Via the World: Solo across the North Pacific
British adventurer Sarah Outen is currently on a bid to loop the planet using human power – rowing, cycling and kayaking from London2London:Via the World. Having completed the first phase in 2011, Sarah is about to embark on a gruelling solo row across the North Pacific. She will be blogging for The Independent all the way back to London…
The next phase of my 2.5 year London2London:Via the World expedition is likely to be the most challenging of all. It is a solo row across the North Pacific, from Japan to Canada. It is about 4,500 nautical miles land to land. I leave in a few days time, pushing out from the coast and the friends I have made here, with little chance of seeing another person until I land on the opposite coast some five months or so later.
Ocean rowing is a simple concept. You take a small boat, fill it with dried food (watch the first video below) and supplies and all the spares you can think of, push off from land and keep rowing until you reach the other side. Being such a tiny craft, you are subject to a degree of help and hindrance from both winds and currents, meaning that the ocean rower’s route is not a very direct or efficient one, especially when going it alone. I fully expect my route across the waves to look like some bad knitting and see me row far more than 4,500 nautical miles as I make up for those days when I am booted backwards towards the coast in contrary winds or cheeky currents.
My boat Gulliver is a step away from the norm in that he is a ‘he’ rather than the traditional ‘she’. He is an improved version of my Indian Ocean boat ‘Dippers’ that I used to cross from Australia to Mauritius in 2009 (watch the video below) – a bit longer for added storage as the Pacific is a longer crossing, more solar panels to combat a lack of power on cloudy days and with various internal modifications. One such amendment is to my sleeping cabin at the back of the boat – a small tent-sized space where I can strap myself onto the mattress to stay safe in rough seas and where I shall spend most of my hours when I am not out on deck rowing.
The forward cabin is for storage – food, kit, spares and more spares and more food. I have to be completely self sufficient out there. I have satellite phone links out to my team for advice and support but physically I will be alone.
Alone that is, except for the wildlife I am likely to meet on the way. Migrating whales that will slide under Gulliver’s hull out of curiosity, smaller fish who will slipstream with us for shelter and, I hope, a shark or two in search of a belly scratch on the hull. The stars and the sunsets and sunrises and moonrises out there will be sublime – I cannot wait. It is those moments which will make the scary and the tough stuff even more golden. I anticipate that after a week or so I shall have left the shackles of land behind and be fully oceanic once more – mind and body in tune with the rhythm of the waves.
As the weather and energy changes, so too will my day and rowing shifts. It is all about endurance – I need to stay happy and healthy to stay the course. No racing, just surviving and enjoying the adventure, sharing the stories as I go. At times it will be blissful and at others it will be grueling. I will be exhausted physically and mentally, especially on those rough, wet days when I may as well be rowing in a washing machine, and those days when I have stayed up all night on the look out for ships. On average I reckon I will row 8 – 12 hours a day, snacking throughout and generally following a day and night routine so that my body can dry out and decompress a bit.
I am excited about the journey ahead and slowly signing out from land life. One week to go until I go on standby. The ocean is calling. I am almost ready to go.
My expedition is not all about adventure. It is also about sharing the benefits and inspiring people to do more. If you would like me to call into your school classroom for a live chat from the ocean email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to support my mission to raise £100K for CoppaFeel!, MNDA, Jubilee Sailing Trust, and WaterAid , then please donate online here.Tagged in: adventurer, exporer, Via the World
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