Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent
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eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay. Les and his wife, Anne, hosted a send-off party for Freya on her last night. It was a buffet for sixteen, with the food set out alongside Freya’s colorful sea kayak—“my floating billboard,” as she fondly referred to it. Melbourne, which sits on Port Phillip Bay, is 50 miles from the Southern Ocean. In the morning, Bognar loaded Freya’s boat on his SUV for the long drive along the shore road to Queenscliff, a sleepy town near the entrance of the bay, where
wasn’t averse to all open-water crossings. In 1979, the year before he and Nigel Dennis became the first paddlers to circumnavigate Great Britain, he and Max Reynolds crossed the Foveaux Strait—140 miles of open water between New Zealand’s South and Stewart Islands, another first. He had also twice tried (and failed) to cross the Tasman Sea, roughly 1,000 miles of raucous water. And yet he chose not to attempt crossing the far shorter Gulf. For Freya, the distance across the Gulf was four times
criticism . . . I take risks, but they are calculated risks. I want to be beyond criticism.” Perhaps through preparation and skill, McAuley had reduced his risk from (pick a number) a one-in-five chance of dying to a one-in-ten chance. To him, that was a huge difference—to a normal person, that’s still a one-in-ten chance of dying. I watched the National Geographic Channel documentary of his journey, Solo: Lost at Sea, which uses video footage recovered from the one surviving memory stick in his
the sand, crawled in her tent, and crashed. At 9:00 p.m. she emerged and began hauling her gear up the beach before high tide. She had three large gear bags, four bags of food, and, of course, her boat. As Freya headed up the beach with a bag draped on each shoulder, every able-bodied mosquito west of Crab Claw Island descended on her nude body. She quickly dressed for the next carry. Once she had gotten her boat up the beach, she noticed the ugly hole in the hull under the front bulkhead.
bollocks of steel, they don’t make my list. The first three adventurers covered countless miles with the aid of a sail, and while Bray paddled, he was in a huge, self-enclosed boat with a sleeping compartment—a craft that resembled a rowing capsule and a tiny sailboat, minus the sail. You will find nothing like it listed under “Kayak” in any boat-maker’s catalogue. When you’re looking for a comparable sea kayak trip—in the sea—you have Caffyn’s masterpiece and the little-known, seven-year