I don’t know these guys personally, I just happened on the 60Minutes Interview with Liz Hayes, and I have to say I was taken completely by surprise, by the genuine honesty of the story and also the courage that these young men displayed along with of course their vulnerability. I’ve always been fascinated with ‘sea-faring’ stories, and this one is no different.
Some background. 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, and a string of technical problems. Given they had planned this trip for 3 and a half years prior to setting off. A young fellow named Jonesy and his expedition partner Cas set off in their custom-built kayak, Lot 41 from Forster, NSW.
Forster was selected as a departure point due to its proximity to the East Australia Current. Click on this Link for the 60 Minutes Retake on this Adventure:
When they took off initially phenomenal progress was made. In 5 days they had paddled over 500km. Day two in fact saw the boys paddle 178km in 24 hours. The EAC and the Tasman Front current had helped propel Lot 41 toward New Zealand.
In the middle of the Tasman Sea, they were hit by a storm that raised 10-meter seas and 100km/h plus hour winds. This storm kept the boys captive for 4 days and pushed them into a center of a current whirlpool that forced them into a two-week loop in the center of the Tasman Sea. After breaking free they had issues with sharks, barnacles, severe food and sleep deprivation, wasting muscles, and adverse weather conditions. I just want to highlight the ‘sharks’ part. These sharks were almost as long as their Kayak, the same vessel that became their home for those 62 days.
A number of critical pieces of equipment had broken down along the expedition. The electrical desalinator broke 13 days into their adventure. Now that means they were in a spot of bother over creating a water source, drinkable water. The VHF radio, is one of the three electrical bilges, amongst other things. Luckily the two had thought up at least one level of redundancy. For the most important pieces of equipment, there were either 2 or 3 levels of redundancy. Note to self, always have a back up plan!
Prior to the expedition they had been expecting that 60-70% of the wind would aid them toward New Zealand. On the ditch however they only experienced 6 days out of 62 where the weather conditions actually helped them.
Finally, after 62 days out at sea, the boys pulled onto dry land at Ngamotu Beach, New Plymouth on the North Island of New Zealand. They were greeted by 25,000 people down at the foreshore. Over the course of the journey, their website logged 1.6 million individual unique viewers on the day of arrival.
I was so moved watching the footage of them setting their legs down on the ocean floor of New Zealand, and tumbling towards the crowd that parted for them to reach land. It really is a story to remember and embrace for all its highs and lows and the messages that came out of it. Two guys who just showed all of us, that you can do something almost impossible and become legends in the process, remain friends, and yes publish a book about effort and the full story.
If you have the desire to do anything, it doesn’t have to be kayaking 2,500 kilometers in a Kayak, it doesn’t have to be as wild and scary, but if you have something on your radar that you would like to achieve, get planning and bring it to life, that’s what life is about. I remember around the same year in 2008 in July walking the Kokoda Track, which was wild and scary enough at the time for me. Every time I’ve set out to do something that tests me, stretches me and forces me to look within, something amazing has come from it.
I wrote a book about it, Walk It Out A Kokoda Experience, and although I didn’t have sharks swimming around me on the Kokoda track, I had other fears, insights, and big decisions to make. That walk really helped me! Plan an adventure. Cheers, Annie.