Doris visits Marlow

On Saturday we brought Doris on a little road trip to Marlow to go for a row on the Thames and introduce her to the town.  She arrived on Friday evening and with a little help from Ella and the Knill family we got her on the water and over the river to the Compleat Angler hotel who had kindly offered her a safe home for the night.

Doris at the Compleat Angler

Sunday morning arrived with sunshine and blue skies.  Our beautiful pink Breast Cancer Care gazebo and the rowing machine were installed in Higginson Park and Doris was rowed over to join in the fun.  With the strong stream and Doris being so much heavier than my usual rowing boats it was the slowest I’ve ever rowed up this stretch of river but pretty special to be showing off Doris where I learnt to row.

Local star Ems

First up was the chance to take some prize winners out for a paddle and the chance to experience life in the aft cabin.  Martin was up first followed by Katie and Ewan and all three had a go at rowing the boat.  It was great to be able to show some of our supporters what life will be like for us when we are out on the ocean.

The Crew, the Mayor and Naomi

For the rest of the day we were inundated with visitors including Suzanne Brown, Mayor of Marlow, the local press and lots of friends, family and supporters.  We were also treated to a visit from Olympic and paralympic rowing stars Naomi Riches, Heather Stanning, Katherine Grainger, Beth Rodford and Sarah Winckless.  Heather kindly christened Doris with some champagne in an official naming ceremony and then came for a row with us.  It was so great to have so much support behind us and we had a really fantastic day talking to so many interested people.

Naming ceremony for Doris

The weekend finished off with a training session at Marlow Rowing Club on Sunday morning followed by the usual logistical fun involved in getting Doris back on the trailer and safely home to Christchurch.  The next few weekends will be spent in final preparations and packing before we put her into a shipping container ready to start the journey to San Francisco.  Stay posted for updates on next weekend’s capsize drills.

The next Coxless Crew event in Marlow will be a talk kindly sponsored by Court Gardens on Wednesday 11th February.  Tickets are £12 and include a buffet provided by Court Gardens and a presentation about the row, the training and preparation so far and the reasons why we are doing it.  To book a place contact Rotarian Sara Bowater on 07850 036236 or


Doris does London

There’s never a dull moment for us in the Coxless Crew and eventful weekends have become worryingly normal.  Doris’ visit to London was no different…

It all started on Friday when we headed to Poplar to launch Doris from the public slipway next to Poplar Blackwall and District Rowing Club.  This was challenge number one.  The ups and downs of the slipway meant that no matter what we tried (and we tried everything from setting up pulleys to chocking up the wheels to taking a diagonal route down the slip) we couldn’t get Doris down to the water without grounding her on the concrete.  We spent about an hour and a half trying this while Alan, the legend from Globe Rowing Club who had come out in his boat to be our support crew, bobbed around on the water waiting for us.  Finally we had to hitch the trailer back up and head to a new slipway just down the road.  Here we managed with a bit of manoeuvring and another pulley to get Doris down to the water and with a big shove from Laura we were out on the water.  By this time it was pretty dark and we were running a little short on time to make it to St Katherine’s Docks so the pressure was on.  Luckily we had Jacob on board.  Jacob had never met us before but had kindly come along to take some photos of us rowing Doris through London from the support boat.  He got a bit more than he bargained for, having to act as an extra pair of hands with the trailer and then having to travel with us on Doris since he couldn’t get to the support boat.  He’s now a pro at using the VHF radio, AIS and chartplotter and is definitely a new member of the team.  Plus his photos are beautiful so we hope we haven’t scared him off!  After a truly beautiful row through a lit up London we arrived at St Katherine’s Docks, our home for the weekend.  We settled Doris in, had a well-deserved dinner and headed home.

Photos below are by Jacob Perlmutter:

Doris and Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

On Saturday we woke up to a cold but beautiful sunny day which was perfect for a day spent introducing Doris to the public.  It was lovely to see all the interest in our project and to introduce some of our sponsors to the boat.  She was particularly popular with the kids who got to come aboard and see where we would row and get inside our cabin.  Along with our brilliant helpers for the day we spread the word about our row and added lots of names to our inspiration wall.


Sunday we left St Katherine’s bright and early and had a lovely row down to Greenwich Yacht Club where we planned to get the boat out of the water.  We arrived and were met by the lovely Ian.  We were quite worried by exactly how we were going to get Doris out of the water as the tide was going out quickly and the slipway was also on two levels but were comforted by Ian who assured us that there’s always a way.  It turned out that the way was for him to get the slipmaster out to lift Doris out of the water on slings.  This ended up being a bit of a mad dash in the 5 minutes before the water would have been too low and meant that Laura arrived with the trailer to see Doris hanging in the air on slings.

Another eventful weekend over, which couldn’t have happened without all of the support we had from friends, families and people we had never met.  Recently we spoke at a Hero’s Night organised by Will aka Super Cycling Man.  All of the other speakers had completed their own expeditions and their heroes were the people they met along the way.  We won’t have that on our row as the only people we’ll see are each other on the boat.  However this weekend has highlighted again that our heroes are the people we are meeting along our journey to the start line.  So I wanted to give a special thank you to a few of Coxless Crew’s heroes from this weekend.

  • Jacob Perlmutter – came along to take some photos, ended up helping us get the boat on the water for 2 hours and then coming for an hours row down the river having to use the radio and help us navigate making him 2 hours late for his evening plans.
  • Alan from Globe Rowing Club who was our support boat on the row down to Tower Bridge and became our advisor on the ways of the Thames.
  • St Katherine’s Docks – not only gave Doris a berth for the weekend but also put us up in their beautiful floating marketing suite.
  • Sarah from Breast Cancer Care who spent the whole of Saturday with us helping to tell our story.
  • Claire and Harry from Raymarine who also came along to help us out.
  • Ian the legend from Greenwich Yacht Club who when we arrived to use their slipway on Sunday with not enough water to get Doris on the trailer winched us out using the slip master.
  • Everyone who brought a mile of our journey and who’s names on our inspiration wall will help us across the Pacific.

And last but not least my wonderful teammates who will be my heroes when we are out on the ocean with only each other to rely on.

  • Laura – who can drive a 29ft ocean rowing boat through central London and has got us all hooked on xfactor.
  • Izzy – rustled up a support boat last minute, who had written our weeks to do list before we even got home and is the only one of us who can sing in tune.
  • Nat – the only person I know who can accost a passing tour and get their guide to stop and translate our story into Dutch for his tour group