‘From the minute I met Sarah, I knew she was a very special person with fire in her belly.She said she was going to row the Indian Ocean …and she did’
Dame Ellen MacArthur
Soloing the Indian Ocean (2009)
Australia to Mauritius : 124 days alone at sea
This ocean rowing lark is a bit niche market – more folks have climbed Everest than have rowed across oceans. Just two men had made successful solo crossings before I set out and, in a twelve strong fleet of an organised race in 2009, half the entrants retired. Only nine women have solo’d an ocean – and I was the youngest to do so at 2.4 decades, until 22 year old Katie Spotz solo’d the mid Atlantic in 2010. My crossing also makes me the first woman and youngest person to solo the Indian Ocean.
(see oceanrowing.com for statistics)
First there was a ‘Warm Up Lap’ in which I spent eleven days at sea, looping a massive 400 mile loop from Fremantle, Australia right back to Fremantle, Australia. The weather had conspired against me and the mighty Leeuwin current tested me. I started again on April 1st 2009. Failure isn’t failure if you learn some useful lessons.
It took me 124 days in my little custom-made rowing boat ‘Dippers’ to cover the 3,100 nauties (nautical miles) to Mauritius, arriving in time for tea on August 3rd after the most incredible adventures of my life. They were some of the most challenging times too, with mid ocean storms, capsizes, encounters with whales and a continuous bid to avoid squashing by container ships. I surfed with albatrosses, passed the time of day with my very own troupe of Pilot fish who escorted me across and was treated to incredible sunsets and sunrises.
Food was mostly very dull but 500 bars of chocolate kept me happy. I still lost 20 kg body weight.
While the shortest route to Mauritius is 3,100 nautical miles I clocked some 4,180 on the log – all thanks to some feisty currents, teasing winds and contrary weather.
They were happy days out there, feeling truly alive in the elements and at one with my surroundings. It confirmed my salty ambitions and made me yearn for more. It was during this Indian Ocean row that I dreamed up London2London:Via the World.
The tracker – where on earth was sarah?
The tracker used live satellite updates from Sarah’s boat to record her progress across the Indian Ocean between Australia and Mauritius. Click here: Sarah’s Google Earth tracker.