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Dream delay: Phuket kayakers’ dream paddle on hold

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Dream delay: Phuket kayakers’ dream paddle on hold | Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN: Two Phuket-based men who were set to paddle a kayak 14,000 miles from Phuket to California have been forced to postpone their trip due to ‘financial constraints’.

American Ryan Doran, 26, and Piya ‘Mr X’ Sukunthai, 28, were due to leave Phuket on March 10 aboard their 20-foot wooden kayak Say-Lee.

The pair insist that their dream trip will still happen, but say it must be postponed until they raise enough money for all the equipment needed.

For our original report and readers’ comments about the planned expedition, click here.

The pairs’ planned trip was due to take 20 months. It would have seen them pass through the territorial waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and Russia before braving a 217-mile leg across the Bering Sea, one of the world’s most treacherous expanses of ocean.

From there, they planned to continue on to Alaska and Canada, then the lower 48 United States, arriving in Ryan’s home city of San Francisco in December next year.

But the pair have had to postpone their trans-Pacific paddle until an unspecified date later this year. They are now trying to sell their Phuket-made kayak Say-Lee to raise funds to build a new 18-foot ‘catamaran’ kayak that would be used in the mega-paddle.

“We are currently building an 18-foot catamaran. We have joined two 18-foot Chesapeake kayaks into a Hobie Cat rigging system. We now intend to be sailing and paddling. We are also using kites to help power the boat,” he revealed.

There were numerous criticisms in the online Gazette Forum charging the pair with being overambitious, impractical or downright crazy. To one of these Ryan replied:

“You’re right, this is not a ‘safe… adventure’, but it is a well-planned adventure. We have planned this trip for two years and have assessed all risks. If the s**t hits the fan, we will pay for our own rescue.”

The trip would be insured through International SOS, an international medical and rescue service, he added.

“The extreme at-sea conditions will inevitably affect us: sores, heat exhaustion, sunstroke, dehydration, starvation, hypothermia, not to mention the psychological hardships involved,” he wrote.

“I know our plan says 20 months, but if it takes 10 years, then so be it. It took Oskar Speck seven years to paddle from Germany to Australia. We are prepared for that kind of commitment,” he said, speaking of an epic paddle undertaken in the 1930s.

Responding to a sarcastic comment that climactic conditions in the Bering Sea and at Phuket’s Nai Harn Beach are quite different, and that the Pathum Thani-born Mr X might find them too difficult, Ryan replied.:

“No, Mr X has never been in cold weather before… Assuming we actually make it to the Bering Sea, we will have paddled thousands of miles through the South China Sea and off the coast of Japan and Russia.

“If we make it as far as the Bering Sea, I think he will be pretty well conditioned for the weather. But thanks for pointing out that the Bering Sea is not Nai Harn Beach. We didn’t know that.”

Ryan and Mr X are still seeking sponsors for their trip.

Thus far, John Harris from Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) Boats and Bennet Bar from the NRS Kayaking Team are the only official sponsors.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the trip can contact Ryan at:

— Fraser Morton


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