British woman sets out to pedal and paddle around the world

Sarah Outen has set out to pedal and paddle her way around the world.British adventurer Sarah Outen has set out to circumnavigate the globe under her own power. The 25-year old has dubbed her expedition “London2London via the World,” and vows to complete the journey by pedaling and paddling the entire way, which means she’ll be either on her bike or rowing a boat, for every mile of the journey.

Outen set out on her round-the-world excursion last Friday, April 1st, by paddling a kayak under the London Tower Bridge. The first stage of her journey will take her down the Thames River and across the English Channel to Brussels. From there, she’ll get on her bike and pedal across Europe and Asia, a trip that will take months to complete. When she’s finished that leg, she’ll get back into a boat and paddle across the Northern Pacific to Vancouver. After that, it’s back on the bike for a short jaunt to New York City, where one final challenge will await – rowing across the North Atlantic. If all goes according to plan, she’ll be paddling back under the London Tower Bridge sometime in 2013, ending the journey where it all started.

Outen is no stranger to challenging adventures. Back in 2009 she made a solo row across the Indian Ocean, becoming the first woman, and the youngest person, to accomplish that feat. She spent weeks alone at sea on the journey, which has helped to prepare her for the London2London expedition, but this latest adventure will test her in some unique and interesting ways.

You can join Sarah on her journey by following along on her website and reading updates to her blog. This promises to be one amazing journey, and Outen will be a great travel guide.

[Photo credit: Sarah Outen]


Teen sailor Laura Dekker completes first leg of solo circumnavigation

Laura Dekker completes solo crossing of the Atlantic OceanDutch teenager Laura Dekker completed the first leg of her attempt to sail into the record books a few days back when she completed a solo sail across the Atlantic, reaching the island of St. Maarten in the process. The 15 year old is attempting to set a new record for the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Dekker has been hoping to make this voyage since she was 13, but her departure was delayed on more than one occasion by the Dutch government. Earlier this year they relented however, and granted her permission to sail after she demonstrated her skills and made a commitment to keeping up with her education.

The voyage officially began back in August when she sailed from the Netherlands to Gibraltar before proceeding on to the Canary Islands. Laura then spent two months there getting her 38-foot yacht, affectionately named Guppy, ready for the journey ahead. She also used that time to wait out the hurricane season before beginning her crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

On December 2 she left the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, en route to the Caribbean. It took her 17 days to cover the 2200 nautical miles, arriving in St. Maarten this past Sunday. Dekker described the voyage as “a very nice trip.”

She’ll now spend some time in the Caribbean, sailing the islands and exploring the region before moving on to her next big leg. She says she doesn’t have any set plan at the moment, but hopes to cross through the Panama Canal, and on to the Pacific, in April or May.

Ah, the idle days of youth. Sailing the high seas, exploring tropical paradises, and seeing the world. My teen age years were much like this. And by much like this, I mean not at all.

[Photo credit: AP]

14-year old granted permission to sail solo around the world

14-year old Laura Dekker has waited months for her opportunity to attempt a solo circumnavigation of the globe, and after being denied on several occasions by Dutch authorities, yesterday she finally received permission to set sail at long last. She now plans to begin the voyage, which could take upwards of two years to complete, sometime in the next couple of weeks. The teen hopes to set a new record for the youngest person to sail around the globe alone.

Laura first received attention last year when it was announced that she hoped to make the solo circumnavigation attempt at the age of 13. Before she could set out however, a Dutch court intervened, barring her from sailing. Since that time, she has been under the supervision of child protective services, who have continually recommended against allowing her to sail. That recommendation changed recently however, as the young woman trained to improve her sailing and survival skills, and joined a distance learning program that would allow her to continue her studies while she is at sea. Even Laura’s mom, who had been against the voyage, had changed her tune, now granting the 14-year old her blessing to sail.

The voyage that Laura has planned differs quite a bit from the one that was taken by Jessica Watson, the 17-year old girl who recently set the new “youngest” record and Abby Sunderland, who had to be rescued from the Indian Ocean back in June. Those two sailors faced the perilous waters of Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, but Laura will instead take a route that passes through the Panama and Suez Canals. While this lowers the risks involved with her having to deal with some of the worst seas in the world, it does increase the amount of ship traffic she’ll encounter, which means she runs the risk of colliding with another ship in those busy sea lanes.

