Blog

Welcome to my blog, where I share all the stories from my L2L expedition as I row, cycle and kayak a continuous loop of the planet. I hope you'll enjoy experiencing the highs (and lows!) of my journey so far and the adventures ahead on my way back to Tower Bridge. You can also have a listen to my Phonecasts recorded en route.

Seashore soup etc.

 

Patrick, Justine and I on the shores of Loch Fyne

Patrick, Justine and I on the shores of Loch Fyne

Just before March rolled over and let April run into the picture, Justine, Lucy and I spent a very interesting and tasty weekend in Scotland learning to forage from the seashore, hone our fishing skills and create fire using traditional methods with flints, sticks and bows. We were learning from bushcraft and survival expert Patrick MacGlinchy of Backwoods Survival School, using the beautiful birch-lined shores of Loch Fyne, Argyll for our classroom. Mind, body, soul and stomach loved the weekend of fresh air and fresh food and that happy chase of flame or the perfectly whittled stick for this and that.

IMGP1177

Greens on the seashore and seaweeds will be good for minerals, vitamins and flavour

Having never done much fishing (in spite of my brothers’ best efforts) or really done much foraging beyond blackberrying in Autumn lanes, it felt like a window was opened into a whole new world, letting us glimpse the potential of nature’s larder. For Justine and I in the Aleutians Islands on our forthcoming paddle, the larder will be the sea and seashore as there won’t be much plant-life happening during the first months of the paddle. Hopefully, later on and further up the coast we will coincide with berrying season and other flowering plants which might make tasty additions to our food. And hopefully the bears will let us share their feasting!

A primal, satisfying sort of feeling to create fire without matches or lighters

A primal, satisfying sort of feeling to create fire without matches or lighters

Certainly in the first section, the additional calories and protein from fish and shelled edibles will be really important in supplementing our diet. It may even be a game changer if we run out of food before we reach the resupply points, but now with our trapping, spearing, line-setting and foraging skills, hopefully we shall enjoy sufficient fuel as we paddle.

IMGP0134

Cockles, clams, crabs, limpets, whelks, periwinkles, mussels and seaweed…

We will be taking out food to the start of the row and shipping some back down the islands (along with some of the charts, extras if this and that and my supplies of medication). From all her expedition paddling experience, Justine reckons we can carry three weeks’ of food in the kayaks with us.

Krissy the kayak

Krissy the kayak

I had my first paddles out in Krissy, my new 3-piece Rockpool Menai this week, and compared it to the piles of kit lying about the house as they get sorted, I am sure I will provide Justine with much entertainment  and myself much frustration as I try and make the numbers match and fit it all inside. There’s a definite bonus to the rowing legs of this journey – once the boat is packed you don’t need to unpack it, unless to eat it. For this kayaking leg ahead we will come ashore every night and do the daily pack and repack and unpack dance.

Meanwhile, in this moment as I write from Notts-based Alpkit , I watch another packing dance of sorts. Here, the stitching wizards are whizzing up some padded bags for us to transport the kayaks out to Alaska.

T-3 weeks until that happens. Gulp and woop and woop, all at once.  Justine and I are refreshing medical skills this week and getting some more paddling time together, including packing practice. Meanwhile, outside of the busy stuff, I am spending as much time as possible with Lucy, my fiancée. Let’s just say that being fianceed makes going away for months on end much harder than it was when I floated out under Tower Bridge on the start of this epic all those (3) years ago. I’m not moaning, just sharing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, that’s a lie. If Luce could come along too, then that would be really ace. Maybe some time she will. Watch this space.

Until the next one,

Sarah & Krissy the kayak x

P.S Thanks to all who came to the Stamford Arts Centre talk last week and donated to the charities

 P.P.S In other news, I tried out the Flat Earth sail on the kayak this last weekend, too. What a run! More on this and why we are taking a sail in another blog.

Posted in Blog | 12 Comments

My friend Kris

This post is to let you know about a documentary all about my friend Kris Hallenga airing on BBC 3 tomorrow (Wednesday 26th) at 9pm. If you do one thing this week, watch it: ‘Kris: Dying to Live’. Intro here.

Soon I am going to introduce you to a very special boat, named after a very special friend. For now I am going to remind  you of that special friend and why you all need to check her out.

My new kayak is called Krissy, named after Kris Hallenga – one of the most kick-ass and brilliant women I know. In fact cross out women and write people – she rocks right across the board. She is a great friend and wonderful human being in so many ways.

Ocean rower meets boob warrior – 2009

I met Kris in 2009 having contacted her after watching her win a Pride of Britain award one evening when I happened to walk through the living room where my Mum was watching the television.

