Richard Barnes and Blue Moon - Tasman Sea Crossing 2022-23

Everyone needs goals and dreams. This is the story of a dream to paddle a kayak solo and unassisted from Australia to New Zealand. The goal is to inspire more people to be more active and adventurous and to follow their own dreams. Richard Barnes in 'Blue Moon' successfully completed the trip on Sat 18 Feb 2023, 67 days after leaving Hobart on 14 Dec 2022. Richard has become the first person to have kayaked the Tasman Sea solo, non-stop and unassisted.

The content below includes Richard's daily blog, and daily progress maps. The blog is presented from 'newest' to 'oldest' post.

Useful Links

The Boat - Infographic

Infographic below shows key features of the boat design and tracks of previous Trans-Tasman crossings by kayak. Shows Richard's during the first 2021-22 attempt - and updates for the 2022-23 attempt. Courtesy of Mario Lendvai of Broken Yellow.

Australian Geographic Society - 2023 Adventurer of the year Richard Barnes

The transcript is here

Paddle Australia Olegas Truchanas Award 2022-23 - Richard Barnes

At the Paddle Australia Awards on 28 Oct 2023, Richard Barnes was the 2022-2023 winner of the Olegas Truchanas award - for his Blue Moon adventure, and sharing of the experience.

The Olegas Truchanas award recognises a canoeing activity/touring trip which best exemplifies the spirit of Olegas Truchanas, who shared his passion for the natural environment through photography, publishing environmental issues and teaching young people how to face the challenges of life


Read about all the awards via the Paddle Australia website here

PNSW Senior Paddler of the Year 2022-23 Richard Barnes

August 2023
PaddleNSW has recognised the amazing exploits, as followed by thousands of enthusiasts throughout the year, of Richard Barnes and the Blue Moon adventures.

Richard Barnes is nominated by LCRK for Senior Paddler of the Year. While his incredible feat in February 2023 for paddling solo from Tasmania to New Zealand is well documented and would normally guarantee inclusion as a finalist in the Senior Paddler category on its own, his nomination extends to how he has enthusiastically and unselfishly embraced sharing his story and his message of pursuing adventure to scouts groups, kayak clubs and community groups far and wide.

His nomination also includes his genuine enthusiasm for all aspects of paddling. Not many club members and friends escape his loud “g'day” as they pass him and his regular doubles partner (his sister, Linden) in marathon events for which he would be in that rare group of “paddlers who attend all events”. He continues to compete in the adventure series all over Australia, white water events all over the world, has completed more than 40 Hawkesbury Classics and lines up again for 2023, and has crossed Bass Strait 6 times with the 7th scheduled for next March.

Richard is admired within the paddling community. His passion for paddling and energy are infectious and he is responsible for introducing many people to the sport. A true ambassador for paddling and a very fitting winner of the 2022/23 PNSW Senior Paddler of the Year award.

Media Coverage

The links below reflect some of the news coverage in the days following the trip. MEDIA ENQUIRIES (only): bluemoon(AT)

Day 67 (Arrived)

[Ed: Confirming Richard has arrived safely in Riverton Sat 18 Feb 2023 ~9:35am AEDT (11:35am NZDT). A selection of photos below. More photos are available in a Flickr album (see the Flickr Album link at the top of this page). Expect Richard will have some words to add in the next few days]

Above: Richard on approach to Riverton 8:45am AEDT (10:45am NZDT). Photo: F Dudfield

Above: approaching Riverton - Aussie flag flying. Photo: T Frew

Above: in the river mouth. Photo: T Frew

Above: Richard clearing customs 9:45am AEDT (11:45am NZDT). Photo is a still from a video: T Frew

Day 67 (On the way in)

It seems I must beat tide change so must be in Riverton by 12 noon (NZDT).

Coastguard are recommending start paddling from Pig Island at 9am (NZDT), to get to Riverton by 11.30am (NZDT) .

Above: Map shows progress as at 8am AEDT (ie 10am NZDT) and current pace should see him right on time at ~9:30am AEDT (ie 11:30am NZDT)

Arrival - around 11:30am NZDT (9:30am AEDT) Sat 18 Feb

For those who are in a position to welcome Richard at Riverton (target landing)...

When you are paddling a kayak with a terminal velocity of 3-4km/h in calm conditions, you have to be prepared to adjust when there are adverse winds or currents. Foveaux Strait has strong currents, particularly tidal currents, and strong winds – and might have other ideas. So Richard may get to within a few km of a destination, but be unable to make progress, and either be forced to head elsewhere, or retreat for a while and make a later attempt.

Richard won’t like to disappoint people waiting for him, but will certainly be encouraged by anyone along the coast out to welcome him. He’ll aim to advise the night before if he thinks it possible to come in the next day. Please be cautious in your enthusiasm to ensure Richard doesn’t have undue pressure – the ocean provides plenty of pressure…

In terms of ETA - the maps in the daily blog provide details of 24hr progress and albatross-flies distance to shore. Current position ~9km from Riverton - and an arrival before high tide at ~11:30am NZDT (9:30am AEDT) Sat 18 Feb. The Spot track (link at top of this page) provide realtime position.

Above: Looking to the North West over Riverton - river mouth to right of image. Image credit:

Day 66 - A Toast

Someone pointed out the low profile this trip of Coke.

True, but a bottle has been enjoyed quietly every night.

There simply haven’t been rusting cans or thieving Shearwaters as on Tasman I.

A little special ritual I have been sharing with my logistics Queen, Annette, is to celebrate each longitude degree as we cross it. There is even one waiting between us and the very short hop to the finish. I have had my Coke, Annette her Passiona.

In that mode, I would like to suggest you arm yourself with your drink of choice, in a delicate champagne glass for a toast, for my last on-water note. It only seems appropriate to recognise all who have helped, in ways small and big, to get me and Blue Moon all the way through this grand adventure.

So please raise your glasses to “Each and every friend and supporter of Blue Moon.”

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons. For context - on Richard's first Tasman crossing attempt - he lost a good portion of his Coca Cola. The urban myth is they were stolen by the Shearwaters who were his frequent companion. The myth lives on!

Above: Map shows 24hr progress to 8:00am AEDT 18 Feb. Location ~9km paddling distance to Riverton...

Day 66 (a treat....)

[Ed: a little treat for you. Coastguard Riverton have Richard very much in their sights - and took the opportunity to pay him a visit this morning. So below is a photo from ~9am AEDT at the location in accompanying map. Great progress this morning - assume that he'll be coming into Riverton with the high tide (midday-ish NZDT) Sat 18 Feb. Spot3 seems to have gone AWOL - will update map this evening]

Above: Richard approx 23km WSW of Riverton 10am AEDT 17 Feb. Photo Credit - A.Dawson

Above: Map shows 7hr progress to 12:30pm AEDT 17 Feb.

Day 65 - Expiry Dates

There has been a lunchtime ritual to study the writing on my lunch can labels. Amazing why my herrings should come from germany, and baked beans rate as healthy for their tomato content. So many fishy things shout high in protein. All also wear a use-by or best before stamp.

That made me start thinking today what other things have a use-by date, or need attention after 65 days. Someone asked whether albatross had stepped in to help with a haircut. Not quite, but a number 1 all over will be a high priority on landing. Similarly, finger and toenails have kept growing, but are too soft to cut or moreso file. So they are for the chopping block too. My hands and feet are generally protesting about being wet for too long. On Tasman I, the warmer weather produced no hand blisters at all. Down this way, my gloves have dried out only twice since pulling them on on day 1. The result is at least four blisters that won’t heal, plus other trivial cuts that have also regressed. I had cracks in m heels from starting, and 60 days later they have not healed despite vaseline care most days and socks every evening.

Seat padding is another life-limited commodity. In the cockpit, it started more than 50mm thick, but now in critical areas is down to less than 5mm. A seat pad in the vestibule has similarly compressed, and lost its ability to provide its purpose in life.

My sleeping bag gets damp from condensation each night, and my body heat dries it out. No clothes lines. After 65 days it needs two runs thru a dry cleaner. The pipe rack in the vestibule is also crying out for a clean. Dropped stuff lives in all the nooks and crannies. Powdered milk is still one that eludes the most careful guidance from container to cup.

All the electronics, from solar and batteries, the iPad and iPhone, GoPro and camera, to the lighting and trackers and EPIRB/PLB were selected for their waterproof ratings, but show signs of water getting in and then electrons going haywire.

Time to land, so the overall expiry dates on the individual items, and the whole motor, are not exceeded.

There is a plan, or perhaps this is simply something to work toward but is entirely at the will of the wind. That is two paddling days with average assistance from the weather. Forecasts for Friday and Saturday are ok. So very tentatively, Saturday afternoon at Riverton is the landing place.

To be updated after tomorrow’s paddle, and ongoing by Spot3 tracker.

[Ed: apologies for patchy Spot 3 tracking. If patchy again today we'll endeavour to provide updates as they come through.]

Above: Map shows 24hr progress to 5am AEDT 17 Feb.

Day 64 - Plain Sailing, not yet

XPD is Australia’s premier six to ten day adventure race.

It was legend that the organisers, Craig and Louise, saved up one special challenge for the final leg. I feel like they have been down this way, waved their adventure wand over Foveaux Strait with an added touch of curry, just to make sure the final leg is memorable.

Perhaps I should have been prepared. Foveaux is like Bass Strait in many geographical ways, and shares a similar reputation for roughness. I had been lulled by my three kitten-mitten flat days. Today the Tasman tiger was extending its claws just a little. The waves were not particularly rough, but coming from multiple directions, and at just the right wavelength to make Blue Moon bob up and down like a cork rather than glide forward through the waves. The wind too, not strong, but over the bow, slowing progress. Instead of 3kmh, the old motor could only crank out 1.5kmh. Tried this and that, blamed it in my mind on current. Ultimately, a full day’s paddle netted only 11km, little under tonight’s LCRK timetrial lap. This is but one sting in the adventure’s tail before Riverton. Hang in there everyone whilst I refuel over dinner tonight. Tailwinds are forecast tomorrow too.

I drift at (sea) anchor with around 60km to go. In the flow of the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, I have left Sackville, but the cheery checkpoint control people at Wisemans, Glen and his 2nd Gordon Scouts, and the LCRK hamburgers, will have to hold on a few hours till the tide turns.

[Ed: Apologies, Spot 3 tracking was a bit spotty yesterday. Hoping new batteries might fix for today. Please don't be concerned - we suspect Spot is looking forward to arrival as well]

Above: Map shows 24hr progress to 7am AEDT 16 Feb.

Day 63 - Too soon the End

Just as a bungy jump is said to stretch time, perception of passing time is so subjective.

A few extra moments sleeping in always disappear in an instant.

And so it seems with my grand adventure. When I headed out from Hobart, unlimited horizons stretched ahead. There would be plenty of time to do whatever, think out all wonderful solutions, solve the world dilemmas. And yet my 60+ days have almost flown, and land is racing in to embrace me once more. That has been brought home over the last two days, as Stewart Island to starboard and South Island to port funnel me in toward Riverton. Tonight I was conscious of the need to park where there was enough drift space not to hit unexpected land in the night. Once more, life is forcing decision making and responsibility to overtake my bubble of peace out on the Tasman.

There is also a need to land, to put a full stop on the adventure, to be able to claim success. Only then can I know that I won’t let down all my supporters by some last minute failure. You will all be able to redirect your time to matters other than watching a dot on a map.

To help with humour to not become melancholy, literary masterman Ian has come up with the Tasman adaptation to verse 4 of Banjo’s Mulga Bill (in response to Day 57 Capsize). It can’t help but bring a smile. Thanks to others who have likewise contributed poetic genius to the adventure mix.

She shaved a dumper by half an inch, she dodged a big white crest:
The very albatross in fright took flight to feathered nest,
The sharks beneath the woolly waves swam deeper underwater,
As Barnacle Barnes with beaming smile, sat tight to each cavort-ahhh.
She struck a rogue and gave a lurch that nearly tipped her over,
Man overboard, a precipice, so close so close by jove sir,
And then as Barnacle Barnes let out, one more excited wail
She surfed a wave of twenty feet back to the boisterous gale.

(vs the original verse 4...)
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man’s Creek.

Day 62 - The Mood of the Tasman

I woke this morning to a mirror ocean. Was this the same famed Tasman tiger that only last week was stirred to a gale? And now had on kitten mittens? I couldn’t decide how best to appreciate this gentle side showing, whether to sleep some more without rocking, look out over it over breakfast, or start paddling in such smooth and fast conditions. So I did a little more of each, and am even later tonight desalinating and dining.

Another soft spot is showing in the Tasman armoury. For the last five days I have been trying to make some northing, to no avail. Today, the drogues were released a little, and Blue Moon crossed back down a latitude to be just within the S46 set.

This was only after teasing me last night by being within a 111km Hawkesbury Classic of the finish when I stopped paddling Day 61, only to be taken by overnight current a further 10km away from Riverton to restart this morning. I think I am having a quick break with the lovely HCC checkpoint crew at Checkpoint Charlie tonight.

The Tasman moods are a reminder that nothing is done till I step ashore. All going well, 90km might be 3 or 4 days to reach Riverton. I plan to enjoy every last minute of those days. Looks like it might be another super flat day tomorrow.

Day 61 Contribution to Society

Jo is a very long time paddling companion and best of friends. We have paddled whitewater together, but much more regularly marathons, including the Clarence 100, and that extraordinary creek run, the Gregory River Marathon.

