Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Coxless Crew: The Trans Pacific Ocean Challenge

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    Back To Sea

    After a week in Santa Barbara, mending and improving Doris, The ladies of Coxless Crew have restarted their voyage:




    Farewell Santa Barbara

    Our stay in Santa Barbara, although unexpected, has been a good one. We have fixed up the issues we had with charging our batteries and also had time to deal with a few other little niggles we had after 16 days at sea. With all the DIY completed in the morning and Doris ready to go we were able to take the afternoon off and have a well overdue chance to relax and enjoy a rest before heading back out on the ocean. Nats and Laura headed to the beach whilst Izzy and myself went for a walk up to inspiration point to enjoy the beautiful views which stretch out to Conception Point which we’ll be heading towards when we set out later. We also enjoyed a very tasty last dinner in the clam bar at the marina. Today we are off to pack our personal kit in the boat and then meet Sarah before heading off ensuring that our departure take 2 is recorded for the documentary. A blog post isn’t enough to thank all the incredibly kind and supportive people who we have met here and we’d love to visit again when we have more time to appreciate it. We have been overwhelmed by the support and following we have had from home whilst we were at sea. If you want to get a message to us while we are rowing then send an email to doris@coxlesscrew.com and it will get forwarded on to us. Receiving messages of support and the happenings of the real world brings a smile to our faces in our little bubble on the ocean.

    Signing out from the shore. Next stop Hawaii!!!

    Emma Mitchell
    May 13, 2015

    ************************************************** ************

    A number of people have been asking the questions of exactly what happened to cause us to turn around and so I wanted to share with you a little more detail into our reasoning and also how our sponsors have been extremely supportive in helping to rectify and prevent any re-occurrence.



    As we mentioned in an earlier blog, we sustained some flooding into the hatch that housed our batteries and the IP65 box which contained all the charge controllers and battery monitoring system to recharge our batteries. We have a clear lid on the battery hatch so that we could check it easily on a daily basis but it wasn’t until I noticed that there was condensation in the IP65 box that I thought there must be water in there and when I looked more closely I saw the flooding. Typically we had put all the charge controllers into an IP65 rated box to ensure that no water was to ever come near the system incase of any flooding, but unfortunately when we opened the box we found there to be 1 screw missing which is the only entrance point into the box which must have been how water got in.

    1 of the MPPT boxes, which is the clever box that regulates the charge gets as much energy from the panels into the battery and safely charges at 14.2Vdc. This MPPT had stopped working and overheated due to the water and humidity that was within the box. Initially at this stage MPPT 2 was still in working order so we knew we had at least 1 charging system intact for one battery. Our solar panels are so efficient and wired in series, so we have 2 sets of series on the boat each set linked to 1 MPPT.

    Once we had bailed out the hatch and closed off any further charging through the MPPT, I didn’t want anyone staying in that cabin that night incase of further overheating of electrical equipment. So we left the hatch open to air and dry out, whilst we had the boat on para anchor, we then continued with 2 hour shifts with 2 of us sitting on deck whilst the other shift got into the forecabin for warmth. Can’t say it was the most comfortable night! This way we waited until daylight to see what the full damage was and to make a decision on whether we continued forward to Hawaii or to turn around.

    Initially we still had 1 working charging system so we decided to push forward to Hawaii as we knew we had plenty of power to continue. Once we started rowing though and I went to tidy up the MPPT connections and wires, I noticed the other MPPT had also gone. This automatically made the decision for us to have to turn around. If we were half way to Hawaii then we would be able to survive on all of our back ups I.e. Handpump watermaker, handheld GPS, handheld VHF, back up satellite phone and spare battery, solar monkey chargers. As we weren’t half way and have 6months of rowing ahead of us, it seemed the obvious and sensible decision to return to land.

    Regardless of the flooding half way up the batteries, they were unscathed and continued to work well as the terminals were completely intact. Once we’d disconnected the MPPT’s, at that time we had 60% state of charge in each battery. With both batteries 90amp/Hr each, this meant we still had plenty of battery to use on our return to land, so even after 6 days of use for our GPS, AIS, VHF and charging our sat phone,we came in with approx 30% in each battery and voltage still maintained at 12.9v each.

    On entrance into Santa Barbara, Tony Humphreys our onshore support was there at hand to assist us in sorting out the issues we had. The main issues was finding where the flood had come from and ensuring we could prevent it from reoccurring. Then we reviewed the electronics and Johannes our sponsor from Victron was amazing and was on hand regularly (even at 11pm his time!) to respond and assist in our decision making with where to move the MPPTs and BMS system. Collectively we decided they needed to be out of the bilge so there wasn’t risk of flooding if it reoccurred, then to be somewhere with better ventilation. This was partly my fault previously as I was so particular about preventing any water entering around the electronics, that I had asked for them to be put in an IP65 box, not thinking that if water did enter it would end up being like a greenhouse in there!

    We then had to hunt around for an electrician to be able to do the work under Tony’s supervision so after a few phone calls by Kenny in Santa Barbara, he found Jason who very kindly made himself available at such short notice to do the work.

    Johannes from Victron (amazing sponsor support) very kindly sorted out for Justin from Maine, USA to fly down for a day to oversee and double check that all the Victron equipment was up and running efficiently. It was great to have Justin there as there were a couple of wiring issues that weren’t quite right, so he made the necessary adjustments and by late Friday afternoon we were all up and running again – 100% batteries, solar charge bringing the MPPTs to float, monitors all working and BMS units with 2 lovely blue lights. It is such a relief to have a fully functional system again .
    Some people prefer the old lead acid system to be fitted in their ocean rowing boat, but you tend to only get 60% out of your solar and the efficiency of the batteries slowly deminish over time as sulphur builds up. I love our lithium system and personally wouldn’t use anything else. The wiring is slightly more complicated but the system is so easy to use, means you get 99% out of your solar panels and the batteries maintain voltage right down to less than 20% state of charge. The reason the MPPTs failed was our fault for not noticing the flood in the hatch or into the Ip65 box as the wiring doesn’t mix with water or extreme humidity, which neither would any other battery system.

