Day 134 – An awful tempest mashed the air

Last night I hung out with Emily for a while. My cousin J and I often talk about poems and books and, Emily Dickinson being a mutual favourite of our poets, she has become for us just ‘Emily’. What a woman.

For one who never saw the sea and spent most of her life shut away from the world, a recluse, her poems are blindingly astute. It was a happy couple of hours wrapped in my fleecy blankets, drinking hot chocolate and pulling out lines for my cabin wall and in my Logbook.

One line from a poem called ‘The Inevitable’ struck me as particularly apt for my present situation of being between two storms, noting ‘Tis harder knowing it is due, than knowing it is here’. Before we were through with our storm at the start of this week my weather router Lee had already told us of the next low, due on the 6th. Happily that has been pushed back to the 7th – small mercies. This means that as of tomorrow we will be treated to winds of 40-50 knots and some rather quick swinging of said winds as they rev themselves up, which will make for some rather confused sea states. This in turn makes capsizes even more likely.


We rolled once the other day and I was surprised we didn’t clock more moments upside down, though grateful. I was grateful too that the rudder was the only thing we lost – well, that and one of my knives on deck. I kicked myself for not having taken the rudder in ahead of the rough, though had decided beforehand that the then slightly subdued forecast conditions would be OK. Still, what’s done is done. And of all the things we could have had ripped away, the rudder impinges least on our safety, so we didn’t do too badly. And of course it means that at least we now don’t have a rudder to lose! (I am yet to discover exactly what it will mean for our steerage…)



I am currently waiting for the wind to change so that I can pull in the sea anchor and get some miles in. There is an 18 hour period where we can gain some all important North again. We have lost about 40 miles to the SE these last few days and with this incoming storm we stand to lose another sizeable chunk. With just 300 miles to go to Adak and a closing weather window, every mile is precious. There is another low pressure lining up to come and play on the 11th or thereabouts too, though I don’t know if that might help progress or hinder it. I only know that it will be a test of mind, body and boat to get through it.

Getting nippy up here...

Getting nippy up here…


It is an exhausting thing to lie strapped to your bed, often in a state of nervous anticipation (ok, sometimes outright fear), sleep-deprived, damp, alone and voluntarily half-starving and dehydrating yourself so as to avoid needing the loo. The other day felt like being mid fight after a few rounds with a boxer – tired already and being reminded that the minutes were ticking down until the next round. And then being reminded that in another couple of days there would be another big fight. And almost certainly more before safety and sleep await at the end of the road.

Smiling and rowing while we can

Smiling and rowing while we can

Chimpy again

Though I think fight is the wrong word. This is the ocean and nature is, and always has been, boss out here on elemental matters. There is no fighting between She and I. The only fight is with myself and Chimpy: to stay calm, to stay focussed, to stay as positive as possible and contain and corral the fear and negative chatter and remember, in the wilds of it, that all storms will pass, even the really grumpy ones.

Chimpy and me with our happy faces on

Chimpy and me with our happy faces on

And now to hot food – packing in the calories ahead of our time on the oars this afternoon and evening. It’s all about opportunities out here – row, eat, sleep, pee, wash, eat… – because from each few days to the next we have no idea what this beautiful crazy place will throw at us. We just hope that over the next few weeks we might be thrown enough opportunities to row it home to Alaska.

I still shiver with delight at that word. ALASKA! And then I reign Chimpy back in and remind ourselves that we still have a long row and probably many storms ahead. This next 300 are clearly going to be harder won than the last.

Thanks folks for all the lovely comments via the blog, Twitter etc. And thanks too for all the donations to our L2L charities. We have just 20 of the limited edition L2L Buffs left, so if you would like one, then get your £20 in to the donations page pronto!

All salty best,

Sarah, Happy Socks and Chimpy x

P.S: Had our second sealion visit of the journey last night. Crazy wee thing, all these miles from land…

P.P.S: Family Tuna didn’t stay to see out the storm. We are now recruiting for new fishy followers.

Replies to comments:

Jane: A sunfish jumping?! Cannot imagine one jumping. They are definitely in my Top 5 favourite fish list.

Bruce Ellen: Lots of contacts lining up, yes. Still a ways to go to get there yet!

Twin Katy: Chuckled at the cake story. Will email when chance.

