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.

Smile and breathe

I don’t quite know what to write or how to write it. If you could see my face it would say it all at once. A massive ear to ear Outen grin and shining eyes, emotional with tears just sliding out from time to time.

The final 48 hours to land was huge and exhausting and very challenging. I didn’t sleep for 30 hours but just emptied the tank. Again and again. I didn’t see land until I was less than a mile off – through thick white fog. There was a point at around 6.30 in the morning where I wondered if we could make the final 4 miles in. My muscles had nothing left and the current was taking us away from the original landing waypoint. I sat in my cabin and cried and wondered what to do. With incoming rough weather I couldn’t carry on indefinitely. So close after so long… I drifted for an hour while I made hot food and warmed up and as the dark white turned to white white with day, we got back out there and pushed on to a different target down the coast. Into the now headwinds and into the fog, going only by GPS. Rowing into the bay in the fog and rain and wind now whipping across us, escort boat alongside was exhilarating. Relief. Emotion. Grins. People. Golly. We then fixed up a tow and ‘the boys’ towed us to the other side of the island, to Adak Port. Tony suggested I stay onboard – at first I thought that was a bit off telling me to stay alone – and then I saw why. Inside I could ring home, get dry and warm up and snuggle down for a snooze.

Then we were there.

Looking out I was rather overwhelmed. The mountains reminded me of Wales and Scotland. I felt at home. At peace. Happy Socks and Chimpy – stand down my friends, we’re here. And we rowed the final bit to a little jetty, waved in by some locals and hugged and hello’d. Such a warm and gentle re entry to land. Thank you Adak. Thank you team.

I am sitting in my pyjamas on perhaps the most delicious bed in the world (which is warm and dry and doesn’t move), wrapped in duvet, looking out to the mountains and across some buildings. There is a rooster saying hello to the world and a changing parade of moody clouds. Tony and James are pottering about with breakfast things downstairs amid banter and chat.

It is all rather surreal and has been for the last 48 hours. But wonderful too. Our welcome to Adak was so special. Surrounded by lush green mountains, to row those last strokes into a little port with some of the local community there to wave us in was very emotional. I sat in Happy Socks just out of the harbor for some minutes crying and laughing and not quite believing it all. That mix of tears and giggles and a flash show of memories has been happening for a few weeks as we get used to the idea of the end of this chapter.

 

All is going well with the re-entry process. I feel calm and happy and very well looked after by my team and very well supported and welcomed by the local community. Very relievd to report that the clinic gave me the all clear with the sugar test – Doc Caroline had been rather worried about this lately. Happy Socks comes out of the water today for a good clean and sort and Chimpy is now safely ashore too, resting up and chattering away about everything happily. The island is beautiful. Absolutely stunning. We went out to watch sea otters playing in the bay yesterday, and saw bald eagles messing about in the (very strong) winds. Seals watched us as we stood on the sand-blasted beach and all the while the mountains and sea and space just made me feel so deeply happy. There was a big storm yesterday so it just enforced how lucky we were to have that weather window stay open just long enough for me to get in – or I would still be waiting 100 miles offshore.

 

I am going to visit the school (of 27 pupils) on Thursday and give a community talk at the weekend before flying out on Sunday. Lucy booked her flights yesterday so T-1 week and we will be together again. Meanwhile, we will sort Happy Socks and some plans for next year’s return with the kayaks (which, by the way is going to be epic and beautiful).

Physically I am exahausted but calmed, although still wired at night so haven’t slept more than a few hours these last two nights. I am sore and walking is a bit wobbly at times and ears are aching from the balance thing , but know that things are settling. It is so reassuring to be well supported by my team and folks at home, and here on the island too. It has also been wonderful to read some of the messages of support – I will catch up with them once I have caught up with myself – and to see the charity donations rising.

