About a month ago I crossed the Gulf from Adelaide to Port Vincent on a 17′ Stand Up Paddleboard. It was 58.2km and it took me 7hrs 20 mins to get there. I had all necessary safety equipment, food and water. I had a support boat that gave me updates on my navigation every hour or so. The idea came about around this time last year when there was a conversation about if it could be done or not. So I have been training over this time with the aim to one day soon have a go. It wasn’t until about a month ago I spoke to Sam Gaylard, who kindly offered his yacht and time to support me. So after picking a weekend that fit into our calendars and lots of religiously checking of the weather and tides we made the decision to do it on Saturday. The day started at 5am getting ready and then heading to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Outer Harbour, then load ingot he boat and casting off for the trip. The wind was forecast for ENE 10 to 15 kts and it looked like that’s what we were about to get. We motored around to North Haven beach and I got on the boat at around 6:50am. I then paddled from the boat into the shore, so I did the trip land to land. Had a couple of snaps taken buy the Local Messenger paper and then headed off. I left at around 7:20am.
The first 10km was pretty quick as I was averaging around the 9km per hr mark, even though I had to stop every km or so to clear the weed that was building up on my rudder. Then the weed started to clear but the wind dropped out slowly around the 14 km mark and my times per kilometer kept getting slower and slower till around the halfway point which I made in about 3hrs 10mins. So I was feeling maybe a 6hr 30 min crossing was achievable as the forecast was for the wind to stay in till around 12pm, but no that was almost all the help I was going to get. The next few km where an absolute grind, couldn’t see land anywhere around me, had no wind to help and allot of bumps that were to short for me to catch properly on the 17′. Then I caught a glimpse of a light marker off in the distance which was Orontes Beacon and I could see he shape of the land on the horizon. Wow how much faster was I paddling now! For thenext 5kms I averaged 1 min faster Km’s than I had in the same conditions for the last 10kms. It was funny how much better I felt with seeing the end in sight. Still 20 odd Km’s to go! By this time around 12pm the tide had turned and was now pushing me north so for the rest of the trip I was having to aim about 10 to 20 degrees south which was ok because that was about the direction of the waves. Still not a breath of wind. About 2 Km’s from the marker the wind kicked in again to about 10 to 12 kts and yes I was back on, started to catch a few small runners but had to let allot go as I just didn’t have it in me to dig deep anymore. Conserve for the end was what I was thinking. So the last 10 Km’s to go and the town was in sight! The tide was pushing me North really hard now as it was at the peak flow, there was that much tide that the water was rough on the outside of the spit as I crossed it and then once inside it it was like glass. 5ks to go, nearly there. At this time my feet were numb, my quads in my legs were burning and my Lats were quite sore, about 10km earlier I had taped up a couple of my fingers on my left hand as I was starting to get warm spots that if I left untreated were going to be some big blisters, but they were fine now. The last little bit into the marina was the best, I’d made it! I’d never done a crossing like this before, I’d done lots of down winders along the coast here and a few races interstate but nothing of this size and unknown conditions. Great! Hard work but worth the journey. Once I got onto the dock my legs were like jelly and I felt pretty buggered, the boys from the boat asked my how I felt and my answer was if it was another few Km’s I don’t think I would have had it in me. But in saying that I don’t think I would have gone that far and not let my self go a little further. It amazing just what you can do with a bit of practice, planning and training. Things I learnt were, if you have an idea and need others to support you, you will be surprised how manny genuine people will offer you assistance. Have a go! If you only get halfway that’s better than not trying. Test your kit a bit better before you go, I hadn’t paddled that board in the ocean before, I caught weed, the steering for the rudder wasn’t set up for my stance and my leg rope was too long and dragged most of the way. Good nutrition, water and electrolyte mix is essential. I would get a big boost in energy after eating. Be grateful for every experience you get the opportunity to be a part of. Thanks to Sam, Steve and Matt for being the best support crew. Thanks to Naish Australia, who kindly donated the board for me to paddle and all the other awesome toys I get to ride most days. Thanks to everyone who wished me luck and congrats on finishing. See you all around or on the water soon.