    On this occasion we were very fortunate and the whole process of getting things sorted has reassured us even further of all the experts we have behind us in supporting this venture. Without Tony, Johannes, Jason and Justin, we would have been in more of a pickle. One thing is for sure, no matter how much training I did before coming away, I’d say this has only worked in our favour to now in realtime know more about our battery system inside and out and all the problem shooting involved.

    Laura Penhaul

    May 12, 2015

    ************************************************** **********

    Follow the blog!

    Tracker
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



    h2oshots.com Photo Gallery

    Comment


    • #17
      crazy.

      Comment


      • #18
        Coxless Crew May 20 Update: Retracing Footsteps





        Day 7 Antics on the night shift

        During the night, we each (in our pairs) have 3 night shifts to get through. Last night, Ems and I had just got on the oars at 01:00 for our second shift. The night was a beautiful clear sky so we were looking at the amazing stars & trying to pick out the North Star, the plough, Orion’s Belt & our star ‘Doris’ (my friends had bought us it before we left). Suddenly in the distance I saw what I thought initially was a firework (until I realised we were mid-Ocean so guessing there’s not too many parties out here!) so soon realised it had to be a red flare which is a signal for distress. Emma had spotted it too which reassured me as I’ve been known to see things when I’m tired (that’s a whole other blog post!).



        We got the girls in the cabin to screenshot our location on the Navionics maps just in case it was needed again. Next step was to get onto VHf but there was no response and we couldn’t see a ship on AIS either. So we called Falmouth coastguard to inform them of our sighting and they kindly put Natalia through to the U.S. Coastguard. Lieutenant Anthony was extremely helpful and had very kindly said that they had been looking out for us over the recent weeks (always reassuring to know). Anyway, he asked a series of questions for Nat to relay to us, So he could estimate the distance the flare was from us, firstly by measuring your fist height above the horizon, estimate the wind speed where we were and its direction. After receiving this info, we’d assumed that they were checking AIS and Radar for the boat’s location so they could contact them directly. We figured that we’d done what we could and didn’t think any further action was needed. Much to our complete surprise, about 20-30mins later, Emma noticed a red and green light flashing in the distance, these lights actually were the helicopter of US coastguard! They hovered over us to clarify some further details and then spent the next hour circling the area. I suddenly felt really guilty for calling them out as what if we were mistaken with what we saw?

        We’re still unaware of whether they did find anyone, but If they didn’t and it was a false alarm I feel bad for sending them on a wild goose chase! At least it’s better that way than to not report it and have missed something significant.

        Laura Penhaul

        May 20

        ************************************************** **********


        Day 6 – Take 2

        Last night was beautiful and starry with no moon. Nat and I passed the time telling stories and the two night shifts flew past. The hardest part is getting yourself up and out of the cabin onto the oars when you have only been asleep for an hour or so. In our little cabin we both wiggle out of our sleeping bags and get our Crewsaver wet weather gear on (usually soggy from the shift before), grab our Sealskinz waterproof hats, gloves and socks, fill up our water bottles and find a little snack to take into the deck. One by one, we then switch over with the girls on the oars. Balance always seems to be lacking at night time and we must look ridiculous as we swap around. Some choose to crawl along the deck, while others prefer to try to walk using the shoulders of the rowers for support.

        The sun has been with us for the last couple of days and our hands and faces are continuing to get more and more tanned, although the rest of us is still covered up in our wet weather gear. We are still rowing hard, but moving frustratingly slowly as we are caught in an adverse current. Fingers crossed we will break free from it in the next 24 hours and be able to make some faster progress West.

        My iPod broke very soon after we left San Francisco and the stop off in Santa Barbara fortunately meant I was able to replace it. I have been really enjoying listening to my music on the oars. We also have plenty of power coming through our Solbian solar panels and our Victron batteries, so this afternoon we were even able to plug an iPod into our Fusion speakers and play music out on deck – Mr Probs “Wave after Wave” was the tune of the day!

        Although we don’t have an ideal wind direction, the conditions have been more stable than last time which feels like it has given us a bit more time for other things when we’re not rowing, such as eating, reading, clothes washing and social time. This afternoon, while Nat and I were on the oars, Laura and Ems appeared out of the aft cabin wearing clown face paints and sang a little clown song to keep us amused!

        Isabel Burnham
        May 19

        ************************************************** **************

        Day 5 – Take 2

        The days are fast becoming a blur of eat, sleep, row, repeat, eat, sleep, row, repeat, with random moments that jump out in between.

        The first night shift greeted us with an amazingly star strewn sky. We have once again lost the sight of shore and have no other light pollution, as well as there being only a tiny slice of moon at the moment. Izz and I rowed hard against current and wind.

        The second night shift was completely overcast. It was as black as night (literally!) and we had no idea where the waves were coming from. We kept pushing hard against the wind and same southerly current that we actually seem to be stuck in. Another physically hard rowing session but all are passing quickly with half a session of life story telling from each of us and then half with music or audio books.

        I’m currently listening to ‘The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window’. It’s wonderfully well narrated and providing some great amusement. I’ve never actually listened to an audio book before. They’re fab!

        The sunrise shift was lovely. I decided to bring the new day in with some salsa and got very hyper on the oars as this music always makes me want to dance. Salsa is not an easy thing to do on an ocean rowing boat let me tell you, but at least my attempt provided entertainment for the others!

        We’re still rowing mainly on the right side to try and keep Doris on course and keep inching as west as we can. Here’s hoping we get to do some left arm rowing balancing out at some stage soon as 60 days of only rowing with the right arm is not going to be the best look on our arrival into Hawaii!!

