Andrew McAuley (born 7 August 1968; presumed dead 9–12 February 2007) was an Australian mountaineer and sea kayaker. He is presumed to have died following his disappearance at sea while attempting to kayak 1600 km (994 mi) across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand in February 2007.[1]

Andrew McAuley
Born(1968-08-07)7 August 1968
Died9 February 2007(2007-02-09) (aged 38)
OccupationMountaineer, Adventurer
Known forattempting to cross the Tasman Sea in a sea kayak
Spouse(s)Vicki McAuley
  • Peter McAuley (father)


McAuley was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, on 7 August 1968. He attended Anglican Church Grammar School in East Brisbane and finished Year Twelve in 1984. He was awarded Adventurer of the Year in 2005 by the Australian Geographic Society.[2]

Mountain climbingEdit

McAuley climbed many peaks in Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Patagonia. He preferred to find new routes and make exploratory climbs.[3]

Sea kayakingEdit

In 2003, he made the first nonstop kayak crossing of the Bass Strait.[4] In 2004 he kayaked across the Gulf of Carpentaria. In 2006, he led an expedition in the Australian Antarctic Territory where they paddled over 800 km within the Antarctic Circle.[5]

Attempts to cross the Tasman SeaEdit

In December 2006, McAuley's first attempt to cross the Tasman Sea in a standard one-man kayak was aborted after one night due to trouble keeping warm inside the cockpit.[6]

McAuley's second attempt began on 11 January 2007 and ended on 12 February, when the search for his missing body was called off following the recovery of his partly flooded kayak on 10 February about 30 nmi (56 km) short of his destination, Milford Sound.[7]

  Tasman Solo

The sleeping arrangements at sea involved deploying a sea anchor,[8] squeezing his body down into the kayak, and sealing the hatch with a bulbous fibreglass capsule (dubbed "Casper") fitted with an air-only ventilator,[9] which, with its self-righting capabilities, made possible riding out the most severe storm conditions that are inevitable in that part of the ocean.

However, when the capsule was pivoted to its stowing position behind the cockpit, it made a kayak roll impossible due to being filled with water like a bucket. Therefore, whenever he capsized, he had to swim out of the kayak, push it upright, and perform full self-rescue.[10]

When his kayak was recovered, only this capsule was missing.[11] It was presumed to have been torn off by a freak wave. One of its pivot arms had already been damaged.[12]

Veteran sailor Jonathan Borgais, who was directing the expedition by providing weather predictions, said, "From the beginning, my biggest concern was the approach to New Zealand. And this part of New Zealand is notoriously dangerous. On a good day, you can get rogue waves: a two- or three-metre set that can come out of nowhere. Not big, but powerful. That's very dangerous. I have no doubt that a wave got him."[10]


The documentary of McAuley's journey, Solo, incorporated video footage recovered from one surviving memory stick in his camera, as well as interviews with people on his team during the expedition. It begins with the distress call he made on the evening of 9 February: "Do you copy? This is kayak one. Do you copy, over? I've got an emergency situation. I'm in a kayak about 30 km from Milford Sound. I need a rescue. My kayak's sinking. Fell off into the sea and I'm going down."[10]

McAuley's wife, Vicki McAuley, wrote a book, Solo, about his final voyage and him.[13]

In the same summer, a specially constructed, two-person kayak crossed the Tasman Sea by a more northerly route. The competitive spirit may have played a part in McAuley's determination to make the journey when he did.[10] The song "Towards Infinity" was written about his final journey by Australian composers Paul Jarman and Phil Voysey.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Braithwaite, David (27 February 2007). "Extreme kayaker's final tape revealed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  2. ^ Australian Geographic, Oct 2005, p15
  3. ^ "Climbing Archived February 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine".
  4. ^ Bass Strait Super-direct
  5. ^ "Kayaking Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine".
  6. ^ "Tactical Retreat — blogpost". 6 December 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007.
  7. ^ "Andrew McAuley was not crazy or reckless but crossing the Tasman Sea in a kayak was a calculated, planned gamble he lost". Melbourne: The Age. 16 February 2007.
  8. ^ "Sleep well y'all — blogpost". 3 February 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007.
  9. ^ "Weather the weather — blogpost". 31 January 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d Solo: Lost at Sea Archived 21 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine broadcast 2007-09-15 National Geographic (57 minutes), broadcast on BBC as Solitary Endeavour on the Southern on 2009-02-22
  11. ^ "Search for kayaker called off". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 February 2007.
  12. ^ "ETA Sunday — blogpost". 8 February 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007.
  13. ^ Macmillan Australia 2010. ISBN 978-1-4050-4013-6
  14. ^ "Towards Infinity". Paul Jarman. Retrieved 20 March 2019.

External linksEdit