Rowing an ocean has been a dream of mine for a while. Reading Sarah Outen‘s new book, A Dip in the Ocean, confirmed that I would indeed love the experience. However her book also made me realise that I am too impatient, slapdash and stingy to raise the money, learn all the skills and deal with all the logistics involved. The book, on her record-breaking row across the Indian Ocean, was an interesting insight into what it takes to get an expedition like that out of the starting blocks and to the start line. This happens with the backdrop of Oxford University which was where I did most of the planning and preparation for my ride round the world. I also felt quite familiar with much of the rest of the book as it deals with the mental and physical challenges of propelling yourself a long way, alone, in the face of doubts and difficulties.
I found the first half of her book the most compelling, as Sarah struggles to overcome autoimmune hypothyroidism and, crushingly, the death of her Dad. This helps her put all other difficulties, pain and problems firmly in perspective as she perseveres with the rowing project. She faces her grief honestly throughout the book and it is certainly a much stronger read for that.
People who don’t know much about expedition life, its highs and lows, or about ocean rowing will enjoy the thorough account of her four months alone at sea. I focused more on imagining how wonderful it must be to be in the middle of an ocean, alone, on a night bursting with stars, or a calm, flat day with not even a ripple when “my horizon was pushed out further and it seemed like I was staring beyond the edge of the world.” Moments like that would make the terror of capsizing thousands of miles from land worthwhile (I think!).
A Dip in the Ocean is an honest book about the “happiest and saddest and most challenging and rewarding” adventure of Sarah’s life so far. I highly recommend it to young people dreaming of starting their first expedition, Mums fretting about their babies heading off on mad adventures, those planning a major row, or anyone simply interested in the story of the first woman and the youngest person to row solo across the Indian Ocean.
Sarah departs on April 1st, two years to the day since her row began, to take on a “Sarah-powered” circumnavigation of the planet.
Watch an excellent short talk by Sarah here.
And buy her book here.