Inside William McCreadie and George Parry's 'Golden Arc' trans-Caribbean sea kayak expedition

When they launched their Seaward Passat tandem sea kayak in Grenada on September 26, Brits William McCreadie and George Parry each had barely a week of paddling experience. McCreadie, 21, and Parry, 22, are university students in the UK, and founders of the Get Exploring Trust, a nonprofit that promotes outdoor adventure as a means of character-building.

What better way to advance their cause than to make a 2,000-mile crossing of the Antilles?

The route took McCreadie and Parry through 19 different countries. It was pioneered by sea kayak legend John Dowd in 1978; Canadian brothers Russell and Graham Henry made a similar journey, starting at the mouth of the Amazon River, in 2014.

The British duo completed their “Golden Arc” expedition on December 27, 2016. We caught up with the pair to learn more about the journey. Why did you decide to do the Antilles route? Where’d you get the inspiration to paddle the Caribbean?

Will McCreadie: The chain of islands just jumped out at us from the map and once we decided the conditions and distance might be achievable, it became a matter of why not? Of course, many people gave us good reasons and there were quite a few who told us openly they didn’t think we would make it home. This really drove us forward, inspired by ‘the father of sea kayaking’ John Dowd who led the first expedition to complete this route.

George Parry: The distance between the islands seemed like an achievable feat. Aside from a few of the crossings that would take us through the night the geographical layout of the islands is perfect. We looked at a few options around the world but the climate of the Caribbean was a big factor. Knowing that we wouldn’t need dry suits and that if we capsized the water would be warm enough was definitely reassuring.

Tell me about your mission with Get Exploring Trust. Why was this trip a good way to raise awareness?
GP: The trip was primarily to inspire and promote the mission of our charity. GET is a grant-making trust that aims to inspire people from all backgrounds to get into the outdoors, to test themselves in different environments, and to push their limits. As young people face growing social and psychological pressures through the emergence of social media and gaming mediums, traditional means of relief [such as outdoor adventure] have been thrust aside. At times when it may be most needed, adventurous training seems to be dropping further and further down the list of priorities.

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