Kayaker Paddles 7,000km From South Africa to Brazil

Richard Kohler (53) has successfully kayaked 7,000km from Cape Town, South Africa to Salvador, Brazil.

He set off on Dec. 19 and landed in South America exactly two months later on Feb. 19.

This seems to be a record for the longest-ever solo sea kayak journey. Kohler also became the first person to paddle alone, unsupported, from South Africa to Brazil.

When he reached the Brazilian coast, local paddlers, lifeguards, and the navy accompanied him for the last few kilometres.

It took Kohler 63 days and 7 hours to paddle across the South Atlantic Ocean. In the first 48 hours, he suffered so badly from seasickness that he couldn’t eat. Gale-force winds, rough seas, and a number of storms then hit, forcing him to stop paddling and use his sea anchor.

Image: www.richardkohler.co.za


Echo chamber

“The sound of the waves bashing into the sides and over the back is amplified 100 times inside,” he said of this period. “Even with the bubble wrap insulation, it takes some getting used to.” He managed just 30 minutes of sleep in 30 hours and began questioning the sanity of undertaking such a challenge.

Luckily, after the third week, he was able to turn his kayak west into the trade winds. This allowed him to pick up his pace.

Kohler initially thought up the challenge 10 years ago and has been planning it for five years. He first tried the crossing in 2021 but had to quit after 16 days because of mechanical issues. The wiring that powered his main solar panels had corroded and his backup panels were not working. These powered his desalinator and communication systems. Unable to fix the problem, he re-routed and landed in Namibia.

Photo: www.richardkohler.co.za


He had no such problems this time. After he stepped onto dry land for the first time in two months, Kohler told the local media, “I am very relieved that I had what it takes for an adventure like this, but also very grateful that it has come to an end.”

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.