Another twist to the tale… (or No, I don’t have an engine)

Another important update regarding Elsa’s journey home:

The more diligent YellowBrick watchers amongst you will have noticed that I’ve started moving rather speedily in a north-easterly direction. No, I didn’t smuggle an engine aboard, nor am I hooked to a giant fish, as in ‘The Old Man and the Sea‘… I am safe and well aboard Cloud Nine, one of the Great Pacific Race support yachts, and Darien is chugging along happily on the tow rope behind us.

This has been a far harder decision for me to make than the change of direction, and one that I would never have imagined making when the row began. As you know, I have been struggling with adverse winds and difficult conditions since the start, and although these have altered with my change of course, they have not abated. Since turning east there has been the odd day of light or more helpful winds, but overall rowing conditions have still been frustratingly challenging. I was able to row about sixty miles past Isla Guadalupe to the south, but the likelihood of reaching mainland under my own power has been receding with each weather forecast.

For the past ten days I’ve been feeling like I’m on a roller coaster headed to Antarctica, and however much I struggle to get off it and row towards mainland I continue to be hustled south by the wind, waves and current. Once again I have found that I have had to make a decision based on progress, current weather, forecasts, and position. Any further south and the mainland peels away even further to the east, tropical cyclones grow in threat, and I would need more than a miracle to see a complete reversal of prevailing conditions.

Whilst weighing up the slim possibility of a miracle against the reality of my speedy progress south, I was told that Cloud Nine would be able to offer their assistance in reaching land if I didn’t delay much further. One thing I’ve learned from this adventure is how to make difficult decisions on my own. Although this is not a decision I would have taken if I had control over the elements, it was the only sensible option based on my southerly position, the weather, and the forecasts of weather to come.

I’m now looking back at Darien rather than looking out from her deck, but the adventure is still not over for me. With several hundred miles and some days left before we reach land, I’m looking forward to experiencing the ocean from a different angle and to resting my aching hands.


Some quotes from experienced supporters:

Every ocean row has it’s dangers and risks, and it should never be taken for granted that a rower will complete the challenge.  Elsa has faced some extremely difficult choices and it’s testament to her resolve and courage that she has decided to change course. I’m very proud of her continued resilience, especially when she must be struggling with fears of failure – she has not failed! But whatever happens, she stepped aboard the boat when very many wouldn’t. Mexico awaits a heroine and she’s on her way!

Sally Kettle FRGS: first woman to row the Atlantic twice E-W; 5,000 miles at sea; raised over £500k for charities


I am full of admiration for Elsa, not only for the tenacity and determination that she has exhibited over the last five weeks as she battled persistent headwinds, but even more for her wisdom and maturity in deciding to change course. I applaud her decision, and look forward to congratulating her in person when she returns to Britain.

Roz Savage MBE FRGS: first woman to row solo across three oceans; 15,000 miles and 500 days at sea; National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2010 (Roz’s successful Pacific attempt was her second try!)


And a request for Elsa’s keen supporters from Campaign Manager Steve:

Elsa’s perseverance both in pushing toward Hawaii for a month and a half, and then back toward Mexico for the last few weeks, has been immense. The Pacific is an unforgiving ocean and her row has been particularly harsh. Broken oars and the highest miles per rower, are testament to Elsa’s incredible effort.

Elsa is understandably upset about having to change plans, despite her knowledge that these decisions were the right ones to make in the circumstances. What she has achieved has been incredible: 950 miles over almost two months under her own efforts; highest miles per rower to this point; intense perseverance under difficult conditions and having to make such challenging decisions balancing complex factors. Even so, she’s experiencing a wide range of emotions.

Elsa loves receiving letters. She will be returning to the UK at the start of September, and coming home to a pile of supportive written messages would be just fantastic. If you think that Elsa deserves a boost, please help her recognise that what she’s done is amazing, and send a postcard or a letter to:

Elsa Hammond
Clifton Hill House
Lower Clifton Hill
Bristol BS8 1BX
United Kingdom

Please also consider further supporting Elsa’s three charities: Global Ocean, the GREAT Initiative, and Plastic Oceans. Follow the links on her Causes page.

