Paddling the Pacific

I was working on a bunch of last minute preparations before I flew out Sunday evening. I had to print out all of my e-ticket information, hotel reservations and the information for my rental car. I printed out everything I had on the client I was visiting. Sure I had it stored on my laptop’s hard drive, but my LCD screen was transformed into modern art on my last trip to Tennessee.

I was connected to Google Maps and printing out directions to my hotel in Oak Ridge from the airport in Knoxville. The airport abbreviation was TYS, but I typed in TYG by mistake. To my surprise, Google Maps showed me the directions to the motel from somewhere in Thylungra, Australia. I wasn’t surprised you can get from there to here, but I was a bit taken aback by the method. Google directed me to drive down the M2 motorway and merge onto Lane Cove Tunnel. I didn’t have a problem with paying tolls. After I got onto local roads near the coast, I needed to make a left onto Macquarie Street and then kayak across the Pacific Ocean to the United States.


Normally, if I was thinking of ocean travel in that part of the world, kayaking wouldn’t be my first choice… outrigger canoe perhaps. Still, after a little thought, it wasn’t as crazy as it sounded. Google estimated the 7,906 mile trip would take about 40 days, 19 hours. That averages out to about 8 miles an hour; within the range of your average kayak paddler (though perhaps not for the average Google Maps user). In terms of distance, Paul Kaffyn paddled twice that far in a kayak. However he just circumnavigated Australia rather than making a beeline to America.

The biggest concern would probably be supplies. Google Maps doesn’t mention any rest stops along the route, no convenient stores or truck stops. A normal kayak can carry 100 pounds of supplies; about 24 days’ worth of water. That leaves no room for food or suntan lotion, anti-shark kits or even a radio made from coconuts. It also doesn’t count the car you would need to continue the drive across North America once you paddled into port in Washington State.

However, as Google Maps points out, these directions are for planning purposes only.


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