        Other Day 5 highlights included:

        cloud watching
        a lunch of expedition food macaroni & cheese with added sachet of tuna (a luxury item on the boat and my absolute favourite)
        frequent visits from 2 new friends Iggy and Jay who are beautiful Layson Albatrosses – we have a bird book now
        breathing in deeply the pure ocean air
        a change into fresh underwear! Ahhhh…..the small things…it’s always the small things… x

        Natalia Cohen

        May 18

        ************************************************** ***************************

        Day 4 Take 2

        After a night on the para anchor we were back on the oars at 6am this morning and have spent the day trying to go west. If you’re watching our tracker you’ll see that we are (very) slowly going south west in the right direction. It’s hard work out on the oars and we are mainly rowing with our right oar trying to hold our bearing in the unfavourable wind. First thing this morning I was finding it quite hard to enjoy life on Doris but after some fresh air on the oars with a cuppa I’m feeling a lot happier about our slow and steady progress. Our team is still strong and regardless of the situation we find ourselves in we always find something to giggle about. Laura and I spent a lot of our last shift on the oars singing all the songs we could think of which contain a reference to the weather. In the last 24hrs we’ve had sunshine, rain, rainbows, clouds, wind of varying strengths and a beautiful sunset and sunrise. It’s funny to think of everyone back home going about their normal lives while we exist in our little 29ft bubble.

        Today’s meal of choice: mild chicken korma
        Today’s condiment of choice: tomato ketchup
        Today’s favourite snack pack content: dried mango
        Today’s podcast of choice: the best of Nick Grimshaw
        Today’s song of choice: Walking on Sunshine
        Today’s beverage of choice: tomato soup
        Today’s fashion accessory of choice: pink beanie

        Frustratingly we are now rowing against the wind and current and struggling to make ground west but we are powering through with the help of some power ballads and the Backstreet Boys and we’ll see where we are in the morning.

        Emma Mitchell

        May 17


        ************************************************** ********************************


        Day 3 – Take 2

        Currently Izz and I are paired together and so after our night shifts the sunrise shift at 05:30 was beautiful. It started with blue sky and sunshine with a little wind but heading in the right direction -WEST!
        Albert the albatross is getting more and more friendly often landing now right next to Doris, which gives us plenty of amusement to talk to a bird instead of your team mates! Today he stopped off for a spot of lunch with his mates as they tucked into some fish. Unfortunately from about11am today our faithful friend ‘Hercules the wind’ decided that we weren’t ready yet for easterly winds and so he’s mixed it up again to a less favourable north westerly 18-21+. For over 6 hours we battled rowing hard against it, our autopilot wasn’t too happy with going backwards so we switched to hand steering but the wind and swell had different ideas of which direction we should travel. So as we were losing ground fairly rapidly we put out the para anchor for a few hours until the wind eased.

        The amusing part was that during this time ironically Izz was listening to Bastille Pompei ‘when you close your eyes does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all. How am I going to be an optimist about this…’ Interesting words! We’re all pretty gutted to be back in the cabins after starting to make good ground but hey ho we’ll be back on it later plus it has lead to some very amusing antics on board which has had Izz and me in tears of laughter ! iPad photo booth, I highly recommend it to make you giggle – pics to follow!

        One other massive bonus for me is that (touch wood’ nada sea sickness and eating like a horse again! Woohoo! For me I think the Sopaderm patch with additional cinnazine when conditions change. Happy days! Huge thanks to Dr Spike Briggs from MSOS (medical services offshore) for getting the patches and extras sent to Tony for Santa Barbara.
        Anyhow signing off now from the fore cabin. Thanks for all your continued support we love hearing from you and one final thing – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MUM and also my SISTER-IN-LAW KATIE. Thinking of you both today (16th May) xxx

        Laura Penhaul

        May 16

        ************************************************** ******************************
        Day 2 Take 2

        We’re adjusting to life back on Doris. Last night we made steady progress along the coast to Point Conception and have now turned away from the shore and are headed West. Overnight I felt quite seasick which took me by surprise as I did so well to avoid it last time in the bigger seas. I’m currently paired up with Laura, who was a superstar and looked after me, and I’m feeling much better today so hopefully that’ll be the last of it.




        Last night was beautiful and starry but hard to stay awake as we are adapting to our 2 hours on 2 hours of sleep pattern again. The dawn shift is always the most difficult one for me to stay awake on, but this morning treated us to a beautiful sunrise and some sightings of dolphins. The daytime brought the first rain we have had. Laura and I sang as many songs as we could think of that mention rain to pass the time on the oars. After a lunch of freeze dried expedition foods (cottage pie for me and chicken pesto pasta for Laura) the sun came out and boosted our spirits.

        Laura and I were discussing how amazing it is to think of so many people back at home following the little pink boat on our website. Hopefully this time you’ll be able to watch some consistent progress West to Hawaii! A couple of short personal messages:

        Mummy, Daddy, Em, Ben and Phil – thinking of you all lots Wrens class – I hope you are enjoying following our journey The Dryden girls – I am averaging at least 2 renditions of Build Me Up Buttercup a day!

        Isabel Burnham

        May 15

        ************************************************** ********************************

        Day Take 2


        So… We’re off…again.

        We left Santa Barbara harbour as the sun was setting on our home for the last week.
        Although unscheduled, it’s been a good stopover with new insights and unexpected opportunities. The first 18 hours we had mild wind and calm sea conditions as we hugged the shoreline and retraced our steps from a week ago. Pelicans glided past us and it was great to have visual stimulation and a speed gauge by watching the coast.
        Everyone was well dosed up with sea sickness pills and patches, except me, so fingers crossed the first week will be more pleasurable than last time for my girls!



