Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This week I cancelled my Tuesday night paddle and headed to the Blue Mountains for the launch of Vicki McAuley's book, SOLO.When I returned home just on midnight I started reading and after just a few pages I was compelled to read the whole book in one long sleepless sitting, I simply couldnt put it down.

The book stands as Vicki's personal tribute to husband Andrew McAuley and a chronicle of her personal voyage as she learns to live with her loss and find the courage to keep going.

It is a powerful and honest account and through the pages you get the feeling that Andrew's spirit of optimism and passion continues to support and inspire her. It is an exploration of what drives an extreme adventurer written by the person who knew him best.

Many modern adventurers claim to be ordinary folks who just want to do extraordinary things but this book avoids this cliche to present Andrew as a gifted natural athlete driven by an impulse to explore the limits of human performance. To those of us who paddled with him at one time or another I think this is a far more honest appraisal; he really was an elite adventurer without being elitist.

Anecdotes covering earlier kayaking expeditions and climbing adventures are interwoven into the text to illuminate the bigger issues of outdoor adventure, self sufficiency, and community attitudes to risk. Also included in the book are emails and letters that cover a broad range of opinions along with Vicki's responses, but the key to the success of the book lies in her willingness to write from the heart.

It has been famously said of adventurers that if you need to ask the question then you will never understand the answer. For those who ponder these issues Vicki's brave words will help to enlighten.

If you buy a copy through the EK website, Vicki receives all the proceeds.


Eastern Horizon said...

I applaud AM’s audacious attempt.

Inevitably someone else with the will and commitment will take on this huge crossing - and succeed.

But I suggest that it will be in a long-distance kayak with significant design improvements that are generated from AM's experiences. In this sense there will be a long lasting legacy to the activity of adventurous kayaking from AM's attempt.

These design and construction improvements will lead towards the generation of a distinctive and elegant deep sea kayak (for solo paddlers).

And then someone else will try to out-do this long-distance crossing with an even more audacious solo adventure.

That's evolution for you.

One further comment:
I was always troubled by the inelegance of "Casper". It was so obviously not designed as an integrated part of the kayak. There is much scope in this area for a more effective hood. Looking at the inflated hood of a humble blue bottle or the robust carapace of an Argonaut one can observe nature’s clever solutions for negotiating long sea crossings with efficiency and harmony.

alan whiteman said...

A great read & very eloquent review as well. Thank you to Vicki for writing such an honest account.

I agree that Casper was the jarring note in the entire design; I've always wondered why Paul H didn't play a greater role in the design of Casper.

Phil Newman said...

What an amazing outcome Vicki has achieved, she has done justice to a legend that will live on. I have wanted to read swiftly through this adventure but have savoured the journey, reluctant to reach the heart wrenching conclusion in the naive belief it may change. Andy rekindled the spirit of adventure that now burns like a pilot light in the hearts of dormant intrepid pioneers. Vicki has now completed the picture, so very eloquently, that creates the platform on which others will build, consolodating the knowledge that Andy worked so hard for and ultimately paid such a very high price.