Yes it’s true folks, they are looking to the ol’ RJimlad for his advice in such weighty tomes as Ocean Paddler magazine. Mark Sundin posts a comment on this post, Freya Hoffmeister, Clubs and Getting Graded, informing me of Ocean Paddler’s sensible decision to include some thoughts from your trusty narrator. What a thrilling turn up. Mark kindly scanned and posted the page from Ocean Kayaker which is attached for your perusal and my bragging rights. It’s here. Thanks for Mark for doing this for me and to reward him please follow his link to Expedition Kayaks where you can check out great boats and read his blog.
I was a bit disappointed to read, however, that OK has aligned me with the Freya ‘detractors’. If you read my original post IN FULL you will see nothing that suggests I am a Freya detractor. All I said was that I don’t know if she is taking the circumnavigation of Australia seriously. I know she’s had loads of advice from Paul Caffyn and has no doubt done extensive research but Australia is not New Zealand or Iceland and though these places have their share of shit-your-pants scariness, nowhere has the massive isolated extent of Australia or the sheer hostility of the terrain, weather and fauna.
Sure the coast of NSW and Victoria will be relatively safe with sporadic bad weather and the occasional Great White and rescue will be relative straight-forward if needed but north of say Mackay things get a bit more isolated and cyclonic with crocs sharing the water with sharks (ask Sandy Robson about them). Then there’s the top end coast where there’s nothing and from Darwin to Broome-nothing. Then Broome to Perth, not much and finally the south coast and Bight where there’s the Roaring 40’s, sheer cliffs for hundreds of miles, massive seas and massive sharks and absolutely nobody for two thousand miles. Desert to the north and the Southern Ocean to the south. This isn’t Europe or America, this is like going into space.
The fact that Europeans and Asians have a distorted view of our country is amply testified by the numbers of them being rescued at our beaches each year or drowning or getting stranded in the outback. I’m not saying Australians are more capable than them just that we have an established respect for the enormity of the place and the ease a person can get into trouble here. Each year we hear in the news about some Belgian guy getting rescued trying to run across the Simpson desert or backpackers trying to walk to Uluru from their resort and getting hopelessly lost without water. The Japanese come here in droves, drawn by picture perfect advertisements of our beaches in Queensland but end up being dragged out of the water by our surf patrols in very large numbers. Many also die. Our history is replete with stories of European explorers dying of thirst and starvation, lost in the unbelievable endlessness of the continent. I hope these things are foremost in Freya’s mind as she sets out because they damn well will be soon enough.
It’s a remarkable mission to embark on and Freya seems pretty determined. She also has a solid paddling record. This one isn’t about paddling though, it’s about mental endurance. Like I said in my previous post, I hope she does it and I’ll be watching her progress and cheering her on. I’m no detractor just an observer who hopes she has paid enough respect to this continent to see her through.