Saturday, 13 March 2010

Shaun Quincey rows the Tasman Sea


TIRED AND HUNGRY: Trans-Tasman rower Shaun Quincey has made it to shore in the Far North of New Zealand. Quincey is pictured with his partner.(Photo: NZ Herald)

When I was Director of the New Zealand Outward Bound School, each morning at the assembly I would read quotes from people who had showed the world how to make positive changes, or people who discovered how to push themselves beyond their own self-imposed limitations. One of the favourites quotes was from Colin Quincey, a quote he wrote on the wall of his cabin, en route to be coming the first man to row the Tasman Sea.

During the past weeks I have been following the exploits of his son, Shaun who today became the second New Zealander to successfully row across the Tasman Sea. On arrival he said "there were many times he doubted he'd make it. "
Thirty-three years after his father became the first man to row across the Tasman, Shaun Quincey, 25, equaled his father's achievement, swimming the final kilometer to shore.

Shaun’s boat, ‘Tasman Trespasser ll’, ready to go. Images courtesy of Shaun Quincy.

The Auckland rower completed his 2200km solo journey making it to shore at 90 Mile Beach about 12.35pm, Sunday, 14 March, 2010.
He was down to his last set of oars and was buffeted by high waves as he came into shore.
His voyage was filled with highs and lows, rolling his boat at least twice, breaking two sets of oars and coming close to running out of fresh water.
"Between the capsize and hitting the whale and everything, there were plenty of times when I thought I'm not going to get here" Quincey said.
Quincey was surrounded by family, friends and media as he arrived on shore after setting off in his 7.3m boat Tasman Trespasser from New South Wales on January 20.
"It's going to take me a few days to come to terms with the fact I've been at sea for 54 days."

Father and son talking about a Tasman crossing.


"There's no better country to aim for I don't think than New Zealand, although we had some trouble aiming here a few times."
"I think we ended up rowing 4000km," he said.
Soon after greeting family, Quincey munched on a bacon and egg sandwich and poured a bottle of champagne over himself.
"That is the best sandwich I’ve tasted in my life," Quincey said.
"It's absolutely great, it's one of the best feeling I've ever had in my life," he said.
"It's been a two year journey to get here so I've got a lot of people to say thank you to."
When asked whether any future sons might carry on the tradition, Quincey replied that he wouldn't allow his son to try it.

Trans-Tasman rower Shaun Quincey still has a liking for cold porridge after he ate it for four days on the trot while battling to make a landing in New Zealand on Sunday.As he grew used to being back on steady, dry land in Auckland on Monday, he told NZPA he gave up hot food for the last four days at sea to devote as much time as he could to battling northerly currents which were threatening to sweep him past the top of the North Island.

"I had cold porridge every meal for the last four days because I wanted to get in so badly.

"I thought I was going to miss the North Island and it was just working as fast as I could and eat as fast as I could just to keep rowing," he told NZPA.

He says four days of cold porridge had not put him off eating it.

"I don't mind cold porridge. It is not too bad."

In an exclusive interview with Campbell Live, Shaun Quincey shares his experiences of being alone, in huge seas, at times running dangerously low on supplies, and exposed to the elements for almost two months.

Watching his video diary for the first time with John Campbell, Quincey says it brings back “a real mix of emotions”.

“There were some times there that were the lowest in my life – I didn’t know how I was going to keep going.

"Some of the best times in my life too. It just describes the Tasman – such a mixture of everything. One hour I’d be excited and happy about achieving a goal, and the next hour I’d be almost in tears and not knowing how I was going to keep going."

He says the lows came from the weather reports.

“I knew that bad weather meant I was going to get thrown around for 24 hours a day, I was going to go backwards and there was nothing I could do about it. Good meant I was going to make 100, 200 miles a day.

"The whole trip was two steps forward and one and half steps back. Some days you’d row for 20 miles and you’d wake up and you’d gone backwards 21."

He describes the feeling of going backward as "horrific".


"The hardest thing I’ve done is waking up, looking at the co-ordinates and going, ‘right, here we go, I’m rowing all day and I’m gonna get to where I was when I finished yesterday’.”

Of being in a boat on his own, being punished by the elements with no one to talk to, Quincey says he was hardest on himself.

“There is no one to blame, you can’t say, ‘hey Mike, that was your fault – why are we back here?’ You’re out there, it’s your fault – well, not your fault – but it’s just going to happen and you have to keep going.”

He says he would usually try to be asleep by 11pm and awake and ideally rowing by 7.30am.

