Sarah’s answers

Here are Sarah’s answers to some of the questions sent to her. There are regular new answers, so come back again soon:

06.06.12: Q: ‘Have you been poorly on your journey?’ From Faye Boden

Yes, a few times germs I have picked up along the way have made me poorly. I had food poisoning in the Czech Republic and had to take a full day off cycling, confined to a small hotel. I was wiped out for a few days afterwards. In Kazakhstan and China I had a dodgy tummy on a few occasions but I never had to take a day off because of it – I just kept  nibbling and drinking to stay fuelled up as much as possible.

I am always really careful about keeping clean and making sure my food and water is as safe as possible. It isn’t always easy as food options can be limited and not everyone has the same hygiene standards. But I always make sure I use soap and water to wash my hands before eating and sterlise my water if I am uncertain about how clean it is.

The other problem came when I picked up a skin infection in China, caused by all the long hours of riding in sweaty, dusty clothing. Luckily I carry antibiotics in my medical kit so it cleared it up quite quickly.

01.06.12: Q: How do you feel being on your own all day long? From Sian Firkins

Hello Sian,

Thanks for your question. Being on my own is both very wonderful and a bit tricky at times. I like the challenge of being alone – it means I have to work really hard and be responsible for everything that happens. I also like the wuiet time to think and the way that I am more aware of what is happening around me. But…the other side of that is the tricky bits. Sometimes it can get really frightening out here and I know that having another person around would make it seem less scary. I love chatting too, so I do miss not having people to chat and laugh with. Still, I can call people and email friends if I want, so most of the time I am quite happy being alone.

Some of the kit I have on board Gulliver to stay in touch with friends and family

30.05.12: Q: Has Sarah seen any extraordinary animals? From Polly Stops, Stamford Junior School

Hello Polly,

The wildlife so far has been even more spectacular than on my Indian Ocean journey. I feel very lucky to have seen some very extraordinary creatures – all much better at living at sea than I am!

Releasing a Petrel from the boat - one of the other birds I have seen while out on the Ocean

From teeny tiny plankton floating in the water, to barnacles covering a discarded fishing buoy, alabtrosses with wingspans as wide as I am tall it has been fantastic to observe. On the fishy front, I have seen dorado jumping out of the water, sharks slicing through the water aned investigating my boat, dolphins bouncing and leaping along the horizon and, perhaps my favourite of all so far, whales. On a calm day the first thing you know about a whale is the blow. “PPRRRRRRF!” The other day I watched a sperm whale – perhaps fifteen metres long (nearly as long as the school swimming pool) resting at the surface before diving deep down on a fishing trip. They love to munch squid and I have read that they can dive to over 3000 metres deep. So yes, I have seen lots of extraordinary creatures so far.

One of my squid chums!

Say hello to Stamford for me,

Sarah

28/05/12: Q: What sort of drink do you have on your rowing boat? From Sian Firkins

If you think about all the liquid you drink during one day and then add up how much you would drink in a week, you can see that six months at sea equals a lot of drink for me! It would be tricky to fit that much water onto a rowing boat, so instead I have a very clever piece of equipment which makes the water for me.  It is called a desalination machine (or watermaker) – and it takes the salt out of seawater, cleans it to remove any germs and leaves me with fresh water to drink.

The machine uses an electric motor to drive the pump. The electricity comes from two big waterproof batteries which are stored on my boat and powered by  solar panels on the cabins.

I have some different things to add to the water too – energy powders, squash, tea and lemons. Tucked away for treats and as an easy source of energy I have some fizzy drinks too and a special bottle of champagne for my birthday.

Me and Gulliver with all the kit we take with us!

24/5/12: Q: How do you intend to cope with the ‘North Pacific Gyre’ which has produced the North Pacific Garbage Patch?  How do you think it will affect your progress?  And do you have any way of monitoring its strength and location? From Mr Brewster’s Geography class

Hello Mr Brewster’s Geography Class,

Great to hear from you – I hope that summer in Stamford is treating you well.

My understanding is that the ocean gyres represent the prevailing action of the currents in any given ocean. As such they affect the ocean rower’s initial planning i.e which way shall I cross this ocean? It would be daft to try and row  against that prevailing action. So far so good- the North Pacific gyre is in the right place for me to row from Japan to Canada, aidded very much by that prevailing rotation.

My weather router Lee looks in detail at  satellite charts of local ocean currents to help guide me across. At the moment I am tapping into the east flowing strength of the Kuroshio current where possible. It runs up the east coast of Japan and out to sea for about 1700 miles, snaking its way across the ocean surface. It is useful at times and not so at others! Those charts are produced using sea surface temperature observations – much of it done from space. They are some pretty funky charts if you google them.

In terms of the garbage patch, I don’t yet know what it will hold in store for me. My understanding is that for the most part, it is the tiny pieces of plastic which get pushed together in certain areas and form a sort of soup – and very rarely do you get clustered areas of large debris on the surface. So for the most part, I don’t think the debris will affect my progress too much.

It is a sad fact that there is heaps of plastic out here – daily I spot bags, bottles and bits of unidentified stuff floating past my boat either on top of the water or suspended in it. Multiply that up from the tiny little line that I am rowing across and it is a whole lot of plastic soup out here. Maybe we should rename it the Plastic Ocean?

 

21/5/12:  Q:  Which is your favourite way to travel  – Nelson the kayak, Hercules the bike or Gulliver the rowing boat? From Alice Cross

Thanks Alice. Ooh, this is a tricky question because I love all of ‘ my boys’ for different reasons. Being on Hercules the bike means I can meet people as I pedal and whizz down hills at super speeds and mostly I sleep in a different place every night. Because I can’t carry too much luggage, I travel light and that’s wonderful to know that I have all the things I might possibly need in a few small bags.

Hercules and I set up camp in China

Yet I love Nelson the kayak because I am so close to the water and can be face to face with wildlife very easily.  Because he is quite small and I can row in all sorts of conditions and pull up onto shallow beaches, it means I can visit remote places. The downside of being in Nelson the kayak is that going to the loo is tricky, especially on long crossings where I might be stuck in the boat for 12 hours at a time. You can’t stand up in those boats or get out for a quick walk!

I love being out on Gulliver the rowing boat because it means I am far out to sea in a very exciting world. It feels like I become a different person out there – a sea creature, perhaps – in tune with the weather and the changing energies. I like the fact that if I want a quick snooze I just have to step into my cabin – whereas for the kayaking and biking sections I have to find somewhere safe to sleep.

21/5/12:  Q:  What made you want to travel around the world? From William Peacey

A very popular question – check out my response to Michael below!

14/5/12:  Q: What inspired you to go around the world? From Michael Levy

This is a popular question, Michael and has come in a lot from a few different people – so here’s what I said, when Jenna Davies first asked it back in 2011:

I really love looking at where I have travelled on maps and globes – and I find it very satisfying when I can trace with my finger the route of a journey I have made. When I was rowing across the Indian Ocean in 2009 and thinking about how far around the world I had travelled in my little boat in those four months, I wondered what it would be like to travel all the way around the whole thing. I knew that I really loved being at sea and making big journeys out there, but I didn’t know too much about long journeys on land.

Map of the journey from London to Japan before setting off on the North Pacific Row

So, I decided that I would make my round-the-world journey by land and sea, taking in the green and the blue bits to get me from London back to London. I love wildlife, too, so this is a perfect way for me to learn about lots of new environments and animals.

Then you might wonder why I am I doing it with a bike and boats and not by taking planes or cars, which we all know would be heaps quicker. Well, I think that human-powered travel (where a person, rather than a machine, is the engine) is super cool for lots of reasons.

Why human powered travel is super cool

1.      You go slowly and quietly. I think this is cool because it means you see lots of wildlife, which you wouldn’t if you were racing along in a car or a boat. Lots of wild creatures will come closer to a bike or a small boat, too, because they are curious and unafraid. The same goes for people – on land I have met lots of people whom I wouldn’t have met if I were in a car.

2.      It is really satisfying. At the end of a day I feel all warm looking at my map and seeing how far I have travelled and overcoming the daily challenges is super satisfying.

3.      It is really challenging.  I love challenging myself and not quite knowing if or how I will succeed, so this round the world journey is a perfect test. Every day there are new challenges.

4.      It is clean and green. There is no pollution or exhaust fumes from a bike, rowing boat or kayak so human powered travel is a very environmentally friendly way to travel.  I make sure I dispose of my rubbish sensibly too.

Let us know if you have any other ideas on why you think human-powered travel is super cool and also which is your favourite form of human-powered travel. Maybe it is  a space hopper or a skateboard, or your own two feet, or swimming or cartwheeling… 

12/5/2012: Q: Where is the most beautiful place you have ever seen?  From Junko, Japan

One of my favourite places on my journey was the Russian island of Sakhalin

What a tricky question, Junko!  I have so many wonderful memories of gorgeous places and moments from my journey so far. Some real standouts for me would be the area around Big Almaty Lake in the mountains of south eastern Kazakhstan – I was there on a bright day last summer, enjoying the fresh cool air at 3000 metres and the stunning blue of the glacier lake. Another favourite for me was the island of Sakhalin, in the far east of Russia. It was wild and rugged and remote, with few people or any sign of them and plenty of wildlife. After the bustle and noise and pollution of China just a few weeks before, the peace and quiet of Sakhalin was a welcome contrast.

5/5/2012: Q: ‘What are the chances of running into the debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami making its way to North America? Will it be difficult to row through?’ From Wendy

The tsunami which struck the east coast of Japan in March 2011 washed millions of tonnes of debris out to sea – motor vehicles, boats, containers, homes, timber… all sorts. Recent media articles have charted the arrival of certain items on the west coast of North America and Canada. A football washed up in Alaska and a motorbike in Canada, as well as an empty fishing boat further down the coast, carried across by the ocean currents. The Japanese number plate of the bike and the writing on the football identified them as having come from coastal areas affected by the tsunami. I will certainly see debris and floating pollution out at sea – there is so much of it in the ocean – though whether it will be debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan is hard to guess. It will depend on what has sunk, how it has spread out and how much is left in the water column.

There is a chance that there are patches of aggregated debris on the surface, in which case it could be dangerous to row through – but I think the chances of this are slim as I imagine that large patches are easily dispersed in rough weather. My only concern will be if I collide with any of it in rough weather or surf – to have a container or empty boat thrown onto mine could ruin the project or even kill me. Timber is a concern too, as it floats and a tree trunk hurled onto Gulliver would be horrific.

Had I been rowing last year, I would have been much more worried as the debris would have been much closer to shore still. That said, had I been aiming to row last year, it could have been a very different story altogether. There is nothing I can do about it nor can I take any real measures to avoid it – I just have to hope for the best.

 25/4/2012 Q: ‘How do you sleep on a rowing boat?’ Matt from Texas

Sometimes it can be tricky to sleep if the weather is rough and I am alert with adrenaline, but mostly after a hard day at the oars my mind and body are tired and ready for bed. There are two cabins on my boat – one at either end of the deck. The front cabin is for storage and the back cabin is my bedroom. There is a small mattress in the floor – just about as long as I am tall and just as wide as my shoulders.

A waterproof cabin, a racing car harness and an albatross

This is where I sleep, with a waterproof sleeping bag and a soft albatross (called Alberto). I have a harness too, which I can strap myself into if the weather is due to get rough. I couple this up with a helmet to protect my brain cells and hope for the best.

When I am sleeping the boat goes wherever the wind or currents take us – so I set the rudder just before I go to bed, in the hope that it helps us stay as near to our course as possible. If the wind is from an unhelpful direction I use a sea anchor to slow down our drift. This is a large parachute on a long line which I tie to the front of the boat. The chute sinks below the surface and expands in the water – creating drag and resistance which slows the boat down and hopefully means that I am not too far from my intended course in the morning!

I tend to sleep in patterns of a few hours sleeping, a few awake and a few more asleep – waking regularly to check the weather and for shipping.

26/3/2012 Q: ‘I cannot believe you are going across the Pacific Ocean. It is so dangerous. Please tell me: how you are going to do it?”  From Tomoyasu, Japan

 

Rowing Gulliver while training off the Japanese coast

 

I shall be rowing across the Pacific in a 7 metre boat called Gulliver.  There is a cabin at one end of the boat for me to sleep in, another at the opposite end for storage and inbetween is a small deck,  where I row.

This is my sleeping cabin. I also have a harness so that I can strap myself on to the mattress in rough weather.

Below deck there is lots of storage space in watertight lockers – and it is in here that I store everything I might possibly need for the ocean. Food, equipment, medical kit, clothes, suncream, cameras, safety gear, spares and repair kits… There are no shops out there in the middle and no islands on my route so everything has to come onboard. The boat will probably be over 1000kg when I set out from Choshi, Japan in April.

For water I have a special machine which squeezes the salt out of the seawater and produced fresh water. It is called a desalination unit. This is powered by two big batteries which are charged by solar panels. My cameras and other electrical equipment are also charged in this way.

 

14/3/2012: ‘What motivates you?’ from Miss Flanagan’s class, Wisbech Grammar School

Motivation… A great question and sometimes a tricky one to implement. I am motivated to do what I do for a number of reasons – mainly a love of the  challenges (physical and mental) that expeditioning presents and in search of new perspectives and exciting experiences. When my father died suddenly six years ago I realised just how short life is and how you never know what is around the corner – all of the above, coupled with this realisation, drives me. Sharing my stories adds an extra layer of positivity to my experience – it’s not just my journey – and I know other people enjoy following or schools benefit from linking in to their learning.

The motivation question most people are most interested in is about how  I keep motivated when things are tough and  throughout pursuit of such a huge goal. Firstly, it’s important to say that it is not always easy to keep buoyant and there are deeply low times when I battle to get back on track. I have various ‘tools’ which I call to mind or rely on when things are tough. Food, rest and sleep can be a big motivator when things are  really pressured – I set myself little goals of completing a certain time or distance and then reward myself. I sometimes do the same with contact to home or friends, too – using a treat or something I really enjoy as the carrot on a stick.

I sometimes battle for hours and days with negative thoughts about obstacles – some useful and relevant and others not. The most important thing I have learned is not to fight them – just to let those negative bits have their time and space and acknowledge them and try and figure out a way to move on. I often have to set myself small goals – little indicators of progress which I know will boost my confidence and energy when I meet them. It can be super tough but ultimately I know that I am the only person who can get me back to London and to the ultimate completion of my goals. I have a remote support team and I rely on them hugely, but in the thick of the action or the lowest of lows, it is all down to me and whatever energy I can summon. Motivation has to come from within.

29/2/2012  Q: ‘Which charger do you use to recharge the batteries in all of your electrical equipment?’ By Jamie Sykes

 

Charging equipment on the ocean can be a real challenge

Power can be a real challenge. It can be tricky keeping everything charged up and I have to prioritise which bits of equipment should get juiced up. On the ocean, the water maker is my top priority, followed by the satellite phone as I am completely alone out there.

While cycling, one of my favourite bits of kit is the dynamo charger for my front light – renewable, instant power means I always have a bright light for night riding and tunnels.

Unfortunately my solar panel broke quite early on in Europe, so for the rest of the cycle and kayaking legs I had to charge bits of equipment wherever I had an opportunity, like a cafe or petrol station. Where possible I used a multi-purpose charger, to save space. Some batteries prefer their own specialist unit though so I still have to carry lots of different chargers.

Out on the ocean I use solar panels to power two big batteries, which I use to power everything on the boat. I use multipurpose chargers where possible and I carry spares of most chargers – as there is no alternative to pick up a replacement if one becomes damaged out on the ocean!

19/2/2012 Q: ‘What is the most surprising event on your trip?’ From Yukie, Japan

I love adventures because they are full of surprises. There is no script and that is brilliant. The most surprising thing to happen to me so far was Gao. He is a Chinese man of 22 years old and, after meeting me just ten minutes before in a petrol station, Gao asked me if he could join me on the road to Beijing. I was only a few days into China so there were 4000km to the capital city. He didn’t even have a bike and had never cycled more than 10km before. But… in his favour,  he seemed determined and had the right attitude so I decided to give him a chance. I am so glad I did for he became a great friend and we had a wonderful adventure together. It took us 35 days to reach Beijing.

Gao - the biggest surprise of the journey

23/1/2012 Q: ‘Where do you sleep when you are biking and kayaking ?’ From Dan Brady, aged 9

Anywhere and everywhere – I have slept in some weird and wonderful places on my expedition so far (London to Tokyo by bike and kayak). From mountaintops to beaches, roadsides and dusty deserts, poo-filled tunnels, forests, marshes, farmer’s fields, dried-up lakes and river banks, lake shores and open grassy plains. Mostly I have slept in my little green tent, although in the desert in China I slept under the stars and in Japan I often slept under little wooden picnic pagodas. Wild camping – as far away from people and traffic and buildings as I can possibly get – is great.  The trick is to pull away from the road unseen and blend in with the landscape, hiding yourself from curious eyes.

Morning in a Polish forest

It doesn’t always work – in China one morning I was woken up by someone unzipping my tent at 5am to see who or what I was. In Kazakhstan I was also woken up by some inquisitive locals at dawn.

These children in Kazakhstan loved helping me put up my tent outside their house.

Some of my favourite camping spots were on the beach in Russia – wild, remote places where bears had left footprints in the sand and there was no one to be seen. The sunsets were beautiful and there was plenty of drift wood for a  roaring campfire.

A green tent is good camouflage for wild camping.

Sleeping in a road tunnel in China was a low point – there were piles of human poo everywhere. I kept waking myself up to make sure I didn’t roll over. There was another time in Russia where I woke up to find a small stream running under my tent!

Sleeping under a picnic pagoda in Japan. I loved it, although some of the locals were a bit confused!

 

15/1/2012 Q: ‘When will you be back in England and will you be back for the next new year?’ From  Zoe Richardson, aged 7

April 1st 2011 as I set off down the Thames... I wonder when I shall be there again?

When I set out from Tower Bridge on April 1st last I knew that, if everything went to plan and I made it across all the oceans and continents I had mapped out, I wouldn’t be paddling underneath it again for 2.5 years. That takes me to September 2013. I hope to actually arrive in England a few weeks before that, however, when I reach land at the end of my Atlantic row with Gulliver. I expect to be somewhere in Canada (probably somewhere in the middle, ploughing through snow) for the next New Year as I wheel from 2012 in to 2013.  January 1st this year brought a big smile because now I can say to my family and friends, ‘I will be home next year.’

8/1/2012 Q: ‘What is your favourite and least favourite food that you have tried so far?’ From Freya Menzies

The good thing about cycling through Europe and Asia is that I have had the chance to experience a range of foods and flavours and some foods which I wouldn’t normally eat at home. Up to now I have avoided eating kidney and internal organs, but in China I really enjoyed barbecued kidney and I am glad that I tried intestines and brains, even if I wouldn’t choose it again.

Sheep’s intestine – difficult to eat as it can’t really be chewed. At a night market in China.

It has been interesting to see how different countries claim certain foods as ‘theirs’, when actually next door they have the same food which they call ‘theirs’ too. Chinese dumplings are the same as Japanese ‘gee-y-os-a’ and Russian ‘pelmen’ for example, even if they are cooked slightly differently.  I really enjoyed the  fruits in China – huge juicy mangoes and Hami melon were my favourite –  and my taste buds loved all the new flavours in Chinese and Japanese cooking  -  like Japanese miso (fermented soybeans), seaweed and new spices.

The fruit in China was really delicious – and I was especially grateful for it during the scorching hot days pedalling across the Gobi desert

My least favourite food was sheep’s nostril and chicken’s head in China and I am not too keen on jelly fish either, which is very popular in Japan.

A sheep’s head – considered a delicacy in the Gansu province of China, and many others too.

One of my favourite things about Asian food is the sharing. Plates are often shared between the table. It is very social.

A few weeks ago I tried eating an enormous snail that I bought from a small vendor. I didn’t get on very well with it though and only managed to nibble its foot. (Did you know snails have feet? Or rather each and every snail has a single foot.)

30/12/2011 Q:  ’How do you get your food when you are cycling?’ 

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30/12/2011 Q: ‘Where is your boat when you are on your bike?’  From Ffion Hilliard

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12/12/2011 Q: ‘ You have been away for 8 months and your hair is still short! So, where do you go to cut it and who cuts it?’   From Fliss, Jade and Maddy

I think I have had some of my worst hair cuts ever on this expedition so far! In Kazakhstan I went to a local hairdresser and came out looking like a mop. In China I took my penknife and chopped it short myself, though left lots of messy bits and even a ‘tail’ at the back because I couldn’t see in the mirror. It was later trimmed (very very short!) by an American cyclist who I met on the road in the middle of the Gobi desert. It then grew by itself for a few months until Tokyo recently where I went to a hair dressers. This time, I came out looking like Tintin. We didn’t understand each other so he thought I meant ‘really really super short’ when actually I just wanted a few centimetres off.

Before I go to sea next year I shall cut it short (at a hair dresser) and then let it grow – if it needs a trim I shall take my scissors to it and hope the fish don’t mind my scarecrow haircut.

10/12/2011 Q: ‘Have you made any new friends?’ From Joseph Jenkins

Sarah says that the first part of her journey from London to Tokyo has been defined by the people she has met and their reactions to each other.

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27/11/2011 Q: ‘How many punctures has Hercules had?’  From Phoebe

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26/10/2011 Q: ‘How do you fill up your water bottle on the bike?’ From Maddy

Watch the video below to see one way that Sarah fills up her bottle if she is lucky enough to find a fresh, clean mountain stream. Normally when Sarah is cycling on Hercules she has to fill up her water bottles and water carriers wherever she can, just in case she cannot find water further up the road. This might be  from a town well, from a mountain stream, or maybe in a shop or by knocking at somebody’s door. Occasionally she buys bottled water and sometimes she has to purify water that she collects to make it safe to drink.

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7/9/11 Q: ‘What is the scariest thing you have encountered?’

Watch the following video to find out the answer to this question…

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26/8/11 Q: ‘Can you keep in touch?’ 

Keeping in touch with friends and family back home and all the schools who are following my journey is really important to me. I carry a satellite phone with me so that I can call anywhere in the world. It is a clever piece of equipment which uses the satellites in space to channel the calls. I can also send emails through my laptop and another satellite device.

I only wish that my dog knew how to use the phone or the computer as I want to let him know that I haven’t forgotten about him and will be home before he knows it.

Phoning home

If you would like Sarah to call in to your school or club, live from wherever she is in the world, then please email hello@sarahouten.com. All she needs is a telephone number to ring and a group of eager children at the other end – simple and a great way for you to find out more about what it’s like to be an adventurer and to learn about some of the places she is travelling through.

23/08/11 Q: ‘Which records will be broken or achieved by your journey?’ from Ryan Barlow

The records are mostly associated with the rowing parts of my journey (the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans) although I will be the first person to make a continuous journey round the world by land and sea under human power in an Easterly direction.

  • I will be the first woman and youngest person to row from Japan to Canada/America across the Pacific Ocean
  • I will be the youngest person to row all three oceans
  • And then who knows about the speed of these crossings? Maybe I will whizz across in super quick time, too.

17/08/11 Q: ‘Are you lonely?‘ from Eve Reading, 3B Stamford Junior School

No, I am never lonely. Sometimes I miss home or my friends, but only for a short while and I always call them up if this happens. We still love each other even though we are on different sides of the world.

Top of the hill, top of the world

While I am cycling I can meet different people, too, so I often have company. In China, I was joined by Gao, a Chinese, cyclist who wanted to come with me to Beijing, so I have a cycling buddy for a few weeks.

Out on the ocean I won’t see anyone else for months at a time, but I really like animals so the fish become my friends.

Pilot Fish

I know you’re laughing now at the thought of Sarah making friends with fish, but I bet if you were alone in a small boat, then you would talk to the animals that came by, too.

Another reason why Sarah doesn’t feel lonely is that you keep sending questions and messages to her, which she loves to read. Keep them coming through hello@sarahouten.com and, if you would like Sarah to telephone your school or club for a chat then also send an email to hello@sarahouten.com

 

10/8/11 Q: ‘How do you cope with the exhaustion?’ – From Thea

Being exhausted can be really challenging and can make little tasks seem huge or more complicated than a non-tired person would find them.  This becomes really critical when I need to make important decisions to stay safe, particularly because I am by myself. I talk to myself anyway, but especially when I am exhausted, talking myself through each little step to try and avoid what could be a life-threatening mistake.

If I have to push on when I am exhausted – perhaps to reach a certain place by nightfall or move through a rough patch of water or weather as quickly as possible – I eat and drink more and I also try and cat nap as I find short bursts of sleep (maybe only fifteen minutes) can be the perfect pick-me-up to keep going. That said, it’s not unknown for me to fall asleep at the oars/pedals/paddle.

Have you ever been really really REALLY tired? The sort of tired where you fall asleep half way through doing something? Remember that sleep is super important for growing and repairing and processing your memories, so, when Mum says ‘Time for bed’ she is doing you a favour.

 

 3/8/11 Q: ‘How do you stay motivated?’ From Sam

Motivation is what keeps you going when things are tough or you are being challenged by something. I get my motivation from people I admire and the places I am travelling through and the wildlife I meet along the way.

For example, looking up at the beautiful mountains of China made me go a little bit faster when I was finding a big climb really tricky.  If I had stopped, I wouldn’t have seen the lovely views from the top – so the thought of a rest at the top kept me going. I try and remind myself that I am super lucky to be on such a brilliant adventure, too.

I love wildlife and when I am out rowing on the ocean I always look out for animals – birds, whales, fish. Just a single sighting of one of these creatures, far out to sea, can keep me excited for days or even weeks.

I also find breaking up big tasks into little steps really useful and, if the going is tough, just focusing on the next little important part. Reminding myself of how far I have come is key, too – I think it is too easy to focus on the negatives sometimes, whereas a little reminder of the positives can be a real boost.

I wonder, what or who inspires you and keeps you motivated? We’d love to find out what keeps you going through your challenges. Email hello@sarahouten.com and we will post  the best responses.

 

 

07/07/11 Q: I want to be an adventurer like you when I grow up. What advice can you give me? From Martin Roberts, aged 15

That’s great to hear you’re keen on adventure, Martin. I think that whatever you do in life it is really important to follow your dreams and passions, so do this with your adventuring and “expeditioning”, too. My very first expedition was my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (aged 14) and I was away – building experience and confidence in the outdoors. I had a go at lots of different things and discovered my love of water sports through my local canoe club. I think that organisations like this are a great way to gain experience, so I really recommend joining something in your area. Another key part in my adventuring has been, and still is, reading books by other adventurers and talking to them, too. If you can find yourself a mentor along the line I think that’s invaluable and, when you’re a bit further on in your career you can return the favour and help someone in the same way too. Most adventuring folk I know have been helped by others and so are generally really keen to return the favour and pass on their knowledge and advice. Finally, be sure to take the knock downs with the highs and learn as much as you can and enjoy whatever it is you choose to do. Remember that adventures don’t have to happen on the other side of the world either – there are plenty of adventures to be had right on your doorstep if only you care to find them.

21/06/11 Q: Why are you going around the world? From Jenna Davies, Brooke Priory 

I really love looking at where I have travelled on maps and globes – and I find it very satisfying when I can trace with my finger the route of a journey I have made. When I was rowing across the Indian Ocean in 2009 and thinking about how far around the world I had travelled in my little boat in those four months, I wondered what it would be like to travel all the way around the whole thing. I knew that I really loved being at sea and making big journeys out there, but I didn’t know too much about long journeys on land. So I decided that I would make my round-the-world journey by land and sea, taking in the green and the blue bits to get me from London back to London. I love wildlife, too, so this is a perfect way for me to learn about lots of new environments and animals.

Then  you might wonder why I am I doing it with a bike and boats and not by taking planes or cars, which we all know would be heaps quicker. Well, I think that human-powered travel (where a person, rather than a machine, is the engine) is super cool for lots of reasons.

Why human powered travel is super cool

1.      You go slowly and quietly. I think this is cool because it means you see lots of wildlife which you wouldn’t if you were racing along in a car or a boat. Lots of wild creatures will come closer to a bike or a small boat, too, because they are curious and unafraid. The same goes for people – on land I have met lots of people whom I wouldn’t have met if I were in a car.

2.      It is really satisfying. At the end of a day I feel all warm looking at my map and seeing how far I have travelled and overcoming the daily challenges is super satisfying.

3.      It is really challenging.  I love challenging myself and not quite knowing if or how I will succeed, so this round the world journey is a perfect test. Every day there are new challenges.

4.      It is clean and green. There is no pollution or exhaust fumes from a bike, rowing boat or kayak so human powered travel is a very environmentally friendly way to travel.  I make sure I dispose of my rubbish sensibly too.

 Let us know if you have any other ideas on why you think human-powered travel is super cool and also which is your favourite form of human-powered travel. Maybe it is  a space hopper or a skateboard, or your own two feet, or swimming or cartwheeling…

10/06/2011 Q: How do you know which way to go when the roadsigns are in languages with different symbols? From: Lewis Crellin

A: Good question, thanks Lewis!

 Language is a challenge for me out here – a fun one most of the time but at times it is frustrating. I have learned some Russian words which are useful here in Kazakhstan too, but I wish I had found some time for lessons before I came away.
 Towards the Eastern end of Poland I started noticing road signs in the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries in this region. It has more letters than the Roman alphabet I am used to (33 in total), so it has taken me a while to be able to recognise some of the letters and the sounds they represent.  I still get baffled by them.  Some of the major road signs have had the English version underneath the local name so that has helped.  I use a map, too, so it is only in cities and towns that I normally need to ask for help. That can be an interesting  game  when I don’t speak the same language as the person I am asking for directions!
 The further East I have come, the fewer roads there are, so there is less navigation to do and I don’t keep my map out at the moment  because I don’t need to.   Navigating in Western Europe was a bit confusing at times because there were so many roads, cycle tracks and different routes and I wasn’t allowed to take the most direct route on motorways.  Here in Kazakhstan  the options are more limited so there isn’t much choice – for example, I have just cycled on the same road for five days!  Excitingly, I am about to make a right hand turn for Aral, a few hundred kilometres away.
 I have a few more weeks pedalling in Kazakhstan, then I move on to China where a whole new language and alphabet awaits. I have a feeling it will be trickier than here in Kazakhstan – Chinese is totally new to me.
 Thanks again Lewis! Sarah

Q: What is the weather like for you?  Has it been sunny or cold or rainy?  Have a good adventure.  Good luck! From Georgi and Charleigh 2NG, Manor School 

A: Hi Georgi and Charlie. I’ve been away from London for 2 months and have travelled across 9 countries. Currently I’m in Kazakhstan.

At present it’s very hot. It’s actually in the high twenties to thirties celsius! The locals say it’s not actually as hot as usual either. Lots of strong winds make it cooler but aren’t great when you’re cycling into them.

Before Kazakhstan there were thunder storms, rain showers – a full range of weather. I’ve used all sorts of clothes so far; sometimes I’m in shorts, sometimes I’m in complete rain gear. So a little bit of everything really.

Thanks for your question. Sarah.

Q: When you’re on your bike, where is your boat? (Answer by Tim Moss, Logistics Man)

“Sarah has two boats. Nelson, her sea kayak which she uses for short journeys where she can sleep on land at the end of the day; and Gulliver, her rowing boat which she uses for big ocean crossings.

Nelson is currently stored in her home county of Rutland, looked after by her Project Manager Sara Davies. He will be shipped out to Eastern Siberia in September so that Sarah can kayak to Japan.

Gulliver, however, is not yet finished being built! He is currently being constructed in Devon by professional boat builders called Emily and Jamie. He should be finished by the start of the summer when he’ll be driven to London on a trailer and then shipped out to Japan in large metal container.”

Q: Have you always wanted to be an adventurer?

Sarah: Who doesn’t want to be an adventurer? Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ stories were some of my favourites as a child and I loved the idea of adventuring like George and her cousins. I have always enjoyed exploring and having adventures – big ones, small ones, and everything in between – so I am very happy to be doing what I am today.

Q: Which part of the L2L journey are you most looking forward to?

Sarah: Ooh, this is tricky! I am excited about getting out to sea again on the ocean rows, but I am also looking forward to the cycling as I shall be travelling through some very interesting countries and landscapes. I like the idea that people can cycle with me on the bike, too – people have bikes all over the world.

Q: Where do you sleep when you are cycling?

Sarah: I have a little tent – just big enough for me and my kit which I will carry on my bike – so I can stop and sleep wherever I like.

Q: Where does your water come from on the ocean?

Sarah: From the ocean itself, via a very nifty piece of kit called a desalination unit, which sucks in sea water, filters out the salt and leaves me with fresh water.

Q: What do you miss most when you are away on expedition?

Sarah: I miss our family dog when I am away – and will look forward to some long walks with him when I get back home in a few years. Out at sea I miss fresh fruit and vegetables as these don’t last long at sea.

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    4 Responses to Sarah’s answers

    1. Anne says:

      Very sorry to learn you were hampered by the weather. Hoping you’ll find a way to continue on, sooner or later. I understand you got plenty of exercise while rowing, but it looks as though the boat didn’t allow much in the way of standing or walking. Did you miss that? Has it been strange to be in a much larger situation, on the rescue boat and now in Japan?

    2. Farah says:

      Your so Brave! Has there been any parts that you didn’t like and was scared???

    3. When someone writes an piece of writing he/she maintains the image of a user in his/her mind that how a user can know it.
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    4. virgil l funderburk says:

      hi
      have you considered a manual desalinetor as backup for the pacific row,, wishing you sun for your solar panels, hope you are well

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