After reviewing Sarah Outen’s book yesterday I’m happy to be able to share the story of her fabulous row here: Salt-water diaries In 2009 I pushed out to sea from the shores of Australia in a small rowing boat built for one with nothing more than muscle power for my engine. I was headed West, my sights set on Mauritius on the other side of the Indian Ocean, a few thousand miles and likely one hundred plus days’ rowing away. It was to be more than an adventure. For me, the journey was one through grief and healing too – I had set myself this goal when my father died suddenly in 2006, needing something huge to work towards and pull me through the pain and sadness that had engulfed me. So it was a 3-year journey to the ocean and 124 days across it. This selection of photos is a little snapshot of life at sea.
I had chosen a name for my boat long before she had been built – Serendipity as a little play on words around my name and because I love the word. She quickly became Dippers and through the voyage became my best of mates, the other half of my team. She was hand built in Devon by Jamie Fabrizio of Global Boatworks, using a blend of traditional techniques and the latest materials. She was a beautiful boat. She stands at 5.95m long, 1.7 m wide and has a cabin at either end – one for me to sleep in and one for storage. If she capsizes she self rights and she is built from high density foam sandwiched with glass fibre.
- Life on board
I love the simplicity of life at sea. You eat, you row, you sleep, you eat, you row, you sleep – and do your best to stay happy and healthy. Yes, things can go wrong and need fixing or maintaining and there’s always a little list of jobs to do, but essentially, the chance to just ‘be’ and declutter your headspace is wonderful. PS. In case you were wondering, the loo is a bucket and you ‘chuck it’ over board!
- Life overboard
My favourite thing about life at sea – the close encounters with wildlife. Plankton of all shapes and sizes floats in the water. Birds visit and sometimes sit on the boat for a little rest, watching the rower plod through the waves. Pilot fish followed my boat all the way across and I had visits from whales, dolphins, Dorado and my favouite of all – albatroses.
- 4. Capsize
Life on the ocean is ever changing – both a brilliant and frustrating thing. When it changes for the worst and the weather kicks up, things can get scary. Mountainous seas, capsizes, high blood pressure – the irony is that the life/death boundary is so clear at times that you are often reminded of your mortality and vitality all at once.
- Ocean colour scene
The open ocean is where colour was invented – all except green – there’s not much of that out there, except in rainbows and algae on the hull. But every other hue – I saw it and tasted it and felt it. Sunsets and sunrises are 360 degree shows and the deep of the ocean changes its colour like a chameleon. It is magical. Journey’s end Arriving in Mauritius after so long alone at sea was a huge moment. It was overwhelming in every respect but especially emotionally. It had taken me 3 years to get there, not just the four months of rowing. 8. Changing faces Over the four months at sea my hair grew shaggy and blonded itself in the sun; the pounds that I had piled on before leaving land slowly dropped off, leaving bones poking out and ribs showing. Inside I had grown braver and more confident, expanded my comfort zones and completely fallen in love with the ocean.