Free spirit Sandy Robson is kayaking alone from Germany to Australia – a distance of 50,000 km. She began her journey in May 2011 and has so far covered 6,000 km. In the process, she will also become the first woman to paddle along the Indian coast – from Gujarat to West Bengal, from where she will travel to Bangladesh and reach Australia, her homeland, through South-East Asia some time in 2016.
In between, she will travel back home to resume teaching and her job as a kayaking trainer, to raise funds for the rest of her journey. Her motivation behind this expedition is Oskar Speck. Someone told her about a kayaker who paddled all the way from Germany to Australia. Oskar Speck set out in his folding kayak on the Danube River in 1932. Seven years, 3 kayaks and 50,000 km later, he landed in Australian waters. This has to be one of the most amazing kayak journeys of all time she thought to herself, and thus took her decision!
Having hit the Indian coast off Gujarat on December 2, 2012, Sandy intends to break the India part of her journey towards the end of March. “India is a big country. I will break my journey in March after the East coast after going round Sri Lanka,” Sandy added. Friendly fishermen and dolphins were all that 47-year-old Sandy Robson had for company while she kayaked along India’s western coast. And her navigating tools were an admiralty chart to know the tides and depth of sea, a GPS and the Israel-based weatherman’s daily weather forecast. Earlier, she was denied entry into Iran and Syria, possibly for political reasons, while mines spread across Euphrates river by Saddam Hussein’s military kept her away from Iraq.
While kayaking along India’s west coast, Once she crossed into Kerala, she was frequently ‘intercepted’ by the marine police who wanted to verify the Australian’s passport. “The people are very helpful. When I landed at a place where there was no hotel, local residents allowed me to stay at their home” says Sandy.
There were instances of fishermen sharing their tea and inviting her to their boats for breakfast. And how does she communicate with them? “Sign language works best. Most fishermen in Kerala know English.” The trip is more about exploring other cultures – I was amazed as people brought me tea and food wherever I landed. At many places in Gujarat, people crowded around her and the police had to intervene. Was she intimidated at any point in her journey along Indian coast? “Big ships often came too close. But Indian Navy, Coast Guard and police treated me well.” Robson sets out in her kayak, which is five metres long and 60 cm wide, and weighs approximately 35 kg, at first light around 7.30 am.
When starting out to a new destination, Robson takes it easy for the first two to three days, depending on how she is feeling and, of course, the weather conditions. Once in form, she paddles around 40 km a day, looks at maps, enjoys the beauty and waves out to fishermen. “My lunch comprises pasta, noodles, some cheese or chapatti and is usually in the kayak.” What she really misses on expeditions are ice creams and Gouda cheese.
“Sometimes, I have the company of turtles and dolphins and busy fishermen casting their nets into the sea. I prefer paddling closer to the coast, as there is activity here. Too far into the ocean, the ride gets monotonous.” In her kayak, Robson carries a tent, sleeping bag, first aid kit, clothing and food. “My kayak folds up and can be turned into a backpack,” she explains. Robson bought the green-coloured light and foldable kayak especially for the expedition. Back home in Perth, Robson indulges in anything that has got to do with the beach. “Kayaking, water sports, swimming and snorkeling, says Robson, who also enjoys biking.
Checkout her blog and do sponsor her journey! Contact Sandy on this link:
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