Day 83: Fizz & fins

The sort of day that makes you grin out loud.

The sort of day that makes you grin out loud.

Yesterday felt like it was going to be a great day just by seeing the blue sky when I woke up. Then I called home and joined in with some celebrating friends and cracked open my own bottle of fizz for breakfast, becoming happily tipsy under the morning sunshine. For the first time in about a week we had a 360 degree horizon and at it’s proper distance of a few miles away, rather than the fogged in version of 100 – 200 metres away that has wrapped us up recently. My world seemed huge once more and I lapped up the views, the blues, the calm and, to a degree, the warmth and lack of damp.

Tipsy after celebrating with friends over the phone.

Tipsy after celebrating with friends over the phone.


All creatures great and small

The pocket rocket of the sea birds.

The pocket rocket of the sea birds.

And it was a great day. We rowed (albeit slowly) in the right direction and from dawn to dusk it was full of birds of all shapes and sizes – from the tiny, frenetic storm petrels circling my boat and skipping across the glassy water, to the torpedo-shaped gadfly petrels hurtling about, the lonesome Arctic tern eyeing us from on high, through to my favourites of them all – the albies who glided majestically over the waves, soaring on whispers of wind invisible to anyone but the expert flier.

You think your driving is good?

You think your driving is good?

The calm gave perfect viewing into the planktic world too and I marvelled at the jellied things drifting and propelling themselves by. And of course my fish beneath the boat – they were all (five of them) busy wandering this way and that in all dimensions doing whatever fish do. I feel if only I looked more like a fish I could do a great fish impression, having studied their swimming and gawping and noseying so intently out here.


Cue the hottest part of the day. At this point I am struggling to stay focussed on the oars. Roasting hot and mind wandering, I manage only a few minutes of rowing at a time before thinking of other things to do or inventing things to check up on. The sea looked perfect for a swim and my muscles longed for cool so I looked over from my seat into the blue on my right to assess the situation …

Suddenly my biggest fish seemed to be metres bigger than normal: Team Happy Socks had just been joined by a shark. Right next to my boat, the silky smooth shape slid effortlessly beneath us. Grinning and gasping, I grabbed my Go Pro camera on a pole and plunged it underwater, hoping I wasn’t filming just the sea or just the boat or indeed that it had switched on properly. A few moments later and this beautiful creature was gliding back towards my camera for a look before hanging a left and dissolving silently into the blue once more. I have just played back the piece to camera which I recorded afterwards – I am grinning the hugest grin, giggling with excitement. Needless to say, I didn’t go for a swim. Though I did spend almost as much time gazing over the edge of the boat hoping for another moment with this king of the seas as I did pulling on the oars. I spent the rest of the day and night’s rowing, feasting on the encounter – far and away the most thrilling and touching of this year’s ocean journey so far. Privilege doesn’t even touch it  – I felt like the luckiest person on the planet to be so close to such a predator, one so threatened by fisheries and the Asian appetite for shark fin soup (arguably the most barbaric and inhumanely-acquired dish you could ever eat).

In which a shark joins team Happy Socks.

In which a shark joins team Happy Socks.


As I kept look out for more wildlife, it left me wondering at the countless creatures – little and large, gilled, shelled or flippered – who come and say hello without me even noticing. I wondered, too, at just what I would have done had I not seen the shark when I did and merrily dropped into the water, only to come face to face with it moments later. I think we all know – squeal and leap out. I love being on the ocean for that, glimpsing only a fraction of the secrets it holds. Most of all however, I wondered at whether my future children will have any chance of seeing wild sharks in the deep ocean. I sincerely hope so.

And with that, I am about to rock out a much-welcomed and not-at-all welcomed Anchor day. The rest it provides is very much appreciated (I have had 3 hours sleep in the last 24 in a bid to row as much as possible) though the backwards miles it belies are not.

Until next time,

Sarah, Happy Socks and our good friend The Shark x

PS: Thank you everyone for your kind words to Lucy and I. If I can persuade some others to talk – we may well bring you some titbits from the team on what it is like to be involved in such an expedition. As many of you alluded to – it is not easy being at home, and there is a lot of psychology involved.

Replies to comments:

Bruce Ellen: A few fish left now – but none of the Tweedles. This lot are not quite so curious, but company nonetheless. No greenflash yet…

Susie Hewson: I would want a whole packet of biscuits with my tea, not just one J

James Ogilvie: I am limited by bandwidth out here so av podcast will need to wait until the other side. Do check out my Twitpic feed (homepage and gallery) for latest photos. As for psych/emotion – absolutely. It is the biggest challenge of all.

Michael Livingstone: What lat and long are Shumagin islands? I can pick them out on my world map. Sadly I don’t think I can row there this time but would love to expedition to the Aleutians some day.

Ian: Fog at sea is the same as fog on land – caused by warm moist air flowing over cooler air or vice versa. There is lots of it about at these latitudes.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Day 83: Fizz & fins

  1. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hi Sarah

    Glad that you had a look before diving in the water, what a tremendous scene and more so to capture it too and so perfect. Its lovely to see the pictures, makes it really good for us. Keep up the good work. Do hope that you feel rested after your last anchor day, hope you don’t have too many of them though.

