girls have achieved so I can only imagine how the parents and families are feeling! They are all fabulous and no doubt take after their parents…..

    They are really zipping along so it will only be a short time until you are reunited with your little girls xxx

  14. Sam says:

    I have a daughter who is only 6, and fear she may turn into any one of these girls, she’s spirited, fierce, stubborn, independent and determined…but also funny and utterly adorable and never fails to make me smile. I would be so proud if she had the courage to do something as crazy as this! She’s a donkey in the school nativity and she’s owning the part, I know I will burst with pride when I see her on the school stage, I can’t imagine the pride, and relief you will feel when you first see that little pink boat in Cairns. I want to thank all the girls parents for bringing up beautiful strong women, we need these, for girls like my 6 year old to look up to.

  15. Kathy says:

    Wow what a blog, I can see where Laura gets it from.
    I know it’s difficult to let our children go out into the world but this is testament to how you have brought them up. You have obviously done a fab job & given Laura all the get up & go & heaps of drive & confidence she needs for this epic journey. We’re all so proud of Laura & am totally addicted to logging on to see how the girls are doing. Love to you all, Kathy, Den, Danielle & Aunty Mav xxxx

  16. Lorraine says:

    Amazing blog from very lovely, caring parents. Always been a lovely, close, supporting family so I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. We are all in the sidelines quietly supporting you. Sending our love. Xxx

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