Show/Hide Navigation

Friday Photo Story: Salt-water diaries – Sarah Outen

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. image

  1. Dippers

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. image image 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.

  1. 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. image image image image image image image PS. In case you were wondering, the loo is a bucket and you ‘chuck it’ over board!

  1. 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. image image

  1. 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. image image image

  1. 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. image image image 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. image image image image 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. image image image image

Sarah sets off in just a few weeks’ time for an epic circumnavigation: London2London. Follow her progress through her website.

Read Comments

You might also like

What is Stopping us Living Adventurously? Fear? Over recent days I’ve been asking a series of questions on social media to try to figure out what is stopping people from living as adventurously as they might wish to do, and exploring whether — at its heart — […]...
How to Improve your Email Newsletter I’ve been half-heartedly sending email newsletters for 17 years. But only recently have I started to make a real effort to make them good (do you subscribe? If not, you probably should). In order to learn what my audience was […]...
Bavarian Microadventure – with a difference I was worried, eight years ago, when I first began sleeping on local hills and swimming in rivers to get my prescribed dose of adventure. I had just, barely, hardly, got to a point where I felt confident that enough […]...


  1. Roderick Hughes Posted

    Sarah thank you for sharing this beautiful and amazing experience here. It must have been super to watch the boat being built. Did you ever think about building a boat yourself?

  2. Paul Livesey Posted

    Best Photo Friday Story yet! What a woman!

  3. Stuart Posted

    She is a braver woman than me! (You know what I mean)
    Capszing thousands of miles from safety?! NO THANK YOU!



Post a Comment

HTML tags you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

© Copyright 2012 Alastair Humphreys. All rights reserved. Site design by JSummerton