Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Watched an incredible documentary last night about Andrew McAuley, an Australian adventurer who, in 2007, attempted the 1500km crossing of the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand in a kayak - alone.

He made it to about 30km off the New Zealand coast after over a month at sea, where he'd survived a huge ocean storm with waves more than 10m high pounding his kayak and capsizing him regularly. He was able to 'batten down the hatches' by lying full-length in his kayak and pulling a 'bubble' over his head - this meant that even if he rolled over, there was enough buoyancy that he immediately came back up. Even so, it looked extremely frightening not to say excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Sadly, with land in site, Andrew ran into trouble - best guess is rough seas which his kayak was too damaged to deal with, leading to him capsizing without his 'bubble', not being able to 'right' the kayak and drowning in the 15 degree water once the hypothermia set in.

The documentary included footage from his own filming on the seas - a memory card with footage was salvaged from the kayak (his body was never discovered) - as well as footage of his wife, 3 year old son, friends and support team, both throughout the journey and then in interviews after his death.

It was an incredibly moving film, all the more so for the incredible understanding and acceptable of Andrew shown by his wife. I'm sure there are many people who would criticise him for undertaking this kind of adventure with a 3 year old son (an argument that is more often trotted out for female adventurers mind you), but I challenge them to watch this film and not feel that, ultimately, anyone would feel privileged and proud to share his gene pool.

Mind you, it didn't make me want to set foot in a sea kayak ever! I don't share the same DNA as adventurers - the sea scares me at the best of times, let alone when it's angry, stormy and whipping up 15m waves.

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