Alone in the Pacific: one girl's solo adventure

We catch up with Sarah Outen, who is looping the world from London to London via human power.
Half the of journey is knowing where you are. © Courtesy Sarah Outen
By Tarquin Cooper

How's the Pacific – peaceful?
There are peaceful moments, but I am certainly being challenged with the full menu of ocean weathers and conditions. I’ve had quite a few 40 knot gales already, three capsizes and plenty of wind from the wrong direction. I basically spent all of June going round in circles. But I am happy and making progress.

Your goal?
To loop the planet from London to London using human power; sharing the stories on the way and raising money for four great charities.

Still feel like a good idea where you are right now?
Definitely. Though falling in love during my nine months at home last year after the storm has definitely changed my perspective on life and big expeditions. I miss my girlfriend lots and can’t wait to see her again. The tough days out here are really tough, and at times that can really dint my confidence – but with perspective and humour, I keep on keeping on. I feel so lucky to be out here for a second shot on the Pacific. 

Sarah Outen trains before the big trip. © Courtesy Sarah Outen

Still shaken from last year's journey-ending storm?
I capsized over 20 times during last year’s row-ending storm and waited nearly two days for a rescue – all really frightening. It took five months to get over the trauma of it and the associated psychological fall out. During rough weather when I am strapped into my bunk in my cabin, I am sometimes transported back to last year’s final storm, but I have learned some good techniques for controlling my responses. We have capsized three times on this voyage so far and each has been pretty scary. But it’s always going to be – it’s just not a nice thing to roll a boat thousands of miles out to sea, all on your lonesome!

Are you brave, mad or have a very bad short-term memory?

I am stubborn and determined to finish what I set out to do.

What’s the motivation?
 I love adventure. I love journeying under my own steam, the perspective that offers and the close encounters with wildlife. When I planned this journey I wanted all of that and to be able to make it a shared journey. But the heart of it, the driver, is that I love it. I feel very lucky to be living the dream.

Sarah Outen departs from Japan. © Courtesy Sarah Outen

What's your next meal?
I am currently not rowing due to adverse winds and currents – I can’t compete with them so need to wait for a break in the weather. So I am trying not to eat too much, saving my calories for when I get back to the oars. My cabin diet for the last few days has been seeds, chocolate and sprouting lentils.

What do you say to yourself when you go to bed? 

I always try and end the day on ‘Good Things About Today’, putting everything in perspective and hopefully framing it positively.

Wait a minute... you probably don't have a bed do you?
Haha! My mattress is no wider than my shoulders and my toes hang off the end. A real bed and fresh sheets on the other side will be soooo sweet.

When do you expect to land? 
If luck is on my side, I hope to make land between the end of October and the end of November. There are no guarantees out here though — one day at a time.


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