Ocean Rowing Roundup for October

Oceans Rowing/canoeing
Dave Bell. Photo: NY2UKsolorow

Since our last ocean roundup, journeys across the North Atlantic have ended in success and a journey across the Pacific is on pause.

Pacific Ocean

Erden Eruç (Turkey)

Erden Eruç began his row on June 22. He plans to row 11,000km from California to Hong Kong. Once he reaches Asia, he will continue overland to Everest, which he plans to climb in autumn 2022.

He had wanted to row non-stop to Hong Kong, but weather and visa logistics have forced him to pause in Hawaii. He arrived in Waikiki on September 10 after 80 days of rowing. Of the final stretch into the harbor, he said, “The challenge was immense, the winds never let up…I had to steel myself to the thought that I was going to stay on the oars for as long as necessary.”

Since stopping in Hawaii, he has made multiple repairs to the boat and returned briefly to the mainland to organize his visa. He hopes to re-launch for the rest of his row in the next few days.

Erden Eruç has paused in Hawaii. Photo: OceanRowingSociety

North Atlantic, U.S. to Europe

Guirec Soudée (France)

Guirec Soudée arrived in Brest, France on October 1. The Frenchman was at sea for 107 days, rowing from Massachusetts to France. This is the return leg of a roundtrip journey: In December 2020, he rowed in 74 days from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.

At the end of June, Soudée lost his communication devices to a storm. He decided to continue without them and asked passing ships and boats to send his location to his family.  Occasionally, weeks went by with no updates. Just five days before he finished, his worried family wrote on social media, “The non-news of the last few days is forcing us to consider several scenarios.”

The last month of his journey was difficult. Bad weather pushed him off course and forced him to a standstill. On September 14, he was in the same position he had been in three weeks earlier, despite his best efforts. His family called him a “prisoner to the waves and current”.

Guirec Soudée has finished his row after 106 days. Photo: GuirecSoudeeAdventure

Out of a dark place

Mark Delstanche (UK) 

Mark Delstanche has become the first person to row solo from New York to London. The crossing from Battery Park, New York to Tower Bridge, London took the former firefighter 97 days.

The first 10 days of the trip went quite smoothly. Then he had to row through some of the harshest conditions seen in years.  Speaking to South China Morning Post, Delstanche said, “I found myself huddling in my cabin, wanting it to be over. If I could have pressed a button and got out of there, I would. I found myself in a place of my head I’d never been before.”

His wife persuaded him to continue, and in time, he became more positive. “To be back home with my family, and to be in the pub with a couple of pints and a burger was the motivation,” he said.

Mark Delstanche reaches London. Photo: Square Peg

Lost 13kg despite 6,000 calories a day

David ‘Dinger’ Bell (UK)

Dave Bell triumphantly arrived in Cornwall after 119 days at sea.  He is one of the first people to row unsupported from New York to mainland Britain.  He had initially intended to land in Falmouth but had to aim for Newlyn Harbour, further down the coast, because of weather.

The former Royal Marine ended with a marathon 45-hour row. “I didn’t want to finish in the Scillies”, he told the BBC. “I wanted to make the mainland.” During the journey, he lost 13kg, despite consuming 6,000 calories per day.

Like everyone who tackled the North Atlantic this year, he faced incredibly tough conditions. Unlike other crews, he tackled the three-metre waves and tropical storms despite his fear of open water. The weather caused huge delays and forced Bell to spend weeks on his para-anchor. When he arrived, he had just one day of food remaining. “I’m never doing anything dangerous ever again,” Bell said back on dry land.

Dave Bell before and after his North Atlantic row: better beard, hollow cheeks. Photo: NY2UKsolorow

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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