        Apart from a couple of hours when the wind direction and current meant we were struggling to make any progress (so we put out our anchor to avoid drifting backwards), all went smoothly.
        That was until the night fell and whilst moving through the inky water, we found our speed suddenly plummet from 1.7 knots to 0.3! From nowhere we found ourselves in a ‘sea’ of kelp. The seaweed was long and thick and as it wrapped around our rudder and snaked up on our oars it was like a giant octopus/sea creature reaching out to cover Doris. The weight of the stuff was incredible and it was like trying to row in quick sand, where you feel as every move is getting you deeper intertwined. Patience and persistence got us through our small adventure for Day 1 and served to remind us that we have so much more to experience and to be prepared for anything that may come our way over the coming months… x


        Natalia Cohen

        May 14
        " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



        h2oshots.com Photo Gallery

        Comment


        • #19


          Day 18 – Happy days

          The last couple of days have been very special ones aboard Doris.

          Yesterday I received news via our sat phone that I have become an auntie for the first time. My older sister Emily and her husband Ben have welcomed a little boy. It’s sad not to be at home at such a special time for our family, but it was fantastic to receive the news out in the middle of the Pacific. I can’t wait to get home and meet my little nephew – I will just have to be patient.

          After a peaceful night on the oars, this morning initially brought grey overcast skies. However, by lunchtime the clouds had cleared and the sun came out. We are experiencing a few days of very calm conditions. The sea was beautifully flat and glassy all day and you could see for miles and miles. When I imagined the Pacific before the row I imagined all sorts of different conditions, but I never once imagined that the ocean could look like a giant pond! We enjoyed rowing in shorts and t- shirts (rather than our wet weather gear) and took the opportunity to do plenty of washing, hanging everything out to dry. Mid-afternoon, Laura, Ems and I couldn’t resist any longer and we jumped off Doris and went for a quick swim. The water was so blue and clear and it was incredible to swim right out at sea so far from everything. There isn’t a lot of room on Doris to stretch out, so being able to stretch and float in the water was bliss.

          After swim time came shower time. All four of us went out on deck and had a proper wash. There were a number of different approaches taken, including using buckets, sponges, flannels and a solar shower. Three of us even washed our hair. It was amazing to be covered in fresh water. We would have been quite a sight had anyone passed by – four women all trying their best to balance on a wobbly little pink boat while showering! We’re now hoping for a beautiful sunset and a quiet starry night to top off a fab day.

          There are some thoughts below from the other girls on our first swimming and showering session.

          Laura – ‘today to date is without a doubt the highlight for me of the trip so far. Experiencing swimming in the middle of the Pacific was something i knew I’d look forward to doing and it didn’t disappoint. Diving under Doris and looking down into the beautiful blue was epic. To top it off with then having a proper clean solar shower on the boat felt so refreshing. I couldn’t resist though to shout out the line from Old School ‘come on everybody we’re streaking!’ & although I found this highly amusing it fell on deaf ears to none of my team mates having seen the film (I think I need to educate when we arrive in Hawaii!). Certainly if there was any aircraft that flew by at the time they would have got a shocking view!

          Emma – Going for a swim in the Pacific was an amazing experience. The ocean was like glass and it was like being in our own giant infinity pool. It was also great to get a different view of our beautiful Doris. I feel properly clean for the first time in 18 days and the hilarity of shower time on an ocean rowing boat was a great team bonding experience. Day 18 has just finished off with a beautiful dusk shift. With full cloud cover there was no colourful sunset but just a fading of the light turning everything to a silver glow making Laura and I feel like we were in a dream.

          Natalia – The wind dropped and the sea became this still, deep blue, translucent expanse. It was incredible. I will swim in the middle of the Pacific, but today was not my day. I’m waiting for slightly warmer waters and took the opportunity to film the others! The shower was greatly needed after so long. Nothing quite like a soaking in fresh water and being all 4 of us on deck together was hysterical!! It’s amazing what we take for granted like a simple daily shower!


          Isabel Burnham

          May 31






          After swim time came shower time. All four of us went out on deck and had a proper wash. There were a number of different approaches taken, including using buckets, sponges, flannels and a solar shower. Three of us even washed our hair. It was amazing to be covered in fresh water. We would have been quite a sight had anyone passed by – four women all trying their best to balance on a wobbly little pink boat while showering! We’re now hoping for a beautiful sunset and a quiet starry night to top off a fab day.

          There are some thoughts below from the other girls on our first swimming and showering session.

          Laura – ‘today to date is without a doubt the highlight for me of the trip so far. Experiencing swimming in the middle of the Pacific was something i knew I’d look forward to doing and it didn’t disappoint. Diving under Doris and looking down into the beautiful blue was epic. To top it off with then having a proper clean solar shower on the boat felt so refreshing. I couldn’t resist though to shout out the line from Old School ‘come on everybody we’re streaking!’ & although I found this highly amusing it fell on deaf ears to none of my team mates having seen the film (I think I need to educate when we arrive in Hawaii!). Certainly if there was any aircraft that flew by at the time they would have got a shocking view!

          Emma – Going for a swim in the Pacific was an amazing experience. The ocean was like glass and it was like being in our own giant infinity pool. It was also great to get a different view of our beautiful Doris. I feel properly clean for the first time in 18 days and the hilarity of shower time on an ocean rowing boat was a great team bonding experience. Day 18 has just finished off with a beautiful dusk shift. With full cloud cover there was no colourful sunset but just a fading of the light turning everything to a silver glow making Laura and I feel like we were in a dream.

          Natalia – The wind dropped and the sea became this still, deep blue, translucent expanse. It was incredible. I will swim in the middle of the Pacific, but today was not my day. I’m waiting for slightly warmer waters and took the opportunity to film the others! The shower was greatly needed after so long. Nothing quite like a soaking in fresh water and being all 4 of us on deck together was hysterical!! It’s amazing what we take for granted like a simple daily shower!

