Day 22 at sea: In which we prepare to meet a monster and a rose


Flying the flag for Great Britain on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!

Gulliver and I are getting ready to take a beating. For the last week or so my weather router Lee has been monitoring the development and progress of Tropical Storm Mawar, which has formed off the Philippines. It is headed our way and due to hit us in a few days. From the evening of the 6th through the 7th Lee predicts we will have winds in excess of 50 knots i.e. 50 nautical miles an hour and more.

After the idyllic cruising of the last few days, in which we have zoomed along in the Kuroshio current without even lifting an oar and I have spent hours on deck chilling in the sunshine and resting, this week is going to be a monster. Yet, the irony is that the word Mawar in Indonesian means ‘rose’.

I have spent today preparing for it  – physically and mentally. I have been pulling extra food into the cabin, making extra water and tidying up and tying things down.  I flooded the ballast tanks again too, all the while talking to Gulliver and letting him know what’s ahead. Of course, you never quite know what will happen. Best case scenario, though rather unlikely, is that our rosy chum will wheel off elsewhere, avoid us and burn out without so much as a ‘How-do-you-do?’. Worst case scenario is that we get utterly mashed and become fish food, but instead of paying too much attention to that I have been using one of the tricks that Briony, my sports psychotherapist, taught me.

The idea is to acknowledge the full spectrum of scenarios but then pay attention to the most likely scenarios, and not waste energy worrying about the less-likely stuff. The most likely scenario is that I will be very uncomfortable, bored, scared, deafened somewhat by the noise and unable to sleep for the duration of the mad stuff, strapped to my bed being thrown about with every move that Gulliver makes. A capsize or few are also likely, I think, even though we will be on the sea anchor throughout. And I say this because the seas are going to be big, steep and confused as the wind clocks round and changes direction. But we already know that Gulliver is nifty in his self-righting so besides being shaken and no doubt queasy we fully plan to ride this beast out to the calmer stuff on the other side. Project Manager Sara sent me a note saying ‘One hour at a time.’ I corrected her. This will be about taking things one moment at a time. That said, I shall be reminding myself in every other moment that nothing lasts forever, and all storms will pass.

Best of British - even out on the ocean!

In other news… Gulliver and I held our very own Jubilee Sea Party on Saturday in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Do check out the 27th phonecast to hear what happened. Whizzing along in the Kuroshio has been wonderful – both for the wildlife which has visited (sunfish, albatross, whales and hundreds of dolphins) and also for the mileage – in the last 24 hours we ran 91 nautical miles.

All salty best from out here,

Sarah and Gulliver x

PS Three whole weeks since we pushed off from Choshi in the sunshine. Happy days.

PPS It is World Oceans’ Day on June 8th – get to the sea if you can and do something salty and blue!

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24 Responses to Day 22 at sea: In which we prepare to meet a monster and a rose

  1. murray ramage says:

    hey, i follow all your blogs, your doing superb!! hand in there, im sure gulliver will look after you!! x

  2. Fingers crossed for you; that Tropical Storm Mawar spares a thought for you out there Sarah.

    Hoping any damage is minimal to both Gulliver & yourself if big Rose does strike.

    First & foremost though that you keep safe & on course at the end of it.

    Shame you don’t have a Gopro to strap to the boat & film the storm.

    Keep safe


  3. Paul Henry says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Your bravery & courage is remarkable ! Hopefully this storm makes a small detour for you and let’s you sail on on a relatively hazard free journey.
    Keep us informed as much as you can, fascinating reading. ( easy for me to say sitting in a house in Northern Ireland)

    Best of luck


  4. john Globemasterone says:

    As I write this I am watching the Queen “live” at 2:50 pm London time reviewing a 1000 boat flotilla underway on the Themes….talk about “row boats”. So Sarah your two photos and your celebrations in the Pacific are very fitting for the Diamond Jubilee. I truly hope someone on your team will send note of it to Her Majesty ! Here’s hoping the bloom stays off “the rose” and Mawar shows some respect for the Queen of the Sea and Gulliver. 🙂
    john, Lake Ontario

  5. Hey Sarah,
    keeping my fingers crossed, but I’m sure you and Gulliver will be able to handle the comming challenge!
    Take care and avoid any risk, it’s amazing to read about your experience and helps me to prepare my first Ocean Rowing Plans!

