Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Karen Weekes Due to Complete Solo Atlantic Row

23rd February 2022

After a gruelling 80 days at sea, Dr Karen Weekes aims to land on a beach in Barbados on Thursday morning (Feb 24) and become the first Irish woman to have rowed solo across the Atlantic.

Weekes, a sports psychologist based in Kinvara, Co Galway, spoke of a “hard grind” against a north-easterly wind on Wednesday which was pushing her constantly south on her last 60 nautical miles in.

However, “patience is the key”, she said, adding she couldn’t wait to reach land again after 79 days and nights alone on the ocean with an average of four hours sleep.

Weekes has weathered many storms, a close encounter with a hammerhead shark, and completed several swims under her Rannoch 25 vessel “Millie” to clear the hull during her 3,000-mile solo transit.

She has witnessed spectacular meteor showers, been escorted by dolphins and curious dorade fish, and provided a refugee for exhausted storm petrels.

However, she said her main focus on approach to southern Barbados is to avoid shipping and to be mindful of coral reef.

Once she is in the vicinity of land, she will have completed the crossing – when she will also become the 20th woman to have rowed an ocean solo.

Weekes, who lectures at Munster Technological University, set out on December 6th last to row the 3,000 miles from Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria to Barbados.

She has already sailed the Atlantic twice, circumnavigated both Ireland and the Lofoten Islands off Norway in a kayak, and has cycled solo and unsupported 4,000 miles across Canada, through Alaska and the Yukon among other adventures

Along with Orla Knight, a physical education teacher at Castletroy College in Co Limerick, she cycled across North America from San Francisco to Washington DC.

Unlike other extreme challenges, a solo row allows no time for a break or a rest, she has pointed out.

Weekes is undertaking her row, after costs, for two charities, the Laura Lynn Foundation and the RNLI.

A welcoming party from Ireland which is in Barbados this week includes her campaign manager and Letterkenny IT lecturer, Suzanne Kennedy.

Kennedy said she expected Weekes would land early on Thursday into south-east Barbados, weather permitting. A welcome reception has been planned for her by Barbados Tourism in Bridgetown.

More details on her GoFundMe page and on her progress tracker are on her website here

Published in Coastal Rowing
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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