Sarah Wilson: No quakes, just storms out here!

JETWAKE GLOBAL: Onwards logistics will depend on what is possible, but will likely involve Happy Socks being boated on to the mainland before on to Nova Scotia. Hopefully this season, or it may need to wait until the spring. Time will tell!  I will fly home and return to Adak in the spring with Justine to paddle eastwards to the mainland.



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13 Responses to Day 134 – An awful tempest mashed the air

  1. Valerie Hazan says:

    Good to see you smiling, Sarah. I wish you much strength for the next few days…lots of landlubbers sending you good vibes!

  2. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hi Sarah

    Keep in there, we are all behind you and the vibes will help you through, your writeups are wonderful making us all feel that we are with you.

    I am sure you will be raising a glass this Saturday so we will join you too, lets hope it won;t be too many days for the champers to flow for your properly. Have you got much chocolate left.

    Happy Rowing, have aksed the winds to be kind and be in the right direction for you so these last 300 miles will keep you safe as you speed on your way.

    Big Hug

    K & C

  3. Bruce Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah.
    Hang in there.
    From your tracks it appears that when you make a decision the weather decides to
    make a different tact [ very festerating ] but you will win in the end.
    What fish are still with you and have you hooked any more for the dinner table.

    Just remember KEEP ON ROWING.
    Cheers from sunny Queensland

  4. Gretchen Bishop says:

    Wow!! What a grand adventure! Go Sarah, we’re rooting for you. All the best with the storm.

  5. judy burdett says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Just caught up with your last few days and see things are toughening up a little – BUT – we all know that so are YOU! Your phonecasts and blogs are inspiring and give all your younger (and we oldies) followers a lot to think about, a real and a heroic adventure amongst all the dross and banality of virtual reality! You are just amazing!

    Storms will pass, Alaska beckons, Chimpy keeps smiling and you will reign supreme-just hang on in there and go for it!

  6. Karel says:

    try to talk to the winds they got to head your way again soon

  7. Stephen from Wisconsin says:

    Dear Sarah,
    the thanks should be heading your way. I definitely thank you. Your writing and stories are beyond delight. The choice of words seems ever so carefully thought, but it probably just comes to you like a steam train. Even what you don’t write about can be felt, sometimes by hints, sometimes by clear omission. What you experience, no job, no school, no army could even teach. The school of life is the hardest of all. And my hat to you for plowing through with the courage beyond all.

  8. Excellent photos Sarah. You look very happy with a beautiful smile. You are amazingly upbeat considering the conditions. I would not trade places. It is weird to think we can get out on the highway and crack off 300 miles in 4 hours time. Being tossed about would drive me mad. Glad to know you have such a wonderful support team. Wishing you better weather and winds that move you towards Adak!

  9. geoff says:

    hi Sarah, have been following with interest having just had my third successful crew do the indian ocean in Max Chaya. They did a record time as well. of course i take much of the credit in having told him when his water maker failed that i didn’t want him to spoil my perfect record of support for rowers to mauritius – i’m sure those were the inspiring words they needed:)

    also thinking of you as i’ve dined out on our story of you inviting me to cycle across canada and when I said i was concerned that i probably couldn’t keep up and also of bears, you said those were both the reasons you were inviting me!

    But thinking of you also as I came across the photo of you getting ready to leave Fremantle when you were loading the outboard motor on board. we thought it a great joke but someone actually remarked it was a very sensible precaution.

    humor can backfire that way. recently we invited people to a fundraiser for the future living trust which supports intellectually disabled when their parent/carers pass away, but for fun we announced they were launching an Americas Cup bid and the fundraising target was half a billion. caused a bit of a stir.

    But mostly i’m thinking of your lovely perspective that comes through in your blogs and thought it time to say Hi.


  10. Belinda Dade says:

    Sarah – you are so amazing! There are lots of us willing you on over these next 300 miles.
    I trust they have Mars bars in Alaska!

    Belinda x

  11. Sandy says:

    I really love reading about your adventure as you go along. I love the ocean, but can’t imagine being out there….I am amazed by all you are doing!! Nice to see your happy face. I hope the storms stay small. Stay safe!!

  12. Chris Nolan says:

    Keep those smiles coming!

  13. Julian Outen says:

    Hang on in there Sarah and stay safe.


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