Adventure Kayak mag recently interviewed Nuka De Jocas-McCrae, one of three kayakers paddling 9,000 kilometers from Montreal to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as part of the expedition Le défi Go Fetch.
AK: How did this idea start?
I’d been studying Outdoor Adventure Leadership. While talking with friends, we had the idea of kayaking for a really long time and seeing where it could bring us.
AK: How long did it take to prepare for this trip?
Getting ready for this trip took two and a half years of prep. We’ve known each other for 12 years and have done other trips together so we know each other well.
AK: Where are you now?
We are at the beautiful Outer Banks in North Carolina. Our expedition doesn’t go through the most isolated areas in the world, but instead we have the opportunity to meet and connect with many amazing, kind, welcoming and open-minded people. When we arrive in a new place we are vulnerable, but people trust us which is beautiful feeling. We are so thankful for these warm welcomes, yet people always thank us too. Perhaps one of the most challenging parts is always saying farewell.
AK: What sort of educational elements are part of this project?
We’ve been developing educational models for teachers to use and make time to communicate directly with students in classrooms. We try to share what we’ve learned throughout our expedition, both observations about the area and about values like patience, friendship, curiosity, and creative thinking.
The expedition stops to encourage and educate school kids.
AK: How can send challenges to you?
Friends and sponsors can send challenges which we’ll complete during the expedition. Some examples so far include dressing up as mermaids and frolicking by the water, picking up a bag of a garbage a day, changing a tire, and paddling backwards for 10 miles.
AK: What’s the one most important quality or characteristic that’s essential in a good trip partner?
No matter what, if you are able to listen, you will go far. This means listening to your own body, to other people, understanding feelings, and knowing what to say or when not to say something.
AK: What has been the biggest challenge?
Organising funding and sponsorship took a while. Many people have been incredibly supportive. It’s also a challenge to maintain equipment over such an extended period – saltwater gets into everything!
AK: How can people support your trip or find out more about your journey?
We have lots of info on our website www.defigofetch.com, including ways to sponsor us – or send us new challenges! We also regularly post videos and updates on Facebook.
AK: Do you have any advice to people dreaming of doing a big paddling trip?
Believe it can happen! There always will be naysayers but trust in yourself and pursue your dreams.
AK: Do you know your future plans following this expedition?
We’d love to share our experiences through presentation at conferences or in classrooms. We hope to make a documentary with our film footage. We’re not sure exactly what the future holds, but in some form we will always seek adventure.