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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In early September Tybee Island kayaker Michael Robinson sent an e-mail encouraging me to vote for fellow paddlers Richard Davis and Dave White in their quest to win Immersion Research's second annual Vacation to Hell contest. I logged into the IR web site and soon watched a reggae-filled video of my adventure chums paddling the Oregon coast and discussing their desire to mount whatever expedition IR could throw at them.

The Immersion Research Vacation to Hell is an adventure grant that challenges a paddle team of four to endure whatever sea/river expedition the company decides is appropriate to the daunting moniker "Vacation to Hell." Last year's winners - The Range Life - were sent on an August 2007 descent of the Rio Huallaga in Peru's Andes mountains, an un-run feeder of the Amazon. The account of their expedition can be read at Rio Huallaga.

Although Rich and Dave didn't claim IR's Vacation to Hell, I was excited to learn that Russell Farrow from my local shop, Sweetwater Kayaks, along with the same paddling buddies he accompanied on an expedition to Labrador in 2005 - Mark Prator, Tim Keen and Alain Cormier - were the winners. The team, nicknamed Team Sweetwater, is tasked with a fearsome dilemma - a 60-mile open water crossing from Baffin Island to Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world, followed by a 45-mile portage from Devon's east shore to its west. Once back in their boats, their adventure will conclude with a 40-mile open water crossing to Ellesmere Island. A blog documenting their expedition can be found at Devon Island.

A recent USA Today article on the Vacation to Hell appears here: USA Today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One of the last major untamed crossings for sea kayakers is the Tasman Sea, a hefty swath of cold, unforgiving water between Sydney, OZ and Auckland, New Zealand. Two Aussie grad students - Justin Jones and James Castrission - headed out nine days ago hoping to be the first to claim the honor. Their heavily-sponsored expedition, dubbed "Crossing the Ditch," will be the longest trans-oceanic crossing ever attempted in a tandem kayak. It's worth checking their web site just to see images of their custom-designed glass boat and learn the history of its construction. One of the expedition sponsors is a New Zealand company called Daestra, maker of a software called TracPlus that utilizes satellites to allow companies to track vessels in motion. Log onto Crossing the Ditch to chart their progress or read the frequent updates they are logging online via their sat link.

The widow of paddler Andrew McAuley might have a few words of caution for the duo as McAuley died earlier this year when his boat capsized within sight of the NZ coast and the completion of his journey. The prevailing consensus was that McAuley dozed off, dumped and was unable to right the boat.

More information on the life of Andrew McAuley and his Trans Tasman Kayak Expedition can be found on his web site at Tasman Solo. As you will learn, McAuley was a very experienced paddler and an accomplished adventurer.

Jeremy Allen, a former student of mine from the Academy here in Tampa and a great photographer, has decided to celebrate the end of his career in the military with an adventure ride on his Kawasaki KLR. After weeks of bike maintenance coupled with nights of methodical planning, Jeremy set out last Friday for Key West. Hist trip will then bank 180 degrees as he pushes across the southern Gulf states to New Orleans for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Jeremy's travels, along with his photodocumentation of the trip, can be followed online via the Adventure Rider web site at the following link: Florida Keys to New Orleans

The above photograph by Jeremy Allen is published here with his permission.
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