1. How far from shore do you paddle
I often paddle just behind where the waves are breaking and less than 1km from shore, however sometimes I am going from point to point and this takes me further out, or I might navigate to an offshore island so I am a long way out, but most of the time I can easily see the beach and find the goings on onshore interesting to entertain me on the long days on the sea.
2. Where are you up to now?
The journey is now concluded. Sandy reached Australia on Nov 2, 2016. Sandy is now focused on writing a book about this incredible journey.
3. How far is the trip from Germany to Australia completed by Oskar Speck?
Oskar Speck articles say 50 000kms. My distance will be different to Oskar's because I have had to miss out some parts of the route. In the middle east the war zone in Syria meant I could not go there. Mines in Iraq at the mouth of the Euphrates resulted in me crossing off this country off the plan. Iran would not let me paddle there (I could not get permission). Pakistan was on the recommended not to go list for Australians. There were also some parts of India and Myanmar where I could not get permission to paddle. So, things in the world have changed since Oskar Speck's days, but the adventure is still as awesome as ever. I think I will end up with around 23000kms when I reach Australia.
4. Why did you paddle solo on the journey?
It is difficult to find expediton partners that can drop everything for 6-months to a year, so I tried to find people in the areas where I was paddling who would come and paddle with me for an hour, a day, a week... I like paddling with other people and I also don't mind paddling solo. I like the solitude at times, but I also like to socialise and talk to people regularly. During stage one I had other paddlers accompany me for parts of the trip in Germany, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia and Turkey, so I had a lot of company and made many new friends in the world-wide paddling community. I have had plenty of support and friendships throughout the journey so I don't feel alone very often.
5. Why did you do this trip?
I made this trip because I was inspired by the Oskar Speck Journey - the longest kayak journey ever made & I love the long journey. If I have a dream I think I should do it now... I dont see the point in working til I am 60 and then retiring... I potentially can't do this at 60 so i am taking some of my retirement now. I am meeting kayakers all over the world and that is an exciting part of the journey. Eventually I will write a book about the trip and the insights I have had, it will be the book that Oskar Speck never wrote. I am also passionate about the natural environment and this trip highlighted for me some problems that the world oceans face. I have realised how lucky we are in Australia to have such a rich and diverse ecosystem and people who do not pump plastic into the oceans. We need to keep working on preserving and protecting these unique ecosystems and the environment that is the support system for our planet. I want to promote non-motorised watersports and eco-travel as a part of this expedition. People who participate in these activities really develop a love of the ocean environment and care for it more. I'd also like to inspire more women to get involved in adventure and water sports.
6. How can you afford this trip?
Even though I sold most of what I owned, i still couldn't afford to undertake this journey on my own. I was humbled by the amazing support I received from kind people across the globe. Sponsorship from Australian Geographic, Mulberry Tree Childcare Centres and many many other donations really got me through. It is amazing when you have a huge goal, how people will get behind you to help you get there.
7. How old are you & are you married?
In Australia it is rude to ask a woman her age, but in other parts of the world everyone just asks, I was 43y.o. when i began the Speck journey, OMG I am now 47, soon 48..... but I don't act my age!
In India I have been asked "Where is your Husband" but no, I am not married. In some parts of the world it is assumed that you must be some sort of damaged goods if you are my age and unmarried, but where I am from arranged marriage is uncommon and many of my close friends are not married. I am not paddling around looking for a husband, but who knows who I will meet tomorrow :) My sister has two children, so i am a proud Aunty.
8. What is the biggest ocean crossing you have done so far on the trip?
109kms in Sri Lanka over 22hrs. I usually average only 4-6km per hour, but this will increase if i have the wind behind me and a following sea. I also use a small 'Flat Earth' brand kayak sail
to give me a boost in the wind. Some people think sail is a four letter word, but I just see it as making the most of what nature provides. The Flat Earth sail makes me smile!
9. How do you navigate?
Marine Charts and maps firstly and a hand held Garmin GPS to double check my position, calculate drift caused by wind and currents and to make my life on the sea easier. For safety it is important to be able to navigate without relying on technology. However, what I love about having my GPS is that I can use it to see my speed, estimated arrival at the campsite, distance to go etc. This is particularly helpful on the long crossings between islands, or if you want to see if you can paddle to that next point before it gets dark. I could of course calculate all of this manually, but it would take me time and the GPS does it at the touch of a button. Garmin also stock great versions of marine charts that you can put on a memory card in your device or download to the device memory. Electronic Lab in Chennai (India) luckily sponsored me with the Garmin Maps and kind people in Singapore donated money for me to replace my GPS when I reached there. Elcom and Consort donated the sea charts for the final part of my trip across the Indonesian archipelago and around PNG. I have a deck compass fitted on my kayak for navigating a bearing. On my kayak I use a detachable 'Silva Precision Kayak Compass' that clips onto the decklines. I would not paddle without a compass. On most of the crossings I can see the destination from the outset. Not all of the crossings will be like this though, and sometimes places may be too far away to see or obscured by the sea swell/waves/fog/haze, so a compass is essential in this case. In the past I have navigated using stars or constellations lined up on my bearing. This is pretty exciting...I was glad to have the backlit GPS though to double check everything when I was out there in the dark (reassuring).
10. How do we donate funds to your trip?
Please email me and I will provide you with the banking details for a transfer or donate through paypal using the website donate button on the home page, or invite me to stay at your place along the way. Sponsors can have free advertising on my site... email me to discuss it.
11. Where n when do you finish the trip?
Saibai Island in the Torres Strait in Australia... it is very close to the PNG coast. I hope to be there in October. The wind will have the final say.
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