Ocean Rowing Roundup for November 

Since our last round up two soloists have continued to battle their way across the Pacific Ocean to their home country of Australia.

This is one of the quietest times of year on the world’s oceans. Across the Atlantic Ocean, it is hurricane season, which should finish by the end of November. At the same time, the trade winds will pick up, and more ocean rowers will take to the seas. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will begin once we move into this period of calmer weather.

Though hurricanes also hit the Pacific Ocean, they are less common in the South Pacific, where both rowers are currently located.

Michelle’s Pacific Row

Michelle Lee is rowing alone from Ensenada, Mexico to Sydney, Australia. She has now been at sea for three months and is approximately halfway through her crossing. Lee hit a few big milestones in the last month. At the end of October, she entered the South Pacific. And on October 20, she surpassed the amount of time she spent rowing on her previous Atlantic Ocean crossing. 

One of the biggest challenges for her has been the lengthy solitude. To pass the time, she has 37 audiobooks that she is slowly making her way through. She also took a ukulele with her, one of her only luxury items. When she stops rowing for the night, she likes to sing and play a little. 

The route. Image: greatpacificrow


Conditions for this row have been very different from her Atlantic adventure.

“[Here] I’ve never had the wind behind me as it should be,” she wrote on social media. “I don’t get a chance to do anything…it’s too freakin’ hectic. The priority is to keep the boat heading the right way.”

Once, a storm kept her in her sweltering cabin until she felt she was going stir-crazy. She decided to row, despite the wind.

“I ended up rowing in 20-knot winds and big seas,” she wrote. “It was so awesome. Like breaking new barriers.  Now I know I can row at 20 knots.  It was a confidence builder.”

It also turned out to be excellent practice, because the high winds persisted for the next four days. 

Tom’s Pacific Row

Tom Robinson is rowing from Lima, Peru to Australia. After 133 days at sea, he has covered 52% of the journey. The Ocean Rowing Society estimates that he will finish in March 2023. Robinson has not given updates on his journey since he set off. 

Robinson’s current position. Image: tomspacificjourney


Before setting off, he intended to split his journey into four stages: Lima to Tahiti, Tahiti to the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands to Tonga, and Tonga to Brisbane. This would allow him to resupply at a number of places en route and make any necessary repairs to the boat. But he has already passed Tahiti, and his tracker shows no indication that he stopped here. It is unclear why he changed his plan. 

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.