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Australian kayakers unable to circumnavigate Sri Lanka due to weather woes

Two Australian kayakers have returned from an unsuccessful attempt to circumnavigate Sri Lanka, after strong winds forced them to cut short their expedition.

Ian Pexton and David Rowlands, from Western Australia, are kayaking enthusiasts with more than three decades of experience between them.

The duo set out from southern Sri Lanka in January hoping to cover 1,200 kilometres in their kayaks within a month.

They were forced to change plans when they received information that a tropical storm was forming in the Indian Ocean.

“We couldn’t get back off the beach because the ocean had picked up to three metres and… there was no rhythm in the waves,” he said.

“We were stuck on a very isolated bit of Sri Lanka where there were no villages.”

When the pair realised the storm was intensifying into a category one system with very strong winds, they decided conditions were “not favourable for kayaking”.

They called the local army and arranged for transport to take them back to the nearest town.

“We contacted the local army base and that’s where I think the news came out of, that we’ve been rescued,” Mr Pexton said, referring to reports that said the two men had been rescued.

“We contacted them just to see if they can get transport for the kayaks and us to a major town so we can make our way back to Colombo.”

Mr Pexton says he and his partner had lunch with the army, which organised for a truck to get them back to Kandy.

“There was definitely no rescue needed or no trouble at all,” he said.

“It was a simple case of us coming off the beach, realising the weather had turned unfavourable for us so we decided to get ourselves out of there and end the expedition.”

Mr Pexton says the idea of the expedition came to him about a year ago as he was “looking for adventure or somewhere to go”.

“Somehow Sri Lanka popped into my head… it’s for adventure, physical and mental challenge,” he said, adding that training and preparing for the trip took six months.

Mr Pexton recalls falling ill during the expedition, something which slowed him down.

The duo also survived on dry foods and water stored in their kayaks, occasionally stopping to refill their supplies in towns that they passed.

While blogging from the trip, the team raised about $1000 for the Black Dog Institute and its treatment of mood disorders such as depression.


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