Coast guard plucks British rower from stormy Pacific, set to rescue compatriot adventurer

AFP-JIJI

British adventurer Sarah Outen was plucked to safety from the North Pacific after issuing a storm-related mayday during her attempt to row solo from Chiba to Canada, a Japan Coast Guard officer said.

“She was rescued at 5:45 p.m.” about 960 km east of Miyagi Prefecture, the officer said. “We have a report that she is able to walk on her own.”

A patrol boat was also heading toward fellow Briton Charlie Martell, who was separately attempting to row solo across the Pacific and was also caught in bad weather.

Both rowers sent out distress signals when tropical storm Mawar churned across the Western Pacific off Japan, the coast guard said.

The coast guard earlier said heavy seas prevented an early rescue of Outen, with a nearby freighter forced to stand off as one of its vessels rushed to the area.

Outen left Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, on May 13 bound for Vancouver, British Columbia, in a 6.75-meter rowboat.

“Sarah is bearing up well and demonstrating the strength and resolve that has brought her a huge distance on the journey so far,” her support team wrote on her website, www.sarahouten.com. “The request for her first meal back on land in Japan is ‘PANCAKES PLS. COLD OJ. GRAPES.’ “

Martell, who also set sail from Choshi and headed for San Francisco on May 5, was being monitored by the coast guard some 1,100 km east of Miyagi on Friday morning, the coast guard officer said, adding a patrol boat is expected to reach him and his rowboat around noon Saturday.

“The ocean in the area is reported to be highly turbulent,” the officer said.

Supporters reported that “Charlie is unhurt and still onboard Blossom (his rowboat)” on his website at www.pacific2012.com.

“The storm has not yet subsided, although it appears to be past its peak and winds are soon expected to drop to more manageable levels.”

Martell was aiming to claim the record for the fastest crossing of the North Pacific.

Outen meanwhile, who in 2009 became the first woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean, left Britain on April 1 last year on a 30-month “London2London: Via the World” expedition that has already seen her kayak to Europe, bicycle across Eurasia and then kayak to Japan. After crossing the Pacific, the next stage of her journey is intended to be a bike ride across North America.