Perhaps more importantly, Laura will have a support ship that will be following her closely and will be on hand in case the need arises. This ship will be there in the event of trouble, but will not aid her in any way as she navigates the oceans. With this plan in place, she’ll have a safety net to help protect her, but one that won’t endanger the “solo” status of her voyage.

Over the next two weeks the teenager will be working hard to prepare her ship, the Guppy, for the voyage. Once it is stocked with all the gear and supplies that she’ll need, she’ll be on her way, and off on a grand adventure on the high seas. What were you doing when you were 14?

[Photo credit: Associated Press]

First ever circumnavigation of the Americas ends tomorrow

The Ocean Watch, a 64-foot long rugged sailing ship, is scheduled to arrive back home in Seattle tomorrow after spending nearly 13 months at sea. The yacht, and her four person crew, are about to complete the first circumnavigation of North and South America, a journey of more than 25,000 miles, and in the process, perhaps help us to better understand the health of the oceans as well.

The project is known as the Around the Americas expedition, and until a few years ago, it wouldn’t have even been possible. But, thanks to global climate change, the Northwest Passage has become a navigable waterway, at least for a few weeks each year, and the crew of the Ocean Watch took advantage of that fact last year to complete the first stage of the voyage. After leaving Seattle, the ship sailed north to Alaska, and then proceeded even further north to cross the legendary passage that sits above Canada in the Arctic Ocean.

After making their way through the icy waters of the Northwest Passage the crew turned the ship south, running down the east coast of Canada and the U.S. From there, it was on to the Caribbean, then along the coast of Mexico and on towards South America. The voyage continued all the way to Cape Horn, where the Ocean Watch braved some of the most dangerous waters on the planet as they sailed across the Drake Passage, before turning north once again. The return trip saw the ship hugging the western coastlines of both North and South America. Now, they stand one day away from completing the first ever circumnavigation of those two continents, which will be complete upon their return to Seattle.

The journey wasn’t undertaken just for the pure adventure, although there was plenty of that too. Along the way, the crew, which consists of Captain Mark Schrader, First Mate David Logan, and watch captains David Thoreson and Herb McCormick, have taken a variety of scientific readings about the waters they’ve passed through. The team, which was joined in various stages by guest scientists and educators, hopes to use the data they’ve recorded to examine the impact of climate change on the polar ice caps and coral reefs, as well as the level of acidification in the oceans and the impact of pollution and debris.

This has been an amazing voyage to follow, and the crew is about to earn a well deserved break after months at sea.

[Photo credit: Around the Americas]

Rescue ships reach Abby Sunderland

A French fishing ship reached 16-year old American Abby Sunderland in the Indian Ocean earlier today, bringing a sigh of relief to her friends and family back home in California, who have been waiting for news on her rescue for the past two days. The girl, who had been attempting to sail solo around the world, was feared lost at sea on Thursday when contact with her home team was disrupted during a major storm. Later she would set off two emergency locator beacons, and on Friday, an Australian commercial aircraft few over her position, confirming that she was alive and well, but adrift in the frigid ocean waters.

Abby’s remote location in the Indian Ocean made it difficult to make a quick recovery. She was more than 2000 miles from both Africa and Australia, which made the use of a helicopter impossible. The French ship was the closest to her position, but was still 40 hours away when she ran into trouble.

As of this morning, the decision was still being made as to where to take the teenager. The ship could sail for Reunion Island, which is the closest land, but is in the middle of the Indian Ocean and quite remote in its own right. Or they could make a course for Australia, where Abby will have more resources at her disposal for getting home or repairing her own vessel. The fishing boat may even rendezvous with another ship, which could start a relay of sorts delivering the girl to safety.

Also unknown as this time is whether or not Abby will continue her attempt to sail around the world. Her boat, the Wild Eyes, has suffered a broken mast, and her sails are in tatters, with further damage a possibility. The Wild Eyes will have to be towed into port for repairs before she can go anywhere again, which will require time and money. For the near term anyway, Abby will be able to think carefully on what her next move is.

[Photo credit: Al Seib / L.A. Times]