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(Photo: www.crossingtheditch.com.au)

First mate

  • BY James Castrission & Justin Jones |
  • July 01, 2009

James Castrission and Justin Jones were jammed together for 62 days on their world-first paddle from Australia to New Zealand. Somehow, their friendship thrived.

Justin on James

One thing that amazed me about James was his strength of mind. James suffers from extremely bad seasickness – to the degree where it could put his health at serious risk. Only his tenacity and mental strength kept him going during the trials (and the paddle), experimenting with remedies for seasickness. If it was me, I don’t think I would have even pushed off from Forster in mid-November. I would have been too scared.

Every now and then we’d have the occasional argument, generally over something minor like chewing loudly during dinner. In one case this ended with my half of a Snickers bar (keep in mind that we were on half rations) being thrown into the water. James knew this was probably the best way to really get under my skin, but like all our disagreements it blew over in 10 minutes and we spent the rest of the day deep in conversation – although I’ve never let up about that Snickers.

James probably knows me better than I do. Out there we talked for hours. He never shirked from asking the hard questions. It helped me understand how I tick, and for that I thank him.

There are many things I’ll miss out there and it feels more and more like the expedition may have only taken place in our minds, but we will always carry that bond of being two mates sharing an amazing experience.

Click to view large map

Justin and James conquer the Tasman View Large Map

One thing that I won’t miss, though, is the sight of James naked. In that regard I saw too much of him and it really wasn’t my cup of tea.

James on Justin

Justin was the only person I could have crossed the Tasman with. He’s not the fittest bloke, nor has he got a textbook paddling technique. It’s his mental resilience that allows him to push his body to the extreme. When an ordinary person would have given up, Jonesy found it deep within to keep pushing. His attitude while out there was: “It’s not bad, it’s not good…it just is.”

If something was bothering me, I felt it necessary to express it – much more so than Justin. One night I had a go at him about how noisily he was chewing his food. I think it came out very aggressively but it highlights the stress we were under. Justin just said, “I’ll work on that.” He was a lot more tolerant than I.

I’ve got a distinct memory of New Year’s Day. The size and the heaviness of the swell was just enormous – 30 knots and 7–8 m seas. At about 11 a.m. a huge wave broke over the top of us and we were completely immersed in white water. We were just surfing down this massive wave. I remember turning around to look at Justin – we didn’t say anything, we just made eye contact and that look said everything.

Now we’re back, there’s a lot of push­ing and pulling with friends, family, the media. But we don’t really need to talk about it. It’s just a look of: “I under­­stand. I understand what you’re feeling.”

Source: Australian Geographic Apr - Jun 2008

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