With scarcely more than a day’s paddling left in his 1000-mile solo crossing from Tasmania to New Zealand, Andrew McAuley was lost at sea.
Andrew, 39, had previously logged a 330-mile crossing of Australia’s Gulf of Carpenteria and several solo crossings of Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania. Last year he lead a 625-mile kayaking expedition along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. He also had a number of remarkable achievements as a mountaineer.
For the crossing of the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand he used a stock Australian Mirage kayak. He had added a fiberglass canopy that fit over the cockpit opening and allowed him to sleep protected from the elements. The canopy also gave the kayak a self-righting ability. On his first attempt at the crossing, early in December of last year, he cut the trip short when he realized that he didn't have enough insulation in the kayak to keep him warm while he tried to sleep. He wisely returned to Tasmania to re-outfit and wait for another window of opportunity in the weather.
On January 11, 2007, he started his second attempt. For nearly a month he paddled across the Roaring Forties averaging 30 miles a day. He kept in touch with his family and support team via satellite phone while his position was being tracked by a radio beacon. Toward the end of his crossing he was overtaken by a strong low-pressure system and endured high winds and 40-foot seas. The storm blew through and Andrew had fair weather for the last few days of the crossing. By Friday, February 9, he had the New Zealand mountains in sight. That Friday the New Zealand rescue center picked up a distress call over VHF radio. The transmission wasn’t clear and there was some doubt that it had come from Andrew. A search was launched and on Saturday his kayak was located and recovered. The cockpit canopy was missing but otherwise it was in good shape. Some video taken by Andrew was recovered, but how he became separated from his kayak remains unknown.
The story of Andrew’s crossing and his other achievements is available on his web site: www.andrewmcauley.com
. He leaves behind his wife Vicki and his 3-year-old son, Finlay. An account for contributions to his family has been established by the New South Wales Sea Kayak Club. Contributions may be made through the club web site (www.nswseakayaker.asn.au
) or through a bank transfer to:
Account Name: Andrew McAuley,
Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia,
Swift: CTBAAU2S (The swift code is needed for donations from outside Australia)
All of us at Sea Kayaker extend our condolences to Andrew’s family and to the friends and the sea kayaking community that supported him.
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