That crazy Australian again

December 7, 2006

Andrew McCauley, who is doing the Tasmania to New Zealand crossing as I write. I was interested to know some details like how you pee in a kayak and if you paddle through the night what that is like. Well there are some good stories you can download from here.

Below is an extract (the night) from his ‘Bass Straight Crossing’ (The Bass straight is the body of water between Tasmania and Australia, about 220km across).

As the sun went down I stayed focused on paddling and I had no intention of stopping for sleep. As this trip was shortly after the new moon, I had just a thin sickle in the sky that would illuminate the night for a few hours before setting. With eyes well adjusted to the night this was enough light, however it was very dark when that moon went down! I had been hoping for a full moon for more light but in my mind the good forecast took precedence over the state of the moon. The stars were spectacular and it was exhilarating to be out in such a committing position on a beautiful night.

There was an exciting moment when I felt the need to pee late in the night. I deployed a drogue and sponsons in order to remain stable enough on what had become a fairly choppy sea and a very dark night. Everything is harder at night. With the wind in my face as I deployed the drogue off the bow, the sea seemed quite wild in the dark, it was totally different to having the wind & seas from behind. The lack of visual cues makes an enormous difference to how you perceive the weather and conditions around you! You have to rely on your other senses and this can take some getting used to, especially after all day and half a night on the water.

With no moon I was still reasonably happy to plod along, trying to maintain the pace and look after my body. There was a real low point between about 2am and 5am. I was feeling a lot like a bit of kip and started dropping off to sleep while still paddling. This is a lot like dropping off to sleep at the wheel of the car while still driving. I fought the urge as best I could but there comes a point where the heaviness of your eyelids is irresistible, and I nodded off and capsized. I woke up just as my head hit the water. A face full of Bass Strait made sure I was wide awake by the time I found myself upside down and staring at the cold black depths below. I rolled back up again and paddled hard for the next half hour or so to warm up, and then settled back into a steady rhythm.”

copyright Andrew McCauley

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