Kayaking at 70 Years – Adventure Has No Age Limit

At this point, it is pretty much cliché to state that age is just but a number. An argument can be made for both the proponents and opponents of the saying. While from a more realistic, true-to-life perspective one may argue that age determines factors like achieving legal adult status, driving license viability and retirement, the counter-argument is that age should not limit or be an obstacle to how one chooses to live their life over and above the stated factors. As a child, one is blessed with an overly adventurous mind. We are curious, always unsatisfied with not knowing and not seeing. Repercussions to actions take a seat at the back of the bus, and a desire to experience takes the wheel.

Is Your Adventure Spirit Alive?

Sadly, for most people, that adventurous spirit peaks at this early stage and embarks on a steep decline as they grow older, even to the point of unfortunate non-existence. Outside of children, adventure is said to be a thing for either the rich or daredevils who seemingly have no sense of fear. Travelling the world, trying new things and facing fears are left to the wealthy who have both the time and resources to embark on the expeditions that most people can only experience from their couches, watching TV. Change is not welcomed by many. Life is taken too seriously and adventure seems almost immature and irresponsible as compared to hustling daily for a livelihood. But is it?

Travelling can mean a road trip, and facing fears can be in one’s hometown. It is all in the mind. To dig up another saying, ‘there is an inner child in every grownup,’ something along those lines at least. Everyone has something they love doing, be it sports, fishing or anything else. Combining our passions and that inner child removes age from the equation. The conclusion? Adventure truly has no age limit.

Aleksander, the Great

In the voyages section of the NY Times, Elizabeth Weil tells us about Aleksander Doba; the man who kayaked across the Atlantic three times, the third time at 70. For Aleksander, his passion is kayaking, and his inner child is as alive as ever. He was born in Poland in 1946, after the end of World War II. With its after-effects still prevalent, Aleksander still alludes to having had an enjoyable youth, seemingly always adventurous. He began kayaking in 1980, when not exactly young, and with a family, when the factory where he took an equipment-repair job went on a two-week trip. He signed up and went the following year as well. After this, he seemingly fell in love with kayaking as he would put a kayak on a train every weekend and alight at the point closest to the river.

Aleksander set goals for himself, goals mostly aiming at surpassing existing records in Poland. In the early 1990s, he took his kayak trips a notch higher. It is stated that he paddled the circumference of the Baltic Sea, a feat that took 100 days. He also kayaked along the coast of Norway, a trip in which he was thrown of his kayak, as the rope tethering him to the vessel broke. He awoke on the shore, screaming, yet did not regret the experience one bit stating he did not wish to die in his bed.

Aleksander’s first trans-Atlantic trip was obviously lacking the support of his wife, Gabriela. She even threatened divorce in a bid to stop him from taking the trip. Gabriella cited all manner of things that could go wrong, the most brilliant being when she asked, “If you have a crisis in the middle of the Atlantic and the closest land is the bottom,” she asked, “what will you do then?”. Nevertheless, Aleksander remained adamant. Right after completing the first, the talk of the second trip began.

He had always talked of three trips: North, South, and Mid-Atlantic crossings. Gabriela never believed that he actually would. While he did not have all the gear required to make the trip, saying, “No retired man in Poland can afford to do these things,” the community raised money for him, and he embarked on his journey on October 3, 2013. Aleksander used a satellite phone to communicate with his family and the builder of his well-stocked kayak, who also doubled-up as his navigator. His eventual return to Police in Poland got a hero’s welcome, and he even received an award from the National Geographic Society in Washington, as well as winning People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.

He, of course, started planning for his third as soon as he returned for the second. Anyone who cared about him critically opposed the plan. Even Armisnki, the boat builder, tried talking him out of it. “It is impossible to design a kayak that won’t capsize on the North Atlantic,” Arminski told Elizabeth Weil. Even with Gabriela pissed, Aleksander kayaked out from the New Jersey shore on May 29, 2016. This time, however, nature overpowered him and his kayak and was blown to the beach, making him call off the trip, only to try again just a year later. The journey was tumultuous, with Aleksander turning off his equipment t some point, making his navigator fear for the worst. But this was not the case, and Aleksander turned on his equipment. He pushed through. In one video he had made while on the stretch to France, his final destination, he said, “In three weeks, I’ll be 71,” he says in one. “If I survive.”

Rekindle the Fire!

The spirit of adventure in Aleksander is overwhelming. Just a fraction of it imbued into people would bring a significant change into how people viewed their lives and more importantly, how they chose to live. However, adventure must go hand in hand with the responsibility to self and those you care for. But responsibility is not a fear of the unknown, or imaginary consequences. Life is worth living, go out there and do just that.