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Cargo ship nearly hits rowboat near remote Adak in Alaska's Aleutians

Dermot Cole
Sarah Outen

A 28-year-old English adventurer, bobbing in a high-tech rowboat in the North Pacfic about 60 miles from Adak Island, had a close call in the North Pacific Friday after her radar failed.

“I almost got run over by a cargo ship this morning,” Outen said in a phone call recorded on her website.

She said she woke up early, stuck her head out the window in her boat and looked around, seeing nothing. Not long afterward, she heard a loud noise and saw a light, thinking it was a plane passing close by.

“And then I saw a great big black wall come through the mist,” she said. A cargo ship was heading straight for her. A wave from the ship pushed her away from the massive hull, and the big vessel passed within meters of “Happy Socks,” the name of Outen's boat.

She said her radar signal was repaired and is back in operation.

Outen left London on April 1, 2011, aiming to circle the world by human power, traveling by bicycle, kayak and a covered rowboat. Outen plans to return to England shortly and come back to Alaska next spring to continue her London2London journey.

She left Japan nearly five months ago and had planned to go to Vancouver, but bad weather made the ocean journey slower than anticipated, so she diverted toward the Aleutians to avoid spending the fall in the vast open Pacific.

On Wednesday, she wrote: “One of my favourite poems is Kipling’s ‘If’. And those final lines of filling the ‘unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run’, twisting ‘heart and nerve and sinew to serve their turn long after they are gone’ seem especially fitting right now. Though for us it is the final days of unforgiving distance.”

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Contact Dermot Cole at dermot(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @DermotMCole