The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Wave Vidmar Headshot

Why Am I Risking My Life for a Boat Ride?

Posted: Updated:

In a few days, I will begin a long, arduous, dangerous journey. Solo, unsupported, no additional assistance, resupply or shadow boat, I will kayak solo from San Francisco to Hawaii. 3,100 miles, 45 to 65 days, battling giant waves, killer great white sharks, and all that Mother Nature will throw at me.

Now, there's a couple of things you should know before I continue with my story. First, I'm a professional explorer, and a seasoned sea kayaker and sailor with over 36 years experience. I understand, research, and work to mitigate the inherent dangers associated with undertaking such expeditions. I am not a thrillseeker trying to risk my life, and I value my life and others' lives very much.

In 2004, I attempted to be the first American to trek solo to the geographic North Pole. I set several informal world records, and more so discovered once again, that we are all so much more capable than we realize.

With my North Pole expedition there was one predominant question from the public, and I expected it again for this one. But I have been surprised that with this expedition (titled the 2012 Seaward Pacific Expedition by Wave Vidmar) there has been a different question: "Why?" (Oh, by the way, the number one question for the North Pole expedition was: How do you go to the bathroom?)

Back to now. I sit on the terrace of my friends' house; he has graciously allowed me to use his place to prepare the final stage of my epic adventure. With items spread across his backyard and downstairs, I pick, modify, pack, break, and otherwise do something with hundreds of items, all at one point seemingly essential, but now, alas, with limited space, superfluous.

The redundant but freshly curious question for this adventure: Why? Why indeed! I could be sitting comfortably at home, doing something with a loved one, living life, calmly, peacefully, and safely. And I agree, it is nice, it's not bad, and I often live my life just that way. But for me, the Jack London Call of the Wild beckons my restless soul until I can stand it no more, and I seek out, test, challenge, and explore everything in my world and beyond.

When I decided to do this expedition I didn't know how big a deal it would be. Back in January 2011, I decided to do a sea kayaking expedition that wouldn't cost too much or take too long, something that would be doable, but challenging and a good feather in my cap. I thought about Hawaii, had remembered hearing something about people kayaking there and set my sights on that goal.

As I researched further it didn't take long to realize that to kayak from California to Hawaii had only been done once before, and had never been attempted since. I also found that large ocean crossings like this in a traditional sea kayaks are extremely rare. In recorded times there have only been two, the aforementioned Ed Gillet Hawaii expedition, and Andrew McAuley, who kayaked solo from Tasmania to New Zealand, only to be lost 35 miles off the coast (after 1,500 miles and a month on the notorious Southern Ocean).

My research did not shake my resolve, and only served to strengthen it. In addition to the personal aspects of the expedition, there are several other areas that are important to me: science, research, and education. I conduct light data collection and observation during my expeditions and give it out free of charge to whichever research and conservation groups would like it. In addition, I work with a network of 48,000 schools, worldwide.

So, when it comes down to the why, I never stop to think much about it. To me the answer is very clear, because of the personal challenge, and benefit to society this can have. My own typical response is to say: "Why Not?!" As long as we're not hurting others, why not?! There is room for so much in our world, we constrain ourselves, yet we have so much more to offer and in turn experience. When confronted with your next "why?," try "why not!"

As of the writing of this blog, I've so far escaped two hurricanes: Daniel and Emilia. Sometimes small delays are a good thing. I was already in Hurricane Iniki, the most dangerous and costly hurricane to ever hit Hawaii -- a category four. Big news last week was a kayaker who was bumped out of his kayak by a great white shark, which after ramming the kayaker from below and ejecting him, took a bite of his kayak.

In my next blog, I'll talk about how scared I am (or will be) and how being terrified for weeks on end could feel! Sounds like fun, right? Why not! Safe and sane, and soon coming to you from my kayak on the Pacific Ocean, this is Wave Vidmar, signing off.