Friday, February 16, 2018

Kayaker Paddling From Maine to Florida to Support Veterans

A 65-year old disabled Veteran has embarked on what promises to be quite an impressive adventure by kayak. Last year, Joseph Mullin set off on a 2000 mile (3218 km) journey from Maine to the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys in an effort to raise awareness and fund for Mission 22, an organization dedicated to help prevent veteran suicide. 

The idea for the expedition came about when Mullin learned that 20 American vets commit suicide each and every day. That's a staggering number. Mullin himself suffers from PTSD and can understand the challenges that these men and women face. So, to try to help out, he has set out on this kayak expedition, which is now about a third of the way complete. 

Dubbed the "One Man, One Mission to Save Thousands" expedition, the journey started at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Maine on April 30, 2017. The lighthouse marks the easternmost point in the U.S., jutting out into the Atlantic ocean. From there, he started paddling south along the East Coast with plans to ultimately finish in Key West, Florida. 

Mullin says that he had to suspend his expedition temporarily when he reached Rhode Island where his original kayak started to lose buoyancy and stability. He went from covering 30-40 nautical miles per day down to just 10, so he knew he had to find a replacement. He tells Canoe & Kayak magazine that it took some time to research the right boat for the trip but eventually he found one that should do the trick. Now, he's waiting out the winter before he resumes the voyage, which should start again in April. 

Joe says that on Day 1 he ran into trouble thanks to an overloaded kayak. After two hours on the water, he capsized but because his boat was so heavy, he couldn't self rescue. He called for help from the Coast Guard, but it took them an hour to get to him. He spent that time in 38ºF (3.3ºC) water and developed hypothermia. He ended up spending some time in the hospital while he recovered, but soon resumed the paddle. 

He's also faced poor weather conditions, heavy seas, and high winds along the way, all of which have caused delays at times. He's also had some positive experiences along the way too, including watching an orca whale breach just a meter off of his kayak and meeting some helpful and friendly people throughout the trip. 

Hopefully, Joe will be back on the water in a couple of months and resuming his journey south. He is doing it for a good cause and it is quite the impressive undertaking. Find out more in his interview with Canoe & Kayak

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