          After swim time came shower time. All four of us went out on deck and had a proper wash. There were a number of different approaches taken, including using buckets, sponges, flannels and a solar shower. Three of us even washed our hair. It was amazing to be covered in fresh water. We would have been quite a sight had anyone passed by – four women all trying their best to balance on a wobbly little pink boat while showering! We’re now hoping for a beautiful sunset and a quiet starry night to top off a fab day.

          There are some thoughts below from the other girls on our first swimming and showering session.

          Laura – ‘today to date is without a doubt the highlight for me of the trip so far. Experiencing swimming in the middle of the Pacific was something i knew I’d look forward to doing and it didn’t disappoint. Diving under Doris and looking down into the beautiful blue was epic. To top it off with then having a proper clean solar shower on the boat felt so refreshing. I couldn’t resist though to shout out the line from Old School ‘come on everybody we’re streaking!’ & although I found this highly amusing it fell on deaf ears to none of my team mates having seen the film (I think I need to educate when we arrive in Hawaii!). Certainly if there was any aircraft that flew by at the time they would have got a shocking view!

          Emma – Going for a swim in the Pacific was an amazing experience. The ocean was like glass and it was like being in our own giant infinity pool. It was also great to get a different view of our beautiful Doris. I feel properly clean for the first time in 18 days and the hilarity of shower time on an ocean rowing boat was a great team bonding experience. Day 18 has just finished off with a beautiful dusk shift. With full cloud cover there was no colourful sunset but just a fading of the light turning everything to a silver glow making Laura and I feel like we were in a dream.

          Natalia – The wind dropped and the sea became this still, deep blue, translucent expanse. It was incredible. I will swim in the middle of the Pacific, but today was not my day. I’m waiting for slightly warmer waters and took the opportunity to film the others! The shower was greatly needed after so long. Nothing quite like a soaking in fresh water and being all 4 of us on deck together was hysterical!! It’s amazing what we take for granted like a simple daily shower!

          Natalia Cohen
          May 30




          Day 13 – This too shall pass…

          5 years ago I did a 10 day silent meditation course that was the hardest thing, mentally, I’d ever done. During this Vipassana course (www.dharma.org) you are simply and effectively taught the basics of a Buddhist meditation technique. The courses are run all over the world in the exact same format, are funded by donations and staffed by volunteers who have sat the course at least once before. It was a fascinating experience and one that will forever remain with me in some subtle shape or form. The ultimate goal being love and compassion for all – which is how I attempt to lead my life by looking for the best in others as well as remembering to be kind to myself.

          The basic teaching is that there is this law of nature that everything changes. Attempting to change the bad habit patterns of the mind and not to have cravings or aversions to things (as they will only ever lead to unhappiness or suffering), is at the centre of the teachings. Be balanced and non reactive to situations and be safe in the knowledge that whatever it is that is happening or you are feeling right now, will change.
          For this reason there is no need to hold on to stuff mentally and by not giving negative scripts more power by indulging them – you simply observe and then let it go (in the wise words of the Frozen lyrics!)

          There’s all the evidence in the world for this being a good way to live life and no example more perfect then what we are experiencing right now out here in the almighty Pacific. I’m doing my best to be non reactive, but it’s difficult. I have to constantly remind myself to feel no aversion to the regular soakings and the freezing cold clothes we have to put on before rowing. My sleep deprived mind plays tricks on me, especially at night, and I’m so exhausted that I dream I’m rowing and row in a dream like state through many shifts.
          I try not to get too excited when the sun shines or the wind ceases from blowing so hard so that we can row with two arms…and I know that all this is a mere taste of things to come.
          We will be tested every stoke of this journey. The key is to take all moments as they come and remember that:




          This too shall pass

          I have a sneaky suspicion that this next few months is going to become the most difficult thing I will have done to date. Although the physical is becoming more challenging now with the bum issues, wind in a less than favourable position creating hard rowing, cold, constant dampness etc… we know that all this will change. Before long the heat and possible lack of wind will be our challenges and after that a different set of obstacles to overcome – no doubt.

          How we deal with most of the physical is through the mind and the mental challenge was always going to be the biggest test out here. That was what had drawn me to the expedition. I will need to remind myself of this when I’m battling the aversions and giving in to the cravings (fresh food, more than 90 minutes sleep at a time, a shower, being able to stand steadily straight upright etc !??!)

          What we are going through will be finite and nothing compared to the mental strength needed by a cancer sufferer or woman injured at war. This is where we have witnessed some real strength and spirit. The mind is our most powerful tool and it’s good to remember that.

          Update: the wind has died and we were able to enjoy a couple of shifts remaining dry and discomfort free. The sun shone and the sea expanded calmly before us.
          Ems and I had a peaceful sunset shift and although I’ll breathe in the moments, I won’t attach myself – as by the next 2 hour shift – who knows what the ocean will throw at us.
          x

          Natalia

          May 26





          http://coxlesscrew.com/blog/
          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



          h2oshots.com Photo Gallery

          Comment


          • #20
            Nearing Hawaii

            The ladies of Coxless Crew have persisted and are on the verge of making landfall in Hawaii. The 1st of 3 legs nears completion.

            64 Days in, and they may arrive the same time as Lending Club 2, which left Los Angeles yesterday.

            Here are the most recent of their Blogs for you to enjoy!





            Day 64 blog- a mixture of events

            I always imagined, that after 2weeks at sea i’d be struggling to find things to blog about, but yet on day 64 I have at least 3 key events that I want to share with you but with no time to separate them before we arrive in Hawaii, I’ve bundled them into this one blog.

            Firstly, it was my parents 40th wedding anniversary at the weekend and I hear that their celebrations with friends was more eventful than a 21st birthday party! So many things i’d love to write about my folks and their lovely friends, but I’ll save this for another blog. One key thing though, is that my parents’ beautiful relationship is why they are amazing role models to me and why I dream of one day finding a man that will put up with me for 40 years.

