Hello everyone. My name is Ricardo Diniz and I have been working with Sarah for the past 18 months.
As many of you already know Sarah is now on her way, finally at sea, having departed early this morning at 05:55 Local Time from Fremantle, Australia. She is a bit busy just now, trying to gain some much needed sea room and tranquility so she has asked me to send you this message.
Already? Wasn’t Sarah going to leave next week?
The plan was to initiate a waiting period starting on the 10th March. During this time we would aim to have everything ready in 24h should we need to leave. The weather is the main factor here and numerous variables must be considered. Studying the weather closely, every 6 hours or so, we could see a potential weather windon developing for Wednesday the 18th, just after a low pressure system blows past south of Fremantle. But the 18th is a long way and such a distant forecast is not as accurate as one would wish. The guarantee was not really there. So we kept monitoring.
I arrived on site, from Portugal, on the 12th and immediately got dug in with some local knowledge. As Sarah’s weather man it gave me great confidence to listen to the generous advice of the enthusiastic sailors and yacht club members. Their quick facts and snippets of local trivia were filling in all the gaps that months of distant research had not. And we kept monitoring. Friday morning I awoke at 5am, still a bit confused with the new time zone but mainly because it had been a really windy night and I couldn’t wait to get online to learn what the weather was doing and why it had been so windy. Meteorology is a fascinating art. There are common global rules that one can go by. There are tonnes of archived facts and numbers from the past that you can study and then you can just look around and up and just smell the air. And something was telling me that we could be starting this voyage a lot sooner than expected.
The weather had shifted. Only ever so slightly, but it had shifted, enough to provide us with what was now shaping up as a really good weather window. By 7am I knew we could be leaving in the next 18 to 24h or so. I didn’t tell Sarah. She was relaxed and enjoying life like she does. I didn’t want to false alarm her with something so big, so imminent. We had media commitments that morning, namely with Paul Kane from Getty Images, the world’s biggest photo library and clearly people of good taste as they were very keen on getting some good photos of Sarah. This was useful for me as we towed her out of the marina and outside the shelter of the port, allowing me to observe the weather a litter closer. All the signs were there. We had gone directly from Code Red to Code Green. It was time to go and activate the ‘dream machine’ to get everything ready properly and fast. Really fast. But I had one last step before calling the weather window officially; Consult little Miss Rower, Sarah Outen herself. “The weather is looking quite good actually. How would you feel about leaving in the next 18 hours or so…?” – You know the big Sarah grin where everything lights up and even her hair seems to stand up straight? Well I got one of those. But she tried to look calm and composed. It was delightful to watch. “Yeah. Fine. Lets do it if you think its looking good.” And so, just like that, we had awoken to a far different morning than we had expected and Friday the 13th was about to become one of the most fantastic days any of us had ever had. Departure was agreed for 6am the next day.
As if by MAGIC!
There was a lot to do. Bits. Lots of bits. The list was intimidating and the day was being sticky. Things weren’t happening fast enough. I have been acting as a filter for Sarah, taking her calls and not saying yes to every single interview request. This girl needed peace of mind. She had done enough for her sponsors and press. Now it was time to focus on herself and the task ahead. Throughout the day more and more people showed up, friends of friends, all enthusiastic and available to work hard. The main list included removing everything off the boat, everything, sorting things as best as possible, leaving behind what we didn’t need, stowing all the food and if we had time I was very keen on doing a self righting test. This involves putting the boat upside down and seeing if it comes back up again. We expect it to but there is nothing like trying it out! The amount of gear was unbelievable and dwarfed the boat. We had to pack things sensibly and in a way that would keep the boat balanced. At one point there were 3 of us in the boat and 3 on the pontoon just sorting throug everything. And you know you can’t stop until it’s all done. So we didn’t. The self righting test was successful to our great delight and that done we started packing everything back onboard again. Sarah stayed in the office, dealing with last minute details and not resting or eating as much as I would have prefered. I had to let her be. This was her moment and as much as I really wanted her to switch off all I could do was get her off the boat and later sleep what must have been a very agitated 3 hours for her. She was about to embark on a trip into the vast depths of the Indian Ocean. But before all that, we both had private concerns about the first few hours, through buoys, shipping, reefs and islands. The weather window had shown itself as we had hoped and we could only hope that our calculations were correct and that the wind angles would hold and get Sarah safely away from the shore, as soon as possible. It was 4am. We were ready.
Sarah chose to sleep on here boat. It made sense to me. She was already on her way in her mind. I stayed up working on final details. There were still about 10 people around and things were being done fast. I was relaxed. It was all feeling good. It was going to be ok. I woke up Sarah to give her time to get ready with no rush what so ever. It’s important to enjoy these last few moments ashore. More people began to show up, including kayakers and press. At 05:50, still dark, Sarah Outen did a little running circle on the dock, hugged everyone present and said good bye. Still smiling she quickly set herself up and rowed away from the dock. The kayakers followed into the silence of the night. The wind was doing exactly what it was meant to do, pushing Sarah away from land fast, with a good bit of north in her course also. A small group followed on sailing yacht ‘Do It’, by kind invitation of the Zulsdorf family. We stayed close to Sarah for about 2 hours, before hoisting sail and getting back to shore. As soon as we arrived ashore we hoped on the Fremantle rescue boat and motored out at 30 knots to join Sarah again. But when we got to her estimated position she was not to be found anywhere. We looked for 20 minutes. The seas were large and confusing enough to hide her. After great effort we found her doing very well and managing good speeds in these conditions. In 4 hours she had covered over 10 miles. Not bad at all. We said our final good-bys and motored back against the increasing seas. She was really on her way and mother nature was helping out in style.
First few days
There are plenty of new things to adapt to, now that Sarah is out there alone. Her main concern will be getting away from land. In fact, she has just called me now (18:45) with a position that doesn’t make sense, concerned about a wind speed and direction that doesn’t appear anywhere on my charts. She says she is being blown back towards land. She is tired and this could generate insecurity and poor evaluation or decision making ability. And that’s just fine. The task ahead is huge. The first night at sea is always one of mixed feelings. Sarah now has to be born again, into the oceans and gradually switch off from earthly thoughts and emotions if she is to be happy alone at sea. I will stay in Fremantle until I am sure Sarah is totally clear of land and well on her way.
Go for it girl!