One Year Later - A look back at a Tragedy

Sunday, 10 February 2008
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Andrew McAuley
Andrew McAuley
It was one year ago yesterday that the great kayak adventurer Andrew McAuley died during his crossing from Australia to New Zealand.

It was a huge shock for me. I had been following the crossing very closely reading the newspapers and online blogs for news or updates of the expedition.

Right up to the end things were looking good and I was positive he was going to make it. I went to bed looking forward to reading about this HUGE accomplishment the next day.

I woke up to news that I didn't want to hear and we all know what happened.

Since that time I have given the expedition and Andrew's motivations a huge amount of thought and it has since radically adjusted my view of the limits kayaking as well, it changed my ability to inspire other people to get involved with the fantastic sport of sea kayaking.

For years, people told me to stay close to shore, "it's to dangerous out there!" they said. Andrew showed me that with the proper planning and skills, anything is possible.

With that in mind, our paddling group started to look at what was holding us to shore. We planed, trained and started our own little crossings. For us, 2007 brought us two longer crossings of 20km and a crossing of Lake Ontario (42km). Small steps compared to Andrew but without his inspiration it never would have happened. We are planning to take it further with a planned crossing of 60km later this summer.

Those crossings and the planning surrounding them made a huge impact on my teaching style. By completing them I can now draw from a much deeper pool of experience to (hopefully) inspire new paddlers about the potential of the craft that they are sitting for the first time.

So to Andrew, I never met you but you made a huge impact on me in so many different ways. My extremely poor writing will never be able to get across how much of a huge positive difference you made to me through this terrible tragedy.

Andrew McAuley It was one year ago yesterday that the great kayak adventurer Andrew McAuley died during his crossing from Australia to New Zealand.

It was a huge shock for me. I had been following the crossing very closely reading the newspapers and online blogs for news or updates of the expedition.

Right up to the end things were looking good and I was positive he was going to make it. I went to bed looking forward to reading about this HUGE accomplishment the next day.

I woke up to news that I didn't want to hear and we all know what happened.

Since that time I have given the expedition and Andrew's motivations a huge amount of thought and it has since radically adjusted my view of the limits kayaking as well, it changed my ability to inspire other people to get involved with the fantastic sport of sea kayaking.

For years, people told me to stay close to shore, "it's to dangerous out there!" they said. Andrew showed me that with the proper planning and skills, anything is possible.

With that in mind, our paddling group started to look at what was holding us to shore. We planed, trained and started our own little crossings. For us, 2007 brought us two longer crossings of 20km and a crossing of Lake Ontario (42km). Small steps compared to Andrew but without his inspiration it never would have happened. We are planning to take it further with a planned crossing of 60km later this summer.

Those crossings and the planning surrounding them made a huge impact on my teaching style. By completing them I can now draw from a much deeper pool of experience to (hopefully) inspire new paddlers about the potential of the craft that they are sitting for the first time.

So to Andrew, I never met you but you made a huge impact on me in so many different ways. My extremely poor writing will never be able to get across how much of a huge positive difference you made to me through this terrible tragedy.

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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