As many of you have heard Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley has been reported as “missing” during his 1600 km (approximately 1000 miles) solo crossing from Tasmania to Milford Sound New Zealand, something never accomplished before. Andrew’s kayak was found 80 km (50 miles) from his goal. There has been no sighting of Andrew at this time. Given the calculated time in water and the water temperature of 15 degrees C (59 degrees F), the situation does not look good.
For those who don’t know, Andrew launched on January 11th from Tasmania on a 1600 km crossing to Milford Sound. Andrew was on schedule to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday morning (February 11th). Last Friday, someone reported receiving a distress signal from a VHF radio, it was thought to be from Andrew. A SAR (search and rescue) event was begun.
During his crossing, Andrew had faced 10-meter (33 feet) swells, 40kt (46 mph) winds, and multiple capsizes. Needless to say, those are conditions that few could even begin to endure, at all–much less in a sea kayak. But, Andrew is an adventurer in the true sense. What makes him special to many of us is that he is a sea kayaking adventurer. For details on Andrew’s accomplishments, check out his web site. The other thing that has made Andrew’s latest adventure so much in the “here and now” for so many of us is the Internet. Andrew’s crossing has been followed by many of us on the event’s site as well as at the site of Derrick Mayoleth, Kayak Quixotica.
While the “official” search may be drawing to a close, I’m sure that there will remain an ongoing search for Andrew.
Between the tears of sadness and those of compassion–something that I experience whenever I learn of someone lost at sea, I have been thinking a lot about Andrew and his family. There’s a special connection between those of us who have spent time at sea, be it in the seat of our sea kayak, or on the decks of the larger ships at sea–I am privileged to have done both. And, but for the grace of God, . . .
As always happens, some are already beginning to question Andrew’s decisions, and I’m sure others will follow. It is not for us to judge whether Andrew undertook a journey “without the proper precautions and equipment.” I’m certain that Andrew knew the risks involved and made decisions that were based on his comfort level. On any trip you have to decide what to take, and what to leave behind. His decision to not take an immersion suit was his decision based on his comfort level with his other equipment, his skills, and the challenge at-hand.
How many points of protection does a mountaineer place . . . just one more? Where does it end?
Andrew took on a challenge, that’s what adventurers do. He had previously started out in early December, only to return when he wasn’t satisfied with the protection he had from the cold. He made some adjustments and departed again, a month later.
I salute Andrew McAuley, and will hold Vicki and Finlay in my thoughts during this most difficult of times.
I also want to pay tribute to a friend, a colleague, a paddling partner, a fellow blogger, an Irish whisky drinking partner, and a blooming adventurer himself—Derrick Mayoleth. When Derrick received the breaking news of Andrew possibly being in distress, he stayed with the events as they unfolded a half-a-world away. Derrick kept the rest of us up-to-speed through his blog. While many of us were sleeping, Derrick was collecting information and posting it so we (from around the world I might add!) could have the latest information. It truly is amazing what this Internet thing can do! Great job Derrick—-what’s your favorite coffee (or Irish whisky)? The trucks will be pulling up with deliveries soon!
Another blog about this event that I found of particular interest was that of a kayaking mentor of mine, Sam Crowley. Sam is in the midst of preparing for his kayaking adventure this summer when he will circumnavigate Ireland. Sam provides a personal perspective that is worth reading.
And, one more link for you to look at is the New South Wales Sea Kayak Club’s tribute to a member, Andrew McAuley.
Wishing you safe journeys, near and far!
May Peace Be With You!