Day 37: thanks, waves and guests!

From Elsa, in the Pacific. Please see her statement about her change of destination if you haven’t read it yet.

Wow – thank you so so so much to everyone who has sent messages of support following this change of direction. It means a huge amount that you are all still being supportive, and will really help with this push towards land. I really agonised over taking this decision, and although there are inevitably still questions and concerns. I feel so much lighter now that the decision is made. I’m strangely excited about the adventure of the unknown as I head towards a previously unplanned harbour, and can’t wait to see what the rest of the journey will bring.

Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset

Over the weekend I had been secretly hoping that I’d get some nice rowing with the wind for a change, now that I’m headed in a easterly direction, but the Pacific continues to challenge me. We’ve had some really strange weather today. Following big winds and seas over the weekend, the wind had now lightened, but has also turned around, meaning that the seas are very confused. I’ve got big, rolling waves coming towards me on one side and on the other small choppy waves also coming towards me and meeting each other beneath me. I’m not sure which way to look to keep an eye on approaching waves!

The good news is that I’m now managing to make progress in the right direction, even though it’s quite slow. Initially it felt strange to be celebrating, rather than mourning, eastward progress, but already it feels completely normal.

Fishy tales, and more:

– A couple of nights ago, while I was sitting on para anchor, a bird I haven’t seen before came and landed on my bow cabin. It stayed overnight, hanging on with difficultly as the boat pitched and tossed, and leaving behind a lot of unwanted presents on my solar panels for me to clean up. It was black with a white stomach, and straight pointed beak. Can anyone identify? I’d love to know more about it, as it’s the only one of this species that I’ve seen. It seemed totally unfazed by me – watching me when I came on deck, but not in the least inclined to move.

Elsa's guest
Elsa’s guest

– Yesterday, as the wind fell and the waves became wide and smooth, I saw two groups of pilot whales, heading in a similar direction to each other. They came really quite close to me, and I was able to watch them all the way into the distance as I prepared myself for rowing. It felt like the sea was coming alive again yesterday, after a weekend of everything hiding out of sight or below the waves; as I was watching the pilot whales, I also saw quite a number of different birds skimming the surface of the waves.

Smooth seas
Smooth seas

A couple of people have asked about oars – I’m still using my ‘repaired’ oar, and plan to use it all the way to Mexico. It’s heavy and a bit frustrating, but I’ve been getting used to it and its little quirks. I think of it as a friendly baby Frankenstein’s Monster – a bit bodged together but  perfectly capable and eager to do its best.

5 thoughts on “Day 37: thanks, waves and guests!

  1. hi Elsa

    I think it could be a female frigatebird – not sure how much internet access you have (presumably none), but here’s a useful webpage for when you’re back on land:

    The males have red breasts which they inflate as part of their mating display. If you fancy a longer trip, head down to the Galapagos to see more of these amazing birds!

    Congratulations on your progress so far and good luck as you head to Mexico!


  2. I think you definitely made the right decision to change course. You are an amazing woman whose strength and courage are an inspiration. I look forward to hearing about your “new” (and continuing) journey.


  3. Hi Elsa. I’ve watched your progress and read the blog avidly over the last few weeks. You really are a very unique and determined lady and your inner strength is an inspiration to us all. The decision to change your course and destination must have been incredibly difficult to make but every true adventurer faces moments like this. I know people who’ve turned round only hours from the summit of Everest and another who had come home when an attempt to row to the North Pole became too much of a risk. The years of planning and training are not in vain. Your last blog entry speaks volumes and you are now embracing a new challege. Keep those oar strokes going Elsa and enjoy the sea, the birds and the whales. Nature is a wonderful thing and I can’t wait to hear that you’ve reached Mexico safely and completed a truly awesome trip. Be safe and happy and keep up the good work. Lots of love. Lindsey. XXXXXXXX


  4. It’s a Brown Booby on board! They are close relatives of Gannetts, which you might see in the Atlantic. This one’s an adult. They occasionally come as far north as Monterey but are common down there, and, as you’ve seen, very comfortable hitchhiking on boats (but, like any marine mammal or bird, not the most courteous houseguests). They’re marvelous to watch fishing: they dive-bomb and then fly underwater to catch little fish, sometimes by the squadron. Frigatebirds are longer, sit more horizontally, have a white throat patch rather than white belly, and are also quite awesome. You might see them as you get closer to shore. Watch for the very long pointed wings and long, forked tail. They’re acrobats who steal other birds’ fish.

    Elsa, big warm hugs to you and 100% support for your smart decision to go with the ocean’s mandates. You’re an ocean rower, no less than anyone else out there. You’ve traveled a thousand miles (!!!) on your own power. You’ve delved into your own reserves, found out what’s down deep inside, learned what you can handle, survived on your own resourcefulness, learned a new topography of your self as well as of the ocean, and experienced far more than most of us will dream of, just by leaving land. Now you’re wrangling a totally new adventure, unlike that of the others who will arrive in a well-known port. You’re rowing into the unknown. How exciting! I wish I were down in Baja watching for you on the horizon. It’s a beautiful land you’re going to meet. And meanwhile you’ve seen pilot whales!!! I’ve never seen one. How wonderful, and two groups at that. I can’t wait to hear what else you discover in the next few days.

    Your fan,
    Captain Kate


  5. You have made a hard decision but the right one. I have been following you and Sarah Outen for weeks , traveling in opposite directions in the Pacific. Sarah had to change her destination as you know last year and has been continuing her journey in a kayak. I hope the rest of your trip won’t be so grueling and that you will make landfall somewhere nice and interesting. I met you in Corn Street , Bristol last year and hope to meet you again sometime if you give a talk about your experience. All the best, Margaret Gorely.


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