In our conversations, she likes to pose the difficult questions. One that has always haunted me - “How does your paddling contribute to society?”

In many ways, the answer when related to say a paddle alone on a creek, is "not much". At best, I am a happier person, or the group I am paddling with is more content, and a world filled with more contented people is not a bad aim. At the time, Jo and I were involved with organising marathon series kayak racing in Sydney and SE Queensland, so there was a clearer contribution to the health and wellbeing of a larger group of paddlers.

The question can well be asked of my Blue Moon trip. Does it contribute positively to society?

Perhaps the opposite, costing society, is something to be avoided. I am very aware of the risk of needing to set off an EPIRB and get rescued, right up until I set foot on land. Most people remember the yachtsman Tony Bullimore, rescued off Perth from his upturned boat by the Australian navy with the rescue costs always a cloud.

To the positives, and whether they satisfy Jo’s original question.

  1. A key aim has been to promote adventuring. Hopefully some have been inspired and are doing those things they always dreamed to do.
  2. I talked to Pacific rower Michelle Lee, and she hopes to inspire youth to be more active. I too will aim to talk to groups and promote active lifestyle.
  3. Some might suggest spot-watching has taken far too much time. But hopefully this has led to conversations on new topics or with new people. Hands up if your morning conversation with your partner, or chat over the back fence with your neighbour, is about Blue Moon?
  4. Working as an engineer, in projects there is always planning and risk assessment and a dozen other engineering inputs. I intend to share the Blue Moon project experiences with other engineers
  5. Lots of friends and supporters have contributed gear, advice and solutions, giving purpose to all those people. As a society, we thrive on purpose.
  6. I thrill to read other adventurers stories. I hope you have enjoyed reading mine.

Ultimately, success or otherwise, Blue Moon crossing the Tasman will not change the world like a miracle cancer cure, or climate change fix. But perhaps each person doing their little bit contributes meaningfully to society.

Day 60 - Sky High

Day 60 - Sky High Just like with a rollercoaster, some of the big thrills are kept to near the end.

Today I experienced two sky high moments.

The first was an interaction with albatross. I was packing up after breakfast and stuck my head out the hatch to find an albatross floating close by the cockpit. He seemed quite unconcerned to see me and even floated a little closer to my outstretched hand. It was then I noticed a second albatross was floating near Blue Moon’s stern. They floated toward each other, and sat on the water about 10m away. Out of nowhere two more albatross soared by, arched around, and came in to land with the first two. All four drifted toward the stern, where each had a few pecks at the sea anchor ropes which are quite tatty and tasselled. The anchor lines are also encased for the first few metres in noodles, to help them float and not entangle the rudder. It is a special noodle construction, with rope inside orange electrical duct inside more standard black noodle inside tougher yellow outer tube. It is in fact the noodles that the albatross love. It seems the males wanted a gift to go a-courting. What better than lumps of noodle? Using their sharp beaks, they were able to bite off black or yellow lumps, which they took across to the waiting females. There were some crooning calls, more to my ear like air escaping from a pneumatic tyre, and then artistic displays of unfolding their wings. Then a bit of necking, and some beak tapping, at which point my noodle came into the exchange. Ultimately a further three albatross joined in this mating game, to make a total of seven albatross all within 20m of Blue Moon. Intriguing to see, but I do still need some noodle to float my anchor lines, so the albatross better not get too amorous.

The second big excitement was seeing land. At 11.20am, the first bit of New Zealand came into view. The sea was super flat after no overnight wind, and the sun was glittering on the water. There was just enough swell to elevate me and Blue Moon to a vantage height. There were two separated sugarloafs of land, at around 45 (NE) and 90 degrees (E). I suspect they are two parts of Stewart Island. Later, a peaky hill arose between these two originals, and a separate peak came into view due north, which might be an island before the south shore of South Island. It is still around 50 km to any land, but yet so thrilling after 60 days of only ocean. I couldn’t help but wonder if Andrew MacAuley felt like me when he took his photos of Milford Sound, and remind myself there is still a way to go.

After so much excitement, paddling along for the afternoon at 2.5kmh seemed oh-so-slow, but did take another tiny step toward the goal.

[Ed: land sightings, are likely to be Mt Anglem/Hananui to the NE on Stewart Island, and Tower Peak to the North as shown on progress map below]

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons

Day 1 to Day 59 progress (from Phil N)

Perspective....As Richard & BIue M00n approach the coast of New Zealand it is worth looking back to see the journey to date. Unfortunately too many points have been placed for Spot Tracker to show from the start in Hobart on December 14th but here is the trail from December 19th last year. Go Richard

Day 59 - Sydney Treats

It is strange what pops up on the menu for contemplation whilst paddling along. Today, thoughts turned to what treats await when I finally get back to Sydney, however and whenever that might be. Some of the delights include:

  • meeting up again with all my canoe club friends and paddling fans from SUCC and LCRK, and the marathon circuit
  • scones straight out of the oven cooked by my sister Linden
  • sharing Linden’s garden delights, including snapdragons, petunias, carrots and passionfruit
  • dinner with neighbour Fraser, who has promised huge steaks
  • musical poetry from next neighbour Phil, written about the paddle and sung by the author
  • a chance to connect more with at least some of all the wonderful facebook supporters
  • Regathering with all from GPUC on a Sunday morning
  • Reacquainting with workmates and clients and the Paddington cafes and lunch venues around our office
  • Finishing building a house at Narrabeen
  • sharing more adventures with lots of you

Being away from all these things and people definitely acts as a reminder of the good that surrounds every ‘normal’ day. It is very special being out on the Tasman, but special is all around at home too.

Day 58 - Carried Away

Supporters all, today’s report will have to be brief. It is already closing on 1am with great conditions forecast so I can’t sleep in late tomorrow.

We started in the tail-end of the gale rough this morning, and have finished in the soft-as-shearwater-down calms which are forecast to carry right through this weekend. Whilst boisterous is exciting, calm has more chance of getting me to a landing.

I was feeling particularly happy today because all BIue M00n hardware was working, and needed no tweaks. The software paddler is trundling along, not quite sure whether to start hoping for success just yet. Desalinating took a chunk of the evening, although I potentially have enough pure water on board, about 30L, to make a tap.

It was a special delight to add decent northing to progress today. More of that is tomorrow’s aim. Sitting in the kitchen doing two things at once like all good men, eating and typing, nothing set out on the bench is even hinting at a jiggle or slide. So much simpler.

Above: "The Fiordland Crested Penguins of Stewart Island are notified..." With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 57 Capsize

Before the action of the day, an exciting sign from nature. Up till now bird sightings were about 20 per day. Breakthrough today with flocks of 50 or more all swooping and dashing and coming over for a look, revelling in the high winds. We must now be within shearwater land distance.

Two rather adventurous moments today, one during breakfast the other nominally round lunchtime.

Eating breakfast indoors, just starting to pack up. Still to enjoy my six vitaweats, and finish a cup of muesli+weetbix. Bedroom mostly packed away. There was an enormous bang. BIue M00n skipped violently sideways, and then snap-tilted about 45 degrees. I was kneeling through the internal hatch, strapping down the pelican boxes. My ribs took the impact of my body going sideways. Fortunately not too much spare width in the hatch, so by contact my speed wasn’t too terminal. Inside the bedroom, every single thing in the fiddled shelving had sprayed itself to the far side of the canoe. I had trouble refinding the smaller things like my watch. The bigger bags and weetbix boxes were strapped in place so safe. Back at the breakfast table, there was more chaos. My cutlery knife and spoon, and my penknife had been sitting with the vitaweats on the bench. No sign of any of them. The weetbix were in a lidded cup on the floor. It was still exactly in place. The vitaweats broke into multiple pieces, and scattered over the floor. I found the equivalent of 5.5 biscuits, so half a vitaweat is still lurking. The other well-hidden item was the spoon. It had lodged in a bit of sally desalinator, a good 700mm across plus 250mm above where it began. I finished breakfast and packing with a degree more caution.

My lunchtime capsize occurred somewhat unexpectedly. Definitely conditions were marginal for carefree paddling. In the stronger gale-force gusts, each paddle blade needed conscious guiding down into the water not to flutter and blow away. Steering downwind always takes concentration. There were plenty of swell tops all around breaking, but these being from behind tended toward creating a surge in adrenalin and speed. I didn’t even hear this wave coming, so likely as yet unbroken and from portside behind. In the moment of breaking and contact, BIue M00n skipped sideways, and then proceeded to roll past horizontal. I don’t sit with my knees hard under the deck, so my left one slipped out of any potential brace, punched off my spraydeck, and I was in the water as BIue M00n staggered back upright. She like me was caught unawares. My right leg, with legrope leash still attached, was still up in the cockpit. So I hoisted myself back up on board, then somewhat shakily took stock. Cockpit was awash, but sponge still in place. Paddle was at the end of its tether under The hull. My cap was still round my neck, glasses hanging by their leash and one arm, and my camera was on its leash in the water. Minor skin dings the only physical damage. It took only a few minutes to re-sort the cockpit. Loose stuff inside the cabin could wait till later, and off we paddled, chasing those northbound kilometres.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

''Above: Map shows progress in 24hrs to 7:30am 9 Feb.

Day 56 Hail the Gale

That patch of blue sky was somewhat buried in cloud last night, but has re-emerged after an exhilarating day. Both my worries, the rudder and northern progress, have had some improvements too.

Lying in bed last night, hearing every crunch from the rudder as it swung around unrestrained jabbed my conscience that this would be a dance to destruction. What to do finally came at 4am in the morning, a little rope construction around the stern, with a loose bridle to the rudder. Trickiest bit was how to attach bridle to rudder. I still had the old broken lever, so retrieved it and simulated using the spike on my penknife to make a bolthole thru it. That was easy in the cabin. I just had to hope it could be done underwater in situ on the rudder.

Roger had forecast wind picking up to 30knots, and waves to 5m. When I stuck my head outside it looked like that. No stern walk had been attempted in conditions like these. I would normally delay to a calm day, but this would not wait. Maybe I should take up surfboard riding after this feat, though in much warmer water. Fortunately I didn’t drill myself, or drop the bolt or nuts, and tonight, there are no angry rudder noises. Whilst progress north has been small, at least it was not south, like yesterday. There is clearly lots of wind influencing today’s east leap, while the 'north' yesterday was paddling on a north heading in a W wind. Still well south of Riverton, so more north to do in the forecast SW/SSW winds tomorrow.

Exhilaration and exhaustion came from today’s paddling. The wind was from behind my left shoulder. It has been howling. I watched the patterns as it raced across the water, picking up white horses everywhere. I had to concentrate on keeping hold of my paddle or it would have blown away. Way too windy to get out a poem to read. Swell was from the same direction, and it has been big too. Slopes big enough for even BIue M00n to surf briefly. Easily steep enough to have curling and breaking tops. BIue M00n has slid and skated and tipped right over as the breakers thump into her. I brace inside the cockpit not to be thrown out.

Lots inside the cabin has been jiggled around by the enthusiastic motion. But it has been alive, exciting paddling, like grade 4 whitewater. I did stop earlier this evening, worn out by the intensity of the paddling, and preparing for more for the next two days.

Day 55 - Not there Yet

Not much peace and tranquility in my little world tonight.

On the physical side, I am riding through 20-30 knot winds and 4-5m waves. Decidedly boisterous.

On the anxious side, two things occurred to remind that there is still 300km to go.

Each day, there is about 45 minutes of ‘wet preparation’ to start to paddle. That includes retrieving the sea anchor, but also changing into wet clothes, kags and spraydeck, and repositioning the equipment like paddle, centreboard, camera and video, and gps. That all done this morning, settled into the cockpit, take first strokes, no steering. It took two more hours and three stern walks to sort out fitting my spare control wheel. Conditions were more bullriding than merry-go-round. No more spare wheels if I mess this one up. The rudder is in angry noise mode tonight, released to flap in the waves more to take pressure off the control wheel, but reminding of its fragility at every bang.

The second is the perplexing perspective on progress today. I finished the paddling day feeling pretty good. GPs said we had clocked over 40km, and were regularly hitting 5kmh, following a NE heading. They are rare BIue M00n targets. And yet, come inside the cabin, check progress on Garmin, only to find I have actually gone south. How can that be, with so much expectation resting on the SW winds to blow me north? Am I really heading for Antarctica? More southerly winds tomorrow, so fingers crossed for a rudder that steers, and progress that steams northward.

Day 54 (Afternoon Sun 5 Feb) - P is for Peace

Don’t get me wrong, a layday is a very pleasant gift. However I feel the urge to progress, so will be glad to be paddling again tomorrow.

People ask and always will - why? Why spend 70 days out on an ocean, alone?

Paddling along yesterday, and in my cabin today, I think the answer to the quest has been bubbling to the surface.

Cyril Derreumaux is the paddler who recently arrived in Hawaii from California. Now that's hard to beat. Within his trip stories, there is one on finding why he wanted to do his trip. Well worth a read.

There are many contributory positives, like:

  • Seeing the birds
  • Finding the fish
  • Great food
  • The challenge
  • Great sunrises and sunsets
  • support from facebook friends

However underlying all these, is having the time to truly relax, or finding peace. A refuge from the hustle bustle, the deadlines, the responsibilities. Voices have been mounting to sort out arrival timing and plans post landing. A little voice inside whispers, let me finish the journey first in peace. There will be days, years, to get back into responsible mode.

Encouragement is always there for each of you to adventure, and perhaps also find peace within the adventure.

