Sarah in Nelson the kayak
The most difficult journey undertaken by a woman
Intrepid Sarah Outen, 26, is embarking on a human powered loop of the world. She made her name as a lady adventurer in 2009 when she became the youngest person and first woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean. Now she is kayaking, cycling and rowing her way around the globe. The expedition is appropriately named London 2 London via the world.
It is an incredible journey of 20,000 miles paddled, pedalled and rowed. It will take two and a half years to complete and includes 11 months at sea.
Sarah left London on April 1st and crossed the channel by kayak. She then hopped on her bike and, a few thousand miles and just over two months later, was in Kazakhstan. She will cycle all the way across Asia before kayaking to Japan via the remote Russian island of Sakhalin. In Japan she will wait out the winter and then embark on her 5,000mile solo row of the Pacific in a small specially made boat named Gulliver. Only two men have ever rowed this route across the ocean before and Sarah will be the first woman to attempt it.
Sarah started her adventuring after the death of her father, and her Indian Ocean row was in part a tribute to him. She was convinced that whatever the ocean would throw at her would not be as difficult as coping with the death of her much loved Dad.
Depsite the seasickness, contrary currents and a couple of capsizes at the end of her Indian Ocean voyage Sarah discovered ‘adventures are more than worth the risk and that the reward is all in the journey’.
She even went so far as to begin planning her current expedition while looking at her satellite navigation system during the Indian Ocean voyage.
This expedition is billed as the most difficult journey ever undertaken by a woman and it is the first time that this precise route has been followed. The cycling legs hold dangers of being swept under the wheels of a truck and rowing oceans solo is fraught with all manner of potentially lethal hazards from running out of water to capsizing in a storm.
Sarah admitted that sometimes the thought of crossing the oceans scares her but she said ‘I try to put that in a box and think about it when it is useful’ but added that the most difficult part so far was getting to the start line: “Just getting to the start was a massive mission. Financially, logistically, physically, emotionally, the whole project was huge in those early stages.”
Sarah does have a support team in the UK to help with logistics, planning and public relations but on the road she has to be self sufficient, responsible for her own safety, navigation and finding the motivation to keep going.
She is also sticking rigidly to the human power element of the journey, recently taking a 40mile detour when she reached a river with a ferry crossing rather than a bridge.
She told me that: “Unless there is no other option I will be true to the spirit of human power.”
Travelling solo means Sarah has to be responsible for cheering herself up when things go wrong saying: “It is not always going to be easy either on an expedition or in real life. To keep everything moving along you have to get a smile back on your face.”
And Sarah hopes that if she can keep going, her journey might change the way other people act: “I hope it will inspire people to follow their dreams, make the most of now and never give up. I am raising money for some great charities, so I hope I inspire people to throw a few quid in the charity pot too!”
You can follow Sarah’s journey on her website sarahouten.com
London 2 London via the World is raising money for breast cancer charity Coppafeel! The Jubilee Sailing Trust, MND Association and Water Aid.
Lynn Morris with picture courtesy of Nigel Mallard.
Lynn Morris is Director of Atlantic Rising.