'Massive storm' blows adventurer into Ballina

BACK ON LAND: Grant Raw- linson on his damaged boat  Simpson's Donkey , which was blown off course in the Tasman Sea and rescued by Marine Rescue Ballina.
BACK ON LAND: Grant Raw- linson on his damaged boat Simpson's Donkey , which was blown off course in the Tasman Sea and rescued by Marine Rescue Ballina. Steve Posselt

TWO weeks ago Grant Rawlinson didn't even know that Ballina existed.

Now the New Zealander and extreme adventurer has made some new friends and is amazed by the friendliness of the locals and it's all thanks to bad weather.

"I have been making human powered journeys for a number of years, it is my passion in life,” Mr Rawlinson, who has scaled Mount Everest twice, said.

"With this particular journey I set off on January 3 and have travelled 10,000km in 150 days by human power.”

Mr Rawlinson has been living the past 20 years in Singapore and wanted to make the trip from his current home back to his old home in New Zealand, hence the Rowing from Home to Home adventure.

Using his boat Simpson's Donkey he has rowed from Singapore to Darwin on the first leg of his trip travelling for 78 days.

"I only use human power. No engines, no sails,” he said.

"Then I rode my wife's bicycle from Darwin to Coffs Harbour a couple of months ago.”

Mr Rawlinson then flew back to Singapore to prepare for the third leg of the journey and that's where trouble struck.

It was on this third leg, after leaving Coffs Harbour and heading to the Tasman Sea, when he was blown off course.

"I was trying to use current streams for the first two week to get to the Tasman Sea.” Mr Rawlinson said.

"On day 13 to be able to move from one current system to another I needed good weather.

"Instead I got hit by a massive storm right before dark.

"The boat capsized and I was blown around for 48 hours on to the wrong current stream going north instead of east.”

Mr Rawlinson had to make the call to save the boat and attempted to head back to Coffs.

"I was 250 miles off shore and miles off course,” he said.

"The only chance was I needed weather to blow north-west to make up ground I'd lost, but the forecast on day 18 for the foreseeable future were all winds were opposite to what I needed.”

Ballina ended up being the closest point and the Marine Rescue came to his aid, towing the boat into the harbour for the last six nautical miles.

"I am very thankful to the Marine Rescue as they got me into the harbour safely,” he said.

So while Mr Rawlinson's 'Home to Home' adventure has been put on hold it is by no means over.

"I will be flying down to Sydney to meet my meteorologist,” he said.

"I'm in completely the wrong place to depart from and the boat is damaged and needs to be repaired.”

During his time in Ballina he also met members of the Ballina Outriggers Club and made a new friend in kayaker Steve Posselt.

Topics:  ballina grant rawlinson home to home northern rivers lifestyle

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