Day 24: oar repair, and back into the washing machine

Another mixed day – some real lows, but I’m finishing it feeling positive and ready to get out there again before sunrise.

I spent a large part of the day with my broken oar – annoying, as I’d originally thought it wouldn’t take that long. I don’t so much mind the time being spent on it, and actually quite enjoy the repair work, but I just find it stressful to watch the miles ticking away in the wrong direction whilst I do it. My first repair of the day (using the shaft of one of the broken oars to splint it) was nice and strong, but really heavy, so I decided to cut the wooden handled end off the splint, thus making it slightly shorter and lighter. This would have been a good idea if my hacksaw hadn’t turned out to be totally useless. About a quarter of the way through the cut, the bolt that holds the top part of the blade in place suddenly pinged off with no warning, leaving the blade swinging from one end. Unfortunately it jumped straight over the side of the boat and disappeared into the blue before I could grab it, so that was goodbye to a properly functioning hacksaw. I then tried tying the end of the blade in place with bits of wire and thin pieces of string, which worked for short times before wearing through. I managed to break two blades in the process, but got most of the way through the cut before giving up on the hacksaw, donning a pair of gloves, and finishing it off with just a piece of broken blade. The oar is still heavy, but manageable for now, and lovely and strong. Thank goodness for zip ties – I brought a lot, but now I’m wishing I’d brought even more.

Oar repair - it's massive and ridiculous!
Oar repair – it’s massive and ridiculous!

All in all it was quite a ridiculous morning, and I felt like everything was going wrong. I really struggled today with the fact that I’ve already rowed hundreds of miles and have still barely made a dent in the miles toward Hawaii. It’s hard to be constantly waking up further away from where I’m trying to go than I was when I went to sleep, and it’s particularly hard as the further east I get dragged the worse the eastward pull gets. The ‘good’ weather window is now over, and apparently bigger winds and waves and coming back to turn the washing machine conditions on again. Things felt very bleak earlier today and I struggled to see how I’m going to manage to make this westward turn.

As I lie I my bunk now I’m feeling better, and am just focusing on continuing south for another couple of degrees (obviously minimising the eastward movement and maximising the westward), where things do look more hopeful.

I got some good rowing in throughout the afternoon and evening, and actually enjoyed it as the wind started whipping up the waves later on in the day. They aren’t big yet, but have become confused and choppy, appearing from all sorts of unexpected angles, which felt strangely exciting. As night fell, the horizon all round me shrank inwards, and it felt like Darien and I were dancing through an ever-mutating seascape of bubbling witches cauldrons.


Messages and support

Please keep messages to Elsa coming – and consider attaching them to oar strokes to power Elsa westwards! Just Β£0.10 each – please support generously, she has a million to take!

Support Elsa

10 thoughts on “Day 24: oar repair, and back into the washing machine

  1. Hubble Bubble Toil NOT Trouble, Darien will look after you! Hope your washing machine doesn’t mind salt water πŸ™‚
    You have made a terrific repair to your oar Elsa, it does look cumbersome and heavy but hey you did it and hats off to you. Must have been demoralizing to be dragged backwards whilst you made the repair though!
    Keep going Elsa we are all egging you on with every oar stroke.
    Not sure if by me sending comments most days it is getting too much? I am sure I will be informed otherwise if this is the case. Just want to spur you on as you are doing an amazing challenge.


  2. How creative and original! Does it fit in the oarlock? I can just see the little hacksaw nut flying in slow motion over the edge and plopping down into the water… I’ve watched iPhones, sunglasses, tools, even a wedding ring (not mine) do the slow-motion flip into the ocean as one thinks, “Nooooo!” As always, good on ya for figuring out alternatives and sticking with it. Well done, too, ending the day with curiosity and a poetic impression of the sea. Pulling with you! –Kate


  3. Wow! I am in ‘oar’ of your repairs and techniques. It looks good and strong….just hope you can make some headway with it, and your own strength will be equal t the weight.
    Loving your descriptions of the seas and light – quite poetic which is amazing considering your situation.
    We visited Jo’s parents today in pretty Tipperary – her dad is v weak at the moment but we were allowed in to see him for 3 minutes which was lovely, and her mum is tired and worried but made us a fish lunch. This evening back in Dublin we had an oriental supper in Dun Laoghaire and then walked the mile or so out round the harbour watching the spectacular sunset and the twinkling lights of a funfair, while a bat wheeled and flung itself around in the still air over our heads. Flying back to Lobdon/Kent tmro.
    Hoping you manage yo make some real headway soon… Big hugs as always G


  4. Hello Elsa,
    I just took a look at your little red boat on the Great Pacific Race website. I check each day. Today there was no minus sign in front of the NM’s traveled in last 24 hours. I’m so happy and excited for you. I sure hope that means you are making forward progress. I live in Arizona and I’m pulling for you. Go Elsa!!! Gail


  5. Dearest Munch
    Well done and keep going! you are doing so well and I know how impossible it must seem sometimes but you took this on for the challenge and the harder it is now the more you’ll apreciate it afterwards. If it all went perfectly you would probably be a little dissapointed and this way you get to prove how great you are even more πŸ™‚
    That said I do hope things get easier for at least a while – you totally deserve a good stretch but hey, however it goes you got free caviar right?!
    Big love xx


  6. Elsa, you’re amazing – I don’t know how you’re doing it! I know it must be frustrating to be making so little headway, but you’ll get there – just take one day at a time. Are you still listening to Faure? I love his Requiem too. Do you have the Bare Necessities as well?! I’m really enjoying reading all about your adventures, especially the fish. Sorry to hear you didn’t keep them as pets 😦 Love, Lucy xxx


  7. Go Elsa!
    You have no idea how you have captured our hearts and thoughts. We saw the teams leave from Monterey with no idea what was going on. Now my entire family sits around the dinner table each night reading the updates and your blogs. Thank you for bringing us along on your incredible journey. My mother and father are visiting us here in San Jose, CA from Kona Hawaii (that’s the big island at the south end of the Hawaiian chain) and will be returning home in a few weeks. Maybe you will hear them cheering you on when you get there?
    Row with the knowledge that this family thinks you are an amazingly strong young woman who is one of our most inspirational heroes in this house! We are sending you all the positive energy to move west. I wish our breath could become your wind that you need.
    Watching and supporting you! – Andrea, Jay, Jack (8), Allan and Shirley Ledford


  8. Fantastic stuff. Really impressed by your ingenuity at fixing the oar and remaining focused and positive when everything seems to be going wrong. Keep it up! I’m sure you hit some strong easterlies soon!


  9. Watching you every day, inspired and exhilarated… ,I chant… row, Elsa, row! You’re taking us all on an amazing adventure. I’d love to know where you get your amazing perseverance. I’m in awe. If you need a place to stay on your book tour, our guest room is yours! Cheers from Jen in Illinois


  10. Elsa snd Darien –

    Keep finding the sunshine moments and giggly bits amongst the tricky stuff. Nothing will last forever – even the cheeky currents and storms.

    Go well my friends. Sending you thoughts of useful winds and and happy currents from up here.

    Sarah xx


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