Ocean Rowing Roundup for May

As with our last roundup, only two soloists have been making their way over the oceans this month. One has completed a stage of his round-the-world trip, and the other is making her way around the Bahamian coastline.

Louis Margot: This Swiss adventurer is trying to circumnavigate the globe by human power alone. He has split the journey into five stages involving rowing or cycling. On his first leg, he biked 2,400km from Switzerland to Portugal. He has now completed the second leg, rowing from Portugal to Columbia.

Margot landed in Santa Marta on May 1. He took 115 days to cover the 8,400km but made several pit stops. At Gran Canaria, he resupplied, then made his way to Martinique and finally carried on to Santa Marta.

Though the last part of the row was relatively short — 20 days across the Caribbean — it was not easy. Four days from land, his water maker broke, and he had just 15 liters of water over his last few days at sea.

Even more significantly, winds and currents kept pushing him off track, and he fretted about the possibility of overshooting his landing site. But in the end, he landed safely.

Now in Santa Marta, he is preparing for the next leg, a 3,700km cycle to Lima, Peru. Then, he will tackle an 18,500km row across the Pacific to Bali before cycling back to Switzerland.

Ellen Magellan

Ellen Falterman: Falterman aims to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe by rowing. She started her “Ellen Magellan” project from Texas in September 2022. After reaching South Florida, she paused her journey for personal reasons but picked up the oars again in February 2024.

In April, she landed in the Bahamas and is now rounding its coastline. From Bimini, she rowed across Mackie Shoal, a 100km stretch of shallow water. During the eight-day crossing, she felt like a nomadic desert dweller with just four meters of water between her keel and the “featureless” sand below.

Although the Bahamanian coastline might sound like peaceful, it is anything but. As soon as the wind picked up, rowing through the choppy water became almost impossible. Falterman eventually had to drop her anchor and wait out the wind for two days.

That whole section was at times agonizingly slow. Once, she covered just 1.6km in two hours of rowing. Eventually, she made it to Morgan’s Bluff, where she spent two weeks waiting for good weather before continuing her journey along the coastline.

Her final destination on this leg is Panama. Falterman is not trying to go as quickly as possible and has given no indication of how long it will take her to reach Panama, or the exact route she plans to take.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.