13 thoughts on “Another twist to the tale… (or No, I don’t have an engine)

  1. Well done Elsa! This is not how any of us expected it to go, but a wise and honourable decision. The testimonials shown above are pretty amazing in themselves. It must have been very odd for you to be hitched up to another boat after all this time – meeting with people out in the empty space. I will miss your reports from ‘the wide expanse’ but very relieved that you are safe. I hope you aren’t too disappointed – what you’ve achieved is really remarkable – and it’s not over yet, is it?


    1. Dear Elsa , my wife and I have been watching from day 1 . We visited the boats in Monterey . Where we met Steve but missed you both times we were there . I think we have learned a lot about you by watching you make progress both good and bad and I can say you are awesome ! In some of the worse conditions Mother Nature can throw at you , you stuck with it . We are proud of you for thinking you could , we are proud of you for showing up at the starting line , and for rowing every stroke of those oars , and for making all the right decisions at the right time , none of this was easy and you did what no one else did . You are awesome . We wish you luck in everything you do and look forward to meeting next year in Monterey


  2. I’m also imagining what it must have been like to climb aboard another boat – different rhythms of movement, sounds, hatchways, company, heads, galley, bunks, food… I hope in due course you will write about these things. And I hope your hands will recover soon. What next?


  3. Good decision, another phase in an incredible journey, physical and mental! I’m so pleased to hear you are safe and sound. It’s such a brave and wise choice and shows how on the ball you are. How strange it must be to see and be around other people. (Dr Livingstone I presume). You have a few days now to relax and enjoy the ocean and trip home. Well done, brilliant job, you should be very proud. M x


  4. I can only assume how disappointed you must be feeling Elsa, YOU ARE A WINNER in so many peoples eyes, certainly in mine. The decision was not really yours, it was the elements and the only choice was the right choice for your safety. We all respect the elements and we all respect you!
    What you have achieved is incredible, you should be extremely proud of yourself!!
    I look forward to reading your book should you choose to write it 🙂
    Safe journey to Mexico and a safe journey home.
    Jo x


  5. Hi Elsa – thinking of you & the dilemma of facing such a decision. What you have achieved is amazing although there will be the obvious disappointment. I’m sure you will be returning to Bristol with such a collection of stories to tell of your adventure & I can’t wait to share them with you. Sandra x


  6. Elsa,
    I recently heard on the radio something that reminded me of you…It’s not the destination or how we get there, whether it be by car, plane, train (by rowing or tow! ;-)). Even the journey is secondary. It’s about the transformation that occurs in the person making the journey. That’s what it’s all about!

    Can’t wait to see you soon!


  7. Tough decision, you have got my deepest respect for your journey! Welk Done Elsa. Be proud!
    André Kiers, team uniting nations


  8. Elsa,
    You have done so well to row for so long and with broken oars as well.
    If a challenge wasn’t meant to be tough we’d all be doing them. You have certainly done everything you possibly could to beat the wild seas, winds and currents. You have managed every other problem you faced with tenacity and spirit, so you can leave the Pacific Ocean with your head held high, knowing you have raised loads of money for good causes and with amazing memories most of which we can only dream of. We will miss your blogs and we have enjoyed following your progress, but importantly I am glad you are safe and I think your Mum will be pleased to have you home too! Well done
    Andrea x


  9. Good to hear you’re safe and are saving Rowing to Antarctica for another time! (“Swimming to Antarctica” is a great read by open ocean swimmer Lynne Cox, perhaps a good book to curl up with while re-acclimating/hibernating once home.) It’s a momentous decision, and obviously a hard one, yet I hope you can see everyone is backing you up. Surely your feelings will be all over the map, for some time, and it’s to be expected. It must be very weird to be talking to other people face to face, and having to fit into their routine on board when you were captain of your own ship for so long in such trying conditions. This new phase of the journey will have its highs and lows, and is just as much a part of the journey. I’m still pulling for you all the way, and you’re just as admirable as ever. Enjoy sleeeeping too, if you can!


  10. The quote on my calendar for 29th July was “Ever tried. Ever fialed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett.
    I am sure you are very disappointed, but onward and upward you’ve had a great adventure, learned masses and are safe. I feared you might be heading to the Marquesas and was quite relieved to get your news.


  11. ” The fisherman know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore” – Van Gogh, letters.
    Dear Elsa, you are doubly a courageous fisherman – for starting in the first place, and then knowing when to stop. There was nothing else you could have done.
    With love,


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