To start, where did you and James get the idea to “cross the ditch?” The idea came from a previous expedition we were doing. James turned around and said – you know, the off-hand comment – “I think we should do something like this”. At the time I thought it was a stupid idea, but two years later I found myself really keen to prepare and plan for an expedition.
You and James have been friends for years. Did you guys ever fight out there? There were a couple of times. One argument we had was really a reflection of us having had only an hour of sleep in four days and were going back towards Australia because we were expecting a storm. But they were more a reflection on the situation we were in, rather than a real aggravation with each other. It was generally over small little pedantic points. We came back still enjoying our kayaking and better friends than ever. Things like that will either push you apart, or pull you together, one of the two.
How did you get past the difficult times? The best thing about our expedition was that there was two of us there, so whenever someone was down the other person could sort of help bring them back up, or you know, just not let the person dwell on the negatives. I think that was a critical thing.
Your weirdest experience… Us both paddling in some of these huge waves… then you’re underneath the kayak with a scrubbing brush, trying to clean the bottom of the hull. A surreal feeling. That was a bit of an odd thing to have to do out at sea because there’s four kilometres of sea below you and you’re about a thousand kilometres from any point of land.
Sixty-two days at sea – ever get bored? It doesn’t get boring because there’s always something to think about. It sounds like a clichÃ©, but it’s a journey of self-development and growth. It gives you time to think about the direction your life is going and what makes you tick.
Did you get many food cravings? Ribs. Big barbecue pork ribs. That, fresh fruit, and a steak obviously. Those three things combined was what I talked about probably every single day of the expedition.
After two months of isolation, how did you deal with the media storm? It was a very surreal experience. I mean, we didn’t expect the amount of media coverage that we got. We were gonna be happy if there was two-three hundred people there, but you come down and have 15,000 people there. It’s absolutely mind-blowing. There was this stupid grin on our faces for the whole week after it, and you could just not erase that grin off our faces. I don’t really know whether it has sunk in.
How long was the recovery period? Physically, it took us a good week before both of us could walk up a flight of stairs without having to hold on to the handrails. Doctors told us it was gonna be about six to eight months before we are mentally back to 100 per cent.
Is there anything that you miss at all? Life out there… You don’t have any distractions, you’re out there achieving a single goal… It’s an amazing feeling to have a sense of where you’re going and what you have to do to get there. At times it was just the most beautiful thing in the world, especially around sunset. I miss the sunsets. I don’t particularly miss being wet.People who have never done what you did may call your adventure extreme.
Do you find other things more extreme? To tell the truth, the moment someone says “extreme” or whatnot, they are generally thinking of adrenalin and all that business. We’re definitely not thrill seekers or anything like that. The Tasman expedition was really about preparation and planning. That’s because we wanted to do it as safely as possible. We were just going back to, I suppose, olden-day men, like the Polynesians and islanders did many years ago. For more, visit www.crossingtheditch.com.au