Hearing Kris’ story of being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at 23 years old – exactly my age at that time – was shocking. To hear what she and her twin sister Maren and her pals had done in setting up a new charity to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women made me ‘Whoop whoop!’ and punch the air. To take such a positive and proactive path in the wake of such a huge and life-rocking discovery is incredible, but that is Kris all over. In her words, you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter.

2 years later - Departing Tower Bridge on L2L, fundraising for CoppaFeel!

2 years later – Departing Tower Bridge on L2L, fundraising for CoppaFeel!

Kris is a force of nature and a joyous, warm energy to be with. Ever since knowing her she has rocked my happy socks off, making me chuckle, helping me chew over life’s conundrums and sharing the ups and downs of our respective journeys, mostly over gin and cake and often involving daft singing and giant boob costumes. When people ask who inspires me, Kris is always one of my answers. For a lesson in living life to the max and rocking out every moment, in the moment, Kris’s blog is well worth a read. And for lessons in how to check your boobs, please check out the CoppaFeel! website.

This post is to let you all know about a documentary all about Kris airing on BBC 3 tomorrow (Wednesday 26th) at 9pm. If you do one thing this week, watch it: ‘Kris: Dying to Live’.

And if you are looking for something to do next week, come along to the CoppaFeel! lecture #2 on Wednesday 2nd April at the Browns Courtroom in London. I shall be speaking alongside Kris and psychologist Susan Quilliam on how positive thinking can lead you to great things. Tickets here.

For now, cheerios and don’t forget to check your boobs….

Sarah x

P.S Still some tickets left for this Thursday night’s talk at Stamford Arts Centre, 7.30 pm www.stamfordartscentre.com

P.P.P.S Thanks to new sponsor Marlec who joined the team recently and will be supplying a wind generator for Happy Socks.

P.P.P.S T-4 weeks until we fly to Alaska. Flights booked. Boosh!

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment

Stamford talk {Pacific 2.0} & Night of Adventure

Poster

{Pacific 2.0} 150 days – Alone on a wide, wide sea

March 27th | 7.30pm | Stamford Arts Centre

I am really looking forwards to giving this talk in Stamford later this month. As a Stamford High School girl, it feels a bit like a homecoming and the local audience is always great fun. I remember a ten year old in the audience last year who told everyone in the questions session that she was going to sail around the world one day. I look forward to hearing how her plans are coming along.

Tickets via: Stamford Arts Centre Box Office

Proceeds toward ongoing  expedition costs and a collection will be taken for my L2L charities (CoppaFeel!, MND Association, Jubilee Sailing Trust, WaterAid)

Night of Adventure | March 26th | 7pm

For the Londoners among you, there is another great event happening the day before March 26th  - one of the famed Night of Adventure series in aid of Hope and Homes for Children. I have been helping organise the fab lineup of speakers which, this time, are all women and include a brilliant range of ages and adventures. Tickets here.

NoA poster

Posted in Blog | 3 Comments

Chimpy of the surf

Team Aleutians 2014

It is just eight weeks until Justine and I fly to Alaska ready for the start of the Aleutians kayaking leg. Gulp. It’s an excited gulp mind you, and one that comes with a huge grin at the moment and a satisfied sigh, too. For it is only in these last couple of weeks that I have finally felt confident that I shall be healthy enough to shred some serious daily mileages in a kayak for a few months in the challenging conditions of the Bering Sea.  The pneumonia back in October and allergic efforts by my body to thwart plans challenged me right through the autumn and winter. I now feel  back on track physically and more like a Tigger than I have for months. The allergies are still there but they are manageable and my immune system finally seems to be doing useful things which is pleasing.

Happy paddler – healthier by the day

Across the pond

My recent two-week trip to the US and Canada was a great test of stamina and my immune system’s ability to cope with travel and hoards of people. It was also a great chance to connect up with sponsors and friends, meet interesting people, finally meet Canada and also get in some useful kayak training in one of my now favourite places in the world – the west coast of Vancouver Island.

A garden full of fun

Having never been especially happy about being upside down in boats or in surf since crash-landing onto the reef in Mauritius at the end of my Indian Ocean row in 2009, a  thrashing in the waves in my kayak back in January really knocked my confidence. It was starting to wind Chimpy up into a bit of a frenzy about the challenge of the Aleutians and all the potential surf landings ahead. Before heading out I was a bit daunted by Tofino and the reputation of the Pacific rollers roaring in across the bay. When we arrived on that rugged forested coast and saw and heard and felt the waves I was daunted some more. It was impressive to look at and I knew it was fun to slide along waves onto the beach and pick my way in and out of the surf; I just had to get Chimpy in on it.

