Day 118 – Enticing, disenchanting, enslaving

‘And all the world lay calm and pinked’

And all the world lay calm and pinked

After downscaling my comms to messages and phonecalls in and out of the satphone this last week of cabin time, it was a joy to catch up on emails and messages of support yesterday when our long-lost friend the sun came back to play and allowed me to charge the batteries. I even did some happy tears reading the emails and comments – thanks folks.

One of the comments was a quote by Conrad and seemed to fit the amalgam of my moods quite perfectly:

‘Nothing is more enticing, disenchanting and enslaving than a life at sea’ J. Conrad

View  from the cabin on a wavy day on the sea anchor

View from the cabin on a wavy day on the sea anchor

Anyone listening to my phonecasts and reading my Tweets this last eight days will have seen how tough I found it at times, weather bound and cloud covered both physically and metaphorically, being pushed backwards and unable to row. I know I have talked about the demons many times before and how they have a habit of appearing in these backwards, cabin-bound moments and how I greet them each time and tame them into silence once more. It would be weird for them not to show up and start chattering really – looking at the numbers it is a massive distance still to run and our days and progress are continually being eroded by contrary weather. So, what can we do? Well, there’s only one thing to do: keep making the most of the opportunities to row, and rest and eat; do everything in our power to hold ground in said contrary winds and keep singing and dancing and delighting in the ridiculous and the beautiful. There are no guaranteed passages in a rowing boat on this ocean, and if I am to be granted a safe one to landfall, the stars need to be aligned and luck on our side.

Sunshine, breeze and clean pants – wahoooo!

Sunshine, breeze and clean pants – wahoooo!


Yesterday was one of those days of simple beauty and brilliance and I reminded myself just how lucky I am to be out here. The forecast wasn’t hopeful but, happily, the forecast isn’t always right, given our friend the weather’s propensity for fickleness. Instead of an anchor day as had been prophesied, the wind was a gentle S and all day, dropping to nothing by the evening and leaving us with silky seas and a sublime sunset which set fire to the water.  I rowed all day and washed and cooked food…it was wonderful.  I watched the moon set in the morning and the sun set in the evening as a giant moon rose on the opposite horizon. I then rowed on under its silvery light and the tented blue of a star-studded night, so bright that I could read  by it on deck. This morning I have seen the sunrise and moonset again – a reminder that all things go full circle and everything happens in it’s time, on nature’s terms.

…And I rowed by the light of the moon, the moon…

…And I rowed by the light of the moon, the moon…

I am just hoping that nature sees fit to let me in on her terms for a passage to Canada this year. And if not, then I have a stories and memories enough to fill my mind forever – I love this ocean life and all it throws at me and offers me, and I feel so damned lucky to be out here in all its dynamism and wildness. The chance to confront demons and further my bid to ‘know thyself’ is priceless too. The ocean always gives me time, space and circumstances to further awareness – of life, the universe and everything, including the inner workings of my mind and soul.

Humour will always be trump card.

Humour will always be trump card.

Meanwhile, we are on the anchor for at least a couple of days and can but hope that we get some westerlies again soon so that we can crack out some useful miles.

In other news, I am going to start manually pumping some water to top up supplies during clouded times where the solar panels become meaningless. Inspite of earlier pledges not to eat my fishy pals, I have become keen to try and catch a fish or two. Yesterday’s efforts went unrewarded but I shall keep trying.

All salty best,

Sarah & Happy Socks x

PS: Buffs will be sent out shortly to everyone who has donated £20 since Day 100. Still chance to get yours – just donate £20 here

Replies to comments:

Sarah: For more sunfish pics check out my last written blog ‘My neighbours are wild and I love it’. They are weird and wonderful beasts. Thanks for the Conrad quote.

Susan Scott-Ker: Still grinning out loud and ginning where appropriate. Will call soon.

Linda, Cambridge: Lots and lots of ships out here. I have noticed some 30 named ones on my plotter  – and they need to be within 15 miles or so to show up.

Richard Harris: Boat is certainly getting lighter as I consume food, but I will probably add extra water ballast later on to counter that effect. Too light and she will roll more easily. At the moment, the contrary winds are the biggest factor in determining progress.

Team Tony: I chuckled reading that! Hope you have someone to sing to you on watch.

Judy Burdett: I’ve read 20 books so far – everything from Crime and Punishment through Winnie the Pooh, Sophie’s Choice, East of Eden, Great Expectations, Tom Brown’s School Days, everything by Jane Austen to books on fishing and some by my adventure-touring contemporaries and sporting greats. Currently reading Wives and Daughters. The only one that didn’t enjoy but still got a lot out of was Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.

