After 67 days and 1636 kilometres, 61-year-old Richard Barnes is the first person to kayak unsupported with no stops from Hobart, Tasmania to Riverton, New Zealand.
Richard set off from Hobart on December 14 in his 10 metre self-built kayak named ‘Blue Moon,’ before arriving to be greeted by a crowd in Riverton on Saturday the 18th of February.
This 67-day kayak journey was his second attempt of the crossing after first attempting it back in November 2021 where the wind and five metre swells caused by Cyclone Seth, meant that he had to turn back on Day 50 of the journey. This time, Cyclone Gabrielle didn’t affect the journey but he was steered off 100km to the south due to the weather that caused flooding in Auckland in January.
Richard Barnes is the first person to achieve the journey solo unsupported with the no stops. In 2018, Scott Donaldson became the first person to complete the crossing, solo in a kayak but was forced to make a single stop on Lord Howe Island due to bad weather. In 2008 Justin Jones and James Castrission became the first duo to complete the kayak unsupported with no stops.
The kayak ‘Blue Moon’ contained three main compartments; one for sleeping, using electronic devices and drying clothes. One for changing and eating, and the last being the cockpit for paddling. Also stored on the vessel was 200kg worth of food which consisted of Weet-Bix, tinned food and bottles of Coke to help fuel his journey.
The kayak also features solar panels, a rain gutter to help catch drinking water and a sea anchor to break overnight and during rough weather. Richard told ABC that he was definitely excited to design the boat that would keep him alive for the journey.
Richard said the worst part was having to jump into the water to scrape off the barnacles that had amassed around the boat. But the best part of the trip was the dolphins who were leaping out of the water around him on his journey.
Richard is a regular at the Ocean Film Festival screenings in Sydney where he regularly arrives on his fold up bicycle. Congratulations Richard on a truly inspirational journey.