Crossing the Ditch
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Two mates, a kayak, and the conquest of the Tasman. 'this is the gripping and inspirational account of two ordinary blokes ... double-handedly proving that the Age of Adventure is not over!' PEtER FItZSIMONS With more than two thousand kilometres of treacherous seas and dangerously unpredictable weather and currents, it was little wonder no-one had ever successfully crossed the tasman by kayak. Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley had come close just months earlier - tragically, though, not near enough to save his life. But two young Sydneysiders, James Castrission and Justin Jones, reached the sand at New Plymouth - and a place in history - on 13 January 2008, 62 days after they'd set off from Forster on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. In the process, they had to face dwindling food supplies, a string of technical problems, 14 days trapped in a whirlpool, and two terrifying close encounters with sharks. When they arrived in New Zealand, their friendship stronger than ever, they were sunburnt, bearded, physically and mentally wasted ... and, most of all, happy to be alive. "... nothing prepared them for the 62 days of rapture, despair and euphoria ... ultimately this is a story of the triumph of the human spirit." Lincoln Hall
that we’d got through the training, as we hadn’t had any idea how we were going to react. After a few days R&R, we returned to reality – construction delays and financial pressures. In October 2006, we learnt that Andrew McAuley had been putting together a bid to get across the Tasman before us. It wasn’t the fact that he was attempting to cross the Tasman that we found disappointing and frustrating, it was how he’d gone about it so secretively. We’d been to a lecture of his in August on a recent
Mum was always encouraging, but even she was occasionally frustrated. Trying to learn my nine times tables on my way to a diving lesson one day, she had to keep silencing my younger brother and sister for spitting out the answers. I just couldn’t do them (especially 9x4, for some reason). Exasperated, Mum pulled the car over and started smacking me. “I’m trying, Mum, I am. I just can’t remember them,” I pleaded. Poor Mum broke down into tears again and replied, “I know…I’m sorry.” As I
weather began to abate in the late afternoon, but not enough to allow us to get in the pits and make up lost ground. By now, our heads were about to explode from lying on our backs for 60 hours plus. We managed to pump water for four hours, which was about the only benefit that came out of the day. DAY 27 VIDEO DIARY, DAY 27 – JAMES “Fourth f***ing day of shit locked up in the cabin. We’ve now lost close to half a degree [50 kilometres]. I’m getting over this pretty quickly. Every little thing
sure why, but this was something we had to do – and immersing ourselves in the project, we quickly got our hands on some big heavy plastic kayaks that would do the job. True adventure isn’t something that can be defined by any one person, but for us it was that burning feeling inside when we were in the outdoors challenging ourselves. Our first couple of paddles around Bobbin Head – where Sam and I had put our little tinnie in the water almost eight years earlier – we felt like explorers.
knives, journals and cameras throughout the expedition – from our chafed necks, carefully stashing them in the bow of the kayak. Standing up, we both pumped our fists in the air, tore our spray skirts off and untied our safety lines from round our stomachs. This was so symbolic: we were now free from the sea, free from Lot 41. On the count of three, we threw ourselves into the waist-deep water, our feet connecting with the earth for the first time in two months and 3318 kilometres. It was a