            Secondly, Adam Sargent (@beersargent) is a good friend of mine after he married one of my best friends Heather. As you’ll notice in his twitter handle, his job title for many years has been a ‘beer specialist’. As you can imagine, sport was never high on the agenda and was a constant debate that we’d have between us. Until 6 months ago, Adam hadn’t sat on the saddle of a bike since a child, which is why I was taken aback when I saw his Facebook post at new year which said he’d signed up to do a 204mile cycle ride in aid of his late father for a cardiac charity. Cycling is my preferred sport and any cyclist will tend to have a love of bikes and often more than one stashed in the garage. Seeing as I was now rowing and will be out of the country for 6months, I offered my Giant TCR to Adam as it was actually too big for me anyway so I figured would suit him. Seeing the start of his training was slow (ie. didn’t collect the bike until March!), I thought I’d offer an incentive that he could keep the bike as long as he finished the race. Yesterday I got a wonderful text from Ads which brought a tear to my eye, he had completed the race! Even after many times of wanting to give up he didn’t & made it across the line in last place. I can’t explain how proud I am to see him complete this & if this row creates any small motivation or inspiration to others like this, then we are truly humbled.

            So, finally and certainly not least, following Izzy’s wonderful blog yesterday, I couldn’t blog today without saying a few words about Izz. I’ve realised that today will be my very last day of ever rowing with Izzy before we rotate our pairs tomorrow. Never again will we row in Doris together… Such a surreal thought.

            Miss Burnham has without a doubt, been a pillar of strength to the row and to the team, both in her efforts of getting Doris prepped for the startline and whilst out at sea.

            In true Izzy style, I will list here the things that I will miss the most about Izzy (note they are numerical and no more or less than 10);
            1) her singing – without question izzy has the best voice by far out of any of us and whether day or night, with or without music, her dulcet tones were the Sound of Music in the Pacific.

            2) Amazing Narrator – I have never met someone who can narrate in such detail, a movie/ book/story such as Izzy. Lord of the Rings with all their complicated character names and places, just dripped off the tongue like it was normal language, I felt like I’d watched the film after she finished, truly brilliant.

            3) the brain – Izz is special. She has a gift like no other. In our sleep deprived, lack of energy or focused state, she can read a poem of 8 or more verses and no lie, within less than 5 minutes she would have remembered the whole poem word for word! Unbelievable!

            4) ‘right then..’ – whenever Izz is about to do something, she psychs herself up and starts a sentence with ‘right then…’ And you wait to hear what next but nothing else is said, rather the phrase is just repeated until she starts to move (love this!).

            5) quote queen – whether a quote from a movie, a song, a poem or a person, Izz would name it and it would be word for word. She always wondered why none of us wanted to play the ‘guess the quote’ game surprised that our minds didn’t quite work the same.

            6) thoughtfulness – Izzy is always the one to remember a birthday or what people’s favourite things are. She is observational from afar and subtly picks you up if you were down.

            7) peanut M&M’s – who will now eat all the packets of peanut M&M’s when izzy is gone?!

            8) Love of her family – Izz has shared so many stories of her family in great detail that I feel I know Philippa and Emily (her sisters) extremely well.

            9) kind and caring- I saw this first hand, after 5 days of vomiting and not being a fit state, partnering with izzy, she continued to support me whilst I was at my most vulnerable.

            10) reading machine- most of us have listened to audiobooks and maybe managed to read 1book if we’re lucky, but Izz has exceeded that by far and has read over 10books!

            Thankfully for the birds and the fish I understand that Lizanne has a wonderful singing voice, so this will make a good replacement. We will however miss the Burnham but will look forward to the regular updates from back home and can’t wait for the reunion after Australia!

            Laura Penhaul


            ************************************************** *****************


            Day 63 – And now, the time is near

            Subject to any further delays as we approach Hawaii, this will likely be my final blog written aboard Doris. I will be saying goodbye to Laura, Nat and Ems in Hawaii and the wonderful Lizanne will be slotting into my seat and rowing with them to Samoa, before fabulous Meg takes over and rows the final stretch to Cairns.

            With 230 nautical miles still to row, we are all still very focused on getting ourselves and Doris to that pontoon at Hawaii Yacht Club and it seems a bit early to start reflecting on our journey. I will no doubt write another blog when I’m home and have had the chance for everything to sink in a bit.

            It is with mixed emotions that I approach Hawaii. We are all overjoyed to be so near land after what has turned out to be a much longer first leg than we initially anticipated. Thoughts of celebrations, fresh food, friendly faces, a proper shower and a sleep longer than an hour and a half are creeping to the fronts of our minds. However, we are not there yet and we are also aware that we have a great deal to get done in Hawaii to turn Doris around for the second leg to Samoa and to properly hand over the baton from me to Lizanne.

            For me, there is also the huge excitement of heading home to see my precious family, friends and the good old English countryside. I’m particularly looking forward to meeting my nephew, Hugo, who is now just under seven weeks old, seeing my school friend Edwina get married to Ben at the start of August, and finding my way back into some hills in northern England. At the same time, I will be saying a very sad goodbye to the three incredible women who I have shared every waking and sleeping minute with since 19 April. It will be so strange without them. Other people haven’t learnt to anticipate what it is that I’m about to ask for in the same way and are unlikely to put up so well with my singing and nonsense stories. All our in jokes will be too difficult to explain to people back home and probably aren’t that funny anyway when you’re not in a tiny boat in the middle of the world’s largest ocean! I can honestly say that I couldn’t imagine better friends to have made this crossing with. It will be hard to see them head on without me, but I’ll be pleased for them having lovely Lizanne on board and so proud and excited for them all heading onwards on the next step of their epic journey.

            I am increasingly conscious that these are my last days aboard Doris and I am trying my best to enjoy every moment and not to wish them away in eagerness to arrive. I will never again be in this position and I am trying my best to save the excitement of reaching land and getting home and, for now, to appreciate the beauty of the Pacific and the company of the girls.

