Mixed emotions in the Sarah Outen shore base. The last few days have seen great progress for Sarah. Even though she is just over 100 miles away from her starting point, her log reads over 200 miles. But, alas, not in the best direction. The Leeuwin Current has been doing its thing and Sarah has been unable to escape its grip, travelling south at speeds often reaching 3 knots. She is well on her way to Antarctica! So what do we do?!
She has been working hard. Many times a day she has tried to row sideways to the current and this has paid off in hard earned miles west. And the more west she gets the quicker she will get away from the current. Today was quite frustrating as you could see that she was trying all sorts of combinations and nothing seemed to be working. Motivation came from many sources, including experienced ocean rowers Roz Savage and Sally Kettle. They have both been on the phone with Sarah, helping her put her reality into context. It must be great for Sarah to listen to the wise words of two other people who can understand exactly what she’s going through. Girl Power!
But the really happy moment of the day came around lunch time when local sailor and Paralympic Gold Medallist Jamie Dunross sailed solo towards Sarah’s position. “You’ll never believe who just showed up! It’s Jamie! He’s come over to say hello!” – shouted a very happy rower on the phone. Jamie is a top sailor who is training for some pretty big trips, so this must have been an interesting exercise for him, especially as he described conditions as being quite tough, with large waves and strong head winds. This mid-ocean meeting lasted for about an hour and it must have been quite sureal for both of them! You just don’t show up for tea and biscuits mid-ocean like that!
As the day went by Sarah’s course only got worse, heading east of south on some occasions. We really needed a wind shift to help her get out west more. At one point there was not much more she could do, as she points out herself in a mid afternoon message;
JUST SHIPPED OARS. BEING BLOWN BACK FASTER THAN I CAN ROW. I CANT SEE WHAT ELSE TO DO.
So our rower has been sleeping all afternoon, and here we were thinking that she was doing some work! But this was a wise move, because if Sarah is to last the length of this Marathon, she has to be able to find the resolve to stop and rest as much as to get up and row. She has just woken up, the conditions are calmer and she will try to row a few hours now. Having said that, whilst on the phone, in what must have been a 10min session, 3 or 4 large waves broke over the boat. I could hear them loud and clear! And Sarah sounded cool about this! “Oh look, wow, that was a big one… big wave…. How cool is that! Cool Beans!” – This is a clear evolution in her state of mind compared to only 2 days ago when she would have been rather scared and sea sick. The human mind has a fantastic ability to just adapt. Sarah just sounded well rested and truly happy. Isn’t that great? Good on ya girl!
So, what’s the plan now, I hear you ask. Well, to just keep going. The wind will blow from the south and then south east for most of Friday and Saturday. This will help her get west. Good timing too because as she has come further south the current has weakened. All things considered she may be clear and heading west properly by Saturday night.
In the meantime this is me now signing out from the Royal Perth Yacht Club and Fremantle, Australia. My flight back home to Portugal leaves at sunrise.
On behalf of Sarah and her sponsors and supporters (you lot! :)) I would like to thank everyone in Australia for their energy, good vibes and sense of humor. A real family spirit has helped Sarah in many ways and everybody has been very kind and generous in not only their time and advice but endless logistical support. THANK YOU!!