Friday, February 4, 2011

Chapter 4: "You're Going To Kill Yourself"

When James and Justin tell their parents about their plans to kayak across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand, both sets of parents are understandably upset. It was certainly not an unreasonable fear on the part of the parents that these two young men might very well die in this attempt.

This chapter brings up a larger question for everyone who participates in high-risk adventure sports. What responsibility do we have towards our family and friends, those who love and care about us and will be left to mourn if we should die or be required to care for us in the event of a crippling injury while pursuing our passion? Is there or should there be an obligation to consider the feelings of others before undertaking these kinds of trips? Is it selfish of the parents to ask their sons not to do this trip? What do you think?

My brother died in a sky-diving accident many years ago leaving a wife and small daughter. Afterwards, I have always felt a greater pressure to stay safe and make sure that nothing happens to me. At the time, I had a small son of my own and I was left as the only child to take care of my parents as they aged. Does this thought ever cross your own mind as you go kayaking?



  1. I've had a number of near-death experiences (I hve a book coming out later this year called, funnily enough, "The Fat Paddler", which gives more details) and now with two young daughters under 5 I definitely think more about the level of risk I'm willing to accept on my paddles. I would not attempt a long crossing, but of course there are many other ways to die kayaking. If there's one thing I've learnt however, and that is life is too good to waste by not accepting any risks at all.

  2. Finding the right level of "acceptable risk" is a tough call. Our level of skill and experience changes how "risky" an activity is likely to be. But as you have seen in your own life, we also need to consider our family and friends who are really left to suffer the ultimate consequences of our choices. I just finished reading "Solo" by Vicki McAuley. This dilemma was quite prominent in her life with husband Andrew as it relates to his death on the Tasman Sea.