So a big thank you, to work, family, friends and supporters, for this once in a bIue m00n opportunity, to experience peace and tranquility, on a grand scale

[Ed: Website for Cyril Derreumaux is here]

''Above: 24hr progress to 7am 6 Feb.

Day 54 (Morning Sun 5 Feb) - Lay Day

This feels very strange but quite luxurious.

I have let the sun rise, if there was one in my grey world, and slept on.

The wind is humming through my ventilators but both hatches remain shut, with waves randomly washing across both.

The waves outside are manageable.

My validation for staying indoors is that wind, waves and current are all trying to push me south, and my paddling today would be like headbutting a brick wall. Overnight I drifted more than 40km south, my worst flotsam experience so far. I am pinning hopes on upcoming forecast southerly winds taking over from tonight.

Meanwhile, breakfast is a leisurely affair, slowly enjoying all the regulars.

It must be Sunday. Good morning in particular to all my GPUC supporters.

Day 53 - Redirection

It seems that the weather is keen to whisk me off for an even bigger adventure toward Antarctica.

Despite dedicated effort over the last four days to end each day further north than the morning’s starting point, I have slipped dramatically south. Add drift overnight which is also southbound, and my latitude has increased by over 100km in those four days.

The dream of ending at magical Milford Sound is now beyond practical reach.

Invercargill on the south coast of South Island has a Port (Bluff), and so is now the likely target landing. That or Riverton.

As a bonus it is closer than Milford has been for a few days, well within 400km.

So long as I can escape the southward conveyor. My hardworking weatherman Roger B forecasts winds tomorrow morning from the north, but a change in the afternoon and then winds with a southerly component to help me north till at least next Thursday.

So hang on in your couches, angle them round a little, and lets head off together towards Invercargill (Bluff/Riverton).

[Ed: Richard reported conditions as ‘decently rough’ last evening and plans a sleep-in till the wind swings to southerly in afternoon.]

Above: 24hr Map now shows distance to Bluff and location of Riverton

Day 52 - Adventure Enablers

Two shout outs today.

Dave is the first. Dave and I met at Sydney Uni Canoe Club, and learnt to whitewater there. We paddled the Franklin together. Tomorrow he will be competing in the Cradle Mountain Run, vying to be the competitor who has completed the most number of runs. As well, he is part of the organising committee. Saturday morning before sunrise, entrants will set out on this iconic trail, doing in one day what takes hikers usually five. Dave traditionally makes the Anzac biscuits available at Narcissus Hut to power people round the final lake stage. Good luck Dave.

Shannon O’Brien is the second. Rapidly approaching is the postponed Massive Murray paddle. Shannon took over organising this huge event post Red Cross then YMCA. It was in my mind because the distance raced down Australia’s longest river is 400km, matching how far I have to go to get to NZ. Shannon provides the logistics to support both racers and finishers. I would be on the Murray’s if not out on the Tasman, and will be back in November for the next running. I encourage anyone who feels the urge to do the longest canoe event in Australia to give it a go. A new final day paddling in Gunbower forest is sure to add special interest.

Alongside AJ Hackett - Dave and Shannon help provide outlets and options for adventuring, whenever the urge grabs you.

['Ed: Not sure if Richard will paddle today – strong winds from north next ~24hrs. Hard day and hard work ahead...]

Day 51 - Fishy

I paddled along today wondering why I had seen so few fish.

The sum total for the journey is pretty much:

  • the mini whales, or maxi dolphins, highlight of the whole trip
  • 3 sharks, the family that stayed around for quite a few days
  • a couple of pods of dolphins, one yesterday
  • two seals, one just on 700 km to go, and one two days ago, which did make me wonder what their range from land might be
  • One game fish, big long pointy nose, etc, way back
  • today, a sparkle of a school of hundreds of tiny fish leaping through the air. No sign of what might have been chasing them.

It had been suggested to take a fishing line. With nothing visible, even less chance of catching anything. If I had been relying on fresh fish, there might well have been a big hole in my diet. Or is it like what Christophe has suggested in some of his cartoons, that all the fish are lining up at BIue M’s stern, just out of this not-very-flexible paddler’s sight?

It will be interesting to observe whether the fish quotient increases as the NZ coastline gets closer.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 50 - Food Supplies

In planning this adventure, one of the significant decisions was how much food to pack. Too many epic adventures either get cut short, or the person runs on strict rations to make supplies last to the end. My plan was to take 100 days of food.

At day 50 I should theoretically be half way through. An audit to see how well I was sticking to the menu was in order.

Food consumption has been aided by most supplies being packaged in weekly grab bags. Weetbix is my staple for breakfast. Every night I see the boxes, as they still line my bedroom. I started with 8 boxes, and still at box 3.5, so safely within budget at 7 or 8 per day. I need powdered milk for the weetbix, and muesli, soup, desserts and cups of milk to drink. Started with 8kg, still to reach 4kg.

I have one flatbread a day, with vegemite, peanut butter or marmalade. Its hard to sneak another whole piece, so they are safe. The spreads are more at risk. I know I have been overindulging in peanut butter, but brought 4 big jars to account for that. Marmalade and vegemite are both just into jar two territory. Lunchtime staple is vitaweats. Max 8 per day. Haven’t exceeded that budget, but also haven’t checked the overall cache, so a tiny uncertainty. I had planned on one or two filling tins per day, things like sardines, average 1.6. Have rarely had more than one. So there are banking up spare sardines and tuna, perhaps if I could find a shark or tempt a shearwater?

Dinner has two staples, a cup-a-soup and a dehydrate main. These are disappearing strictly one per night, so are the most regulated of all. They are supplemented by couscous, pasta, deb and peas, all of which seem to be slightly in oversupply, lagging behind consumption of the staples. I have always loved desserts, and am making sure not to get ahead of the weekly ration. Otherwise this would be at high risk of excessive depletion. Surprisingly, snacks are way behind. The urge or perhaps time to snack never seems to arise. Arnotts biscuits I am up to day 20. Muesli bars hardly touched. Biltong aplenty. Nuts are one exception, where my mouthwatering supply gets raided for breakfast and first thing when finishing paddling for the day. This may well be my achilles heel.

Perhaps the outcome of the audit is that I can slow down and stay out here paddling a while longer? Definitely starvation is not threatening.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 49 - G for Grand

A part of me wants to experience rougher weather - the thrills, to see what it is like, to see how BM and I measure up. Another part of me really enjoys the quieter moments.

It reminds me of a stretch of the Franklin River, called the Great Ravine. It contains four of the biggest rapids on the river, but also has three beautiful, serene and quiet runs between the rapids. Is either better, or do they coexist to highlight the differences. I can remember at the time, being a relative novice to white water and at the height of the No Dams issue, being particularly happy to float and recover on the quiet parts.

I have now had two calm afternoons in a row on the Tasman Sea. This afternoon felt particularly grand. Warm sunshine. No wind. Tiny wavelets not thinking of breaking. It was almost dry paddling. BM was tracking along with little need to steer. No hidden currents so speed was fine. An albatross landed nearby a couple of times for a chat. It made me feel unstoppable, if only a desalination session didn’t beckon. I could paddle along not concentrating, absorbing nature all around, and letting thoughts flit lazily through my mind.

Definitely a grand moment.

Day 48 – Soup Disaster

There have been two occasions on Tasman II when I have been put to the test and found short of the right stuff.

The first was when I lost my main sea anchor and broke the rudder restraining system, the story of which was shared on day 35.

Two nights ago, just after midnight, I spilt my soup.

It was to be dinner’s final course, a hot cup to send me happily to sleep.

Unfortunately at the critical moment, a big wave crashed into BM and sent lots of things flying.

It generally had been fairly flat and calm, and soup was in a lidded cup. Nevertheless, the outcome was a cupful of mess spread all round the vestibule, and liberally over me. Reflecting from this distance, it was disappointing to miss out on the contents, and to have to clear up the mess.

In that moment of shock, I was not sure whether to cry or scream abuse at the wave. Many inanimate bystanding objects got caught in the crossfire, and lamed for what was essentially my own lack of care. Things might well have gone overboard as the punishment for this innocence, if the hatches had not both been shut.

Ultimately a sponge and bucket got the soup overboard and the vestibule back to a semblance of order, and I retreated to my bedroom, lying there contemplating my grievances.

Partly because of being solo, perspective comes more gradually.

What I needed was a large dose of Ian’s literary magic.

He has taken verse 3 of Banjo Patterson’s Mulga Bill and reworded it to cover the great soup disaster. Thought up in a day, it just has to be shared with everyone. Thanks Ian for helping put minor incidents in their rightful place.

‘Twas Barnacle Barnes, from Collaroy, that sought his boiled water
That perched atop the gimballed stove, chicken soup on order
He turned the flame down a tad, drooling for the flavour
But ere he’d done a dozen stirs, BIue M00n hit a wave-ARR!
Cup left the shelf, flew through the knees, outcome was quite certain
Soup drizzled down the walls 'n floor, hunger pangs now hurtin’

(vs original verse 3 below) or see the whole poem here
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope, towards the Dead Man's Creek

Day 47 - Weight

First a big hello from afar and Happy Birthday to Miranda, supplier of my magic cache of mouthwatering macadamias.

Fellow seakayaker and marathon paddler Ruby asked about any weight loss on this journey.

I do know BM has been losing weight, around 20kg per week, so she will be coming home trimmer. It is a mini medical experiment for the human.

I have been eating just about as much as I feel I can cram in.

It is fun reading the labels on packaging, especially since on Tasman II they are still dry and intact. My daily calorie intake is about 5000. There is more fish than in my normal diet, less bread, no takeaways, so I am probably taking in more protein and less carbs and fat.

My legs definitely look like they are getting thinner. Clever really, the human machine registers lack of use, so slows down supply. By contrast, I might wish to be building arm muscles like Hercules, but the reality is that my arms look scrawnier than ever. Body visually seems to be about the same as ever.

There was only one day very early on with the slightest hint of seasickness, so no major weight change by that mode.

My summary would be that 3-5kg might have gone, so scales at the finish might show me sitting on 70kg.'

It is not going to stop me sharing a feast with the welcome party.

Ocean paddling doesn’t look like it will take off as a means to dieting.

On destination, Invercargill region still a possibility. I paddled NE today, but made due E because of the wind. Milford still calmer, safer, preferred.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 46 - Paddle Strokes

After a recent report, David L commented “A journey of 600km is completed one stroke at a time. No rush.” It dovetails with one of my journey guides from Jill G that “there is always one more stroke”.

Just how many strokes will there be on Tasman II?

To make the number bigger, we’ll count each blade hitting the water as one paddle strike.

I do very approximately one paddle strike per second in BM.

That means 3600 strikes per hour, or for an 8 hour paddling day, about 30,000 paddle strikes per day. With 46 days now done, I am up to almost 1.5 million strikes.

If it takes say 70 days, the tally will be about 2.3 million paddle strikes.

Add to that Tasman I, and this reliable paddle will have hit the water about 4,000,000 times.

I hope Jantex test their carbon fibre for fatigue loading.

Day 45 - Inside 600

A new seamark passed today, in the slow,sometimes erratic slide from halfway to home.

BM is now under 600km from destination New Zealand.

If the albatross distance for the adventure is about 1700km, that puts us about 35% yet to complete, or in Hawkesbury Classic terms, close to Low Tide Pitstop. Unfortunately no scones out here, but nor is there any mud. There are so many ways to view 600km.

If driving from Melbourne to Sydney up the Hume, then you would not yet have left Victoria. Destination would be only a day’s motoring away. If on a bicycle, then a few days.

I think it might have been long distance touring canoeist Frank K that suggested 600km was simply one Murray 200 plus one Massive Murray 400, albeit in a boat three times as slow.

For Lane Cove paddlers familiar with the weekly 12km course, once a week for a year will get you to 600km too.

Out in space, our rockets and satellites and space stations whiz through 600km in the blink of an eye. To an ant or a tortoise, 600km is an unimaginable travel dream.

I like to think it gives hope, that all of us on this adventure will arrive together.

But I also know that it is plenty of distance for a storm or ten, for breakages, and all those other unknowns to rear their heads.

A mini celebration then, before plodding on to the next sea mark.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 44 - S for Smorgasbord

Who doesn’t love a good smorgasbord?

Two to recommend are breakfast at the Grand Chancellor in Hobart, or dinner at the Intercontinental Sydney. Or who is old enough to remember Cahills restaurants in Sydney, or even when Pizza Hut served eat-in smorgasbord?

However that is all about food, which is always on my mind, but my pleasurable thoughts today were about the smorgasbord of moods served up by the ocean.

Over the last two days, I have been paddling on a glass ocean, and on a very bumpy ocean. Both have their joys. They need different levels of attention and concentration. On the flat water, paddling can be handled almost on autopilot, leaving mind free to search for rare wildlife. On the rough, it deserves more attention. I tend to use my flap-cap to hide my face from flying spray, so duck when hearing a steamroller breaker approaching. Similarly, I tend to brace for those big ones, a leftover from whitewater days. Fortunately self-righting BM looks after balance.

Just this afternoon, I watched the sea change mood. We began in strong NW winds and waves, and transitioned to mild W wind. It only took about 15 minutes for the transformation, like an actor during a change in outfit. The wind abated. So did the waves. They lost all their whitecaps, starting with the ripples, then the bigger breakers, leaving a quiet ocean. Amazing to experience it. Bring on more of the ocean smorgasbord courses.

And is there a good place to eat that someone can suggest in Milford Sound?