This IS fun, remember Chimpy? (c) Erik Schorr

I’m happy to report that after a tentative first couple of days Chimpy and I loved it, especially after getting our hands on the sit-on-top kayak. Having nailed lots of useful hours in the waves, improving skills, pushing boundaries and letting Chimpy see that all is OK, I am really looking forwards to the Aleutians and happy to have made good progress in the surf. That’s a relief all round, for I find there’s nothing like a chattering Chimpy to hold you back from performing well in challenging situations.

Great paddling & great company out in Tofino

Time together on the west coast also provided Justine and I with a chance to chat about plans for the journey ahead, make lists and more lists of kit still left to order and the logistics of food resupplies. Since coming home I have picked this up and also started to look at onwards phases of biking and rowing too, which feels a bit surreal and mind-bogling at times. Pulling off a big expedition like L2L with all these linked phases makes for a huge mission across the board – logistically, financially, emotionally, physically. For a while lately it had all felt a bit much and I questioned whether it was all worth it. A run on the beach and some time sitting watching the waves and letting them become me, helped me find peace and remind me that the challenges of late and the painful thought of leaving my fiancee Lucy again are just hurdles to find a way round, not reasons to call it a day.

Nothing quite like sea time for calming the mind

I just want to end this post by giving a big Yeeeha and Hooray to everyone who is helping make it all happen. Family, friends at home and abroad, my team, my sponsors and everyone who supports through this blog. You rock and I cannot wait to share this next chapter with you. T-2 months until we fly. Tick tock, tick tock…

Until next time,

Sarah & Chimpy of the Surf x

P.S For those of you bemused as to who Chimpy is – check out my blog from the Pacific in 2013

P.P.S Thursday March 27th, Stamford Arts Centre – Join me for my talk *Pacific 2.0* Tickets here.

P.P.S I look forward to introducing you soon to the new 3-piece Rockpool kayak who will be my boat for the Aleutians. She is nearly ready and very sparkly.

P.P.P.S Welcome onboard to new sponsors Power Traveller and Ralph Martindale and Cewe

Posted in Blog | 13 Comments

Across the pond…

The UK is so wet right now that the blog title could be an apt description for getting across the garden to the garage – both are rather saturated with pooling water… Instead it refers to the flights I am to take across the Atlantic next week, a few miles above the ocean waves I shall row across next year with Happy Socks.

I shall be stateside, on both sides of the border (U.S.A and Canada), for two weeks for a mixture of speaking commitments and training. First, I shall be joining Iridium – one of my Major Sponsors –  at their annual conference in Texas to talk about my journey and how their satellite phones have helped me stay connected. They’ve been with me for some pretty big life moments….getting rescued, getting engaged and sharing the stories with school children around the world, live from the expedition.

Avoiding being boshed or squashed in the surf is key on a paddling trip...

Avoiding being boshed or squashed in the surf is key on a paddling trip…

From Texas I head North to Oregon and over the border to Vancouver. Finally, Canada, we shall meet – after both my attempts to row there… I am really looking forwards to sharing the London2London story and most of all I am excited about a week of surf kayaking on Vancouver Island. After a great bit of training in the surf up in North Wales at the beginning of the year, I am keen to improve my skills in the white stuff. After all, we are just T-3 months from heading back out to Adak, Alaska ready for a few months of gruelling kayaking.

Health-wise, I am still working towards full fitness and boosting my immune system. The effects of the pneumonia in the autumn and the allergies continue to challenge, but we are working with an immunologist to prepare for the remote journey ahead.

Public talks – Portland & Vancouver 

I shall be giving two public talks – one in Portland, Oregon on Feb 6th and one in Vancouver at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival on Feb 9th. All welcome to both talks – see below for info on tickets etc.

  • February 6th, Mission Theatre, Portland (OR) 7pm

Tickets & info: Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe

YouTube Preview Image

  • February 9th, The Cinematheque, Vancouver 7.30pm

Tickets & info: Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Thanks to everyone who came along to my recent talk in Oakham. For other East Midlanders, the next local one will be on March 27th at Stamford Arts Centre. Tickets here.

In other news, I look forwards to introducing you to the new L2L kayak next month…

Go well,

Sarah x

P.S Happy Socks is finally home on UK soil. Thanks to Mark3International, Coastal Transport and Greetham Valley for their support in this. She will undergo repairs & refit later this year.

Posted in Blog | 11 Comments