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April 24, 2014

An amazing 4,000-mile kayak journey

Show me someone who doesn’t have a bit of adventure in their lives and I’ll show you someone cringing with inertia.

Climb a mountain, take a hike, run a road race, swim a lake. Whatever your niche, it’s bound to bring you a certain amount of self esteem and pride. Even the more passive can find something to arouse their spirit.

For two guys I met recently in Florida, theirs was an adventure of a lifetime.

They kayaked 4,000 miles from Brazil to Juno Beach, Fla., where I was spending a week basking in the sunshine. Their mission was pure and simple — to share their story with people in schools and churches — and anyone else willing to lend an ear.

There to greet them at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center was a group of 30 well-wishers who were more than enamored by their maritime journey. Included in the reception party were their parents. Their dad designed and built their 18-foot kayaks.

“Welcome to America,” someone yelled.

Being a first-time kayak owner, I couldn’t wait to hear their story. It appeared like something out of Thor Heyerdahl’s “Kon-Tiki.’’ If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, treat yourself.

First, let me give a plug to this marine center. It’s actually a turtle hospital I’ve grown to admire for all the work that’s being done putting injured loggerheads and other reptiles back into the ocean.

It was the perfect landing for Russell and Graham Henry, after seven months kayaking at sea. Both men also happen to be environmentalists and remain bullish on protecting our natural resources.

While growing up together on the west coast of British Columbia, they were blessed with a freedom to explore the environment and challenge themselves with an odyssey like this.

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