Crossing the Ditch: The interview

This summer (Aussie time) two young Australians, James Castrission and Justin Jones, will embark on an incredible adventure. They will attempt to be the first to cross the Tasman Sea by kayak. They will leave Sydney and after paddling for 2200 kms, will hopefully end their journey safely in New Zealand.

The two adventurers will be pushing the envelope of the ocean frontier. Success will require physical and mental endurance, advanced technological and scientific application and excellent seamanship. Its a voyage fraught with danger, Andrew McCauley, a very experienced adventurer lost his life attempting a Tasman crossing earlier this year. However achieving their goal will be triumph of ingenuity and the spirit of adventure.

Theres more information on their website, Crossing the Ditch, also I reported on the official launch last January, but I’m very pleased to bring you a short interview with James I conducted before he and Justin set off on a sea trial this weekend:

Lets start by asking a question I’m sure you have been asked plenty of times, Why are you undertaking such a risky adventure?

As Helen Keller once said- “life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”. Crossing the Ditch is less about being the first to get from point A to point B and more about the journey. The last 3 years of preparation have taught us more about business, adventure and more importantly ourselves than any other situation in our lives has taught us. Delaying the Expedition last summer was incredibly difficult, but as often happens it has led to multiple opportunities.. Sailing a yacht from Brisbane to PNG and from Melbourne- Syd, spending many more days familiarising ourselves with Lot 41.. the list goes on.

Other people have tried to paddle the Tasman and failed, some fatally so. Why do you believe the two of you can do it?

We have taken a significantly different approach to crossing the Tasman than any previous expedition. One just needs to look at the shape of Lot 41, the route choice and the gear we have on board to see some of the surface level differences. We have designed Lot 41 so that she is capable of crossing not just crossing the Tasman, but any of the world’s great oceans.

Your route is different from what Andrew McAuley tried, can you lets us know why you will be traveling a longer route?

Three main reasons:

1) A big part of our strategy in crossing the Tasman is utilising an eddy current off the EAC

This current moves around at different times of the year. In a couple of months it will tend East and extends out half way across. Our departure location will depend where the current is sitting.

2) Water temperature. As can be seen by the above link, the water temperature of 18- 20 degrees is significantly warmer than down south. This will result in less calories being burned to keep warm and significantly increases our survival time in the water if there is a situation.

3) Down below the 40th Parallel (ie Tasie-NZ South Island) the incidence of storms is much greater as is there intensity and duration.

You will be consuming about 6000 calories a day, what will you be eating? What sort of meals will be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Typical days diet includes: 2 Dehydrated meals , 150g muesli, 300g scroggin, fat supplements, Sustagen, 2 protein bars, 2 Powerbars.

How will you be heating your meals?

Using flameless heating rations (Didn’t buy them from here but just so you get an idea).

What type of watermaker will you be using? Andrew McCauley had a hand operated one will one of you have to crank the watermaker or is it electrically operated?

Primary: Powersurvior 40E This unit will be pumping 10L per day for Justin and run off our electrics. If our electrics go down the unit can be converted into a manual pump.

Secondary: Power Survivor 35E (same one as Andrew)

I know the expedition will have lots of high tech communication gear, will the public be able to track your journey? Also do you intend to send back regular reports?

Our position will be updated live every 6 minutes to our website. We will also be sending blogs, photo’s etc. quite frequently. so keep logging onto

Your kayak, Lot 41, is based on a design by Rob Feloy, who designed a kayak that crossed the Atlantic, what sort of modifications were required for your expedition?

Although based on the concept of Pete Brays kayak that he paddled across the Atlantic, Lot 41’s primary difference is that there are two of us on board.

I know you have a trial trip coming up to Jervis Bay, will you be doing any longer tests before the big day?

We have this 4/5 day trial starting this weekend which will give us a good indication where we stand. The kayak will be fully loaded with all provisions and gear as though we are to set off across the Tasman. We have actually moved the mini-ex: we’re paddling from Port Stephens- Syd (approx 180km). We will be updating our website each day from out there.

On behalf of myself and the other contributors to Discovery Enterprise I wish you a successful and safe voyage.

Good luck!




James Castrission

Crossing the Ditch

Trans Tasman Kayak Expedition


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