Ocean Rowing Roundup for October 

Since our last roundup, two soloists have finished their journeys and two more are still battling it out on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Pacific Ocean 

Solo Kayak to Hawaii

Cyril Derremaux completed his solo kayak from California to Hawaii on September 20. After 92 days of paddling, he became just the second person to complete that route by kayak. He had wanted to finish the 4,444km journey in 70 days, but bad weather made that impossible. 

To ensure he didn’t run out of food, he rerouted his end point from Waikiki to the much closer Hilo. After finishing, he said that the first few weeks were the most challenging, as his body became accustomed to the lack of sleep and constant paddling.

He also battled seasickness in those early weeks. As time went on, he felt more comfortable with his boat Valentine and the surroundings. “I know how she behaves in what kind of water, I know all the noises she makes and what they mean, I could find anything in the dark…it’s very special,” he said.

Cyril Derreumaux completes his kayak in Hawaii

Photo: CyrilDerreumauxAdventure/Facebook


His journey follows that of Ed Gillet, who made the first crossing in 1987. Gillet’s journey was very different. He used an off-the-shelf kayak, had no compartment for sleeping, and virtually no communication.

Derreumaux first attempted the crossing in 2021 but needed rescue after his boat began to leak. He absorbed the lessons learned, came back the following year, and succeeded. 

Other Pacific crossings

Michelle’s Great Pacific Row

Michelle Lee is rowing from Ensenada, Mexico to Sydney, Australia. She started on August 8 and has now spent 60 days at sea. In her latest update, she said, “I have a feathered friend on board. He is acting as my guardian angel and only leaves to eat. Such a privilege.”

Photo: Michelle Lee/Facebook


Though the initial few weeks were challenging, recently she has enjoyed favorable winds and currents. She says she is “constantly in awe”, especially when watching wildlife pass her by. 

Tom’s Pacific Row

Tom Robinson is rowing from Lima, Peru to his home country of Australia in his handmade boat Maiwar. She is based on traditional whaleboats. He started on July 2 and the Ocean Rowing Society estimates that he will finish in March 2023. So far, he has covered an impressive 5,900km and 41% of the journey. 

Tom Robinsons hand made boat sits on the water

Tom Robinson’s boat ‘Maiwar’. Photo: Tom Robinson


Robinson has not given updates on his progress since he set off. He is splitting his journey into four stages: Lima to Tahiti, Tahiti to the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands to Tonga, and Tonga to Brisbane. Robinson is currently in the middle of stage one, by far the longest stage. If he completes the row, he will become the youngest person to row alone across the Pacific.

Tracking map of Tom Robinsons journey so far

Robinson’s journey so far. Photo: Tom Robinson

Atlantic Ocean

Project Empower

Damien Browne has become the first person to row from New York to Ireland. After 112 days at sea, he made landfall not quite in the way that he had envisaged. In the last hour of the row, 35-knot winds flipped his boat and slammed the craft into the rocks. To make matters even worse, one oar snapped. He had no choice but to clamber out onto the rocks and wait. Emergency services had to recover him 12km from his intended endpoint, the Port of Galway. 

Damien Browne completing his row in Ireland

Photo: projectempower2022/Facebook


Though he has rowed an ocean alone before, he says that this one felt different, “I can’t explain how challenging the conditions were,” he told The Independent. “Obviously it’s the North Atlantic, it’s very changeable, and every change I seemed to get was negative.”

Initially, this row started as a two-man effort, just 13 days into the journey his teammate had to leave because of chest pains. As a pair, they had wanted to complete the journey in 55 days. On his own, Browne knew that this was impossible.

Browne also experienced constantly tricky weather, he spent days on the para-anchor and sometimes rowed for hours only to watch his progress disappear in 15 minutes when he stopped for a break. 

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.