Hairy Highs

 Sarah’s underarm hair should be pretty close to plaiting by now and, as I read through her daily blogs it brings back memories of my own hairy moments at sea!


There’s something about ocean rowing that leaves you fascinated by the weird and wonderful workings of your own body. Be it the abundance of scabby sores that spring up on arms and legs, bruises that blossom on hip bones and knees or even the donut shaped and surprisingly painful salt sores that festoon your fingers.

The inner workings of your bowels become a subject of daily chitchat, even if it’s only with the fish. As something orange (yes orange!) drifts off into the waves you’re more than a little amazed that you’ve managed to produce anything at all! The alarming lack of dietary fibre truly justifies the number of gastro-intestinal medicines required in the medical kit.


Being British we’re all a little squeamish about this kind of talk, certainly not in polite company anyway. But on a personal level the row helped me reconnect with my own body, a bit like spending a weekend dismantling a car engine before putting it all back together again. I was able to intimately discover how everything worked, or perhaps more importantly which bits didn’t! As the fat I’d so conscientiously stored began to melt away exposing ribs and angular hips, I began to appreciate how amazingly resilient and affective my body was. I gained a newfound respect for its ability to survive in the most inhospitable of conditions.


So now, as I find myself existing in a little bubble where everything fits neatly within my comfort zone, I feel a little pang of jealousy for Sarah’s adventure. She will return home probably a lot slimmer than when she left, but all the wiser to what she can achieve mentally and physically. It’s an incredible experience and the knowledge she will gain is wisdom many will never obtain.


So as you read about her adventure, and probably say to yourself “I would never do that in a million years!” think about booking out some time to go and dismantle your own engine, it’s amazing what you can discover. But however you choose to do it consider this, becoming a true survivor makes you strong, not pretty and any scars you gain should be worn with pride. Finally, if you do decide to try your hand at ocean rowing take the suppositories, you’re going to need them!


Sally Kettle

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5 Responses to Hairy Highs

  1. Nice little piece there Sally! Thanks for the insight into mind and body workings whilst at sea. Sarah’s blog has certainly inspired thought into us doing a row one day, but for now at least we are just content to help others achieve their rowing dreams.

    Sarah – you are doing awesomely, we still check you against the two pairs in the race and you are doing brilliantly – TOTAL RESPECT! I expect you know that when you get to Mauritius you are going to be very spoilt – and you whole heartly deserve it! Keep rowing and smiling, love the blogs, love Emily & Jamie x

  2. June Bibby & Sue Crowe says:

    We are amazed at your fortitude, Sarah, your stamina and stoicism when times are difficult – and you have certainly experienced many of those. Its good to know there are the good times -when you have “company” in and above the ocean and that you appreciate so much the glory of the sea and wonderful sunsets. We wish you ‘God Speed’ as you journey onwards. June and Sue

  3. Glo Pringle says:

    I guess you must get to know the workings of your mind pretty well, too, with no other company for that long. I don’t know if I could bear it, and I have so much admiration for Sarah and all you others like her – a tough breed!
    It’s good to know that there are still adventurers out there!
    Glo, Landlubber, Worcester
    (although I did drive over a bridge over a canal today!!!)

  4. peter says:

    Sarah – This voyage would have been a lot harder a decade or two ago – no ready access to communications. Could you have done it then?

    Btw, regardless of communications and high-tech navigational aids, what you are doing is so far beyond normal comprehension in any case. Amazing person.

  5. The things we wonder, but never talk about! Good thing you have all those Natracare organic cotton intimate wipes to keep you fresh Sarah! Susie and I are taking on a challenge ourselves in October. We are cycling 300km through the desert in Jordan raising funds to support the work of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Trust through Women for Women – not quite solo in the middle of the ocean, but I will be taking plenty of those Natracare wipes to compliment the toilet paper and matches stipulated!

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