Day 43 - Rough Day

“Its going to be hard. But hard is not impossible.”

The quote comes from the ever-imaginative Lyn Battle.

Two days ago, the ocean was like a lake. Where was the hard in paddling water that tippy K1s could scoot around?

Today is more like the answer. The temperature has been a cool 15C. The wind was forecast at 25knots from the north, which my hand anemometer measured as 35kmh at face level. Waves forecast at 3m were every bit of that, and came on top of the swell. My heading east put BIue M00n side-on to the waves.

This is challenging but fun paddling. There were many broken and breaking waves. These wash over the foredeck, or splash around me, or thunk into the cabin. It is a wet ride. Cabin hits tend to create sudden lateral movement plus substantial rotation, just like on any good amusement park ride. Here there is no guessing when or how big. BIue M00n has great seagoing attributes to safely handle this.

Parked tonight, there is a lot of noise and commotion. The small sea drogue is doing its best to keep us stern-on to the waves. Those parallel waves roll past with relatively little impact. When waves hit at an angle, the boat shakes, rolls and judders, and the contents including me with it. I plan to strap into my bed tonight. I have both hatches tightly shut. Any attempts to have them cracked open for ventilation have let in water. Waves in fact are regularly sluicing across both.

I stopped paddling earlier than sun-time today, as the transition from cockpit to cabin is my high-risk move. I expose the vestibule to flooding for as long as I need to have the hatch open, and the cockpit too to inundation as soon as spraydeck is peeled open to set the sea anchor. Hard but not impossible, and now I am cosily inside, wondering if the weather will calm down enough to safely permit transitioning and paddling tomorrow.

Day 42 - T for Trivia

Trivia and gossip - it is what men are supposed to be good at.

By nature trivia is not vital or important. Whether we wear red or yellow today will not impact climate change.

On regular days at work we make decisions which have consequences. As engineers, if we get it wrong, buildings fall down. As architects, errors can lead to stair levels not matching floors, or wheelchairs not fitting through doorways.

So we escape to trivia on holidays, and share it over a croissant and coffee.

Let me share some of my day’s trivia:

  • contemplating how late I could sleep in
  • choosing what to have for dinner, steak and kidney pie or regular dehydrated meal. Dehyd won, which is fine because they are delicious
  • opting for camera or Gopro to record the antics of my shark mate
  • deciding on my heading, ENE, E or ESE; E won, its easier to read on the compass.
  • and this one is big, and I am very excited to reveal. It relates to The Man From Snowy River. After 42 days of literary industry, I have stuffed the lines and rhymes into my mind for all 12 verses. The world premiere recital was this afternoon. The theatre was large, the whole Tasman Sea horizon to horizon. Most of the seats were empty, bar a few shearwaters, like the pair of old codgers from the Muppets. But it felt grand to shout out all 96 lines to the world. Thanks John D for providing these endless hours of entertainment.

So go with trivia for a feel-good positive day.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Overall Progress to 24 Jan (from Phil N)

Above: The crumb trail left by Richard since he left on December 14th 2022

Above: The same crumb trail with New Zealand in the image to give context.

Day 41 - Chores

Almost by definition, a chore is something that has to be done, but we would much prefer to be doing something else.

Things like washing up, cleaning the bathroom, and tax.

There are ways to attack the chores dilemma. Avoid, delegate, share, defer, redefine.

My brother Peter has spent his whole life being a tax accountant, so with the right mindset, chore becomes pleasure. Similarly with washing up, chat with a friend over the dirty dishes, and they will disappear. Or get a dishwasher.

On board BM, desalinating is a task every second evening. It takes about 2 hours to make 3.5L for the next two days. I had seen this as a chore, absolutely necessary, but paddling or sleeping might have been more directly getting toward the goal. However treats have been added to make sally sessions something I now look forward to after paddling is done. Enticements include snacks and sounds. Tonights lineup included sun-dried tomato, biltong, mixed nuts, and a lemon crisp. It is also the one time I allow myself to listen to an iphone, which nephew David loaded with my favourite music and a stack of Conversation Hour podcasts. So chore no more.

I faced another chore today, one which has been put off for many days, but more insistently since passing half way. That was to remove barnacles. New Zealand immigration are insistent they do not want international hitch-hikers. So after half way, if the Aussie originals are gone, then any new ones are technically locals, with some home country rights, perhaps. To remove the barnacles requires swimming around the hull, armed with a paint scraper, and physically scraping the critters off the gelcoat. They particularly like the protection along the skeg, so maximum reach under the boat. Surprising the number, still small, all over the immersed parts of the hull. Hot and flat are two desirables for the task. Roger forecast flat, and today was glassy. One tick. Hot seems a dream, with temperatures hovering round 15C, but there was at least sunshine. So today at midday, I took the plunge. I had been hoping to see my shark friends, but they had disappeared. The water temp at a guess is 17C. The chore took 35 minutes. By the time it was done, I was covered in goosebumps, and something never experienced before, my teeth were actually chattering.

This is one chore I sincerely hope not to have to repeat unless on a flat and hot day. The positive is that I should go faster.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 40 - Forty Days

Forty days out on the ocean.

That hits a new record for me, as on Tasman 1, the loop out toward Lord Howe was 40 days off the coast, then the longest I had been alone. Into unchartered territory now, but being solo seems fine.

Jimmy’s game yesterday, and the last sport thinking up favourite foods on arrival filled most of my dreaming hours today. It also tied in with a report from Pacific rower Michelle Lee who said she was running low on food, and was completely out of chocolate.

Food is such a highlight out here, every meal counts, both for calories and general mental wellbeing. I recalled my first food after Tasman 1. The first two people I met were Guy and Greg, and Guy cooked up bacon and egg rolls. I didn’t stop at one, or two, but three till that hunger cell was satisfied.

At this moment, the food from forty days that has me most excited is a cup of Deb potato, hot, a little runny, and mixed with peas. Smooth, satisfying, warming and delicious.

I was surprised yesterday and today that the sea can still serve up new moods. Yesterday was the first for a Westerly, and so running downwind. It takes concentration to steer a straight course, as any sea kayaker will relate to. Today was as though the sea was split in two halves. To port, downwind, the sea looked smooth and calm. To starboard, upwind, the sea looked choppy and full of white horses. I am confident there will be many more oceanic moods revealed post day 40.

To round out my forty day perspective, you are still there. All you website and facebook readers and supporters. Talk about resilience. Hang in there and we might all make it to NZ.

Day 39 - Mini Ace of Sports

Ace of Sports is a competition thought up by good friend Bob.

In one single day, all participants get to play 21 different sports, each for around 15 minutes. It is a real test of endurance, as well as being immense good fun.

Some of the sports are traditional, like soccer, AFL, basketball and volleyball. Others are less common, such as table tennis, archery and boules, whilst others are downright obscure, like underwater hockey and true-go. Colleague from Bureau SRH, Jimmy, has previously competed and won. A few days ago, he challenged me to imagine the BM version of Ace of Sports. So here goes, my top 21 sports that could be adapted to the BM playing field:
1. Kayaking to NZ; winner makes it
2. Guessing contest for landing date and time
3. Desalinating 2L in record time
4. Max no of push-ups in the bedroom
5. How many star jumps in the cockpit till you fall overboard
6. Obstacle course - over the cabin to the stern
7. Pillow fight on the foredeck with shearwaters. No flying allowed to avoid falling off.
8. Arm wrestle with shark
9. Bodybuilding with a whale, whoever puts on most weight wins
10. Like pin the tail on the donkey, but using spoon to deliver powdered milk to the bullseye. Could use a dart board to score the misses.
11. Speed to untie knots. Must have soft fingernails
12. Best granny knot creation
13. Most creative cooking dish, based on limited ingredients such as pasta, couscous, dried peas and deb potato.
14. Rocking chair balance - sit the longest without touching the sides. Headbutts count.
15. Variation on 52 card pickup - spill the pasta, and time how long it takes to get it all off the floor back into its plastic bag.
16. Twiddle sticks, but using spaghetti pasta. If you don’t remember, throw pile of sticks on ground take turns to remove sticks without making any other stick move.
17. Egg and spoon race: can be balancing anything on a spoon, see how long it stays in the spoon, even whilst sitting still. Load options to suit, but might be dried peas before cooking, milk powder, etc. Or albatross eggs.
18. One for architects: use collected leftover plastic rubbish to recycle into a model for another new Barangaroo tower.
19. Eye spy - and A for attitude or Albatross already taken
20. Cryptic crosswords - we can rerun the ones being sent to me, particularly those I couldn’t fathom.
21. Finally, creative thought sport - come up with the best meal after stepping ashore.
Hi to all my other colleagues at Bureau. Who gave Friday’s talk?

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Above: What were conditions like for Richard @ 0600 AEST today? Wind blowing at 31 km/hr just W of SW. Temperature a brisk 12.5 C

Day 38 - Unsupported or Supported?

Does this count to cover both U and S in the positive alphabet game? I need A back, because the Albatross again today provided wonder and positivity.

Solo, non-stop and unsupported have been three goals for this Tasman crossing adventure. Makes it unique. But what is actually meant by unsupported?

Truly unsupported in a dictionary way would mean no leadup support, no facebook support, no contact via satellite with the outside world, and no advice along the way. Yet in sporting pursuits like this and say polar exploration, “unsupported” is more recognised as no physical interaction. For example, no repair gear or food or water dropoffs from support craft. No scones or cold coke from passing yachtsmen. So if ever I suggest this crossing is unsupported, that is a positive attribute, with only the second meaning applying.

The amount of positive support out here on the Tasman is incredible. It started with assistance building BM. I see roller marks in the fibreglass and recall two huge days with Phil and Damo moulding the boat. It shows in all sorts of gear on board, either sourced or made by friends, like the gimballed stove, the foot-operated desalinator, seat padding, paddle, two-man liferaft and PLB. In all my food packs, there are treats added to make every meal special and upliting, like my mixed nut selection thanks to Mari, Miranda and John, and even the way the packs are put together with hours of input from sister Linden.

Out on the water, huge moral support comes through my satellite email connection. In this way I can link with Roger B, doing sterling service every day on weather forecasts. My family are there at both ends of the spectrum, as emergency and home update contacts. Ian W is the guru link to website and via that to supporters on facebook.

I am finding the comments and reflections relayed from facebook provide avenues for thinking that fill hours of every day. This is supplemented by family trivia, anecdotes, alphabet mind games, even cryptic crossword clues. These are all so appreciated as positive support.

I think back only 50 years, and the adventurers then were truly cut off from all support. Chichester, Slocum, the pioneering oceanic rowers… We have it easier today. It is in so many ways more enjoyable to share the adventure day by day.

So supported or unsupported, I am enjoying your upbeat following and heartfelt, quirky, thoughtful input.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 37 - Halfway

We all like to break down tasks into manageable chunks. That is fair logic for why a halfway marker exists. Has anyone heard speak of fullway?

We are all sure to have our own significant half way markers. Perhaps it is half the total laps you plan to swim, or the top of Heartbreak Hill in the City 2 Surf, or the hallway bend when vacuuming the whole house, or half time in the local soccer game. It would be interesting to know whether we generally find the second half easier or harder.

It is exciting to have reached this landmark, and thanks to all for your supporting comments.

There is a mixture of anticipation, but also a wariness that the destination is still many weather patterns away.

As my cockpit cover reminds [Ed: see picture below], both James & Justin and Scott Donaldson did their week long loops in their second halves. It does mean I should head east if I need to get to the closest land, and that I now fall under the care of Rescue New Zealand.

I celebrated today by opening a new packet of Arnotts biscuits, lemon crisps, a treat. Remarkably they are robust, and not all crumbs. I am still well inside the first half of my rations, on all fronts, a positive place to be. No big splurges on anything like peanut butter, and my Weetbix supply is only slowly shrinking in my bedroom.

I had thought I might get a day off paddling, with strong winds and seas forecast. So I did sleep in. But conditions were ok, so I enjoyed another day of getting that bit closer to New Zealand.

Above: Richard's hatch cover shows routes of previous kayakers

Day 36 - A for Attitude

My sister-in-law Louise suggested a mind game to help get through the tougher days: “try going through the alphabet and think of a positive word starting with each letter”. A great idea, even if progress only got to the first letter today.

Tomorrow’s weather is forecast to be quite rough. Rather than worry, my plan will likely be to have a cosy cabin day.

I’d give that a positive attitude tick.

Glass half full, optimistic rather than pessimistic outlook, finding the good in any situation all come under a positive attitude banner. Likely we all prefer to be with others with positive personalities.

More time to consider the remainder of life’s positive alphabet tomorrow.

Progress summary - from Phil N

There is some discussion as to what proportion of the journey Richard has completed in BM. The general consensus is that because he desires to arrive in Milford Sound then we should be measuring all the way in to the Sound, I agree. However I will put the case that if we are measuring all the way into the Sound then we should also measure from where he left Australia i.e. Hobart. So there are four measurements below all taken from BM's plotted position at 7.16 PM 17/1/2023 Lat/Lng:-45.543490, 157.418640:

  • Between BM and the closest point in Australia (Tasman island): 790.14 km
  • Between BM and the closest point in New Zealand (a headland just below Anchor Island): 700.04km
  • Between BM and Hobart (using the route BM took) : 883.18 km
  • Between BM and Milford Sound: 836.95 km

BM has not taken an Albatross line to its current location and will no doubt wander off a straight line for the second half of the journey but which ever way one measures it I believe our intrepid explorer Richard in BM has passed the half way mark....Go Richard.

