Treks Exploring The Great Outdoors

‘Ocean girl’ is rowing solo across Pacific Ocean

British adventurer Sarah Outen is on a 20,000-mile-plus human-powered expedition from London to London; lots of paddling and capsizing

profile of boat and her

Somewhere in the North Pacific Ocean, Sarah Outen is rowing, by herself.

The British adventurer is in a one-person boat rowing from Japan to Canada as part of a longer journey called London2London, a 20,000-mile-plus route that makes a continuous loop around the Northern Hemisphere.

“I am an ocean girl at heart,” she told Explorers Web in an at-sea interview posted Thursday. “I love being so close to the water and living to the rhythms of the wild. The energy out there is magic and the dynamics are so exciting. There are so many beautiful things about being alone on the ocean–the wildlife is my favorite part.”

The voyage, the mission of which is to raise money for charity and break records along the way, is not all on water, of course.

map of sarah's trip

During the 2 1/2-year human-powered expedition, Outen will cycle 16,000 miles, row solo across 7,500 nautical miles of ocean, and kayak 300 nautical miles on a trip that started at Tower Bridge on the Thames River in London and will end at the Tower Bridge.

Hopefully.

Her first try at crossing the Pacific ended nearly a year ago when Tropical Storm Mawar struck, damaging her boat Gulliver and forcing her to be rescued by the Japan Coast Guard.

After nine months of mentally preparing and building a better boat, Outen set off from Japan again on April 27. Thursday was her 34th day at sea, having rowed 1,096 miles. She has 3,307 miles more to cover until she hits Vancouver, British Columbia, in October.

cycling

After that, she plans to rest four to six weeks before cycling across Canada to Nova Scotia, a destination she hopes to reach by spring 2014. A solo row across the Atlantic will follow another rest period. The plan is to reach the U.K. in fall 2014.

The expedition began on April 1, 2011. By kayak, Outen traveled down the Thames and across the English Channel to France, accompanied by a sea kayaking teammate. Outen cycled more than 10,000 miles through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and the Far East of Russia. She paddled and cycled 1,000 miles to Japan via the remote island of Sakhalin.

On May 13, 2012, Outen set off rowing. After 25 days at sea, the tropical storm hit and interrupted her journey. As a result of that experience, Outen prepared for her second try at crossing the Pacific with a boat that can take a tumble.

“So long as all hatches are closed and the cabins are watertight, she will roll back round very quickly,” Outen wrote on her Facebook page about the new boat, Happy Socks.

Apparently, Happy Socks is performing well.

On Tuesday, Outen wrote: “Hell hath no fury like an ocean scorned … She is one crazy beast today. Waves all over the place. Rain hammering like bullets on the cabin. At least Happy Socks will come out cleaner than she went in!”

cockpit of sarah's boat

On Wednesday: “Capsized! Scary in dark. Happy Socks doing fine job. Smile and breathe … All storms will pass … hurry it up please!”

Outen said in a phonecast Thursday that she capsized just before midnight, saying “it was just a frightening experience and not very nice at all.”

With heart racing and blood pressure rising, Outen rode out the weather, Happy Socks performing admirably in turning upright.

“Today has been a better day,” she said.

Unfortunately, Outen anticipates many more capsizes to come. At least this time her boat appears up for the challenge.

Sarah’s trip by the numbers

  • 2 solo ocean rows
  • 3 continents by bike
  • 300 nautical miles by kayak
  • 20,000 miles
  • 850 days away
  • 14 countries
  • Up to 11 months at sea alone
  • A few world records
  • 1 little tent
  • 6,000 calories a day
  • Adventures galore
  • Thousands of children inspired
  • Thousands raised for charities

 Photos and map from Sarah Outen’s “London-2-London via the World” Expedition Facebook page and website