The Kit

The gear required to get this is generally not “off the shelf” and is an interesting exercise in decisions and adapting pieces to operate in an invasively wet and harsh environment. Although the backyard genius is full of systems and solutions – “simple” almost always, washes out best.

Kayak is FORWARDS with a paddle – Not rowing backwards with oars

Not to be confused with rowing – that’s been done prolifically around the globe…backwards.

The significant differences are that the rowing boats are larger and able to accommodate the power, supplies and equipment necessary for prolonged efforts. It is significantly easier to maintain health in that larger space. The mechanical advantage is the whole body is the drive force with two fixed fulcrum levers as the oars. The downside is you need to push a bigger boat.

The kayak has little space to stay healthy in and only the upper body for drive.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!


Kayak Basics

1 – Float

2  – Self right

3 – Bullet Proof

These were the priority build directives [simplified] in 2014 and are similar for 2018. DD proved herself to be a rugged survivor after spending and extra month at sea by herself with the door ajar [in order to sink the marine hazard]. She was virtually ready to paddle again after removing the black west coast sand.

The 2018 version is a lighter carbon version with many slight adjustments but a similar shell.

We decided on a V hull with chines to give the best stability. The V also allows us to get weight low to aid the self-righting ability. The round bilge hull is arguably quicker, but we opted to go with stability and action through a chop – which proved to be an energy saver and allowed some steerage when the rudder was lost.

The naked DD was 130+ kg. The 2018 version will be approximately 80kg. A massive saving with carbon. The new boat will react differently and require better ballast and weight distribution.

The net saving in weight will probably be around 40kg. – That’s exciting when you don’t have to lug it every day!

The kayak is being constructed by Gordon Robinson and Colin Palmer and I even got to sling a bit of resin around under a watchful eye. It doesn’t get much better that these guys with a vast experience in related industries. = carbon artists.

Construction Layers

Glass 165gm 12 weave
200gm carbon
300gm double bias
300gm double bias
200gm carbon the sexy top weave
Cloth peel ply

Carbon foam sandwhich with vacuum bagging for bulkheads and compartments

Friends and Suppliers

A campaign like this is a massive undertaking… and then you start paddling!

Getting to the start line is a juggling act with logistics, the build, sourcing and developing appropriate gear, marketing, finance, training, health and adjusting the rest of life to make it happen. I may do the paddling but it is absolutely a team effort to get this happening.

Firstly and most importantly is the family. My wife Sarah and son Zac are the ones dedicating the most to this event. They get to share the challenge but they are the owners of the hard yards, years before the event. It’s a special team with great strength in many ways.

Next most important is Nigel and Bob – but they have their own page.

Solving the issues…

How do you sleep? How do you stay safe in a storm?


Coppins Para Sea Anchors
When its time to rest, you set the sea anchor. This comes with its own set of challenges in a lumpy environment where two hands on the paddle are needed to keep you bow down and another two hands to set the anchor. If you have done a good job and had a bit of luck you will be in a positive current that keeps you moving forward or in a frontal storm, not backwards too much. The sea anchor most importantly keeps you bow down into a storm as broadside is not preferable. The Tasman still slaps you with multidirectional waves from previous weather systems but essentially you can close the hatch and hold on. It’s a bit like residing in a washing machine but the torpedo shape of the boat allows you to point the nose through most whitewash and occasionally submarine some of the big ones. Its very dark when that happens!


Why have an open cockpit?


Day Two
The cockpit is open because all the activities are much more feasible in space.
Eg food, anchor setting, ablutions, equipment management, paddling.
The Day Two cockpit cover and spray skirt are key pieces in staying healthy and keeping the bulk of the water away from the body.
The skirt never comes off, but a zip allows full access to storage and activities.
The weather cover goes over the skirt and wears the brunt of the bubbly sea.
Once the Coppins anchor is set you then enter the cabin while applying the cockpit cover, in a storm, naked, at night, while balancing a 76cm wide kayak. It is one of the fun things to do at sea!


How do you maintain skin integrity?

Probably the toughest task is keeping your skin integrity in such a small wet space. The obvious areas being the arse, hands and feet. Its amazing the relentless abrasive effect of the salt water with any most materials. The lightest of fabrics will cause skin breakdown within days.

They require washing with valuable fresh water every second day.

Except for sharkskin chillproof.

Sharkskin chillproof is the gold standard in saving my arse and other bits!

Each area of skin has different needs and stresses. Feet are constantly wet and even with chillproof socks in the cooler weather it’s a case of managing the degradation.

Can I do it all?

No! The job be split into 3 categories marketing/promotion, build and logistics, preparation.

Dave and Grant from Pinnacle marine contribute to most of those areas. Particularly promotion.

I’m a little too straight shooting for marketing and they have my back.

It’s a relief not to push your own barrow all the time.