A British adventurer has battled the elements to complete a five-month solo rowing trip from Japan to Alaska – surviving encounters with sharks, storms, and her own hallucinations.
Sarah Outen, 28, from Rutland, arrived in Adak in the Aleutian Islands on Monday after rowing 4,315 miles (3,750 nautical miles) over 150 days in her seven metre boat Happy Socks.
The explorer, who is believed to be the first person to ever complete the solo voyage, became engaged to her girlfriend, Lucy, during her trip. She proposed twice via a satellite telephone from the middle of the ocean – it took two attempts as she could not be heard the first time she popped the question.
“I have had some of the most intense and memorable months of my life out on the Pacific,” she said. “It has been brilliant and brutal at the same time. And it has been a privilege.
“But I have pushed myself to my absolute limits both physically and mentally to make land here in Alaska, and body and mind are now exhausted.”
The rower, who has been blogging for The Independent while at sea, is now half-way through her now four-and-a-half year expedition to cycle, kayak and row her way around the world.
Outen capsized five times during her voyage, narrowly missed being hit by a cargo ship and was forced to change her route after being battered by high winds and bad weather - landing in Alaska rather than British Columbia, Canada. She was entirely alone on her trip, sleeping when she could on her boat, and communicating with friends and family via satellite technology.
Her relief when she landed was clear to all when she Tweeted: “Wobbled my way ashore, patted Happy Socks. Then hugged… Relief. Joy. Disbelief. Happy happy days.”
Her ocean manager Tony Humphreys, who was waiting at Adak to greet her, told The Independent the locals were shocked when they saw Outen land. “Knowing how stormy the weather is and how rough the ocean can get around here, the locals think it’s just crazy anyone could arrive in Adak from Japan in a rowing boat,” he said.
Outen’s first attempt to complete the voyage had to be abandoned last year due to a tropical storm which made her boat capsize. Before crossing the Pacific, the adventurer kayaked and cycled 11,000 miles from London to Japan.
After enjoying a few days rest and undergoing health checks, Outen will head to New York to meet her fiancée, according to her spokeswoman. Outen expressed her thanks to everyone who supported her, adding: “Without them I wouldn’t be here. I am solo only physically – there are in fact a lot of people on my boat with me.”
She added: “I am so excited to be including Alaska in my journey too and look forward to continuing next year. But for now I cannot wait to be with Lucy again.”
Outen will return to the Aleutian islands next spring and will kayak to mainland Alaska. From there she will cycle across Canada and North America, before rowing solo across the Atlantic back to the UK. She is expected to complete her round-the-world voyage in the next two years.
The adventurer became the first woman and youngest person to ever row solo across the Indian Ocean, in 2009. She spent 124 days alone on her journey from Australia to Mauritius and became the youngest female to row solo across any ocean.