Alone at Sea

August 23, 2019

Late in his voyage across the Atlantic in 1956, solo and in an 11 foot Klepper kayak, Hannes Lindemann was caught in a massive storm, and capsized by a giant wave. In the water, in the dark, but tied to his upturned kayak, Lindemann crawled on top and lay there exposed to the wind and the storm. Getting colder and colder, he realised the only way to survive the night was to get back into the water, which although cold, offered protection from the wind. And so he spent the night there, exhausted, until sometime in the early morning, he kicked something solid in the water below him - probably a shark - and so decided he’d best get his kayak righted and get on his way (he finally made it to the Bahamas after 72 days at sea, living off only beer, milk and caught fish).

Lindeman’s story, told in his book Alone at Sea, has many lessons, lessons in emotional strength, endurance and toughness; but also understanding the location of one’s physical and mental boundaries.

But the lesson in this part of his story, treading water all night, is one any climber can learn from; finding a way to make an ally of the very thing that seems set to kill you.