Dave Cornthwaite Wants You To Say Yes To Adventure
We catch up with the adventurer while he’s water-biking the Norwegian coastline.
After quitting his job as a graphic designer and heading out for a trip across Australia on a longboard back in 2005, Dave Cornthwaite came up with the Expedition1000: a plan to take on 25 journeys around the world, each using a different form of non-motorised transport – and with a minimum distance of 1,000 miles. So far he’s completed 12, including a traverse of the Mississippi River on a stand-up paddleboard, a 1,001-mile swim down the Missouri River and more than 3,000 miles of sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, he’s written three best-selling books, delivered hundreds of lectures, and created life-enhancing brand SayYesMore. And he’s still got 13,000 miles to go…
What’s the adventure you’re most proud of?
I’ve never been asked this! I guess I never really considered pride as a factor, but I look back fondly at skateboarding across Australia – that was five months of solid work which totally changed my life. Paddleboarding the Mississippi was a lot of fun. I’m currently water-biking the Norwegian coastline and maybe this one, when finished, will be my proudest moment. It’s lovely combination of tough and magical.
The biggest physical challenge you’ve faced?
Swimming the Missouri, hands down. I didn’t swim so well when I started…
What was the most dangerous situation you’ve found yourself in?
There are two. The first, I was hit by a car south of Memphis and ended up 30 metres off the road. Luck got me out of that one. And on this trip around Norway, I’ve had moments where not coming home is a distinct possibility. It’s really important when you’re out at sea by yourself that you don’t panic, and in two-metre swells with an offshore wind, waiting is not an option. You just have to keep moving and do everything you can to get back to land.
What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself during your adventures?
Everything! I was clueless when I started. I guess with each adventure I’m still surprised what new challenges and situations there are. Slowly, I’m realising that I’m never really going to be an expert in anything, so maybe that’s it. I’ve been powered by ambition for so long, but now I realise that if that’s your drive you can never really be truly happy. So now I’m chilling out.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the world during your adventures?
That people are good. I forget this when I’m in a big town and nobody talks to anyone or knows their neighbour. Then on every adventure, strangers take me into their homes in minutes. People are good and kind, and that’s global.
What’s the next big challenge you have your eye on?
Well, I’d like to survive this one before looking forward. But kitesurfing the east African coast has been on my mind, and I love the idea of putting on a monofin and swimming 1,000 miles underwater…
What’s your advice to an average guy who wants to inject some adventure into their lives?
What the heck are you waiting for? It’s not a competition. Just make a decision and do something challenging that means you’ll bring home a good story.
Written by Joel Snape for Coach.