Paul began canoeing at the age of 9 on the Brisbane River, but only took up serious sea kayaking in 1977. In the following thirty years he has notched up over 40,000 miles in his single Greenland-style kayaks.
Paul’s first sea kayak expedition was around Fiordland with co-paddler Max Reynolds. From Jacksons Bay, Paul carried on solo to complete the first kayak circumnavigation of the South Island. This trip was the subject of Paul’s first book Obscured by Waves. In 1979 Paul kayaked 1,700 miles around the North Island, another first, and completed the trip with a Cook Strait crossing. This trip was the subject of a second book Cresting the Restless Waves.
In August 1979, Paul teamed up with Max Reynolds again to cross Foveaux Strait and completed the first kayak circumnavigation of Stewart Island. Dark Side of the Wave completed Paul’s trilogy of his kayak travels around New Zealand.
In 1980 Paul teamed up with an English paddler, Nigel Dennis, to complete the first kayak circumnavigation of Great Britain. This 2,200 mile trip took 85 days.
In December 1981, Paul set out from Queenscliff near Melbourne and spent the next 360 days achieving the first kayak circumnavigation of Australia. This 9,420 mile paddle is acknowledged as one of the most remarkable journeys ever undertaken by kayak. Paul had to contend with a tropical cyclone which nearly swept him off a small offshore islet in the Coral Sea, raging surf, tiger sharks which frequently bumped into the kayak in the Gulf of Carpentaria, crocodiles, sea snakes and three sections of sheer limestone cliffs. To overcome the three 100 plus mile long sections of cliffs, Paul used Nodoz tablets to stay awake and Lomotil to keep his bowels dormant during these overnight paddles. The longest stint, along the awesome Zuytdorp Cliffs in Western Australia, took 34 hours of continuous paddling. After 10 years of trying to interest a publisher in a book about the Australian trip, in April 1994 Paul finally self-published his story as The Dreamtime Voyage.
In 1985 Paul completed the first kayak circumnavigation of the four main islands of Japan, 4,021 miles in 112 day.
With co-paddlers, in 1987 and 1989, Paul twice attempted to kayak across the Tasman Sea from Tasmania to New Zealand but was thwarted on both occasions by the Tasmanian authorities and bad weather.
In August 1991, Paul paddled into Inuvik, in the North-West Territories of Canada, to complete the first solo kayak trip along the entire coastline of Alaska. Commencing from Prince Rupert in British Columbia, this 4,700 mile trip took three northern summers to complete. Highlights of this trip were: a herd of walrus swimming around the kayak, a large brown bear ripping open Paul’s tent while he was asleep, being charged by a bull musk ox, and meeting the Eskimo villagers who are the descendents of the Inuit people who originally evolved skin kayaks in Arctic waters.
In September 1997 Paul, and Wellington paddler Conrad Edwards, completed a 550 miles circumnavigation of New Caledonia.
1998: 690 mile trip along south-west coast of Greenland, from Kangerslussuaq to Narsarsuaq; with Conrad Edwards.
1999: 700 mile paddle along the west coast of Greenland from Kangamiut to Upernarvik; with Conrad Edwards.
2001 – 2002: 610 mile trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to and around the island of Phuket, in Thailand; with Conrad Edwards.
2007: kayaking the Angmagssalik region of East Greenland, from Isortoq to Lake Fiord; with Conrad Edwards; 429 miles
2008: 691 mile paddle from Isortoq down the SE coast of Grønland, to Prins Christian Sund, then westwards to Narsaq; with Conrad Edwards. Probably the first westerners in single kayaks to achieve this trip.
Not only active on the sea, in 1991 Paul was a co-founder and the first president of KASK, Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers (NZ) Inc. He was president until 1998, thence Publications and Safety Officer. Since 1991, he has been the editor of The Sea Canoeist Newsletter, a bimonthly journal for New Zealand and overseas paddlers. Since early 2004 he has been compiling a sea kayak incident database; incidents involving fatalities, injuries or rescue by outside agencies.
Paul’s kayak Isadora, used for the New Zealand circumnavigation, is on permanent display at the Auckland National Maritime Museum, while Lalaguli (the round Aussie kayak) is on permanent display at the Queenscliff Maritime Museum in Victoria.
Stuart’s life pre-kayaking involved climbing, backpacking around the world and generally avoiding the traditional responsibilities of modern life.
Inspired by a story of crossing Bass Strait in a kayak, and to save his knees which were buggered after climbing and mountaineering for twenty years, he started kayaking in 1997.
He made plans for a Bass Strait crossing which included paddling from Sydney to Queensland as a warm up before committing to heading across eastern Bass Strait.
After that he managed to paddle from Sydney to Melbourne and along the western coast of Tasmania.
He was then part of a three man team, with Andrew McAuley and Laurence Geoghegan, who paddled the length of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Stuart explored other routes to and from Tasmania, with a western Bass Strait crossing followed by a direct line crossing of 230km from Wilsons Prom in Victoria to Stanley in Tasmania.
Then in April 2010 Stuart commenced his epic circumnavigation of Australia by kayak.
For this expedition paddler from Western Australia, sea kayaking is all about living with intention, embracing challenge, following her dreams and making time in life to connect with nature and wild places.
She says, “Nature puts on the show – you just need to paddle your kayak to the front row. If you’re out there enough and in the right places, you will get spy hopped by a whale, you will lose count of the turtles you see, and you might be surprised by a sunbaking sea snake, a snoozing penguin or a sea lion demanding your catch. Be inspired, conquer your fears and get out there in a sea kayak – and don’t think I haven’t noticed the lack of women out there on the water. If I can do it, you can do it too.”
Sandy Robson just wants to be a sea kayaker. In 1999, she was working as an outdoor education teacher when she purchased her first sea kayak. She joined the WA Sea Kayak Club, started doing regular expeditions and ended up planning to paddle around Australia.
In 2007, Sandy launched Sandy’s Long Australian Paddle (SLAP). She set out to paddle as far around the Australian coastline as she could in one year. After a heart-racing encounter with a territorial crocodile and about 6,000kms of the coast behind her, Sandy returned to Perth with some new kayaking plans.
In 2008, Sandy started work as a sea kayak tour guide and instructor, swapping the classroom for an office on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef where turtle, reef shark and stingray sightings are a regular occurrence and days off can be spent paddling after humpback whales in the Exmouth Gulf. There was also time to think about her next challenge.
Someone told Sandy about Oskar Speck. In the 1930s Oskar paddled all the way from Germany to Australia by kayak. Sandy is retracing this route with a series of expeditions that she thinks will span five years. 2011 saw her launch in Germany on the mighty Danube, tackle the unknown territory and white water of the Vardar in Macedonia and Greece, cross the Aegean Sea from Greece to Turkey and complete her Stage 1 goal of reaching Cyprus.
What’s next you may ask? Well apparently Sandy is not afraid of pirates, but she is afraid of not having enough sponsorship. Sandy has returned to Australia to raise funds to execute Stage 2. In 2012, the mission is 7,000kms from Turkey to India.
Go to www.sandy-robson.com for further details.