Day 35 – Ups and Downs

Yesterday was a tough day.

Not so much the physical but the mental challenge started to be overwhelming.

It started with a faceful of food. Pre-dawn, I was sound asleep. Seas had been abating to relative calm. BM and a breaking wave must have coincided to the millimetre in all that Tasman ocean. I have a few small shelves beside my pillow, and everything once on the shelves was hurled out all over me. That included my watch and glasses, GPS in pelican box, camera, and bits of breakfast lunch and dinner. Simultaneously I was thrown across the bedroom space, my head stopping when it impacted the corner of the electrics box. The wave passed, the noise stopped, and I finished waking up and assessing the situation. There was a bit of blood and a small lump, plus some disarray throughout the cabin. Fortunately all big things are restrained at night (including me when rough). So I went back to sleep, a little more warily.

After the sun rose, and I woke again, I snuck a look out the bedroom hatch being cautious not to catch a wavefull. The sea anchor noodles looked particularly listless and twisted. Then it dawned on me there was no sea anchor beyond the noodles. Gone. Completely. I had felt its tug in amongst the wave attack, so it can only have happened in the last hour or so. I quickly ruled out any search, as the only thing that shows is a 100mm foam float, and even it is not visible from BM at the end of the 100m line. Down one significant piece of equipment.

The third big disappointment to start the day became clear as soon as I got in the cockpit. The rudder pedals were flapping, which meant the restraint system wasn’t working. Check restraint rope, it’s loose. Maybe it has undone from the rudder lever? Take a stern walk to investigate, only to find the whole lever has sheared off. It had worked so well up till now, and now my vital rudder was left without protection whenever I wasn’t paddling.

The remainder of yesterday’s paddle was consumed with worrying about the damages. It was decently rough too, making any attempts to remedy anything at the stern perilous. Even stopping to eat was too awkward, so that pleasure was shelved too. To top it off, I had all my cold weather gear on, two kags, and it wasn’t enough for 13C temperature.

Overlaying this was a spiralling sense of despair, curtailing sensible engineering reasoning. At this point I so needed a dose of Lyn Battle’s blue sky beyond.

Fortunately some warming up, dinner, and some emails to family helped to put things back in perspective. I do have spare sea drogue and rudder. The weather does get better.

And so it has. I am back to being my positive self again, able to share this story, and revel in a glorious day paddling today.

Above: Distances reflect Sandy Bay, Hobart to Milford Sound wharf

Day 34 - Hawkesbury Classic

I know many of you reading these adventures have paddled the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. A goal is to make that number 100%.

I have heard many reasons for why not, but few that stack up in a world where we all need a little more adventure.

I paddled my first Classic in 1981. I had not been paddling long, introduced via Venturers to whitewater then joined Sydney Uni Canoe Club. The thought of trying something so long, at night by moonlight, with lots of others lit by tiny green lights, and with landcrew support all along the way was mesmerising. I remember thinking I will simply go as far as I can, and it will be further than ever before. Plenty of others were there to race, and still do, but simply paddling Sydney’s longest river would be excitement enough for me. Come this October, it is on again. Can we make this one the runaway flagship of adventurous long distance canoeing, as it once was? It needs your commitment. The more who commit, the bigger the party. It caters for any craft powered by paddles, so whatever is in your garage, dig it out. Ocean kayaks included, and SUPS, outriggers, dragonboats, ocean racing skis, traditional canoes and kayaks.

Lyn, I will be expecting to see you leading the Sweers Island Canoe Club and friends contingent. Mike, will you bring your kids and all of Perth with you post training on the Avon Descent?

Everyone, check your diaries, and why not bring a friend too?

[''Ed: The HCC website is here for more info on the event. Dates are 28-29 Oct 2023]

Day 33 - Angry Noises

A wise friend James once shared the philosophy of better never getting angry. Our actions are never as rational if we act under this cloud.

On BM, something that irrationally tries my patience is things that will not stay put as we rock and roll. It is particularly noticeable on the bench in my vestibule. BM has a characteristic roll which shakes everything on the bench. Unrestrained, things like tins skate across the bench till they hit the side fiddles, then skate on back again. Sympathetic roll speed and skate speed can get a tin into harmonic oscillation and crashing back and forth. Skiii-bang. Skiii-bang. Its bad enough to slide once or twice, but to do a high speed dance is so unnecessary. Things with slippery surfaces are particularly prone, so tins, also cutlery, peanut butter jars, pelican box, glasses, plastic cup. Scraaape-clank. Scraaape-clank. Round things get in on the act too, like AAA batteries, and my ipad prodder. Roll-tink, roll-tink. Things with uneven bottoms can flip-flop flip-flop, making a grating tip-tap, tip-tap metronome.

There are means of minimising the skating, such as laying the skater on a piece of plastic, or jamming it between more robust stayers. However some things have a way of escaping even such precautions, and they are the target of my anger. It is as if they want to show off, like a disobedient kid. Or perhaps have no patience.

The latest classic offender was a bolt and wing nut. Laid on the bench momentarily whilst setting up the desalinator, it managed to roll flip-flop flip-flop the few degrees between each wing touching ground. Managed to get out a machine gun of noise in seconds, the nasty little so and so.

In my angry moment, I am hoping the offending object doesn’t get hurled overboard. Other rower/paddlers have sent important equipment such as saucepan and stove overboard in fits of anger.

Back to being calm, and enjoying a boisterous sea..

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 32 - Bungy

We have probably all gone to Luna Park when we were kids.

Isn’t it strange that the reason we went was to scare ourselves. Think of the whoosh as the big dipper starts down the hill, or the height of the ferris wheel, or the wild mouse almost missing a corner, or the crashes in the dodgems, or sliding down the wall as the rotor’s floor falls away.

I am now headed to near Queenstown New Zealand, a mecca for doing scary adventurous things. The original and most famous is bungy jumping. I had the great good fortune last year to meet the original AJ Hackett. With amazing perseverance, AJ started with the tethered jump concept, and was able to create the first jump from Kawarau Bridge. Bungy is so much about cranking scare factor up to maximum.

I would feel much more in control paddling the white water under the bridge than jumping off it.

Many years ago, a fellow uni student Caroline and I did a parachute jump out at Wilton. Back in those days, you jumped all alone. You spent a week in practical classes learning how to jump out of the plane, open the chute, steer and land. After that you were loaded into a tiny plane and pushed out the door at a suitable height. There was an umbilical cord initially between plane and you which opened the main parachute. We were supposed to count to ten, and if the main chute didn’t open, start into a procedure to launch the emergency chute. The excitement was too much for me. The first thing I remember after the plane was intense relief that I was safely suspended under a silk canopy. Caroline did a second jump, but one was right up there on my limit.

Approaching scary things like parachuting or bungy jumping is another form of pushing your own adventuring limits. In keeping with the goals of the Tasman II crossing, everyone is encouraged to be more adventurous, and follow adventure dreams.

We have to be grateful that pioneering people like AJ Hackett provide means to adventure and test ourselves. I am yet to find the courage to do a bungy jump, but am so glad the option exists. Is bungy your next step into adventure?

Day 31 - Ocean Wonders

First, share a thought with me for James and Justin. Exactly 15 years ago today they landed in NZ, to become the first ever kayakers to make the Tasman Crossing successfully. They are big footsteps in which to be following.

I thought seeing my shark a day ago was about as exciting as the Tasman could be.

But nature had more up its sleeve. Three more moments today added diamonds to my life on the Tasman. The first was when I woke and stuck my head out the hatch. There was shark, but now with two mates. I like to think it may be dad now with mum and baby. All have similar features, simply scaled down on the new additions. They frolicked and scraped around BM’s hull for a long while, with me enthralled. I needed to retrieve some food from the storage hatches. That requires straddling the boat with a foot dangling in the water either side. I decided putting my sandals on first would make feet look less tasty. It seems tuna-filled me and dangling feet rate equally poorly on breakfast shark diets.

Whilst pulling in the small sea drogue, a tiny critter jumped off the rope and onto the cockpit coaming. It was only about the size of a 20c coin. It quickly hid under the lip of the coaming, where I could have a better look. Greyish all over, it seemed to be a crab. Where had it come from before the drogue? It seems highly unlikely to be simply floating 600km from the closest shore waiting for a hitchhike. It disappeared whilst I was packing the drogue, so he may still be on board, or may have jumped ship to go ocean wandering some more.

The third encounter was later in the day, as I was about to have a snack from my weetbix cup. Two giants slid into view on portside, moving at about twice my pace. Each had showing a big rounded dome head, slightly arched back, small dorsal fin and tapering to a small tail. But they were huge., about the same size as BM. Maybe a bit shorter at 8m, but with a bigger diameter. I imagined a whole lot more weight too, all that blubber compared to my tentative tonne. I am not used to not being the biggest thing around. They swam on, and I was left wondering if they were maxi dolphins, or mini whales. About a minute later, the sea exploded 20m in front of me, and in succession each beast leapt clean out of the water and thundered back in again. Each repeated this show of strength, agility and playfulness about 5 or 6 times. Like with the sharks, have to rely on their benign intentions, as it crossed my mind animal landing on BM would have been an unplanned load case. Both have very spotty patterns below their fin, if that helps someone identify them. Will there be any more thrills nature has in store?

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 30 - Blue Yonder

From her home on Sweers Island in the Gulf [of Carpentaria], Lyn Battle has been providing so many interesting and inspiring stories and ideas. One I particularly liked was that there is always blue beyond the clouds.

There has not been much sky blue today, with a thick grey cloud blanket dampening the sky’s natural exuberance.

By contrast, the ocean blue has been iridescent. Sometimes it is hidden by waves and whitewater, but not today. Glorious flat water, and blue to the Tasman depths. It is calms like today that give every sea kayaker the ability to paddle Bass Strait. Be patient and calm water and blue sky will be the reward.

It was so calm that there was no need for kag or even spraydeck, as there were no splashes. That makes getting lunch so much easier as the ingredients can be lined up on the cockpit floor without risk of getting wet before hitting my mouth.

I think my river-paddling sister might even have rejoiced being out here today, no waves to get wet, so peaceful and warm, in 21C surrounds. One reward would have been three shark sightings, one at morning tea and a pair at lunch. Like Christophe’s wonderful cartoon suggested, as tuna was again on my menu, I was not on theirs.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 29 - Arrival Day Estimates

Today was a cracker, with a hint of a tailwind and flattish ocean. It was a 30km progression.

Yesterday, a friend suggested Feb 21 was statistically my likely arrival day in Kiwiland. Is anyone else willing to suggest a date?

Maybe lunch back in Sydney together or something similar could be the high-stakes prize.

Perhaps suggest a time on the chosen date to help decide a close win.

The definition of arriving for this contest will be stepping ashore, my two feet hitting New Zealand ground. A guide is that I am now just over one third of the way, and we are up to day 30.

Drift has been both favourable and unfavourable. Paddling speed through the water has varied from 1.9km/h to nudging 5km/h, but mostly round 2.5 to 3 km/h.

I still hope it will be within 100 days, March 23, because that is when rations start to run out.

Above: 24hr progress to 8am Wed 12 Jan 2023

Day 28 - Hearing things

One of the dilemmas of being alone is that there is less control of our imagination. No-one else to bounce ideas off to see if they make sense. It must be so for people living on their own too.

I have found my dreams becoming much more vivid, and also seemingly more real. I have woken up convinced dream was reality on many occasions now.

Similarly with hearing. I think my mind is so eager to make contact that I can regularly hear a light plane approaching from behind. Even the engine note varies as it searches and rises or sinks in the air. People’s voices too have been conversing or calling out, and I have heard the exact words. No plane nor person has yet appeared. With the calms and engulfing silence yesterday, my hearing was even more imaginative. I could hear the sighing of air from blowholes as dolphins and whales surfaced, and the splash as whales waggled their tails. But tall tales all of them and no backup visual confirmation.

Creative hearing and dreams tend to blur the boundaries between what is real and what is not. Recontacting civilisation will hopefully sort things out.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Above: 24hr progress to 8am Wed 11 Jan 2023

Day 27 - Fishy Magic

Seems it wasn’t just staff back in their work environment today. At last I have had some fishy encounters. It has felt quite extraordinary to see zero fish life for almost the whole trip, until today.

Now four encounters, all in one day.

The first was just after breakfast, and I poked out the hatch and was hanging over the side for cleaning teeth etc. Something large and with lots of fins flashed by, and then flashed by once more. Such a surprise and so quick so no better identification.

The second was minutes later, tugging the sea anchor back on board. The anchor line is 100m and this fish was between me and the anchor. It had a long and pointy nose, and a long and frilly fin along its top edge. It made one leap out of the water and was gone. Gamefish, my learned conclusion.

The third encounter was fairly simultaneous with gamefish. The sea today has been astonishingly flat, which also means silent. My attention was attracted by slapping noises from about 200m away. There silhouetted on the skyline was a large pod of dolphins, leaping out of the ocean. The sounds I heard so clearly were as they landed back with big splashes. Unfortunately their playground came no closer.

The fourth and most exciting fishy encounter came over lunch. I had just stopped paddling, and was contemplating a tin of tuna. Something big and with lots of fins swam by very close. So close he was scraping along the hull, and as he passed the cockpit, a flip of his tail splashed water into the cockpit.

I would have been happy with just that much sighting, but Jaws was not ready to leave yet. In fact we shared our tiny bit of the vast Tasman for 12 more minutes. He got into a bit of a routine: swim toward the bow down the starboard side, take a good close look at what was in the cockpit, progress to bow and do a splashy showy U-turn there, then swim sternwards down the port side.

