The Leeuwin Current conveyor belt

Sarah is enduring challenging conditions. The winds last night topped about 20 knots and the sea state has increased, making rowing impossible for her. This morning, when asked if she could row a bit further west this was her reply:


To be sea sick is debilitating for both body and mind. But it is also the natural reaction for a normal and healthy human body designed to work on flat, still land. Sarah’s body is working overtime, not just for all the physical effort needed to row for hours and hours a day, but because she is adapting to the constant motion of the ocean. In about a day or two she should be fully adapted and no longer sick. This painful, often soul destroying process is also commonly referred to as “Finding your sea legs.” It takes a considerable amount of motivation and discipline to keep things together, namely eating and drinking. In fact, just to make sure, I just sent her this quick message;


Sarah deployed her sea anchor nearly 24h ago and this has been acting as a perfect parachute, not only stabilizing her motion, but also, unfortunately, as a sail harnessing the power of the southbound Leeuwin Current, taking her a lot further south than we would wish, in a very short space of time. But the combination of forces, ie, wind, currents and sea anchor have actually continued to take her west, even if just a bit. Sarah must be doing something right and this will, no doubt, be motivating and reassuring for her.

She is now 73 miles out from where she started but in reality her log should read over 100 miles covered on the oceans so far.

In the next few hours the wind will drop and back to the south more. This situation of wind against current is certain to create very irregular seas. The best bet is to get west, across the current and out of its southerly grip. Sarah knows this.

Although we may be concerned for Sarah and feel for her discomfort, the reality check is that this is exactly what ocean rowing is all about and all things considered, Sarah is safe, in a controlled situation, the weather is not that bad, and Sarah is very much on her way.

The sun has now set in Western Australia. Another day has gone by for Sarah, in a place where time slows down and life exists for an hour at a time. Every hour. Every day. The wind is still howling through the masts and ropes of the yachts in the Royal Perth Yacht Club. But the sky is looking peaceful again and tonight the stars will shine bright, keeping Sarah company. On the horizon there are low, fluffy clouds, white and grey, as if brushed along the pale orange sky by mother nature herself.

I am confident that even in the midst of her struggle to adapt to this wild new world, Sarah Outen will have found at least a moment to admire the raw beauty of it all, breathing in deep and feeling immensily privileged to be where she is.

Good night Sarah. And take care.

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28 Responses to The Leeuwin Current conveyor belt

  1. Don G says:

    Greetings Sarah from Don
    I believe you are doing very well- A few years back I progressively emailed the Englishman, Simon Chalk, throughout his row toward and to Reunion Island. Soon after he departed Kalbarri he was caught up in a current which kept him rowing in a circle for almost two weeks. I pray something similar dosent snare you.
    My best wishes to you Sarah
    Kindest regards Don

  2. Sam says:

    Greetings from the South West of WA.
    I have been monitoring your progress.
    I have a 15km run planned for the morning. I will think of you and what you are currently enduring when I am thinking things are getting hard.
    Sleep well & stay safe.


  3. Adrian Moss says:


    Great to know you are on your way. I am sure the seasickness will pass and then the sun will come out and you will have a great time. we are all behind you


  4. Doug says:

    Keep your chin up Sarah. We are with you all the way. You’ve trained and prepared hard for this so continue to be strong.

  5. sandra bradshaw says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I am following you progess for the girls and producing mini displays from your log so they can keep up with you too. I will keep them all for you to see on your return to SHS.Hope the sea legs kick in soon. “God Speede”

    Sandy B

  6. Anita says:

    Bless you, Sarah, – really feel for you. I realise that the extent of my seasickness has more to do with fried breakfasts and cross-channel ferries than what you’re having to endure, but there we go. Sending you lots of love, keep drinking,
    Anita xxxxxxxxx

  7. Spike says:

    Hi Sarah
    (everyone else look away)
    ‘I feel your pain’. Ive chundered all over the Southern Ocean and wouldn’t wish it on anyone (the technicolour yawn, that is). However, it does pass and you are then able to cope with even more ‘roughers’. Humour helps (?) – In a few days you will be able to laugh. It’s amazing that after four days of nothing but glucose sweets, it is still diced carrots and tomato skins !! (Nobody knows why)
    Big hugs

  8. Susie Hewson says:

    Sarah, pull on that inner strength you so clearly have within you and very soon, harmony will return. In our hearts we are all in the boat with you, so you are not alone for a moment. Keep your spirits up and your food down:) Susie

  9. Lucy says:

    Sara,you can not imagine that I am a high school student from China.
    I saw you in the newspaper,and now I am here.
    Sara,I want to tell you that you are so brave(well,comparing to my sitting in the classroom all day)Remember we are with you.Be happy.I am sorry about my poor vocabulary,but May you succeed.

  10. Ian Brown says:

    If you feel like a break Sarah I’ll take over for the next week. I could do with a nice relaxing holiday. May even bring my fishing gear too! lol

    Keep at it sarah. I’m proud of you.

