Rutland rower Sarah faces highs and lows on Atlantic voyage

Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen is currently rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. EMN-150408-112518001

Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen is currently rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. EMN-150408-112518001

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Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen is fighting a broken rudder and ocean weather as she tries to complete her round-the-world trip.

Sarah, 30, from Oakham, is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean on the final leg of her London2London: Via the World challenge.

As if travelling around the globe using manpower alone wasn’t tough enough, Sarah’s journey got a whole lot harder last month when her rudder snapped off during a storm.

But Sarah, who celebrated her 30th birthday at sea in May, has remained cheerful thanks to regular contact with home and visits from all manner of marine life.

In the most recent update on her blog at www.sarahouten.com, Sarah wrote: “I had just been rudely awoken by a wave slamming the back of the boat and sloshing in through the slightly open hatch, soaking my feet.

“I was confused. I was sure that I had closed it after lapping up lungfuls of air an hour earlier. Having just had a rough night with little sleep I was catching up while the wind backed.

Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen is currently rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. EMN-150408-112507001

Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen is currently rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. EMN-150408-112507001

“I sat up and slid out of my fleece liner, now salted and damp, before scooting out of the hatch onto the deck to pee. I heard something coming through the water at close range and at the same time noticed a dark grey black lump coming towards the boat, one of the Tweedles (Sarah’s name for some of the fish that visit her boat, Happy Socks) swimming out from under the boat to meet it.

“A split second to clock the ridges running down its back and huge blunt head and I had myself my very first sighting of a leatherback turtle. A leatherback turtle! A beauty at around two metres long with a head as wide as my thigh.

“I said leatherback turtle over and over out loud and dived back inside for a camera. Having just been through rough stuff my cameras were stowed in their rough positions as opposed to where they normally lived and I fumbled to release them. By the time I reappeared Old Mrs Turtle was on her way and out of sight, the reflecting sun and cloud mix turning the waves a metallic black downwind making another sighting impossible.

“To be that close, if only for a few moments, to such a rare prehistoric relic was very special. I have wanted to see one since working on a Mexican beach at a turtle conservation camp as an eighteen year old.

“As we helped the tiny hatchlings of other species of turtles out to sea I imagined the unimaginable struggles of their lives and voyages ahead. Predation, poaching, pollution and fishing have all ravaged sea turtle numbers worldwide. Long slow life cycles and their lumbering land time when females haul ashore to nest and lay eggs make them easy targets and vulnerable to such population pressures.”

The high points of the trip have been matched by lows, as explained in a previous post.

“Yesterday making it out of here under my own steam felt impossible and rather hopeless. I also had to acknowledge that it is quite likely I won’t get my rudder delivery out here – I don’t think I had left enough headspace for that one.”

But Sarah’s mood has been lifted by phonecalls from home. She has spoken to a number of schools as part of her ambassador role with the Inspire charity, talking about her challenge with pupils and giving them live updates from the ocean.

Sarah is also raising money for four charities: The Motor Neurone Disease Association, CoppaFeel, the Jubilee Sailing Trust and WaterAid. Anyone who wants to donate on Sarah’s behalf can do so by texting SARAH5 to 70500, which will put £5 in the pot, or via the links on her website.