How big, I’m sure you are keen to know. My estimate is 1.6m long. With a head that couldn’t possibly have encompassed a leg, but might have fitted a finger or hand. Big gills behind the flat head. A great big eye above the gills. Definitely lots of fins, in particular a large vertical tail fin. I know, because on numerous passes his eye was no more than 500mm from mine, as he rolled on his side to stare up at me.

I tried attracting his attention with the tuna tin, either its flashiness as it tumbled, or the smell of fish, but there was no apparent awareness. Even seconding a mouthful of my lunch tuna to the study of science demonstrated zero interest of shark in tuna.

Fascinating throughout, why he was attracted, why he stayed and then was gone? I’ll admit I would not have jumped in for a swim around that moment. His efficiency through the water makes mine truly flotsam.

Above: With thanks to Hagen Cartoons!

Day 26 - Back to Work

Special hello to my colleagues at Bureau SRH, who are back at work this week after the construction industry shutdown.

I’m sure many others will be too.

Where did the time off go? Did anyone else go overseas?

Sometimes the things we love are closer to home than we realise. Family and friends at the top of that list. Bureau, I had a tin of ham for lunch today, which reminded me of the glorious real ham on the bone and ginormous strawberries that featured at our christmas catamaran cruise. Please say hello to Massimo and Tandis, and let them know I am looking forward to my next hot milk or coffee with them. I will be missing our Friday pub lunches, and our Friday afternoon talks. Save some of the good ones till I get back. Before I get back, make sure you all stick to your training plans for Byron Triathlon, that fabulous weekend will creep up fast. Go the structures team, lead on Francisco. Its magic that taking one from two leaves three. Overall it will be good to return to projects that wow our clients with classy architecture and clever structural engineering.

And everyone, welcome back to busy public transport, clogged roads, and others running late for meetings.

Day 25 - Aloneness Freedoms

It was relatively flat today, so the horizon is even further away.

Horizon to horizon out here on my own is a pretty good definition of being alone. I was pondering today what liberties that allows. Perhaps it relates to our sensitivities to responsibilities and customs.

Way back in the planning stages, there was hope that the Tasman might be a group adventure, particularly with my good friend and Tasmania circumnavigation partner Phil. It soon became clear that few have the chance to suspend work and family commitments for a few months. Responsibility to a paddling partner would force more commitment to working together to achieve the goal. James and Justin would have felt that pressure, and reacted accordingly. I would not be sleeping in so late if another paddler was up and waiting. I met up with four Aussie rowers Sam, Louis, Rob and James, last year before they rowed the Atlantic. It always amazed that their plan and execution was to each row four hours on and four hours off throughout every day and every night for as long as it took. That is responsibility to a team goal.

If I had a partner, my meals would need to be more structured. I am quite happy to start breakfast in the cabin, but then let my cup of weetbix extend its sustaining well into the afternoon. Lunch is whenever later I feel like it, somewhere up till about 6pm. For dinner, I have been randomising the order of courses, so dessert was first last night. I couldn’t wait. I have also tried mixing ingredients in strange ways, such as couscous in soup, simply because I can, and might find a magic combination. Such practices might well upset a partner, as much as putting cutlery in the wrong slot, or squeezing toothpaste from the top.

Customs also set standards, some which apply less when alone. Dress standard is one. Coat and ties were never going to cut it out on Blue Moon. But is there any need to worry about clothes colour combinations? I have skipped that too, one set clothes for paddling, one for dry cabin attire. After more than three weeks, my LCRK paddling top did get a salt water rinse, to reduce the hard salty encrustations.

Should I need to shave? It is a standard being alone no one else would know if I let slip. It has not happened yet.

Washing up utensils? There are two cups, three spoons, one knife and one plate. They get washed either by the next course, or occasionally dipping them overboard. No sink and drying rack here.

These are just a few examples of freedoms from aloneness. Ultimately the freedom gets weighed against a very personal set of standards, perhaps closer to the real me. Will you notice any differences?

Day 24 - Spectacles

Oh, for a first world problem!

Are there any clever adventurers following who have solved the dilemma of fog or salt-encrusted glasses? Whilst paddling along today, the sea state was quite benign, so waves were below head-height, and I could see so much better.

In particular, I have a small Garmin gps mounted about a metre in front of the cockpit. On flat water, and today again, the data was legible. The past week, squinting past my glasses either above or below, was a more reliable way to read the tracker.

Friend Phil stashed a bundle of alcohol wipes in my pelican waterproof electronics box. That is such a gift each night to start afresh and see till the next encounter with the sea.

Alternatively, perhaps I can arrange with my weatherman Roger to dial up calm conditions every day.

[Ed: 'Spot 3' was not transmitting yesterday. Solution was to turn it off overnight - seemed to work for a bit.. Don't be disturbed if it drops out from time to time. ]


For those tracking Richard today (6 Jan) his "Spot 3" needs a reset (required at least daily). Support crew can see his morning position from "Spot 4". In the meantime enjoy this contribution from Hagen Cartoons which relates to Day 17 and Day 7 stories.

Day 17 - Cravings: "......Whilst paddling today, I was thinking about food, actually a regular occurrence. For no logical reason, chicken came to mind, and It became my greatest desire for lunch. Chicken plain, or as it comes from KFC, or in a burger or a schnitzel, or in a fresh bread roll, or mixed with lettuce and tomato. Unfortunately it was not to be, but no harm dreaming. Oddly milk shakes or fresh bread are my usual cravings ahead of thoughts of chickens....."

Day 7 - Smelly Things: ".... On smelly things, the cold weather is at least in part to blame. My bedroom is delightfully cosy, but there is not a lot of circulating air. Wrapped in the same shorts, tshirt, sleeping bag and inner sheet for a week is going to take its nasal toll. Every day so far there has been a need to paddle in either one or two waterproof jackets to keep warm in 14C summer surrounds. Only one LCRK paddling top in action under the jackets, so its both salty and smelly. After 100 potential days of this, the result may well be off the tolerable scale....

Day 23 - Heading

All you dot watchers get a better overview of the Blue Moon pathway than we do out here on the ocean. It must look quite jagged, with wind and current playing a big part in progress.

As someone noted during Tasman I, Blue Moon and I are little more than flotsam and jetsam at the will of the ocean.

I have just a small input in choosing the heading to follow whilst paddling. Even that blends with the wind to produce a final pathway.

Most days I have been heading E. With wind from the north early on, my actual course over the seabed was more toward the SE. More recently there have been southerlies, so east heading has generated NE progress. My overall strategy is to maximise easting, at least till close to the NZ coastline. From Hobart, direct east is somewhere between Milford Sound and Greymouth, my two most likely landfalls. A little north or south early on will likely balance out over the days ahead.

When not to paddle due E? Today I chose to head ENE. The wind was coming from the SSE, as were the waves. An E heading had me bouncing up and through waves and wind, whereas turning slightly to the north made a gentler ride with only side wind. I suspect tomorrow will be similar. Juggling how far down the centreboard sits, Blue Moon will take up a side-on heading much more happily and essentially self-steer.

So still fundamentally flotsam, but with a heading bias to go East. [current is the dominant influence on overnight drift with sea anchor deployed]

Day 22 – Wellbeing Inventory

Whilst paddling along today, I did the equivalent of an annual checkup with the family GP. To be sure, niece and doctor Steph, it was not as accurate nor knowledgeable as the real thing.

This is also not meant to scare anyone. These are minor inconveniences with too much time to ponder:

  • Sunburn - where is the sun? I still wear my flap cap covering all my face whenever paddling, except to put food in my mouth.. the only bits of skin showing are my wrists, between cuffs and gloves, so they have a big tube of sunburn cream to share
  • Leg wastage - less visibly a problem, since I have been wearing a spraydeck for warmth on all but one day. Today it was 15C. But small dents do seem to be appearing where muscle once was above and below knees.
  • Seasickness - after leaving the Tasmanian coastline, there was a hint of lethargy and lack of appetite in the gale. Otherwise fully acclimatised.
  • Blisters - got one on day one paddling out of Sandy Bay. It is still the only one, and currently looks like a big flap of white skin.
  • Skin rubs - There are two, one on each wrist, from a rub point on each glove. I have some advice for the glove maker Ronstan on where not to put a piece of velcro. Right wrist is now a 2mm hole as it keeps being wet and rubbed. Thought I was about to get a rub under my shoulder from my LCRK top, but solved that by washing away a crusty buildup of salt on the top. A last minute dash to stock up on vaseline helped out early on, but is not needed at the moment.
  • Fingernails- as anticipated from Tasman I, they have gone soft. Started affecting things like manipulating ring pull cans, though that can be overcome by using my spoon handle. Now it’s affecting things like undoing string knots, peeling duct tape, and pressing the recessed ‘on’ button on my camera.
  • Backside - lots of padding works a treat, in combination with a very supportive backrest. Could keep sitting for hours longer each day if it was only a matter of loungechair luxury. Maybe funkypants are part of this bit of magic too.
  • Heels - my heels are prone to cracking, and immersion 10 hours a day is not a good recipe. Currently have one on right heel that matches Banjo’s description of the Snowy River valley “where the river runs those giant hills between.” Tender.

In summary, is there anything Doc to stop me paddling?

No. Then let’s get on with it Barnesy.

4 Jan 2023 - Day 22 Progress to date (from Phil N)

A slice of the new year already eaten but still many more days to go. I hope, that like me, all of you are encouraged by Richards dedication, tenacity and courage to be our best selves in the year (s) ahead. We have that choice every day... walk - don't walk; ride - don't ride; paddle - don't paddle; live - exist. Thank you Richard for being the person whose attitude to life often provides me with the motivation to be the former.

Below is Richards progress to date...what a legend. BTW, he is having to reset his Spot 3 every day to encourage it to keep sending out the trail for us to follow.

3 Jan 2023 - Day 21 - The Man from Snowy River

Many years ago, good friend and sporty person Bob was leading Team Goldfish in an adventure race known as Geoquest. He decided we needed a complex communication system, unique to Goldfish, so we gave away nothing to opposition teams. As part of that, we were to learn Banjo Patterson’s ballad Mulga Bill. Mulga Bill’s pushbike travails were likely to resemble some of the cycling in our adventure race, “…leaving the track… and making a leap of twenty feet into the Deadmans Creek”.

As an old engineer, the chances of doing something so literary were remote.

Yet last year, in the Massive Murray, sister Linden and I strapped a copy of Mulga Bill to our Mirage, and had a try to learn it, bend by bend, verse by verse.

Now with even more hours to dedicate to remote and lofty goals, John from LCRK laminated copies of a few other Banjo favourites for me to take on Blue Moon.

The Man From Snowy River has taken my imagination. About all I knew previously was the opening line “There was movement at the station…” plus a few re-enactments at the Royal Easter Show. Now I know there are 12 verses, and the way John copied them, spread over three pages.

It has been slow progress. Old and engineer still do not a good recipe for learning Banjo Ballads make. Yet I have been engrossed in the task. Many, many hours have passed on autopilot, reading and reciting, belting it out to the albatross audience, and mostly forgetting. But there are glimmers of hope. I had started randomly on verses on the first two pages as they are laminated back to back. Going slow, I can maybe get through 4 or 5 of the first ten verses. The description of the hero is particularly stirring “He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won’t say die… And he bore a badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye”.

As a treat, I got to read the last two verses today which includes “The man from snowy river is a household name today.” which was written back in 1890.

The line that grabbed my attention comes just after the hero has turned the wild bush horses and then “Alone and unsupported, he brought them home.” Alone and unsupported, isn’t that my goal? 130 years post Banjo penning his tale? There are only 80 or so days to fit and fix all the bits in between. And maybe by then The Man will be riding Mulga Bill’s bicycle.

  • [Ed: Click here for a National Library of Australia recording of The Man from Snowy River, recited by Jack Thompson]

2 Jan 2023 - Day 20 - Get out and Adventure

As Pete pointed out on FB, 500km from start ticked over today. That still leaves about 1200km direct as an albatross can fly to get to success on the far shores.

However, just as with Tasman I, hope you have enjoyed the ride so far.

A little win today to share, we all got a decent push along from a wind with a hint of west in it. First time, and it was NNW, but still its a triumph. Came with a little too much velocity for comfort, more like a whitewater session than sea touring. Added a spice of adrenalin when patches of ocean exploded just when I too reached that patch.

Friend Phil suggested fear might be the main inhibitor to adventuring. If so you might try being forgetful or unimaginative. Then it is hard to conjure up quite what there is to fear. More practically, fear reduces when we try something, and it tuns out better than feared. A good reason to give that thing on your mind a try, however adventurous. Dare yourself.

1 Jan 2023 - Day 19 - Normal

Coming up to 20 days living aboard Blue Moon, by now some things are becoming habits and routine. No watch is prominent in the cabin, but clock in GPS whilst paddling. So not like work hours and train timetables precision. However, trying to rise about 7am when the sun starts to warm and light my cabin. Breakfast, and relocating sleeping gear to drybags and vice versa for paddling gear sees the morning disappear. Into the boat, ship anchor and away around 10am.

Then try to paddle with 5 min breaks on the hour or two hour mark. That lets me nibble at my weetbix, tin of sardines and vegemite vitaweats. Have been fairly regularly stopping at 7pm, then dinner, diary, weather and storytelling runs the day out about midnight.

