CHOSHI, Japan British adventurer Sarah Outen, part way through a voyage to circle the globe using only human power, is putting the finishing touches to preparations for the toughest challenge of the trip: a record-breaking solo row across the Pacific.
Since she left her home country in April 2011, the 26-year-old has travelled some 17,700 km (11,000 miles) through Europe, Central Asia, China, Russia and Japan by kayak, bicycle and rowing her 6.4-metre (21 ft) boat, Gulliver.
"The Pacific Ocean, I think, will be the most challenging part of my journey back to London. That's very exciting but a little bit daunting as well," Outen said at a marina in Choshi, a Pacific port about 130 km east of Tokyo.
"Looking at the map and seeing all those thousands of miles of ocean that I'm going to be taking on just with Gulliver, it's a bit daunting. But I can't wait to get out there too."
Outen, who already holds a Guinness World Record for her 2009 solo row across the Indian Ocean, departs on the 8,334 km journey on April 20, weather permitting. Her destination will be Vancouver.
Ahead lies seven months of sleeping in a tiny cabin, eating freeze-dried food and drinking desalinated water. A solar-powered satellite GPS system will provide directions, while a built-in iPod will soothe her loneliness.
Additional support will come from her blog, where she has been posting pictures, video clips and comments. Hundreds of people around the world have shared thoughts and left messages.
"Human-powered journeys are so exciting because you're so close to what's going on around you, so wildlife doesn't necessarily see you or is intrigued by you," she said.
"That's really why I'm doing it; I want to learn about the world through this medium."
At the corner of the port where Outen's boat is being equipped and loaded are wrecked boats still remaining from the March 11, 2011 tsunami that devastated a vast swathe of Japan's Pacific coast, a view that she said was humbling.
"I remember standing on the shore and looking out to sea - and it was a beautiful, calm day - thinking I love the ocean and I know the energy out there. Then I look behind me and see the devastation that had happened, and I just felt humble."
Even so, she said she was more than prepared for the challenges she knows lie ahead.
"That feeling of not quite knowing if you're going to make it, that's exciting. That's thrilling as well," she said.
"I know that I'm going to be scared out there at times, I know I'm going to be exhausted, I know that physically and mentally it's really going to test me. But I'm ready for it."
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