  11. Dave Wallace says:

    Sarah is corkscrewingly seaborne
    Red and green peppers and yellow corn
    Are the right kinds of food
    Appropriately hued
    For a righteous technicolor yawn.

  12. Ed says:

    Hi Sarah, met you at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, you can beat the Leeuwin current and then settle down to some reasonable conditions. My Dad an old salt used to say “tall timber does’nt grow with ease,the stronger the wind the taller the tree’s” Good luck and may the force be with you. Ed

  13. Nobody Believes (Usually) says:

    There are so many with you/me.

    I could feel them as I smashed my head and puked. What good does it do me, I thought…

    How could I be so well cared for in such discomfort.
    But you are.

    We love you and are with you.

    Thousands off little girls are made stronger, and the world’s load is a little lighter with each slamming wave or tug of the sea anchor.

    Each little stroke or forced nap.

    Not a bit of our discomfort or suffering is wasted.

    We are with you kid.

    I even just choked on some freeze dried food and poured some salted water down my throat and gave myself the runs and I took some hostages and made them do it too…just for fun.
    A real pukefest in your honor.

    Hard to believe in gentle rolling seas and sunshine..but here it is..on its way.

    Your Great.


  14. wenping liu says:

    Try to feed you first and the fish second, no matter how and no matter what.

  15. Alan Thomas says:

    YES Keep Eating !!!
    You FIRST, the Fish SECOND (but they will be OK, whatever!!, they arent ROWING)

    Watching from a very grey Sheffeild (on MY travels)



  16. Carol says:

    ALOHA SARAH from Oregon, USA! Found your blog from Roz
    Savage’s blog, she mentioned you and we are all sending
    you gentle seas, calm winds, happy moments! will enjoy
    following your blog as well! Peace… Carol

  17. Brenda says:

    heard about you on the radio (BBC) – amazing!
    just wanted to send you my best wishes for the voyage …..


  18. Theresa White says:

    As someone with no sea legs whatsoever, I know how desparate sea sickness makes you/me (and that’s not even in a rowing boat). Dig deep Sarah. Stay focused and try to take control of the mind. All these challenges are what makes this achievement momumental. You are amazing and we are all proud of you!

  19. Robert Nixon says:

    Best of luck crossing the Leeuwin Current Sarah. I wondered very much how that crossing was going to go. Having researched the currents around Australia I know that they can be powerful. Just remember… sea sickness won’t kill you, not eating and drinking because of it can.

  20. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Thinking of you especially with the problems which you are going through at this moment. Keep your chin up, you have done so well so far. Hope the weather changes in your favour and you will be ok and on your way again. Wish I could do soemthing for you. Its a great reporet that we get so thank you for it, makes us feel as though we are there with you.

    You will uscceed, you have so many folks rooting for you and wishing you well. take care and keep eating and hope you will soon feel better.

    Much love

    Christine & Kathleen

  21. Mum says:

    Wish I could give you a real HUG. have just spoken to Vanessa…she sends her love.steve Milne sends his best wishes too. Sorry you are chucking about a bit. Hope that will pass soon! Keep drinking and try to get some rest in the “rough ” times.(Save the choc for later!!)
    hang on in there Sugar Plum…..Love you lots!!! xxxxxx

  22. Godfolkes says:

    Sorry to hear that the jelly babies don’t seem so appealing at the moment – do hope all calms down soon and you get under way again.
    Loads of love xx

  23. Hugh Illingworth says:

    Greetings from Hugh, Debby, Sophie & Alex in Oakham. Wishing you Godspeed and a safe journey.

  24. BPC and Albie says:

    Love you Sarah! hoping the sickness passes as soon as it can. I feel so feeble with my slight queasiness crossing the Solent – i know how much that put me out of sorts. You have the determination and the strength to get through your ocean tummy wobbles.
    Happy stargazing – can you see Orion standing on his head – i always found that funny. As my kiddies learnt today, in the words of the Macbeth witches, anon! xxx

  25. Pauline says:

    Good luck Sarah. I wish you fair winds.
    A fellow sailing friend once said that chocolate tastes as good coming up as it does going down, so don’t be afraid to eat it…you get to enjoy it twice.


  26. Jane Spence says:

    Sorry about the whirlpool motion sickness. But if your tummy is churning, your ears should be burning too, with all the well-wishers thinking of you, talking about you, powering you on. You have goodwill from horizon to horizon. Hope you find those sea legs soon…


  27. Murphy says:

    keep going your doing great i learned about the Leeuwin current at school it is really cool and strong to go against.any way i hope you she some great sea life.remember to keep your chin up even at the really hard times

  28. ian hall says:

    From Laurel & Hardy SHS,we hope you are listening to your music !!!!, nursery ryhmes and all. If you want a good chuckle, just think about Elliot & Hallie on the slopes of La Thuile.
    Thinking of you

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