Via the World: From the Kuroshiocurrent to capsizing
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 has just embarked on a grueling solo row across the North Pacific. She will be blogging for The Independent all the way back to London. Here her team brings us the latest news…
Following a couple of weeks of horrendous weather in Japan, British adventurer, Sarah Outen set off at 7.06am (Japanese time) on Sunday, May 13, on what is expected to be one of the most grueling parts of her London2London: Via the World expedition – her solo row across the North Pacific Ocean.
The sun was shining as she left Choshi Marina in her 7m long rowing boat, Gulliver. And as Japan disappears from her view, it was quite amazing to think that the next time she will see land will be in about six months time as Vancouver, Canada looms on the horizon.
Sarah’s first main goal on the ocean was to reach the Kuroshiocurrent that would help her on her way. She rowed continuously on the first day and right through the night, with only a few hours sleep to get there in good time, which she did. Having rowed some 70 nautical miles in the first 36 hours, she was tired and her hands covered in blisters, so she decided to allow herself some down time to enjoy the advantageous pull of the current.
But as she wasn’t quite in the safe centre of the current, things didn’t stay rosy for long. The wind picked up dramatically, the waves grew and just two days into the row she tweeted (@SarahOuten) that she had capsized. Gulliver thankfully has a sophisticated self-righting system, that had been checked and doubled checked before the departure and soon after the first tweet Sarah confirmed that he had come round very quickly. But no matter how fast this happens, there is always that terrifying split second when she will have been wondering whether Gulliver will be able to do his stuff. Sarah was already in the cabin when the wave hit – far safer here than out on deck, but she had not had a chance to strap herself in. She was thrown around inside the cabin as the boat rolled. But in true Sarah fashion, she described herself as ‘shaken not stirred’.
As her land based support team, we have to monitor Sarah’s progress every step of the way and we are on hand 24/7 to offer help and support. But despite the rigorous safety plans in place, we are, at times, acutely aware of how limited we are when it comes to getting her out of danger – we are after all, thousands of miles away and she is in the middle of the ocean. But thanks to Sarah’s sophisticated suite of communications equipment that includes a GPS tracking system and a sat phone that allows her to not only phone, text message and email but to also post live phonecasts on her website, we can stay in regular contact and have an up to the minute understanding of not only where she is but how she’s feeling.
While the physical demands of such a journey are undoubtedly great, it is the mental battles that will prove the hardest for Sarah. Indeed, she went from the elation of reaching the current one minute to being tumbled by waves and capsizing the next. The key is preparation and having the mental strength to deal with whatever is thrown your way, despite being completely on your own. Sarah has done a huge amount of work on how to handle the mental side of being on your own for such a long period of time and in such harsh conditions, and this has clearly already stood her in good stead to succeed on this row.
There is no doubt that you have to celebrate the triumphs, no matter how small, but one thing’s for sure, the ocean will never let you forget who’s really in charge out there.
You can hear Sarah’s latest phonecasts from the ocean – including one that describes how she capsized by clicking here.
Sarah is raising money for four charities – CoppaFeel! Jubilee Sailing Trust, MNDA and WaterAid. To donate go to the charity page of her website please visit: http://www.sarahouten.com/charity/Tagged in: explorer, rowing, Via the World
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