            In one of my early blogs I listed some things that I have learnt aboard Doris. After 63 days, I feel ready to add to that list.

            1) I will not be upset if I never see another flying fish again

            2) Never get too excited by prevailing winds and following seas. All you need is an adverse current and you can still make depressingly slow progress

            3) Two hours is a very long and very short amount of time, depending on how you spend it

            4) Never attempt any expedition without talcum powder

            5) You will always end up with suncream in your eyes, even if you never put it on your forehead

            6) None of this would have been possible without our wonderful core support team and the support of our fantastic charities, sponsors and supporters, so thank you, thank you, thank you

            7) Tony Humphreys is (nearly) always right

            8) Laura Penhaul provides endless amusement with her sleep-deprived gobbledygook in the small hours of the morning, can eat more protein shakes and bars than Arnie and knows the words to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap. She makes things happen and is one of the most brilliantly determined, professional and thoughtful people I have ever met

            9) Emma Mitchell is an excellent maker of funny faces and never ceases to surprise me (“when I was in circus school”, “when I was rollerblading the Berlin marathon”, “when I rode the Lloyds bank horse”). She has a contagious smile, is a steadfast friend and I have no doubt that she will be (quietly) successful in anything she turns her hand to next (unless it requires smiling and speaking in coherent sentences within 10 minutes of waking up)

            10) Natalia Cohen dances better and smells less than the rest of us. She makes disgusting concoctions by mixing her food and her Irish accent sounds suspiciously Scottish. She is inspiringly passionate and lives her life in such joyful, screaming colour that you can’t help but let it rub off on you

            11) Lizanne and Meg, you’ll have a blast

            12) This may well be the soppiest thing I’ve ever written

            Isabel Burnham


            ************************************************** *****

            Day 62 – Need for Speed

            I had a blog all planned and good to go. It was uplifting and inspiring and all about the lessons of life that have been reinforced to me while we’ve been out here journeying across the almighty Pacific.
            That blog will have to wait.

            For the 60 good days there has to be at least a couple not so good. The last few hours have been among my most frustrating so far and I made a deal with myself to share the real journey, with its ups and its downs, so I will write about this dip instead.

            We are now 287 nm from Honolulu and mentally and physically, I think we’re all very ready to make landfall.

            The last 24 hours have been challenging. We’ve had big swell and high winds in the right direction but a counter current that has halted our progress dramatically and meant we have been travelling at a very dishearteningly low speed.

            This close to Hawaii, with the end now in sight, everything seems a little more urgent.
            We’re ready to arrive.

            All the clothes we own are filthy and always damp, we’re tired and to be honest, a little sea weary. Everything smells of fish, feet and sweat! Our electrical devices are dying and we’ve run out of snack packs. We’re all feeling a little bruised and battered.
            It’s time…

            The sea state was uncomfortable to row in during the day and even more so at night. I lost count of the number of times I bashed my own knees, shins, thighs, groin and stomach with the oars as they got submerged by a wave and then released with force.

            With no moon for most of the night shifts, we were engulfed in an impenetrable black darkness that disguised the arrival of waves. We rowed with an expectant alertness and quiet resignation of the incessant pitch and roll of the boat.
            It’s exhausting and not very pleasant but we all took it in our stride.

            Inside the airless cabin the situation was also trying. We lay in a pool of sweat and rocked back and forth knocking against one another, every time Doris moved.

            This was also, without a doubt my worst 24 hour’s day’s sleep so far. with an average of about 3 hours.

            On my awake after my second night shift I was preparing for the 2 hour row and putting sudocrem on my behind when a huge wave lurched me forward head first into the switch panel. As both my hands were being used at the time to apply said cream, I had nothing to break my fall except for my…head. It was quite a thump and I swear I actually saw tweetie birds/stars like the cartoons.

            Must have been quite amusing to witness but let me tell you – it was really quite horrendous at the time!

            We all know how quickly things change – so here’s hoping that by the time you are all reading this blog the current is finally with us.

            For all her beauty and majesty, the ocean can also be a little troublesome and cruel. She is always in control and has a lesson to teach.

            So…we soldier on but I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say…bring on Hawaii!!! x


            Natalia Cohen


            *********************************************

            Day 61 – An electric blue escort and a flyby from a friend

            Yesterday was a rather frustrating day as we had about 24 hours of painfully slow progress with mixed up winds and sea state following tropical storm Ela. We spent far more time than we would have wanted travelling at 0.1kts and in one four hour period we covered only a single nautical mile. It means that currently we are about 36 hours behind where we had expected. With favorable winds forecast for the next week we should be able to make up some ground but it is looking likely that our arrival into the Hawaii Yacht Club will be delayed by a day. All character building stuff as we’d been having it quite easy surfing along for a few days previously.

            However in the evening things started looking up on board Doris. Firstly our speed picked up enough for us to switch the autopilot back on. Then Nat and I on our first dark shift were joined by a huge shoal of the electric blue mahi mahi fish. They were swimming along the boat on both sides, their bodies shimmering silver in the beam from our nav light. They are really inquisitive and were getting really close to our oars as we were rowing. So close in fact that both Nat and I managed to clip one as we were paddling. The fish stayed with us all night over a period of 8 hours and there must have been hundreds of them passing us in total. It was a pretty awesome experience and we spent a lot of time chatting to them as we rowed along.

            Then this morning we had another visit from our friends the cargo ship Mokihana. They had emailed us to let us know that they should be passing us around 6pm UTC and so we had been excited about seeing them all night. They were a little bit later than expected and so Nat and I were out on the oars when they made contact on the VHF radio again. Laura had a good chat with them as they approached. Apparently among their current cargo is a couple of hundred head of cattle and a circus petting zoo. The petting zoo includes a donkey called Mokihana who was born on board the ship last year! Since it was daylight this time we could see them approaching and they are HUGE! A call came through on the radio from captain Tom ‘we’re going shaving, don’t worry we won’t nick you.’ They came for a proper flyby this time passing around 450m in front of us altering their course so they could get a good view. They were close enough that we could see them out on deck waving at us as we had a great time waving and whistling back. They are going to send us some photos so we can see what Doris looks like from that perspective. It properly made our day again and we are really grateful for them taking the time out to come and see us again.

