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Via the World: Waiting for a window to cross the Pacific Ocean

Sarah Outen

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. She has already kayaked and cycled from London to Japan and in 2012 was thwarted in her attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean. Her journey has now recommenced and she will be blogging for The Independent all the way back to London…

P1000102 300x225 Via the World: Waiting for a window to cross the Pacific OceanI travelled out to Japan nearly three weeks ago, ahead of my bid to row solo across the Pacific from Japan to Canada. My boat Happy Socks followed shortly afterwards having taken nearly a month to get here by sea. I have spent this last week with one of my team from the UK preparing her, checking and testing and tweaking things to get us both ready for the launch.

Now all that is left to sort is the weather. I need a couple of days of clear weather, ideally a gentle breeze blowing from the west so that I can clear the Japanese coast safely. The storm that is currently howling outside would not be a good thing to encounter a day or two out from departure, for the risk of being blown back to shore (and let’s face it, crashing into a coastline isn’t a good thing) is too great. Besides, I will still be settling into life at sea in those early days, so the kinder the weather the better. And, while you can’t avoid the weather that befalls you at sea, your leaving date is the only thing you have a choice about, so it pays to make the right one.

Second time round

It feels good to be out here and focussing on getting ready. Up to that point of getting your hands on the boat again it can still feel somewhat abstract and disjointed. But now I have her afloat and all systems set up, the ocean feels imminent once more.

P1000094 300x225 Via the World: Waiting for a window to cross the Pacific OceanAt first it was quite emotional coming back to Choshi, the same port that I had departed from last year in my boat Gulliver, aborting the attempt after a month when we were suitably throttled and the boat damaged by a tropical storm. Gulliver was left at sea and deemed non-recoverable after the well-meaning Coast Guard took the GPS tracking beacon off the boat – so this somehow feels like a sort of closure and yet a reminder of that loss all at once. Odd times.

There have been a couple of moments where I have been really scared by memories of last year’s final storm, remembering very vividly what it was like to be harnessed onto the bed in my cabin capsizing, capsizing, capsizing and being thundered on by the waves. Each time it has happened, I have used the tricks that my psychotherapist Dr Briony Nicholls has taught me – to talk to myself as you would a child, reassuring myself that it is OK an to focus on surroundings that are real – the boats across the water, the sunshine in the sky, the feel of this or that. It breaks the cycle and my heart rate calms, and all is good again. I am glad that it is happening and that I am controlling it- the fear is useful but it needs managing and rationalising. After all, the Pacific is a mighty, untameable beast – so I need all the fear and rationale and grit to get me across it. That and a dollop of good fortune. Though for now I am just looking for a weather window.

Indy blogger Sarah Outen is a British ocean rower and adventurer. This Pacific rowing attempt is part of her London2London:Via the World mission, an expedition to loop the planet using human power – rowing, cycling and kayaking. She has already kayaked and cycled from London to Japan and in 2012 attempted this crossing but was thwarted by a tropical storm. Sarah dubs this recommencement of her journey as Chapter 2.

She is fundraising for CoppaFeel!, Jubilee Sailing Trust, MND Association and WaterAid.

Another of the expedition’s aims is to inspire and engage school children around the world through the website, visits and satellite link ups.

For more information on the expedition and aims see www.sarahouten.com. Twitter @SarahOuten

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