“You can only be asked ‘are you crazy?’ so many times before you do actually start questioning your own sanity,” says Lynn Paterson. “But it’s just a case of turning people’s negative slights into positive fuel and drawing strength from it.”
Lynn’s not crazy in the literal sense. Not one bit. What she is, however, is crazily determined, as she’s about to embark on an incredible journey that will see her kayak the Kiwi coastline. “It’s something I’ve always thought about doing but never told anyone about it until a few years ago,” says Lynn, the financial controller for a design and build exhibition company, Veni Vidi Vici Ltd – V3. “My boss once asked me where I would be at 50 and I said, ‘well, I won’t be working here for you!’ He asked what I’d be doing instead and I told him kayaking around the country. He thought it was a fantastic idea. He’s been very supportive.”
I ask Lynn, who has previously competed in a host of endurance events, if she is apprehensive about the upcoming isolation. “No, I like my alone time. If you were a social bunny, then you probably wouldn’t want to be doing something like this anyway. I’ve already spent many hours training solo.” The kayaker will have a support van following her around the coast, but there will be times, sometimes days on end, when it will not be able to reach her, such as when she ventures through Fiordland. There may be some company in the form of wildlife though. “Hopefully I’ll see some whales,” Lynn says. “I see dolphins a lot out on the Hauraki. I haven’t seen orcas up close yet and everyone always asks about sharks, but they’re just another fish. I’ve seen plenty while diving and the plan is to hook up with the guys down on Stewart Island and go down in a cage.”
There have been plenty of offers from fellow kayakers to come out and meet Lynn along the way. “Everyone is welcome,” she says. “It’s always nice to see a smiling face when you’re out paddling. We’re hoping to get some paddling gurus and celebs to come and join us to talk about how exercise helps clear the mind. How
it’s not just for the body, but for your well being too.” Lynn, whose son suffers from depression, is raising money for mental health charity Live More Awesome: “Being out there gives you a lot of time to think. The journey will be a very solo one, much like looking after someone who is depressed. I wrote to the charity asking about shining a light on the carers, those who can’t stay at home all day, who still also have to go to work all day. They need someone to talk to too.”
Lynn hopes to average 30km each day for 180 days. She’ll be using a regular sea kayak and emergency equipment includes flares and a personal locator beacon, which when activated sets off a satellite-controlled alarm for (relatively) immediate assistance. “But, I’d be mortified if I had to use it,” admits Lynn. “I shouldn’t ever be much more than 5kms from the coastline and I’d rather swim back than be rescued.” That’s no surprise to hear. “People say I’ll be a different person when I’m done, but I think I’m a different person already! I think more women should be doing stuff like this. I don’t see why there is so much fear. Yes, I will be thrown out of my kayak, but you climb back in. It’s just like life.”
Follow Lynn’s journey at www.redznzjourney.com/blog.