“Going into the cabin didn’t mean going to sleep. Going into the cabin meant getting things dry, navigating, preparing food, getting all the salt off - I had to use wet wipes to get all the salt off me so that I didn’t get salt sores.

"Then medicating yourself, anti-biotic creams, protein bars, and going through the communication pattern.

"Waking up I would just get out of bed, get my wet weather gear on, do my makeup routine – my sun block and zinc and things – and try and be on deck by 8 o’clock, pump everything out.

"I really got sick of having wet feet, you’d wake up every morning with wet feet.

"I’d row in two hour blocks – get up, row, have breakfast, and so on.

"Rowing wasn’t too bad – I didn’t mind the rowing. The monotony of rowing was horrific – every day is the same thing."

Quincey says it made a huge difference when his “friends” – whales, dolphins, and birds – turned up.

“The Tasman is a boring place, mate,” he tells John Campbell.

“Storms almost had a perk because you knew things were gonna get a little bit wild.

"I rowed into the sperm whale, and I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. Whales, dolphins – surfing down a 40ft wave with dolphins next to me is something I’ll hold very close for the rest of my life."

Quincey says under no circumstances would he do the crossing again.

“No, you couldn’t pay me enough,” he says.

When offered $1 million Quincey tells John Campbell, “no, wouldn’t do it again”.

“After I’d capsized a few times, there was so much I was looking forward to at home – I had a great partner at home, Lisa is half the reason I got across the Tasman."

He says thinking about how his father had made the same crossing helped get him through it.

“Thinking, ‘dad did it, I can do it. I have to be able to do it,’ and I had to – it was not ‘can you’ or ‘will you’, it was ‘I have to’,” he says.

There were days when Quincey says he seriously did not think he could complete the crossing.

“Day three, the thoughts going through my head were ‘let’s set this boat on fire… I’m off’.

"Your emotions bounce around – you’re so happy to be there one minute, you’re like ‘I’m invincible, I’m gonna make it no matter what’. The next minute is, ‘I’ll put a hole in this boat, I’ll sink it, I’m out’.”

He says he has learnt a lot about himself in the time he has spent alone during the crossing.

“I won’t give up on stuff now. You can achieve whatever you want, as long as you don’t give up. If you’ve got the tenacity, if you’ve got the perseverance, you’re gonna get there.

"Getting up every day and thinking, ‘you’re not gonna beat me… I’m gonna get there’."

But for now, Quincey is happiest at home.


"It was a huge fight, and I won. I’m happy to be home – it’s the best place to be in the world I think, New Zealand, and it’s great."

Left seriously out of pocket following the trip, Quincey has been left with – among other costs incurred – a $6000 satellite phone bill.



His father Colin completed the journey in the reverse direction in 63 days in 1977. See photo below.

Colin Quincy 33 years ago in his boat Trespasser: “I will always remember the first day I surfed my boat down a 20-foot wave”

Of all the endurance and adventure feats I identify with and admire most, is kayak or row boat journeys across vast oceans, In 1988 I joined Paul Caffyn in an attempt to be the first kayakers to paddle the Tasman Sea. Paul had planned the trip for over two years and I had trained hard for six months including solo crossings of the Cook Strait, night long training trips on Lake Horowhenua, and up and down the lower north island coastline, navigating by stars and moon.

After two hours into the trip from our starting point in Tasmania, we had to return to shore for adjustments to the front cockpit I was sitting in. The rudder cables were cutting into my knees. Once on shore we were served a summons by the Tasmanian Police and forbidden to make another attempt on the Tasman Sea from Australia. That was a bitter disappointment but gave me an understanding of immense sea voyages.

Today I discovered this interview with Colin Quincey on ExplorersWeb conducted in January 2010:

It was 1977 with no GPS or iPod; he navigated with a sextant, sang songs and did maths while rowing across the Tasman Sea for 63 days. Colin Quincy remains the only person to cross the Tasman solo and survive. ExWeb’s Correne Coetzer caught up with Colin in Australia while helping his son, Shaun with his last preparations to follow in his father’s footsteps. ExplorersWeb: How do you feel about your son’s row? Colin: I’m excited about it and I hope he beats the record.

ExplorersWeb: You were the first to row the Tasman back in 1977 and had nobody’s experience you could learn from. How did you prepare yourself for the row?

Colin: I trained by towing tires behind a dingy in Auckland harbour combined with a lot of careful research and planning plus 10,000 nautical miles of sailing around the world.