            Emma Mitchell

            www.coxlesscrew.com
            " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



            h2oshots.com Photo Gallery

            Comment


            • #21
              Coxless Crew 6 Days Into Leg 2

              Pardon us for losing track of the ladies on Coxless Crew as they arrive on July 21st, right in the midst of all the
              excitement going on in the Transpac. Since then the ladies exchanged a crew member, as planned, Isabel Burnham has returned to the UK
              and Lizanne Van Vuuren step in for leg 2, Hawaii to Samoa.
              Route Info



              How is it only day 6!?

              I am exhausted already. Every shift on the oars getting soaked by huge waves and battling in the wind wipes me out and every shift in the cabin I can barely force myself to do the essentials like washing or eating before falling asleep. I am more tired after a week on dry land where we managed to get less sleep than we do on Doris than I was after 68 straight days at sea. The mighty Pacific has been throwing everything she has at us with big swell and strong winds. We spend all day and night crusty wih salt from the waves breaking over our heads which makes the skin sting and the scalp itch. I am too scared to attempt getting a brush through my matted and salty hair. When we’re in the cabins the exertion of eating or trying to wash off the salt leads to profuse sweating. I can’t believe we’ve only been out here for 6 days and haven’t even covered 200nm yet!

              However despite all of this the ocean seems to know when we need a pick me up too. Last night’s sunset shift was one of my favourites ever. Nats and I were on the oars together. We had Nat’s chill out playlist on the speakers, there was the least splashing that had happened all day and the sunset lit up the sky in orange and fluorescent pink. The colours reflect off the water turning the ocean more colours than you would think possible. We spent most of the 2 hour shift with grins on our faces and I fell in love with ocean rowing all over again.

              For now we are still pushing South trying to get free of a westerly current in the hope we will pick up some more speed once we are out of it. Samoa still seems a long way off so we return to our trusty chunking routine taking each day one shift at a time and trying to stay in the moment and appreciate as much as we can of our time at one with the beautiful Pacific!

              Emma Mitchell
              Aug 3rd




              Leg 2, Day 4

              It’s day 4 already and I’m not entirely sure how we got here!

              There has been a stark contrast between the chaos of preparing to leave your life behind for a few months, and the gentle rhythm of our daily lives out on the ocean. The past few days have blurred a bit for me as I try to gain some sea legs, but already we are queens of routine and together we might know every lyric to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

              I’ve always been very respectful of the power of the ocean, but I’ve never seen so many sides to it. Predominantly there has been big swell and waves coming from all angles. For me these splashes have been welcomed because it’s a brief break from the sweltering heat. Ps. We cover up really well and pack on the sunscreen.

              The two aspects of the row that I was most curious to find out how I would react to was the tight routine schedule and the night shifts (mild fear of dark water). I am happy to say though that these have become two favourites of mine. The routine adds an aspect of certainty amidst an ever changing ocean, and the night shifts are cooler and currently lit up by the moon (I still wouldn’t swim in it though!)

              The amazing things we’ve seen so far: huge fluorescent blue Mahi Mahi fish escorting our boat away from Hawaii, swarms of birds appearing from nowhere for a fish feeding frenzy, a night-time rainbow, the sunsets and sunrises lighting the sky in a fluorescent pink, and lots of shooting stars.

              Doris is currently riding the waves beautifully, and is truly like a little cork bobbing on the surface of the ocean. She has gained my full trust in proving herself to be a sturdy stallion to get us to Samoa safely

              Love Lizanne x
              Aug 2nd







              Leg 2, Day 3 – here we go again…

              As I had no real expectations the first time we headed out in Doris for leg 1, similarly I had no idea what to expect from leg 2. Luckily, I have a huge desire to get to Samoa and so this made getting back on the boat in Hawaii relatively easy. There is something about Western Samoa that draws me. I have a fascination with the culture and this is the one destination out of all of them that I have never visited before. So, it is with this deep motivation that I find myself on Day 3 of the second part of the adventure across Oceania! Woohooooo!!

              It has been interesting to see how easily I’ve managed to slip back into the unique daily lifestyle but partnering Lizanne has also opened my eyes to how much of the routine we already automatically take for granted. We mustn’t underestimate the effectiveness of these routines that we took so much time to cultivate and this leg will give us all an opportunity to fine tune what we have already put in place.

              The one thing I will never take for granted, however, is the power of the almighty Pacific. Her ever changing nature makes it impossible to do so anyway, and I have no doubt that she will throw us curve balls every step of this journey.


              I’m fascinated to learn about Lizanne’s thoughts and emotions right now. We have discussed it briefly, but I think once her seasickness passes, she will have the opportunity to share her observations more clearly. It must be strange to experience the basic things for the first time alone knowing that we’ve all already been through them before.

              So…here we go again. We set off on this voyage with a new energy, new boat dynamics, new route, books, music (we’ve all updated our iPods and the amazing Carroll Cox incredibly generously donated to us his own fully loaded iPod to take with us).

              Update
              – We were surrounded by a huge flock of varied birds diving and gliding around Doris.

              – It’s so unbelievably hot that during our team change overs, everything on the deck is too hot to touch.

              – I do believe we’ve got another gobbledegook speaker on the boat!!!


              Natalia Cohen July 31

              http://coxlesscrew.com/
              " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



              h2oshots.com Photo Gallery

              Comment


              • #22
                200 nm in 6 days = 33 nm a day,= 1.37 knots average.

                They need some trade winds and a sail.

                Comment

                Working...
                X