Leg 3, Day 54 – Rotations

Meg Dyos By

Day 54 – Rotations

In the real world, we choose when we wish to socialise with a friend, how long we wish to spend with them, and what we do when we meet up for a catch up. There are some friends that you might see once a month, and some once a day, yet here on Doris in our Pacific Ocean bubble, we spend each waking hour with the same person for 5-7 days before rotating partners. We spend 24 hours a day with this person. We row, we eat and we sleep and whilst doing so catch up with the person that we haven’t really seen for 10 – 14 days (two rotations). So for this blog, I thought I’d give you some more details on how and why we rotate rowers and shift patterns.

So how does it work? Every 5-7 days one person from each shift pattern will swap. It normally happens one hour into an afternoon rowing shift for one person, and one hour into a rest shift for the other. On saying goodbye to your rowing partner of the previous 5 – 7 days it is always quite emotional and you feel as if you are heading to a far away place. Yet instead, you are merely sharing the exact same cabin with the next partner, and remain only metres away from your previous partner at all times. Weird! It’s also a really great breath of fresh air jumping on the oars with a new(ish) person, and catching up on all of their news over the past 10 – 14 days. You wouldn’t believe how despite sharing the same 29 foot space on Doris, how little the two shift patterns communicate. Unless a social is planned for the whole team, it is much less than you would expect, with changeovers every two hours being the most time we really get to chat, and at night time it’s often more of a friendly grunt than chit chat. The hatch door remains a window from the cabin onto the other shift, and from the rowing seat into the cabin, and yet it is only in calm seas that we can hold the door ajar and chat.

Changing rowing partner is one thing, but shift rotations also work as one of the ways to break up the monotony of the shift pattern. There are pro’s and cons to both the early and the late shift patterns. One has the sunrise and one has the sunset, the temperatures for sleeping – on the early shift the first evening sleep is hot, whereas on the late one the morning sleep is rather sweaty.

I love the diversity that changing shift patterns gives to our week. The experiences that I have with each rower and the topics of conversation are so different. With LP, nights of gobbledygook that make us both laugh whilst telling story after story to keep ourselves awake. With Ems, the constant challenge of towel drying has me in fits of laughter, and any story of hers that starts with ‘when I was in Belize’ you know will be a good’un. Then there’s Nat – deep conversations that go off at the most abstract tangents and change from serious to laughter that makes my sides hurt – each one of these girls brings so much happiness to my life on the ocean I can’t imagine anyone else I’d like to do this journey with.

To give you an idea, I have written below our shift patterns. Currently myself and Nat are on the late shift, and Ems and LP are on the early:

– Late shift –
07:30 – 09:30 – row
09:30 – 11:30 – sleep
11:30 – 13:30 – row
13:30 – 15:30 – awake
15:30 – 17:30 – row
17:30 – 19:30 – awake
19:30 – 21:30 – row
21:30 – 23:30 – sleep
23:30 – 01:30 – row
01:30 – 03:30 – sleep
03:30 – 05:30 – row
05:30 – 07:30 – sleep

– Early shift –
07:30 – 09:30 – sleep
09:30 – 11:30 – row
11:30 – 13:30 – awake
13:30 – 15:30 – row
15:30 – 17:30 – awake
17:30 – 19:30 – row
19:30 – 21:30 – sleep
21:30 – 23:30 – row
23:30 – 01:30 – sleep
01:30 – 03:30 – row
03:30 – 05:30 – sleep
05:30 – 07:30 – row

Update: Today quite frankly I’m absolutely exhausted. Last night I napped on the oars, had my first experience of speaking gobbledygook to Natalia in my rendition of The Devil Wears Prada, and even in the daylight my eyes are struggling to stay open. We have just done our food audit on board Doris. We have 14 days left of main meals, amongst other snacks and breakfasts etc. Here’s to moving faster and finding a westerly current soon! On a positive note, we had a visitor this morning so close to the boat we could have touched it – a sea turtle by the name of Billy. He was so cute going through the water doing Breast stroke and coming up for air! We tried to get him on the go pro from underwater, but every time, Billy shot off away from the boat – he must be camera shy!



  1. Amy says:

    Great blog Mega! Who would have known that even though your on the same boat… Communication would be so Sparce! Keep going girlies! So close to being in Cairns! Big lovin’ xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. JG says:

    Good system of shifts on the boat – makes the time pass quickly. 14 days of main meals left – is that a problem I wonder. You had a similar situation towards the end of leg 2 and took the necessary action. Will you be doing the same again? Keep safe and take care.

  3. Lorraine says:

    Sounds exhausting. We wish you all a very happy New Year with plenty of sleep. Good luck and a speedy arrival in Cairns- before food runs low. X

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    Good blog Meg. Great that you provide the information that, if I had thought it through, could possibly have seen. However, we tend to think of you doing one of two things, rowing or sleeping. The handover between shifts? I imagine that coming off the oars, the last thing you want to do is to chat, just get to the cabin and chill? You probably spend more time together in pairs, than most people do, in relationships. It will be lovely when, hopefully, you six rowers, can get together with a bottle of wine and chat and spend non stressful time together discussing your adventure. There is so much scope for books, chat shows, etc. I can’t wait! Stay safe

    • The Team says:

      Hi Jim, your joke has won on the Christmas cracker competition. Please let us know your address and we can post you a prize! =) x

  5. Esther B says:

    Really interesting blog Meg – I had never really thought about the shift pattern before and that you were such distinct pairs when you were together. I just imagined you all chatting away but I guess that’s the last thing you feel like doing at the end of a night shift! No wonder you are exhausted!
    I caught up on Emma’s chat with Sara Cox on the radio – I hope lots more people are aware of you now and support you.
    A belated happy new year to you all! Much love xxx

  6. Barney says:

    It seems a very long time ago that the shift pattern was described in a blog on Leg 1. I do not remember names being given to the shifts but I am laughing now because the so called ‘late shift’ has you rowing (working) when I normally get to work and the ‘early shift’ has you sleeping in till 9.30am.

    On the other hand, the ‘late shift’ sees you getting to sleep at 1.30am and the ‘early shift’ has you in bed by midnight!

    But clearly, the definition of late or early is that one has the sunset and the other has the sunrise. And in summer, close to Cairns, the sunrise is, according to Google, at 05.47hrs which is 17 minutes into the early shift row.

    OK, got it! Great blog! Love a brain tester first thing in the morning! Happy rowing!!

  7. Hi Emma / crew
    We are so impressed with your achievements. Fantastic and inspirational! I’ll never complain again about my shift night work.
    Stay positive. Enjoy the Southern Summer.
    Love and HNY
    Mark, Jackie and Josie

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