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Arrival of her ‘Happy Socks’ in West Cork brings tears to explorer’s eyes

Tuesday, 12th January, 2016 7:18am

Story by Jackie Keogh
Arrival of her ‘Happy Socks’ in West Cork brings tears to explorer’s eyes

Transatlantic rower Sarah Outen MBE in her boat ‘Happy Socks’ before it was lost in the Mid-Atlantic last October. The boat was recovered by Castletownbere RNLI this week off Dunmanus Bay. (Photo: courtesy Sarah Outen)

A BRITISH adventurer’s transatlantic boat Happy Socks – which was abandoned in a hurricane 400 miles west of Portugal four months ago – turned up 500m from shore in Dunmanus Bay on Tuesday.

When Castletownbere RNLI’s Operational Manager, Tony O’Sullivan, phoned Sarah Outen MBE shortly before 7pm on Tuesday evening and told her the news, she was overjoyed and thanked the volunteer crew profusely.

She also took to Twitter to share what she described as ‘the wonderful sort of news that makes your tummy turn and tears flow... Happy Socks is safe!’

Although busy writing a book about her four-and-a-half year adventure – which saw her cover a 25,000-mile London2London world expedition – Sarah confirmed to the crew that she would travel to Castletownbere ‘as soon as possible’ to retrieve the boat. And on Twitter she gave ‘a big and very grateful shoutout to the RNLI crew at Castletownbere for bringing her in and letting us know. Go Happy Socks!’

In what was their first call-out of 2016, the volunteer lifeboat crew launched in force 7 winds and large sea swells at 2.50pm on Tuesday afternoon and were able to secure the boat 40 minutes later.

A member of the crew confirmed that the specialised rowing boat was, miraculously, ‘in fair condition’. He said: ‘There were just small bits and pieces of damage, nothing major’ but they still took two hours to slowly and safely tow it the nine nautical miles back to Castletownbere.

Sarah had to abandon the rowing boat after 143 days at sea last October because of a hurricane and the timely offer of assistance by a Canadian vessel.

Paul Stevens, Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat press officer, spoke of his admiration for the lone oarswoman, who successfully completed her London2London expedition in November, having set out from Tower Bridge in April 2011. 

Her goal was to row, bike and kayak the northern hemisphere – a journey that was designed to inspire children and raise money for charities. 

During her adventure, Sara overcame huge obstacles and endured extreme conditions in remote environments, including the hurricane on the Atlantic. She has just one more journey left to make: a trip to Castletownbere.