Update from Simpson’s Donkey-

Sad news today from the Tasman Sea where Axe and Luke have been battling the elements since Saturday night when they left Eden, New South Wales to attempt their crossing to New Zealand…

Speaking via Satellite phone this morning, Axe said that after a rather brutal capsize on Tuesday, both he and Luke have decided that it is not safe to continue and they’ve made the decision to turn Simpson’s Donkey around and head back to Australia.

The capsize, according to Axe, came via a rather large wave which threatened to pitch-pole the boat. Pitch-poling is a worst case scenario when the boat is tipped end-over-end rather than a normal, vanilla-flavoured capsize which tips the boat over sideways.

The event underlined just how fickle luck is on the Tasman… and how much of that luck is needed to cross it.

“Luckily the boat tipped sideways at the last possible moment,” said Axe. “Because Luke was on deck at the time and it would have been very dangerous if we’d pitch-poled with him outside on deck.”

While the capsize is not unexpected – Axe is now a veteran of numerous capsizes after two previous attempts at crossing the Tasman in Simpson’s Donkey – Axe did say that he’d hoped that by having two people aboard, that they could avoid capsizes.

This, he said, was because with two people on board, they’d be able to have someone on deck 24 hours a day steering the boat with the swell to avoid tipping over.

However this doesn’t seem to have worked and it’s become apparent that while Simpson’s Donkey is a fantastic craft in the more predictable Atlantic Ocean, it struggles in the swirling, temperamental and unpredictable Tasman.

And so with still so far to go and without the confidence that both Axe and Luke will be safe, the decision has been made to turn back before something much worse happens.

“We’re a bit shaken, but it could have been much worse and we both feel that to continue would be possibly pushing the limits of acceptable risk in this boat and in these seas.”

Axe also mentioned that Luke, who has previously crossed the Atlantic in a similar rowing boat, has commented that the Tasman Sea is a much wilder and dangerous beast than what he had experienced on the Atlantic.

So now you will notice by looking at the GPS tracker that Axe and Luke have turned the boat around and are currently working overtime to get the boat into position for a predicted change of winds that will push them back towards the Australian mainland.

And over the next few days the guys are going to row as hard as they can to make it back to safety without having to abandon the boat out there.

Despite the bad news, “spirits are high on board,” Axe says. “So please let everyone know we’re fine and not injured in any way – this decision has been made simply for safety reasons.”

“It is a very wild place we’re in at the moment and I feel very privileged to be able to see it and experience it. Last night we were rowing all night without any moon and it was pitch-black with clouds and rain and strong winds tossing us about everywhere.”

“It was an extremely eery feeling – It feels like we’re at the end of the earth and any wrong move can have serious consequences, so we’re doing all we can to stay safe and get back home in one piece.”

Messages of support have a great effect in situations like these, so if you’ve got some positive words to say, please do leave them below and we’ll pass them on.

Stay tuned for more updates.

And in the meantime – check out the guys’ progress on the GPS tracker here – https://axeoneverest.maprogress.com/rowingfromhometohome

Posted on November 15, 2018, in Rowing Home. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Sir Ed Hilary always said you’re not successful climbing a mountain until you come back alive…


  2. Better to stay safe and alive than to take unnecessary chances.


  3. Get home safely fellas – sounds like a very sensible decision. Looking forward to seeing you on dry land soon.


  4. Thank you Axe for keeping us updated and inspired, going to share with everyone at OFFSEAS! Pitchpoling sounds terrifying, is it a bit like flying over the handlebars on a bike when the front wheel jams? Stay safe, paddle hard and see you when you get back to Singapore!


  5. Grant and Luke,

    You guys are truly remarkable adventurers.
    A tough but correct decision to head back to Aus.
    Your friends and family are looking forward to your safe return.


  6. Mother Nature can be brutal.. respect for making the decision you have.. it would have been so bloody tough!
    Listening to that innerself and staying safe is to be admired. A true raw life skill..
    She ( MN) will let you across..when she is ready.. stay safe the both of you..
    From Red..


  7. Axe & Luke, you guys are amazing for taking this on and even moreso for your decision making. No doubt from the above you are making the best decision for all your fans, friends, your selves and most importantly your families.Your planning, execution, tenacity and responsibility is a huge lesson to all of us. Massive respect and wishing you godspeed home!


  8. Glad to know you are OK guys and all is well. Knowing Grant, this will just be a blip and the final goal will still be reached one day!


  9. I looked at the map before I read this and thought the wind/current must have changed for you to be heading in that direction!
    Sounds like you’re making all the right decisions but not getting any luck.
    Safe trip back and regroup.


  10. Looking at the satellite maps in the last few days I thought of you guys and felt some concern for your safety, as I imagined it could’ve been a cauldron out there. Just get back to the mainland of Aus safely OK? Massive respect for your wisdom, and your indomitable spirit guys….


  11. Axe! Your tenacity is unbelievable, and very much an inspiration. We know you won’t give up the dream. Nature has its own plan and time for you. Praying that you and Luke get home safely.


  12. Top decision making guys. Turning back and staying safe must be such a difficult decision to have made, but to my mind, that’s what true professionals do – make the tough choices when they count. Row hard, stay safe and save the Donkey. You’re absolute winners in my book.


  13. Axe and Luke, good news to hear that you are safe. Godspeed aboard Simpson Donkey back to dry land.


  14. A tough decision way out there, guys, but the right one. it is hard to imagine how you both feel and for you Axe, surely a huge disappointment to get so near to completing your goal. Getting back to Eden in itself will be daunting but with your tenacity and considered judgement of any situation, will get you home, if not dry. Think not of failure but of glory in the attempts – Nature chooses its victors, and survivors humbly acquiesce to its power. If there is to be a ‘next time’,
    you will have earned the right of safe passage. Godspeed. I hurt with you.


  15. Glad you guys are safe. Tough decision to make I’m sure, but, a wise one. Mother Nature is both Friend and Foe. See you guys soon. Hemi


  16. A tough decision, that I am sure. Safe passage back… and a cold beer when you get there.

    It has been on heck of an adventure to read about…. I cannot imagine what it has been to live it.

    Hats off to you.


  17. Sorry to hear that it’s so dangerous but very glad to see that you are coming back without injury.
    Looking forward to seeing you.
    Punch and lib


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