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:
“WILL TRY. BEEN QUITE SICK SO WAITING OUT THE ROUGH STUFF!”
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;
I KNOW YOU KNOW THIS BUT KEEP EATING AND DRINKING EVEN IF YOU FEED THE FISH WITH IT SECONDS LATER. KEEP TRYING.YOU’LL B OK.RIC
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.