Review: Losing Sight of Shore, an Amazing Documentary

the tiny Doris in a vast ocean

Losing Sight of Shore documents a journey by 4 women in a tiny boat who rowed 8,446 miles across the Pacific from America to Australia. They spent 257 days at sea, unsupported. Losing Sight of Shore is both harrowing and inspiring.

What are you capable of doing? The women of the Coxless Crew aboard the Doris asked themselves that question. Their inspiring answer is Losing Sight of Shore.

The team set 2 world records: first group of 4 rowers to ever cross the Pacific and first all female team to ever do the same. I can’t stop thinking and talking about how amazing the women who accomplished this feat are. I’ve been telling everyone I meet, even strangers, that they must watch this documentary.

the women of the Coxless crew from Losing Sight of Shore
Laura Penhaul, Emma Mitchell, Natalia Cohen, Isabel Burnham, Lizanne Van Vuuren, and Meg Dyos are the Coxless Crew.

There were actually 6 women involved. Three made the complete 9 month journey. Because of other commitments, the 4th person had to stop after the first leg, so a second and third woman came aboard for the last two legs. The first leg was from San Francisco to Hawaii. The second leg was from Hawaii to Samoa. The third from Samoa to Australia.

A camera is on the tiny vessel for the whole journey. The amazing dedication, determination, courage, and strength of the women rowers is captured in real time. They laughed, cried, worried and never quit. No matter what, they got on those oars every two hours and rowed. No sleep, no food, no water: row anyway. Seasick, sad, exhausted: row anyway. Charmed by the sunset or the whales: row anyway. Missing your family: row anyway. Never rowed before: row anyway.

The Doris from above in Losing Sight of Shore

The Doris left San Francisco in April and arrived in Cairns, Australia in January. In those months they faced storms, winds, currents, the doldrums, heat and cold. They had perfect days and horrible days. They made forward progress or the wind blew them backwards. Still they rowed.

It was thrilling to watch. The moments when each woman spent time telling the camera what was in her heart and mind were the best part. Learning the reasons why each of them chose to do such a dangerous and challenging thing was enlightening.

To me, the fact that they actually made it is amazing. When you think about larger ships that have been lost at sea in storms it’s astonishing. I try to imagine my younger self, in my 30s perhaps. I might have had the physical strength to do what the crew of the Doris did, but I don’t think I could have taken it mentally. They are remarkable women.

Sarah Moshman wrote and directed Losing Sight of Shore.

I absolutely recommend this film to everyone. Sometimes it’s easy to despair of the human race. Women like this remind you that humans can be awesome and accomplish the impossible.

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