    All good wishes to you all for now

    C & K

  2. Jean Stangroom says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m not sure I would go in the water ever again after seeing the Shark,not a great water lover me !
    Enjoying your pod-casts and I am in awe of you.
    Stay safe.
    Jean from Norwich,Norfolk,England.

  3. Sarah Wilson says:

    Great pics! I’ve just finished loading up the interview I did with you this week – people can see it (and join a 7 Day Challenge!) at:

    I’ve interviewed lots of adventurers over the years, but this is the best ever! Your honesty and authenticity shine through. Also, I often interview people either before or after a big adventure, this time it was VERY cool to be able to get your thoughts in the midst of it all. Many thanks, Sarah W

  4. Tazzieval says:

    So glad you have fizz on board for those special moments. It is as important to feed emotions as much as the body.

  5. Gigi Walentiny says:

    Oh the photos!!! What a lovely way to end my day – thank you!!

    Good thing you paid attention to the old adage: Look before you leap!

    ~Gigi in Va. Beach

  6. James says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Just a wee note to say I’m loving your updates, and I’m going to miss them when we leave. Keep smiling, you’re gorgeous 🙂


  7. June Bibby says:

    Dear Sarah,
    I do admire your pluck. Your pod-casts really make your world ‘come to life’. You have a wonderful way
    with words.
    God Bless,

  8. Amy Bryant says:

    Amazing photos Sare! The water looks so beautiful, especially with the promise of all the life it holds beneath the surface. I can’t wait to see more underwater shots from your trip. How handsome that shark is!
    Hope the rest does you the power of good, and sets you up for another glorious day at the oars.
    You’re doing brilliantly x

  9. Bruce Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah.

    Your going backwards again [ are you just hanging around and enjoying the flat seas ].
    Glad you looked before you leaped.[ did you count the fish before and after the visit from Noaha ].
    Keep taking the photos as it is a surprise that there is so much life out there.

    And remember.
    Keep on rowing.
    Don’t stop rowing.
    Your gonna get there one day
    And then your gonna make a lotta people happy
    Just to here you say
    I DID IT.

    Stay safe, enjoy the fizz and take it easy.
    Cheers from sunny Queensland.

  10. Roz Savage says:

    What an amazing encounter! And even more amazing that you managed to get such a great photo of Mr Sharky McShark. I know from experience that underwater photography from a small tippy rowboat is no easy matter, with lots of photos of clear blue water to prove it!

    And thanks also for mentioning what we humans are doing to sharks. I’ve looked it up, and apparently we kill around 100 million of them. They kill about 8 of us. Fairly clear who is getting the worst side of that deal! If other readers want to find out more, there’s some good info on this website:

  11. Ray Girard says:

    I think I stared at that “grin out loud” photo above, for about 10 minutes. Being a sailor and live-aboard, I love that feeling when all shore disappears. Small thrills, eh? For me, the shark is the epitome of ‘cool’.

    Sail on, un-met friend,


  12. Clare says:

    A shark wow! That’s exciting.

    I love reading your updates – you are doing so well so keep rowing! Glad you have fizz on board.

    Clare xx

  13. BREMMA says:

    OMG, what an awesome encounter. Cant believe you caught that with a go pro. We cant even work that thing out when we are on land. Nice shot. We were just thinking, we are sitting in Victoria (Canada), where you are heading. It is so amazing here. You are going to love it if you get to stop in. What a chilled out city it is. Something to look forward to. Good luck out there. Forward thoughts going your way.

  14. Karel says:

    Thanks for sharing pictures and story ,great to see you moving in the right direction

  15. virgil l funderburk says:

    nice pictures, by looking at the satellite image, I must ask, are the currents taking you backwards? keep safe

  16. christina watts says:

    Oh WoW … that must have been quite something … the water so crystal clear and the power of that shot as the king of the seas visits Team Happy Socks … I can understand the privilege that you were receiving Sarah and so to us you share …

    I also love sharing the clarity of the ocean, it is amazingly blue – seemingly more so than any photo’s you have shown us before – even from the Indian …
    can feel the warmth and lack of damp as you say …
    must have been a wonderful day.

    lots of love

  17. Mark Clifton says:

    Upon the sea did one Sarah row,
    It was hot and into the water she would go,
    Into the deep she did spy,
    And said with a sigh,
    I will stay dry and let the shark upstage the show.

  18. Chris Nolan says:

    Great to see a big ol’ smile! Celebrate the accomplishments and don’t get down when you get knocked back a bit. You are doing an amazing journey and thanks for sharing with all of us!

  19. Well done, Sarah! You’re doing brilliantly!

    Lovely to hear about you and Lucy too.


  20. Gillian Hammersley says:

    Stunning write up as ever, I wait weekly for thr updates and such a good one this time, happy smiley you, drinking bubbly and making new friends as ever, big hugs sweetie we are all with you x x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *