Seablog: Life, the universe and everything

My time out here on the ocean has provided me with some incredible adventures and new perspectives on life – in the raw biological sense of the word. I have unique and wonderful experiences out here every day…

In a bucket load of seawater there are countless planktic organisms; albatrosses with wingspans greater than any human being is (or ever has been or will be) tall have soared right over me, close enough for me to stroke their feathers; compared to a 20 metre colossus of a whale surfacing beside us, Dippers is but a smidgen and then you scale that up to a tiny smidgenette of a boat on a massive three dimensional ocean….which is connected to the rest of the beautiful blue on our planet….and then all that green blue ball is winging through the infinity of the universe. I find it mind-bogglingly, breathtakingly brilliant. Literally each day is wonderful and awesome in all their true senses of the words. I am in awe and full of wonder.

Then there is the fact that I can blog and call someone up and you can track my progress – how amazing is that? The Scientific Age and all its developments are incredible, yet what is even more exciting is that there is still so much to study, discover and elucidate. Every day I am amazed by it all, and I particularly enjoy the fact that my science training and learning has endowed me with knowledge and tools to understand at least something of how it all came to be, how different systems interact, how x is related to y and so on (ad finitum,truly). Yet the most alluring thing perhaps is the gaps – and the fact that there are many things we will never know in my lifetime, my (notional) children’s time…and most probably never, never ever, in humanity’s stageshow. Life is a fantastically complex and diverse phenomenon – I think I’ve been treated to a glimpse of the ocean’s goodies, but there are many orders of magnitude more species out here. Most of them unknown to science. Again, mind-blowing.

One of my recent audiobooks was ‘The God Delusion’ by Professor Richard Dawkins. Both he and I are of dark blue origin (i.e. Oxford – not that funny minty green place in the Fens!), and I remember attending various of his lectures while a student, both in and out of my biology course. I emailed him at the weekend to tell him what I thought of his book – brilliant – and how I learned a huge deal from it, how it made me laugh, made me cry, made me think on many subjects etc and I dropped in the context of my listening to it, too.

An email conversation later and he has posted my email on his website, with the following introduction from himself. Anyone and everyone with an interest in life, the universe and everything should read his books – they are superbly well written and lucid, genius, witty and insightful. So, here is the Professor himself with a poem he wrote…

I’ve received a splendid email
From a most courageous female.
Battling onward to Mauritius,
Lone among the flying fishes,
Albatrosses, giant whales,
Turning turtle in the gales.
To hell with Health and Safety rules,
She’s in tune with tuna schools.
She’ll dance, while others dance in bars,
With pilot fish and Pilot Stars.

I have not the faintest notion
How to brave the Indian Ocean
In anything that keeps afloat,
Let alone a rowing boat.
But Sarah takes it in her stride,
And going with her, for the ride,
A book, or audio CD
Read by Lalla and by me.
To speed her trip to its conclusion
We’re reading her The God Delusion!

All godly tripe and tosh she’s doubtin’
So raise your glass to Sarah Outen

Richard Dawkins

In 3…

Just 300 nauties to go, folks!
And ironically it looks like I am in real danger of touching down before Mum and Matt, so there may be a bit of rowing in circles round the M or employing Bob to slow us down at the last minute. I can’t arrive before they do:it’s just not cricket to worry your own Mum by putting to sea (a rather big sea), in a boat (a rather small one),for all these months and then rocking up before she gets there.

12 days today, therefore. So August 8th is the earliest I will permit myself to land. Besides, I have no clean clothes until Mum arrives!

Exciting and fairly ironic times,

Outey Toot Toot x

Rob from Enigma – Great to hear from you! Think about you all at RPYC often. Planning to be back early next year. I need to return your thermometer and I owe the bar a round of drinks!

Molly – 1st week of Sept, no appearrances then, no, just catching up with friends and land life! I hope to be in Australia again next year.

Mike Pearce – Look forward to meeting ou in M. Can I climb the 800 m thing? I expect it’s a volcano?! I’ll check out the music too once I’m back.

Jim – The obvious is just eat it before it all melts…:) But it’s actually stored away in hatches etc so is fairly cool.

Frankie Owens -We’ve had Darwin’s ‘On the origin of species’ too – 150 yr anniversary and all. Birds, yes. The albies were pretty cool obviously (at least 4 species).And I’m being visited by various terns as I draw closer to land. Then there have been giant petrels, storm petrels, pintadoo petrels, and a host of others which need an ID guide.

Ron in Vancouver – There are still ships on the South side, believe me! Seeng the cloud banks forming over Crab Island:my first land clouds in many many days.

Averil – Great stuff!

Xtina – I am on my way!

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31 Responses to Seablog: Life, the universe and everything

  1. John skevington says:

    I didn’t get to meet you at RPYC before you left.
    I will make a point of seeing you when you return next year. I will join in that round of drinks.
    You will easily recognize me….I am the one with a bald head, white around the edges, bags under the eyes, and wrinkles in the face….hahaha….or does that remind you of someone else?
    Take care over the last lap.

  2. Jill & Stan Lewis says:

    Sarah thank you for that. It is quite amazing because i have just been trying to get your email to Richard Dawkins without success after reading the referwnce to it. You’ve inspired me to read his books. I hope they are as easy as this poem to you.
    I’m quite relieved you may slow down. You were giving me butterflies.
    Its a shame we were at Rottnest when you were here, but the brief encounter was so good and we will definitely be there and in the bar when you come back with your Mum.
    Sorry about the Tweedles. Thats nature.
    This blog is fantastic.
    Enjoy the next 14 days,
    Jill and Stan

  3. xtina says:

    Sarah take your time and enjoy every last minute.Being so close and hearing that roar of the Ocean is amazing.So close!!
    I am in awe and like you, full of wonder!!!

  4. Currin says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Having spent most of my life in the Northern Hemisphere, and now a few years in New Zeland, one’s perspective of the planet changes by being on a island in the Southern Pacific. We tend to think of a land-mass planet, but it is not that at all. Your education, amplified by your adventure, and recent understandings will perhaps stimulate others to ‘see’ the universe with a refreshing new perspective and awe.



  5. Ange Wheatley says:

    Sarah, I often raise a toast to you in the morning with my first cup of coffee while I read your blog and track your progress. You are truely a brave and wonderful women. You are certainly a chip off the old block from your parents. I was lucky enough to meet your father and he would have been very proud, very proud indeed just as your mum and the rest of your family are today.
    Keep it up Sarah and I can truly say that you are an inspiration to us all and a hero – not only to many around the world but you are one to me.
    Thank you for enriching my life and keep going – your mum can’t wait to see you.

  6. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hi Sarah

    What a credit you are, I actually wondered if you would get there before your Mum and Matt, is there any chnace of an earlier flight for them. Just enjoy the rest of your epic journey, we are all following you and have the radio ready for tonight. Wish I could be there to welcome you too but I will meet up with you one day. Take care

    C & K

  7. Jane says:

    Wow, you are doing so well. You need to slow down to make sure that Mum and Matt arrive before you and can actually be there to see you row in – how proud your Mum will be of you I’m sure. How are the chocolate supplies going – is there any left and what is the first thing that you want to eat and drink when you land? Take it easy and be careful.

  8. terry bradley says:

    Hi SARAH
    I seem to read a slight bit & excitment on the blog , great you deserve it keep rowing your flying ,cant believe how quick you are traveling now .Take Care ,Safe Rowing !!!!!!

  9. Anita says:

    This is really getting exciting now! We would love to be there in M to see you arrive…….sadly that won’t be possible as we have a prior arrangement with our tent in Dorset (not so exciting, but the cheaper option)…but we will all be thinking of you and sharing a little bit in the emotion of the moment you arrive.
    Can’t wait to see you home!!
    Lots of Love winging its way as ever xx

  10. Chris n Trev says:

    Hi Sarah

    We are both so excited for you, we look at your blog daily
    Just think of those lovely pancakes your Mum makes. Maybe she will sneak some into her baggage.
    fantastic avievement Sarah
    Take care

  11. Amy Bryant says:

    I cant believe how close you are! Fantastic work mate, keep on ploughing through. Lots of love, Amz xx

  12. ian says:

    hi sarah,thanks for posting your thoughts,the opportunity to be alone in such a special elemental place seems to have led you to a real clarity of thought,i wonder has it led to any changes in your perceptions or re inforced the ones you currently hold?
    on a lighter note hope that you are saving some chocolate for your victory lap!
    cheers to you and dippers

  13. Douglas Piercy says:

    Hi Sarah, sorry to hear of your adulation for Richard Dawkins, I’ve thought for some time that he’s done a lot more harm than good; whatever he might think of people’s Christian faith, I believe he would have done better to keep his mouth shut. Why deprive people of some comfort when they need it? For the life of me, what good has he actually done? I really cannot understand why your trip hasn’t in some way enhanced your faith.

  14. Peter Cuthbert says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I first became aware of your journey via radcliffe and maconie who I listen to most nights. Having heard you on there I have been tracking your progress regularly and reading the entertaining blogs. I was really worried a little while ago as you were obviously having a bad time but your mood and progress have thankfully changed for the better recently.
    I am totally in awe of what you have achieved so far and will be achieving in 2 weeks'(or less)time!
    You are obviously becoming more reflective now about your journey, achievement and the whole wonder of it all!
    I will be listening to you tonight and will raise a glass of something cool to you (no salt in it – sorry to make you jealous!) both today and when you “land”. I hope Mauritius is prepared for what’s going to hit them!
    Yours in admiration and friendship,

    Peter x

  15. Clare S says:

    You are doing so well. Keep up the good work for the final push. You will be there in no time. xxx

  16. Mike Pearce says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Sorry I have misled you the three hour difference was for anyone trying to watch you on the local television. I will be flying from the UK to Mauritius in October and staying just up the coast from where your mum will be staying. Would like to meet up with you sometime in the future.
    You can do what we used to do in the Navy and that is anchor up, clean ship and enter harbour at the designated time.
    Double rations of rum when you reach shore.
    All the best.

  17. Donald says:

    Lay close to the land. Then if bad weather comes up send Mum e mail, meet you at airfield. Never tempt fate. Donald

  18. Dave from Sheboygan says:

    I just heard about your epic adventure yesterday on the Richard Dawkins website. I’m so glad that you see the wonders of nature through the adult eyes of a scientist rather than the childish eyes of a believer.

    And thank you for inspiring me to undertake a new ocean adventure of my own. It’s been much too long (10+ years) since my last one.

    Best wishes from the shores of Lake Michigan.

  19. Tony Mills says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Not sure what I’ll do after the 12th Aug. I’ve enjoyed following your progress (and ramblings) and wish you a safe landing on Mauritious. With a bit of luck I’ll be at RPYC when you shout the bar next year!

    Go well

  20. Susie Hewson says:

    Sarah, the sentiments of a true environmentalist. You have experienced the raw beauty of the planet, are at one with the rhythms of the ocean, yet just a temporary visitor to a watery world the majority of us never will experience. But your writings and observations have helped us to share this place and wonder at its power and beauty and fragility.
    Unfortunately, we apes are so distant from the realities of the effects of our ravaging of resources, the pollution of pristine environments, it becomes too easy to forget that the environment talked about as if external to our lives, is really our only home, the only place that can sustain us. We depend on it to survive, it does not depend on us.
    You have given us a view of the Indian Ocean which we can all draw in our breath at. Stay alert and keep rowing for that shore with that purity of heart you have found out on the ocean. Susie and the Natracare SISTERS

  21. Ian says:

    Hi Sarah
    Just want to say hello. I can not believe your strength, belief and courage but it must give you such a wonderful sense of achievement when most of us sit worrying about the most mundane things in life. It just puts things into perspective.
    I have been following you on R2 and logged on for the first time tonight.
    Hope you dont mind me messaging you.
    Good luck and god bless. Go girl go.

  22. Tony F says:

    I wish I had heard about you before today. Thanks for brightening a cruddy day with your chat on the radio this evening, well, evening to us anyway. I wish that I had your courage and drive, you are worth so much more that so many ball kickers/hitters and yet your ambition is so much more worthy. You are a real heroine, above and beyond any call of duty.

    Sorry, got a bit maudlin there…

    PS, I like Richard Dawkins too, makes more sense than most. Mind you, ‘A Brief History of Time’ is intriguing too…If I understood it.

  23. Grandma Barb says:

    Hello Sarah:
    I am the grandmother of three university students, two other grandchildren who are looking forward to going to university and I hope
    they do not have such a narrow view of Richard Dawkins book. I have read the book and enjoyed every page. Keep up with the good work and any new books are always welcome.
    So Sarah with that out of the way,Take care
    Grandma Barb

  24. j says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Just wanted to express my utter delight at your achievements to date and daring enterprise. You’re an inspiration both to us as sportspeople and as skeptics/atheists/humanists, and I will be reading your blog “religously” henceforth. 🙂

    Good luck (not that there is such a thing!),

    A Mauritian who’s also from “funny minty green place in the Fens”

  25. samuel says:

    Hi Sarah
    I have never herad of you before until my reliel teacher Sally (from Freo) mentioned you today and keep Rowing and have a great time by for now from Samuel

  26. oliver says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I have never heard of you before until my relief teacher Sally (From Fremantle)told our class about what an amazing person you are.She also told us that were going to AFRICA.We thought it was really cool and your almost up to Maritius.So good luck with your campaigning and keep rowing to Africa.

    From Oliver

  27. chloe roose says:

    Hello Sarah ,
    I think you’re very brave I would not ever even think about doing what you’er doing. Just keep going. I believe in you and I think you will set your mind to it and finally get to Mauritius good luck I go to school near fremantle today my teacher was Sally Wynn a friend of yours lots of luck Chloe

  28. Madeleine says:

    Hi my name is Madeleine. I go to school at Samson P.S it is near Freo. I just heard about your journey. You are so brave.Are you scared of any annimals in the sea?
    from Madeleine

  29. Paul says:

    Hi Sarah,
    My wife and I just happened to catch you on the radio last night and learnt of your undertaking. What a great challenge for you and your team. Thank you for sharing this via your website and I hope that you reach your final shore safely soon. Reading about your adventures with you aged ‘just’ 23 certainly help me put my own life in perspective and has started me on the road of re-evaluation. I do not believe it is ever too late or too early to start taking action, so thanks for a spreading a little touch of magic!

  30. Eleanor says:

    Hi Sarah

    I have just heard of you from my teacher Sally.I think awsome that you are doing this. If I was you I be scared to do this. You are so brave. Have you seen any sharks yet?

    Bye Eleanor

  31. Ian says:

    Hi Sarah
    Massive congratulations. So pleased and thankful that you have made it. I wonder if somehow you will miss it. I am sure you are saying so never again in so many ways but perhaps you found something you may never find anywhere else.
    As usual the last mile home is always the longest.
    God bless well done.

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