My food is all about routine. Breakfast weetbix, plus a touch of muesli, and one flatbread with marmalade (thanks Sue). Lunch a fishy tin plus 8 vitaweats. Dinner dehydrated meal, cup-a-soup, and a rotation through about four different desserts.

My two least-liked chores are desalinating and shaving. Both should happen every two nights, so I am trying to alternate. Both are getting less onerous with adaptation to the constraints. Desal was tonight, and its already after 10pm with 3.5L new fresh supply, but not much else done as yet. Don’t want to have to rush dinner. As something different, I tried adding some raw spaghetti, broken into 10mm pieces to my soup. It did go soft, one tick, but all sat at the bottom. So I have the equivalent of a layer cake for entree tonight. Not sure if this idea will make it to routine

31 Dec 2022 - Day 18 - Unfulfilled

I went to sleep last night anticipating my New Years Eve paddle would be like the day before. Forecast for each had been similar. And yet, it was not to be.

Perhaps there was a hint in how jiggly the night had been, and the many wave punches directed at Blue Moon. Realisation of roughness first struck when I poked up out of the hatch into a stiff cool breeze. It was definitely to be a kag day. Retrieving the sea anchor needed more brute strength, plus more finesse to avoid shipping waves as well as line.

A fleeting highlight was a visit from Sooty albatross. He landed three times in the rough, beside Blue Moon, for a brief nibble and chat.

We pressed on for three hours, until my fun quotient ebbed away.

I had to justify stopping to myself, so can share those thoughts with you. Things that made today’s paddling less fun included being wet and cold. It was hard to see as my glasses kept fogging up and coating with seaspray. Progress seemed slow, partially punching into waves and headwind. About every 30 seconds or so, I was engulfed head deep in rolling whitewater. That is offputting to any sense of rhythm, and leads to wet clothes rubbing away skin, and chewing on salty wet capflaps. There was an underlying sense that eastward progress was being gained at too high an energy burn rate, although this is likely offset by regressive drift. Finally there needs to be caution in timing the cockpit to cabin move - at some point it may be too rough to be done safely.

I thank Justin for providing a story, “Death by fire for a queen”, about the original Queen Elizabeth cruise liner, for my alternative afternoon entertainment.

Less wind is forecast for tomorrow, fingers crossed.

30 Dec 2022 - Day 17 - Cravings

Today’s storytelling is necessarily going to be short, as I am running out of today.

A session with sally [the pedal powered desalinator] took up most of the evening till 10pm. About 5L of sparkling pure liquid gold was added to the waterbank.what once was a chore, I have transformed into a treats session. Treats today included pringles, mixed nuts and Jana’s dried banana. I also turn on technology and listened to a Conversation Hour podcast. Tonight’s was about fossils providing evidence of the bone transformations of fish to humans.

Whilst paddling today, I was thinking about food, actually a regular occurrence. For no logical reason, chicken came to mind, and It became my greatest desire for lunch. Chicken plain, or as it comes from KFC, or in a burger or a schnitzel, or in a fresh bread roll, or mixed with lettuce and tomato. Unfortunately it was not to be, but no harm dreaming. Oddly milk shakes or fresh bread are my usual cravings ahead of thoughts of chickens.

Lunch was actually half a tin of nutmeat, the Sanitarium no-meat substitute, which satisfied all dietary desires.

Above: Contribution courtesy of Hagen Cartoons

go to top

29 Dec 2022 - Day 16 - After the Gale

A big thank you to AMSA, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, for responding two days ago. One of the five emergency position beacons I carry was accidentally and unknowingly set off. It is good to know that Aussies care for other Aussies in so many ways.

Today was like a whole new world to two days ago. So good to be able to paddle again, although with or without my paddling input, wind and current are doing an excellent job of taking me closer to New Zealand. The day began with leftover wind and waves, still making sea anchor retrieval a moment requiring care. Yet the sun was shining, and the wind was waning. The afternoon paddle was like a symphony at the opera house, wanting it to last for longer. It was so calm this evening, I took the chance to relocate food from storage to closer use in the vestibule with me. Big food feast happening tonight.

The whole gale episode lasted less than 48 hours. There is a great lesson in here, an absolute truth, that no matter how bad the weather might get, it WILL become calm again sometime. I’m tucking that one away for later resort.

The distance back to Tasman Island is hovering at 400km. That has to be a mini landmark (watermark) to celebrate.

28 Dec 2022 - Day 15 - Gale

[Ed: this was Richard's report at midday 28 Dec] You know something is up when the dinner plates and crockery won’t stay still on the table. My table is only 200mm wide, and there is only one spoon and one cup, but these two are doing an alley dance.

I did get to stop in calmer weather, but by midnight the wind and waves were full on.

Both hatches are tight shut so it is hard to get an overview, less even a photo. However the wind is whistling through my two ventilators, and has whipped up some substantial seas. There are white horses everywhere. There are also more occasional breaking waves with solid green backing.

Inside my little home, it has raised the bar for level of roughness. No chance of even momentarily opening the bedroom hatch, for example to empty the out bottle, as there is constant spray. About every 10 seconds, water rolls down over the window. The main hatch points downwind, so is a little more protected. About every 30 seconds it gets a waterfall sheeting across the glass. The waves are coming from multiple compass points. So as soon as one has attacked from one flank, there is another to have a go fro the other side. It feels like a small wall of water smacking into Blue Moon’s side, and bodily lifting us sideways. We land with a crunch of compressed water under the hull. Lots of noise and thumping accompanies the wave assaults. The sea anchor ropes add to the raucous chorus as they stretch and catch, and jerk us back into drift submission.

I needed to wear my crash hat round the cabin to reduce impact damage. Whilst laying down, the motion is slightly more subdued, but I strapped myself into bed rather than bracing to every roll.

It was an easy choice not to paddle today. Open hatches, cockpit transfers and sea anchor retrieval all dodgy dangerous in this state. Thats before even considering potential progress.

So the day stretches ahead, to eat, to sleep, to read some of the thoughts and stories some have provided. With time to linger over breakfast, I have been particularly enjoying Jana’s dried bananas and Judy’s lightly toasted muesli.

Tomorrow we’ll see what the weather wills.

[Richard's 8pm 28 Dec update] Waiting on weatherman Roger's updated forecast. Thursday was to be as bad as today, so I may again be forced to do cryptic crosswords indoors. While there is plenty of interaction with the sea’s mood, there is little actual view of the sea, and that is quite disconnecting. Almost like playing virtual canoeing on a computer or couch...

Above: 24hr progress is all due to wind/current with sea anchor deployed. Map overlays current position of Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet at 0700 29 Dec

27 Dec 2022 - Day 14 - Rough Approaching

When it came to parking for the night tonight, it didn’t require a tight reverse park. It may well be for a while however, with gale force winds predicted for the next two days. No parking police to book me.

As evening approached, the wind picked up a little, and the ocean took on an overall ruffle. There was only one cloud in the sky but it was a big one. Drab grey and covering the whole sky hemisphere. Monotone, not even a glimmer of where the sun might be setting. It made navigating disconcerting, having zero distinguishable sky marks to head toward. Instead I had to keep checking the deck compass. That takes a bit of faith, when compass and internal gyroscope speak different languages in these conditions. More than ever, paddling one particular direction seems as good as any other.

May have the chance for a good long sleep in tomorrow. There is usually a bright side to most situations.

Above: Map overlays current position of Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet at 0700 28 Dec

26 Dec 2022 - Day 13 - On the Ocean

Would anyone be surprised that an albatross again features in today’s adventures?

Perhaps the surprise is that fish don’t.

The sum total of contacts with Neptune’s world since leaving Hobart have been three dolphins flying by, one dorsal fin we might optimistically call a shark, plus a few jellyfish and a few more bluebottles. Where are Nemo and Co?

To this morning, and opening the hatch to a surprise about as big as if a postie had rung your doorbell to hand deliver your mail.

Sitting on the water not 2m away was an albatross. A very cute sooty variety, with his speckled colouring very visible all over his body. Perhaps his surprise was as great as mine when I emerged from the hatch?

With admirable nonchalance, he continued to float around. Then he decided to drift to the bow of Blue Moon, and gave the fibreglass a few tentative pecks. Nothing doing there, so he moved on down Blue Moon’s side. Next to take his interest was the lifeline along the side of Blue Moon, with a tug and peck or two at it. He tried tapping on the deck, but no response of interest.

I did get a photo of his interest in the Hawkesbury Classic sticker - maybe there is a good advertising line in that?

By then he was back to me, and seemed quite happy to eye me from no more than arms reach away. The patterning round his eyes makes him look quite stern. There are two big nostrils on top of his beak, and that hook still looks serious. Actually the main part of his beak looked relatively soft, more for gripping fish than chopping them in half. He has big feet that are half decent as paddles.

He drifted toward the stern, did a lazy stretch of his wings, and then took off, not to be seen again.

My other geography lesson today concerned swell. Have you ever experienced wind shadow behind a hill or building? Well it also happens with swell. Some majestic swells are marching up from the SW. Maybe 6m tall, its not so much height but wavelength, about 100m, that makes them so grand. And windspeed peaks at the crests, and dwindles to calm at the troughs. Amazing.

25 Dec 2022 - Day 12 - Christmas Cheer

Ian has dreamt up an extraordinary number of ways to say buoyant Christmas greetings; either that or there really are alot of Blue Moon facebook friends following the fairytale [Ed: 50+ Christmas messages were relayed to Richard 25 Dec evening].

Today’s weather was again ideal, with light tailwinds helping fast progress. Unfortunately my weatherman Roger is predicting up to 30 knot headwinds and 4m waves starting Tuesday evening. Caution suggests this might be the time to stay strapped in the cabin, and possibly drifting backwards.

Back to everyone’s lovely, supportive notes. I paddled Christmas day in paradise. I got to talk briefly with family via satellite phone, technology that is not perfect but still amazing.

Like you suggested Lyn, I did “look around at that vast open ocean - put the paddle down for a split second (or two) and open my arms wide…” Although we are on opposite sides of a continent, we seem to think so alike. For all who love the albatross, they were completely back to form today, imperiously flying by without a hint of stopping to chat or watch Judy’s suggestion of “a crazy monkey on a big blue fish…”

As the time rolls over into Boxing Day, way too much time spent enjoying your comments, I am capping off a dinner fit for a king. Dessert is custard accompanying the first slice of family Christmas cake made and packed by my sister before we freighted food from Sydney.

Closing by paraphrasing Derek’s comment : “Is that Santa we see streaking across the ocean??? No. It’s…” It could very soon be a incredibly wayward Sydney to Hobart yacht, or it could be the next big storm approaching.

Thanks everyone. Its been a dazzler Christmas living my dream. Raise a Coke and toast to adventuring.

Above: 24hr progress to 6am 26 Dec 2022. Note the tracker had a temporary technical glitch yesterday hence the missing spots

24 Dec 2022 - Day 11, Be Amazed by Nature

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you out there over my horizon.

Two stories for you from today’s paddling, and both include albatross.

It made me wonder if albatross recognise a Christmas holiday too?

Incident one was a bit of a disaster. In my remodelled rudder, there is a line attached to the trailing edge. At night, it can be tensioned to stop the rudder from flapping around. When I got into the cockpit this morning it was clear the rudder was not restrained. Hard to know which part of the system had failed from 6m forward in the cockpit. Mulled over it for a while, as it didn’t stop paddling. On the basis that if something needs fixing, it should be done sooner rather than when it becomes a crisis, I stopped to investigate. Yes avid spot track watchers, that hour of no movement at midday was this little drama. First to get to the stern. I had a system from warmer climes during Tasman I where I could walk round the cabin on the anchor lines. That still gets wet legs. This time I slid up and over the top, like my own inbuilt roller coaster. First try I landed face-first in the cockpit, so it took a bit of refining, and kept me dry.

Once at the stern, to reach the underwater rudder, I needed to hug the hull. Perched sitting on the rear deck, then legs wrapped around the hull to keep me connected. Arms wrapped round hull too, to reach the rudder simultaneously with both hands. So much for being dry. With my face only millimetres from the deck, I had to hold my breath as the stern sunk under each passing wave.

It must have looked pretty comical, as a sooty albatross landed not 5m away and stayed to watch my antics. Albatross incident two occurred a few hours later. There was a very sudden increase in windspeed, from mild to pretty wild. What had been my calm ocean almost instantly transformed into wash and breakers and dashing white horses everywhere.

Coinciding with this, having seen only solitary birds all day, I was surrounded by a mixed flock of ten. Three albatross, four shearwaters and two dancing skippers. They all did close loops round Blue Moon for a few minutes. Passing over heading downwind they raced past, whilst flying upwind it was more like hovering by. The smaller birds dispersed, and then the albatross started landing beside Blue Moon. Always down landing gear at Blue Moon’s starboard bow, no more than a metre away. Then float by on the windward side past cockpit for a good eye-to-eye, out to the stern then taking off for another pass. I did extend my Jantex paddle in a sign of welcome, but then wondered if those big sharp hooked beaks might be tougher than carbonfibre? The windburst calmed and the albatross were gone. From where had this soft and cuddly side of an imperial albatross emerged?

Nature continues to amaze.

23 Dec 2022 - Day 10, The Big Calm

Ian forwarded a sample of the many many good wishes and prayers for both my birthday and the Tasman trip. Thank you to each and every one of you.

As Lyn Battle said, “Not many people get to spend their special day out on the open ocean actually living their biggest birthday wish!”

