Via The World: Early on I questioned why on earth I had come back to this place that nearly cost me my life
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…
I am now a good solid few hundred miles out to sea, settling in to my new life after twelve days out here. It is always a bit of a culture shock – physically and emotionally – to start or finish an ocean voyage, particularly one where you are all alone and have oars instead of an engine. My world is now a strange juxtoposition of living aboard this tiny capsule of a boat, often confined to my cabin which is no bigger than the space beneath your dining room table – and the vast dimensions of the sea and sky.
I haven’t physically seen another person since I waved goodbye to the crew of my escort boat who followed me out for the first couple of miles from shore, though I have seen perhaps twenty ships and spoken to the Captains of a few of them. I am literally a tiny island miles and miles out to sea, visited by passing wildlife. So far the spotting list has been bird-heavy, stacked with albatrosses who soar low over the waves, banking over the boat to eye me up. With wings the width of my boat, they are an awesome sight, flying best in the strong winds. I saw my first whales the other morning, on a perfectly still and silent sea. First it was the booming sound of something breaching that made me look westwards, until my eyes saw a silver torpedo body launching from the water and thumping over and over. I thought of physics lessons and the one about light travelling faster than sound as I watched and then heard the whale repeat itself. Next I noticed whales much closer to the boat, just a few hundred metres away and recognised the forward point spray of a sperm whale’s blow as she floated at the surface. I say she as I then spotted a pint-sized version, a calf and then it turned into a group – perhaps two Mums out and their young.
And this is why I make these journeys – it is the wildlife that does it for me. I have had my fair share of rough stuff already – in my first week I spent nearly half the time inside the cabin using my sea anchor in adverse seas – and early on questioned why on earth I had come back to this place that nearly cost me my life last year in that final storm. And then the rough passes, and I settle into it once more, and I remember that this place makes me feel alive, alert and aware of all that is around it. Challenging me and rewarding me and letting me taste emotions and depths of my character that no other place on earth can do – it is a privilege to be out here.
Progress has been good so far and I am happy with how the boat and myself are performing. It’s a long old way to Vancouver and many unknowns lie ahead, but for now, we are rocking it and glad to be back.
Sarah is hoping to raise over £100,000 for her four chosen charities CoppaFeel!, The Jubilee Sailing Trust, The MND Association and WaterAid. You can find out more about these charities, why Sarah chose them and how to donate here:
@SarahOutenTagged in: Adventure, Via the World
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