Tasman Solo [65]

Andrew McAuley is planning to paddle solo from Australia to New Zealand

This is from his website www.andrewmcauley.com.

“For some years now, I’ve had a dream to cross the Tasman Sea in a kayak. I’ve been quietly working away on that objective by getting out there and doing lots of paddling, with recent trips including a non-stop crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria (150 hours), Bass Strait Direct (35 hours) and a traverse of the Antarctic Peninsula coastline (8 weeks).

“I’ll be paddling from the east coast of Tasmania to Milford Sound, on the South Island of New Zealand. The paddle will be entirely below the 40th parallel (40 degrees latitude south).”

How far is it? “As the crow flies, it’s a shade over 1600km.”

Why? “I could write pages about this question. The short answer is, because I like paddling! I also enjoy sharing my experiences with others and inspiring people to reach for big, bold goals on a shoestring budget.”

What’s your experience? “The ocean doesn’t care what my experience is. When I’m out there, the Tasman will throw whatever it has at me regardless of how much paddling I’ve done. But I have done some paddling here and there. Here’s an abbreviated list of some recent kayaking trips:

  • 2006 Antarctica (approx 850km from Hope Bay south to the Antarctic Circle).
  • 2004 Gulf of Carpentaria crossing (530km crossing, seven days in the kayak non-stop. Except for sleeping!)
  • 2003 Bass Strait Direct (a direct, non-stop crossing from Wilson’s Prom to Boat Harbour, near Wynyard. 220km in 35 hours).
  • 2003 Bass Strait (western side via King Island, 300km. Includes a 100km crossing.)
  • 2003 West coast Tasmania (Strahan-Hobart, 400km).
  • 2001 Cape York and across Torres Strait (1000km).
  • 2000 Bass Strait crossing (eastern side via Flinders Island, 330km).
  • 1998 Paddling and mountaineering expedition in the Chilean fiords, Patagonia.

“I hold the record in the Murray River Marathon for the Open MRec class (404km). I have competed in the Hawkesbury Classic a number of times (111km), and I’ve won the Open Long Rec class twice. But flat water doesn’t count for much on the ocean! I’ve also done a spot of mountaineering around the place, which is a good way to get used to suffering!”

Has anyone else kayaked to New Zealand before? “No. There have been two attempts though, both by Paul Caffyn and partner.”

What kind of kayak are you using? “I’m fascinated by exploring the limits of what is possible in a conventional kayak on a low budget. My vision for this crossing is to use a stock model sea kayak with as little modification as possible. I’m using a widely available Mirage kayak with a few tweaks for safety and comfort.”

Will you use a sail? “No.”

What will it be like out there? “There’s no doubt that it will be very hard going. I have a fair idea of what to expect as I’ve done a few big kayak crossings before, and spent many nights sleeping in my kayak at sea. I’ve sailed to Antarctica and back, and seen some of what the ocean can do. I have an enormous amount of respect for this part of the Tasman Sea.”

Can we follow your progress? “Yes, there will be updates posted to the website during the paddle by my land crew.”

How long will it take? “This depends a lot on what sort of weather I encounter. With good conditions I’ll be looking at around 30 days.”

When are you leaving? “November. The exact departure date will depend mainly on weather and safety considerations. Keep an eye on this website for updates!”