Well, someone up there heard and responded. Today has been an extraordinary day. I woke to all wind gone, not even a zephyr. The sea had responded and gone glassy calm too. There I was sitting in a huge silent amphitheatre, making either the Colosseum or the MCG seem small. A vast panorama to a 360 degree flat horizon.

I got out there and started paddling for the horizon. Speed in those conditions was 50% better than the previous windy days, a big bonus. Helped set a new day distance record for this trip, 33km.

It was warm! No need for a kag. No need even for a spraydeck, as there were no dancing wavelets to dump into the cockpit. Centreboard up and out, as there was no wind to challenge the steering. This was heaven. And it lasted all day. Round 3pm, a tiny breeze rustled up some ripples, and I almost had to add the spraydeck. But then the weather went back to bed, and I have moored for the night again in hushed silence and flat seas.

Only the albatross seem sad not to have wind on which to soar. They have even resorted to multiple Blue Moon passes, to fill in time till wind gliding returns.

22 Dec 2022 - Day 9, Birthday

My 62nd birthday started fabulously, with a sleep in and two birthday cards. Albatross express post?

One came from dear friend and Hawkesbury Classic organiser Joy. The front picture was of a sloth, with comments suggesting I beware the fates of slothfulness. Also included was a surprise snack, described as two cups of peanuts. This got saved for afternoon tea. Imagine my surprise, and I suspect Joy’s, to find each cup was chocolate china. Genetically lacking, I simply don’t like chocolate, so I suspect this is the only sample like a stowaway on board Blue Moon. Hopefully shearwaters share the world’s passion for chocolate.

My second card was from Phil, soulmate and instrumental in a thousand Blue Moon construction details. Inside he’d written a quote from that wise bear Winnie the Pooh “We will be friends for ever. You just wait and see.” Definitely a thought I heartily agreed with this morning. With more reflection time throughout today, was there a hint to get on with paddling and not turn this crossing into too long an adventure?

Two more highlights have filled my day around the 30,000 strokes. The first was a little after midday, when I finally emerged from my red kag. For the first time in Tasmanian waters, it just scraped warm enough to emerge, like a butterfly, to windless sunshine. It was fleeting, and kag was back in place an hour later. My final treat and delight still awaits in dinner. One tin “six Plumrose Premium skinless hot dogs” says the wrapping, still unweathered.

The picture shows all the trimmings - ketchup, mustard and soft roll cradling a gorgeous frankfurt. Without a hint of ‘serving suggestion’, but there are limits on what can emerge from a tin in the middle of an ocean. I do have backup tomato sauce.

All in all, not such a bad way to get older.

21 Dec 2022 - Day 8, Seabirds

A little wind, a little more progress Eastward.

With LCRK christmas party last night, I couldn’t help but compare activities in the two camps. Most likely I still had an hour’s paddle to go when partygoers started arriving. Then by feasting time, I was full into desalinating water for life’s most basic necessity. I did reallocate dessert early, perhaps when partygoers were hitting christmas cake. Mine was a mini pannetone given to me by ex-pres John Duffy, and carried wihout too much squashing or reshaping.

Out on the water, birdlife has been very scarce. Such a contrast to Tasman I. It is a real event to see any bird, even for the briefest of moments. Three completely different chaps have caught my attention. The first is the albatross. They are regents of the wind, seemingly effortlessly gliding inches above the sea surface, and following wave profiles without hint of flurry of feathers. They typically only have one fly-by of Blue Moon, from a respectable distance, before soaring away. The albatross are big, both in body volume, and wingspans around 1.5m.

There are still birds of the shearwater family. These ones are more petite than their northern cousins. They are also mostly black and white. White from underneath, except for a black collar. From above, each wing has a distinctive black Vee pattern, the point near the front of each wing. Does anyone know their real name?

The third is the smallest, quite tiny for so far out from land. Not much bigger than a swallow, and darts around in a similar way. My nickname for them is skippers. They have a way of flitting down to the ocean, then as they skim the surface, dropping just one leg to trail a claw in the water momentarily before bouncing back up skyward. Their wingplan has a very semicircular leading edge, most unlike the soaring shearwaters. Black from above and white from below, again any clues to these intriguing wildlife?

I am hoping for a few more birds to fill the quieter solitary moments.

20 Dec 2022 - Day 7. Smelly Things

A few landmarks today, in particular it is now a week since launching from Sandy Bay Hobart. Seven paddling days done. That is about 30,000 paddling strokes a day or 200,000 paddle hits this week. Thank goodness Brett and Jill Greenwood’s gift (a paddle) is up to the task and hasn’t missed a beat.

On smelly things, the cold weather is at least in part to blame. My bedroom is delightfully cosy, but there is not a lot of circulating air. Wrapped in the same shorts, tshirt, sleeping bag and inner sheet for a week is going to take its nasal toll. Every day so far there has been a need to paddle in either one or two waterproof jackets to keep warm in 14C summer surrounds. Only one LCRK paddling top in action under the jackets, so its both salty and smelly. After 100 potential days of this, the result may well be off the tolerable scale.

Tonight I got a craving for macadamia custard for dessert. Big thanks to Miranda and Rowan for supplying the nuts from their own farm. Custard is straight out of the powdered factory. To be served with a vintage Coke.

go to top

19 Dec 2022 - Day 6, Thoughts

Over nine hours disappeared on the water today, so what went through my mind? Not much, is the main conclusion, as is only right for a holiday.

Quite a bit of time goes into watching approaching waves and swell, and trying to avoid them slopping around the spraydeck, or the bigger ones splashing into my face. Another big chunk of time was contemplating the wind. Was each little lull a sign of quieter breezes settling in? Why was the forecast for Southerlies, but what I was experiencing was closer to SE and so a component of headwind? Where are any Westerlies to help blow me to NZ?

Occasionally a whirlwind of ideas flit fleetingly through my mind. A sample today ran something like this:

  • missing Monday, first day back at work
  • How are my Bureau colleagues faring, especially my co engineer Francisco?
  • What is happening with friends I’ve not see for a while like ex-colleague Felipe and Murray paddler Bill in Melbourne?
  • How is Murray organiser Shannon coping with more potential postponements post covid and floods?
  • Why have I seen no Mirage sea kayaks in Tasmania but plenty of other brands?
  • How do Tas paddlers cope with the cold - drysuits?
  • Is the summer temperature around Hobart ever going to get above 14C?

And so it cycled on through my mind.

Nothing much on the Aussie political scene seemed particularly portentous out here on the ocean.

18 Dec 2022 - Day 5, Seasickness

Why pick ocean kayaking when I am susceptible to mal de mer?

My last trial run was the only one of fifteen that I have not been sea sick. It did give hope that maybe it was avoidable. All the other times had shown acclimatisation occurs, simply hang in and it will pass. Unfortunately whilst it hangs around, it is pretty unpleasant.

It struck the instant I stopped paddling Day 4, and scrambled inside the cabin. The concept of no visible horizon seems pretty likely the trigger. The main symptom is a total lack of willpower to do anything but lie still, which is completely at odds with the goal of racking up easterly kilometres. A tug-of-war developed in my mind, and sleeping won out till 10.30am. Over the next hour, each chore such as packing away sleeping bag and getting out of dry clothes and into wet paddling gear had a little lie down rest inbetween each action. At one point there was an interlude whilst I threw up.

Back in the cockpit not much before midday, it was paddling and steering in automatic for a while and a truce that it would not be a long paddling day.

Abating winds and calming seas have helped to restore equilibrium. I’m cautiously tucking into a light dinner. After not eating anything for 24 hours, there is a calorie hole to be filled

17 Dec 2022 - Day 4, Tears

You would all know that I wear a flapcap that protects my face well from sunburn. It is also a great way to hide tears.

I am definitely not the person to give a funeral eulogy, way too prone to produce waterworks at sad occasions. But it is not only sadness that brings on tears. Every time I think of the Pacific rower Michelle Lee, tears spring up encompassing the sheer joy for her achievements. So too when contemplating how close Andrew MacAuley got on his kayak to New Zealand. It seems that tears are a way to express any overwhelming emotion, not only sadness.

As I paddled out the entrance to Boomer Bay yesterday, the final passage from Dunalley Canal to the sea, there were definitely a few tears. My route was being guided by friendly local sea kayaker Phil S. My sister Linden had walked out along the long sandspit to wave goodbye. She was a solitary figure, in a backdrop of swirly misty drizzle. This would be my last contact till NZ. Yet this was anything but a sad moment. Regret perhaps at the anguish this sort of adventure loads onto family and friends. But euphoria so strong at the beginning of a grand adventure ahead. This is it. No turning back.

I encourage everyone to follow their adventure dreams. Shed a few tears on the emotional rollercoaster.

Above: The tracking map above is 24hrs to 8am 18 Dec and shows his overnight drift with sea anchor/drogue deployed. And shearwater-flies distance yet to paddle...

Above: Richard sets off in the morning from Dunalley. Photo: P.Newman

Above: Richard exiting to the Tasman Sea at the Marion Bay Narrows. Photo: Tas Maritime webcam still

16 Dec 2022 - Day 3, Down a Canal

Where is a Westerly when one might be desired? It was Southerly winds again today, and may well be for quite a few more. So out with Plan B and onto Plan C. I had hoped to launch from Port Arthur, heading out past the magnificent cliffs of Cape Pillar and then passing Tasman Island with its remote lighthouse. To get to Port Arthur would have needed negotiating precipitous lee shores, a risky venture. However there is an alternative exit to Storm Bay. It was reachable via a dose of crosswind paddling, and Blue Moon proved herself ably up to that task. So here I am at Dunalley Canal, a manmade sea passage. Only 7km across a final bay separates me from the Tasman Ocean.

In the lee of Whitehouse Point today, I was reminded of the joys of paddling. The wind was blocked by the cliffy shoreline. The sun popped out on a small calm patch. I felt warm in my two kags for the first time in Tasmania. There were swirls and patterns in the sandstone. The crowning bush was similar to Broken Bay, and yet distinctly Tasmanian. Round the next headland more wind awaited, plus a fast downwind slide. Yet this was an idyllic peaceful solitary paddling moment, to be cherished.

The day ended with cheese and crackers on a wharf with my landcrew. The special cheese, King Island Smoky Cape cheddar, had been delivered this morning to Blue Moon by whitewater paddling hero Andrew Houghton in a blue and gold slalom kayak. Great friends wherever I travel.

15 Dec 2022 - Day 2, More Southerlies

The day started deliciously. Outdoor ed teacher and kayaker Mark arrived at Blue Moon’s hatch with the option of a bacon and egg roll or a cup of coffee or both. Still not sure if coffee contributes to seasickness, so Mark got the coffee and I got the bacon and eggs. It powered me throughout the day, and still no seasickness. Offset against that, there has still been too much wind, in the form of a storm Southerly. Lots of wind, lots of cloud and zero sun. My fingers were thumbs and numb by days end. Fortunately only the morning route was upwind. Blue Moon handled the cross-swells blowing straight up Storm Bay, and then revelled in the running downwind. Together we hit the heady heights of 5.8kmh, almost twice cruise speed and three times yesterday’s slog.

Tonight’s mooring is at Cremorne Inlet. It is so protected from waves and wind I could be up in dry dock. Hot milk and hot mushroom soup started dinner, to aid recirculation. A jumper and blue and gold beanie have been added to my dinner attire so all is now very cosy.

With continuing Southerlies, route plan is changing tomorrow. Takeoff had been targetted for Port Arthur, but it may be less energy to shortcut to the Tasman via Dunalley Canal.

Approaching Cremorne: Photo: N.Trikilis

14 Dec 2022 - Day 1, Tasman II

Appropriate to start on a Wednesday, and be finishing my day’s paddle as the LCRK time trial begins. My total distance for the day was about 14km, so little more than a Lane Cove lap. And yet my kilometres took over 8 hours nonstop paddling. Unfortunately the weather here in Hobart is storm Southerlies for the next four days, and that meant a savage headwind all today. At times my GPS couldn’t decide whether progress was zero or we were actually going backwards.

My family, Phil Newman and his family and Annette Dawson all came to Tasmania to help get me launched. Huge thanks to all for making it happen.

Local Dave Barlow had organised a farewelling escort from the Tas Sea Canoe Club, who braved some pretty chilly and wet winds to join the on-water fun. Another local Chris also paddled alongside patiently for a long stretch to Taroona.

I am very glad to be moored in a windless corner of Blackman Bay tonight. So far whilst cooking and eating there have been bouts of rain and sunshine and many variants in between.

Above: Launch. Photo: D.Barlow

Above: Conditions en route. Photo: D.Barlow

Above: Blackmans Bay arrival. Photo: D.Barlow

13 Dec 2022 - Hobart

From Richard: Final packing completed today, out of the rain in SB scout hall. Ten scouts were climbing in out and all about Blue Moon last night. Aim is to set out from SB tomorrow morning.

And from Phil N providing support for the launch: A hive of activity down here. Richard, family and BM arrived in Hobart late Monday morning after an overnight passage on the Spirit of Tasmania from Geelong to Devonport. Monday afternoon spent getting BM into the Scout Hall by Short Beach, communicating ABF, Australian Border Force, and establishing which is the best launch ramp to use on Wednesday morning. Richard had made the decision not to bring the launch bogies to Tasmania so the trailer will need to enter the water to float BM. Today has been busy chasing up last minute supplies, packing and double checking. Subject to weather (it's expected to be windy), Richard still hopes to set off around 10AM on Wednesday with the intention of getting to Blackman Bay