Deborah Powell: Ahoy Buckingham Road! Happy new term J


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14 Responses to Day 118 – Enticing, disenchanting, enslaving

  1. Sarah
    So nice to dip into your updates every now and then. Glad to see you’ve had a chance to get mundane things like laundry under control today. I know you’re a fan of happy socks but personally I’m a fan of spanking clean pants, they’re my happy socks.
    For some news from here I find myself living in Bristol again. It wasn’t part of my plan to end up back here but feels good. I’m living in a house in a place called The Yard, which is a series of eco self build houses with a nice community vibe. It’s all timber frames, huge windows and solar panels. I’m getting lots of good ideas for starting up a similar project in Argentina.
    Am working on One Born Every Minute at the moment and we’ll be up at the hospital filming births for 11 weeks non stop pretty soon. I’m sure it will be an eye opener! Nice show to do. Everyone seems to love it.
    Congratulations on your engagement. That is really great news.
    Will be praying for fair winds and epic sunrises for you.

    • Roz Savage says:

      Hey Margaret, welcome back!! Does this mean you’ll be having another “Farewell UK” party in due course?! Let me know how long you’re around for – would be great to meet up while you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. Roz x

  2. Man, that is a beautiful post about sea life – tempted to trade the Land Rover for a vessel! Never underestimate the vicarious joy and insight you are spreading – go well with the mission, following tightly X

  3. Chris Nolan says:

    Girl, you are such an inspiration! I know things might get tough and things will get you down, but everyone is cheering for you and I know you will be a success!!! Wish I could run into you when you hit North America!

  4. Karel says:

    Sarah i keep looking at the wind charts hoping the’ll be good for you,check out where the winds are good and try to get them

  5. Every morning at 7AM your update email arrives and I check the chart to see the progress, in whatever direction. Having ‘distantly’ followed your adventures since you started I must endorse a converstaion we had at the Adventure Show several years ago, you are breaking new ground and showing what can be done with a strong will, determination and belief in yourself. I can understand entirely the times when you have to deal with solitude and uncertainty, when physically tired and the mind is wandering, but clearly you have the fibre to cope. In addition to watching you, we, at Outposts Ltd were keeping a keen eye on Olly Hicks & Patrick Winterton’s ‘first’ paddling from the Shetlands to Norway, three weeks ago. Similar but shorter, nonetheless a feat of endurance. Endure Sarah, there are many watching and passively supporting.

  6. Linda, Cambridge says:

    Highs and lows – the essence of life. Your high day yesterday sounded superb and magical and must have more than compensated for the previous cloudy ones (literally and metaphorically!). I just love the way that the wonder and sheer beauty of nature can inspire such extremes of emotion – humbling and elating all at the same time.Couple of quotes I always try and keep in the back of my mind – ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’ (Goethe) ‘ There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. Happiness is a journey not a destination’ (Souza) – both of which seem to apply to your physical and mental journey. May the sun come out again soon and the winds go with you. And on the practical and mundane side, it must be wonderful to have clean pants!

  7. Roz Savage says:

    A beautifully written post, Sarah – thank you! Good to see your wonderful way with words has emerged unscathed from your cabin-bound days. Thanks for reminding me of the beauty, as well as the endless frustration, of ocean life. Now I’m a landlubber again I all too often forget to look up at the night sky to see what the moon is up to. Note to self to do so more often! Roz x

  8. Susie Hewson says:

    one is not amused…HRH Liz!

    That’s a lot of photoshop work you’ve had done Sarah….that or the weather is really wearing your skin. Beautiful sunset and moonrise pictures. Glad to hear happy tones again and keep rowing…xx

  9. Colin Angus says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Very nice update. Makes me miss my days on the open ocean.

    Julie, Leif and I have been cheering for you all the way. Nice work so far!!! Hey, have you thought of changing course to the Aleutian Islands instead of Vancouver Island? Looking at the weather forecast for the next week winds would be in your favour (assuming they are correct which they never are!) The nearest Aleutian Islands are 950 km from your present location. You’d have plenty of time to get there before the weather degrades. And then next year, it would be a skip and a hop to mainland North America, and a bike ride down to Vancouver Island. We’ll have an icy beer and a cup of hot tea waiting for you.

    Keep rowing with a smile!


  10. Bruce Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah
    Bit slow in catching up but glad to hear that you are on top of the dumps [ they get us all at sometime ]
    I think the blue moon is the one that accrues twice in the 1 month.
    The more I look at your progress it looks like that your heading NORTH TO ALASKA [ remember the words ]
    but the passage weather forecast looks like the winds are in your favour for next week.
    Why don’t you hook onto that big tuna and get him to tow you to Canada.
    Keep on rowing
    Don’t stop rowing
    Your gonna get there one day.

    Cheers and stay safe from sunny Queensland

  11. Robert Kellard says:

    Hi Sarah
    I’m in London lying in bed on a wet grey day reading A Dip in the Ocean and you’re out there doing more!
    I’m full of admiration for you, a brilliant brave and cheerful adventurer, and an inspiration.
    Wishing you well with positive energy and miles of smiles.

  12. says:

    Just starting reading your blogs, and following your progress closely. Great stuff and really inspiring.

    Best wishes from all at Faringdon Rotary Club

  13. TA says:

    Thanks for the update Sarah. Cheering you on from Newfoundland. I am also currently reading A Dip in the Ocean and love all the pictures you are able to send. Thanks for taking the time and energy to take us along on your incredible journeys.


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