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Dip in the Ocean
Rowing Solo Across the Indian Ocean
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On 1 April 2009, twenty-three-year-old Sarah Outen embarked on an ambitious solo voyage across the Indian Ocean in her rowing boat, Dippers. She became the first woman and the youngest person to row solo across the Indian Ocean. This book tells her tale of courage and endurance.
Summersdale Publishers Ltd.; February 2011
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I couldn’t see any clear water – it was all white behind me and more waves were breaking. I felt a cold numbing fear that I was about to be obliterated. I had just enough time to shove the phone in the cabin and lock the door before throwing myself to the deck, holding on tight to the safety rails. As I screamed, a bomb of a wave exploded over the boat and my world went white. But it was dark somehow, beneath the water, it was loud and I could taste salt everywhere. I was a rag doll, somersaulting through the surf which was now rushing us along the reef, growing louder and louder. And then I breathed a sweet breath – we must have come back around. I had fl oated off Dippers on my line and was surrounded by fi zzing water while the wave receded. I looked round and saw no one and nothing but surf. I screamed again, and even I struggled to hear it over the sound of crashing waves. Dippers tilted over to one side with the water on deck but I scrambled on board, heaving myself through the safety rails. An oar was broken and the throw line was tangled, but there was no time to do anything but hold on; another wave was on its way. I knew that the reef must only be metres below now and with it certain annihilation. I remember my dad once compared me to a carthorse. I like to think that this was his way of saying that he thought I was resilient and had stamina and strength, hopefully both in mind and body. I had to be, really; I was the only girl sandwiched between my two brothers, Michael and Matthew, and our family was always on the move, professional nomads of the Royal Air Force. Dad was an offi cer and so change became the norm for us from very early on as we trooped all over. By my seventh birthday I had already chalked up three infant schools and lived in fi ve different houses in three different countries. Nothing too exotic, mind; Wales is as foreign as I remember, though we lived in Europe for my fi rst couple of years. The lack of interesting postings was due to Dad’s ill health. In my memory he always had arthritis; it was diagnosed when I was toddling about and he was just inside thirty. Unfortunately it was one of the worst forms of all – rheumatoid arthritis. This causes the immune system to go haywire, attacking itself and wreaking havoc on every joint in the body, causing infl ammation, disintegration and degeneration. One of my memories is of him sitting down at the breakfast table with a mountain of tablets beside him, wearing splints on his wrists, and sometimes spending days at a time in bed, too sore to move. Too sore even for a hug. Too sore to do anything but sleep and hope and fi ght on for a better day. If I was a carthorse, then Dad was a superhero carthorse. When you are fi ghting pain twenty-four hours a day with a crumbling skeleton, stamina takes on a whole new meaning. In my mind at least, he was as strong as an ox.