Emotionally and psychologically I am relieved to be ashore safely and so happy to be in Alaska. A few people have asked if I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to Canada as originally intended. I just grin. Not a bit of it. Adventures are all about the journey and being open to what’s happening. To me it feels even better than the original plan. Alaska…. Next year’s onward journey will be fantastic and I am looking forwards to coming back to this wonderful place and learning more of its interesting past and present.

Thank you everyone for whatever part you have played in this chapter of L2L – supporting messages, charity donations, sponsor, local fixer etc…family, friends and team.

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On Dry Land

 

It’s now past midnight in Adak and the ‘boys’ are fast asleep. Sarah is catching up with friends and family but on her last reserves, desperate for some sleep. She thoroughly enjoyed her hot bath, home-cooked food and a fabulous welcome from the people of Adak. Work on Happy Socks will commence tomorrow while Sarah will have a quick medical checkup before getting to know the island and its community.

Photos below from the adventurous James Sebright.

More to follow but it may be a while as they all get their beauty sleep!

Mel (L2L team)

P.S. The counter on the home page is still ticking away merrily but should have stopped on 150 days. It will be stopped later today.

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Time for a rest

Happy news from Sarah and Happy Socks.

I’m so pleased and relieved to tell you that Sarah is putting her feet up in her cabin. She came within half a mile of land but the prevailing winds, swell and current were pushing her onto the rocks that circle the coves. Her support on the boat decided it was time for a tow, her safety being the main consideration as always.

If you follow the tracker it’s clear to see when the support boat met her and there were hugs all round as Sarah made human contact for the first time in 150 days. A bottle of Pol Roger champagne toasted the reunion. Now she will be towed in Happy Socks through the island passage to the harbour, a trip expected to last some 3-4 hours.

Sarah will return to this point in spring 2014 to continue her London 2 London (via the world) expedition by kayak.

Happy smiling faces from all at L2L.

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Rowing all the way!

Sarah’s got just 2.3 miles to go and is determined to make land herself (even if she has to swim the last few strokes!). In a complete whiteout with still no sight of land, she has a light wind and current against her so progress is painfully slow.

Soaked to the skin with icy cold waves that crash over her, she sounds amazing and is dreaming of that eagerly anticipated hot bath.

The support guys are a little way off, trying to settle their stomachs before joining her as she gets close to the southern shore of Adak. No easy beaches to land on here but plenty of sheltered coves.

With her rowing almost over (till the Atlantic of course), Sarah has asked me to make one final request for donations to her chosen charities. Any amount, however small, all makes a difference and can be done by clicking on the ‘Donate Now’ button on her home page. A huge “Thank You” to everyone who has already donated.

Waiting with the rest of you!

Mel

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4 miles to go – Row or Tow?

I’ve just spoken to Sarah as she sits in the night-time fog, trying to row the final 4 miles to Adak. Totally, exhausted but sounding incredibly cheerful as the end draws near. A real rollercoaster of emotions washing over her.

The support boat are nearby, having made contact over the VHF and they are waiting to see if Sarah can make the last few miles or needs a tow. The wind is not helpful so it will be difficult to get in under her own steam.

Tony and James are suffering from the bumpy seas and have moved away a little to find some calm! Let’s hope they get some time to recover before the final push for land.

Sarah hasn’t seen any land yet due to the cloud and fog but knows she is close and has seen some new birds, presumably from the islands.

This poster below has been put up on the island and brings it home how close she is now. I’m sure the people of Adak will give her an outstanding welcome.

Monday 23 September

TODAY

 

Sarah Outen is expected to arrive at the small boat harbour this afternoon having rowed solo and unassisted from Japan.

She will have been at sea 150 days and covered over 3,750 miles in her 21’ ocean rowing boat ‘Happy Socks’.

Sarah will become the first person ever to have crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Alaska in a rowing boat.

The community will have one hours’ notice prior to her arrival and all are invited to see her step ashore and welcome her to Adak.

Nearly there Sarah!

Mel (L2L project manager)

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