ExplorersWeb: How were things different then from now? Colin: The biggest difference would have to be the use of GPS and also satellite communication. I didn’t talk to anyone and all my navigation was by the stars using a sextant.

ExplorersWeb: You had no communication / satellite phone / music players / audio books with you. How did you keep yourself going?

Colin: I rowed for 63 Days and to entertain myself (apart from smoking) I would navigate constantly, sing songs, read books and do mathematical problems.

ExplorersWeb: What bad experiences did you have during your row? Colin: Blisters, boils, salt sores. I pulled a muscle in my back which stopped me from rowing for 10 days.

ExplorersWeb: What safety measures did you have? Colin: I carried an emergency radio beacon and I was constantly tied to my boat.

ExplorersWeb: What great moments do you remember? Colin: I will always remember the first day I surfed my boat down a 20-foot wave.

ExplorersWeb: What advice can you give to young rowers?

Colin: Plan, Plan, Plan and then give it your best shot!

ExplorersWeb: Would you like to do it again today with your life experience and all the tech?

Colin: There is no point in doing it again for me, I would have preferred to have the tech gear but I wouldn’t do it again as I have no desire to do it twice. In 1977 Colin Quincey made history by completing the first ever single-handed row across the Tasman. He rowed the 2200 km in 63 days. He left Hokianga Harbour in Northland, New Zealand and landed at Noosa in Queensland, Australia on 10 April 1977. Colin remains the only person to cross the Tasman solo and survive. His son, 25-year old Shaun is about to follow in his father’s footsteps by rowing the reverse direction. Colin’s boat was named Tasman Trespasser and Shaun thought it fitting to name his boat and expedition “Tasman Trespasser II”. Colin Quincey defines the old school adventurer. At age 17, Colin left his hometown of Yorkshire, England to participate in the tall ships race around the world, serving on the George Voch, a German square rigger, eventually sailing into Hawaii, which was to be his home for some time as an apprentice to the sea. After sailing the oceans of the world, New Zealand became his home and the desire for adventure began brewing. While Colin was working on the New Zealand spirit of adventure he was triggered by some of the young cadets lack of interest in trying new things and pushing their own limits. The cotton wool wrapping up the young people of the world needed to be removed and Colin Quincey was going to be the one to show them how to do it. The Tasman Trespasser campaign was born and Colin was to row the Tasman 6 months later, making history and putting New Zealand on the map of adventure again. Colin’s life between then and now hasn’t slowed one bit. After serving 25 years with the Royal New Zealand Navy, Colin has worked with disadvantaged children in Tonga, Thailand and Cambodia. Colin Quincey was born on 8 May 1945 and lives in Darwin, Australia. His hobbies are reading and cricket. Apart from being and ocean rower, Colin served in the New Zealand Navy for 25 years and was an English Teacher.
Now that hia son Shaun has just completed his journey, I look forward to reading his story. Here is a bit I picked up on the news this morning, Monday 15 March.

Colin Quincey's boat was in the Maritime Museum in Auckland and Quincey said it would be nice to see his boat displayed alongside.

"I will probably end up selling it but will see what happens in the next few weeks. It is too early to make decisions on it."

He said he woke on Monday to early morning media interviews from around the world but it was taking time to realise he did not have to get up and row every day.


"Getting up and facing the day was hard. I was in my cabin and some mornings I would wake up warm and dry and cosy and it was okay. It was: 'I don't want to get up and I don't want to get out of here'," he says.

"The actual routine of putting your arms out and rowing was not a problem. The physical exertion did not plague me.

"It was just getting out of bed, getting slammed, having to get dressed, getting thrown across the boat, trying to make your meal when you are completely soaked and you are going to spill your food all over yourself and you are not going to get half of it in your mouth.

"That is what was annoying, having to do stuff which would normally take five minutes would take four hours. That was annoying and it just ate away at you every single day," he says.

38 comments:

Donald said...

Bob you have a great way of bringing all historical facts together in your posts and I for one benefit by your good writing and grasp of this history.

Pretty disappointing you got denied your own chance with Paul C., but all things happen for good reasons.

Cheers

Donald

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Donald

I am fascinated by solo sea kayaking and rowing voyages. They take guts.

I was pleased Caffyn and I were not permitted be proceed by the OZ authorities. I don't think the design of our kayak was good enough, especially the seat and hatch arrangements, when I compare it to what Shaun Quincey rowed across in.

There is a reason behind everything. Bob

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