  6. Aang (Greetings) Sarah, there are a few Unangax (ancient Aleut) sayings, beliefs, or customs which might provide you solace as you bravely face Mawar. The first is “The wind is not a river” which means that, sooner or later, the big winds will decrease. A second belief I will paraphrase, and it is basically that, regardless of the weather we are dealt (wind, rain, sunshine), we should appreciate, enjoy and admire. If you talk nicely about the weather, the weather will be good to you. And a third belief is, if you take good care of Gulliver, he will take good care of you. The ancient Unangax believe their iqyax (skin-on-skeleton) sea kayaks were alive with feelings, needs, and the clear capability to carry us through rough waters. Warm regards, Mike

  7. Shelagh says:

    I’ll be sending storm-calming thoughts westward to you and Gulliver and really hope it isn’t as rough as predicted. Stay safe.

  8. matt says:

    You’re an inspiration to us all Sarah. We’ll be thinking of you and Gulliver, let’s hope the you miss the worst of it. Good luck.

  9. Barry Gumbert says:

    I sure hope someone recorded the images I saw today of the Royal Barge. Very cool Just slightly bigger than Gulliver. They had lots of cool rowing boats as well. One was about an 8 man with a regal looking cabin on the back. I could spend a week in London and only look at boats. And maybe have a pint.

  10. SteveL says:

    Very good luck in the coming hours. A northern expression for you ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. As you say a moment at a time.

    Best Wishes Steve

  11. Barbara Crellin says:

    Hope Rose decides she doesnt want to meet you. Loving thoughts and prayers xxxx

  12. Jill Lewis says:

    you are amazing.
    lots of love’\
    Jill and Stan

  13. lesley says:

    dear sarah i am a christian and will pray for you every time i think of you please put on your personal alarm and please stay safe the indian ocean doesnt have storms like this maybe this is where you should be next ha ha and remember the ditty ROW ROW YOUR BOAT oh i m awful god bless you and guliver Lesley

  14. marthandan says:

    I am India and I pray to God that you will be safe from Mawar.Our prayer is for your safety.

  15. Ben says:

    Hi Sara,

    Good luck out there, here is to hoping that you don’t have to deal with the “most likely” scenario.

    I think it is absolutely amazing what you are doing, you are a brilliant example of human endeavor and spirit.

    I wish you and Gulliver well, and here is to hoping Lee brings good news.

    I will be thinking of you throughout.


  16. Ben says:

    Gah! Sarah, I meant Sarah. 🙂

    one more good luck… Good Luck!

  17. Bridget says:

    Good luck Sarah, hopefully the storm takes one look at Gulliver and turns the other way. LOL. Take care of yourself and Gulliver and am looking forward to your after the storm report……………………

  18. lynne says:

    fingers crossed its not too bad out their, will be keeping an avid watch on here to check your ok.
    go girl you will be fine. all your supporters are thinking of you, even those of us you dont know.

  19. Tony F says:

    Batten down the hatches! Braver girl than me, for sure.

  20. Dave Baldwin says:

    Louise & I are praying for your safety! You are a brave young woman.
    We are tracking the weather as well.
    Stay safe!


    Dave & Louise

  21. Rob Hart says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Praying for you with the rest.

    One thought I had was… “How are the Sea sores? You know, backside etc?” Hope they’re not bad. I o know you’ll be well prepared for them, maybe even to the point of managing to avoid them, especially as you’re not having to do to much rowing at the moment.

    Here in South Island, New Zealand we are gearing up for a Southerly blast with snow to low levels, brrrr.

    Rob Hart

  22. Terry Tupper says:

    Hi Sarah, I crossed the Pacific in my ‘Steppenwolf’ and weathered many big storms. I’m sure you’ll be okay in your thirty footer, you cannot beat FRP for material strength. The bigger the storm, the stronger it makes you in the future.
    Remember the three magic words a seamand taught me in New Zealand, “it will end”.


  23. peter booth says:

    Look on the bright side Sarah.As you say,the storm may veer away from you. I know how strong these storms can be.I was in Hong Kong many years ago when typhoon Mary hit us. We got through it though. Will say a prayer for you and hope it complely misses you. It is difficult to predict the exact path of a storm. So until the next time God Bless.Peter Nottingham.

  24. Always look on the bright Cider Rosie, Sarah.

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