SAN DIEGO, California - With stand up paddling (SUP) on the rise and the popularity of the sport reaching more people every year, we are seeing expedition paddling climb the ranks as an exciting and adrenaline boosting way to have a good time on your SUP. Nature lovers, world explorers and adrenaline junkies alike love the risks and rewards that come with expedition paddling and in 2015 alone, we’ve seen expeditioners like Bart de Zwart travel all over the world to desolate locations, Gabriel Gray exploring remote Montana rivers and terrain and tons more of exciting journeys.
This sort of expedition paddling has garnered the attention of survivalist Joel van der Loon who is planning on including stand up paddling into his next survival attempt. Van der Loon will be attempting a seven-day, 75-mile paddle down the coast of the Baja Peninsula from Punta Final to Bahia de Los Angeles. Sounds pretty tame right? Wrong! Van der Loon will attempting this expedition with no food, limited water, and minimal gear. Upon hearing of this attempt we tracked down van der Loon to talk about his upcoming survival challenge. Take a look:
So Joel, when is your trip taking place?
December 28th to January 3rd this year (2015) is our strict timeframe. The trip will take place in the sea of Cortez, starting in Punta Final and ending in Bahia de Los Angeles.
Pictured left: Joel van der Loon / Right: Ryder Redfield
What is the purpose of the trip and how long have you been preparing for the journey?
The purpose is the survival aspect and not actually the paddle boarding adventure — to be honest I am not even an experienced paddler. I am a survival instructor and I put myself in uncomfortable situations to test my skills and grow from the experiences. The primary goal here is to cover this stretch of isolated coastline in seven days with very minimal gear, no food, and enough water for four days.
That puts pressure on us physically to cover distance, forage and hunt, as well as desalinate sea water every day in order to complete this in one piece. These aspects will make the challenge very real with the unpredictability of the environmental elements. The experience will be documented by my good friend Ryder Redfield. We want to create instructional videos, as well as a short documentary which will focus on my hardships experienced and my skills to deal with them. I first thought of the idea in April this year and have been researching since then, however I have only started planning in the last three weeks. An important part of this experience is not to research thoroughly and to improvise for whatever challenge pops up. I have however been preparing since June with numerous survival trips into the bush with just a pocket knife, water bottle, and piece of string. The most notable was spending ten days in the Alaskan wilderness with just the above mentioned items. That experience really taught me how to handle hunger and the cold.
Bringing no food and limited water is a pretty risky decision. How do you plan on providing enough nutrition for yourselves during the 7-day journey?
Yes it is risky, however it’s a calculated one. We will be relying on spearing and catching fish as our main form of sustenance. Part of our limited gear will be a pole spear, mask, hand line, two Creed SUPs sponsored by San Diego paddlers and two hooks. We will not be able to consume enough calories daily to replace those that are used up from the physical demand of the trip, however people can survive a surprisingly long time without eating and a lot of it has to do with mental strength. The Hydration aspect is a bit different as we will be using a solar still to desalinate sea water. This method is slow with low production rates but it works. The hope is that this will supplement for the three days of extra water that we need.
What do you anticipate being the most difficult part of your journey?
Well there will be a lot of discomforts due to our very limited gear however the El Norte winds, strong currents, and extreme temperature fluctuations are my main concerns. The sea of Cortez is renowned for these environmental aspects and could make the distance very hard to cover in the 7-day time frame. There is no doubt though that the last few days of the trip will be the most demanding and challenging as our energy levels really start to drop.
The planned route for the expedition.
What if something goes wrong? Do you have a safety plan?
We do have a backup plan. I will be carrying an ACR personal locator beacon, as well as a first aid kit, and a few other basic emergency signaling items. We will also have contacts in Bay of LA that will have instructions on when to expect us and what to do if we do not arrive on time.
What are you most excited for?
Myself and Ryder thrive on challenge so everything about the trip excites us, however, if I had to choose I would say the spear fishing aspect and exploration of that desolate part of coast line by SUP will be spectacular.
In the coming weeks, look for our follow up with Joel van der Loon and Ryder Redfield as we catch up with them once they return from their trip. To learn more about Joel van der Loon and his survivalist attempts and lifestyle, check out his website here.
In addition to this dangerous expedition we will see Nicolas Jarossay attempt a Transatlantic unsupported expedition in the beginning of 2016 (read more here) and we will continue to see crazier attempts and expeditions each year. We do advise that if you’re planning an expedition that has dangerous elements to it that you are properly equipped for the challenge and that you have the experience and tools to keep yourself safe.
To take a look at more SUP Expeditions, click HERE.
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