Spectators on the beach held British flags in the air Tuesday, cheering on two kayakers as they reached the last mile of their roughly 2,000-mile journey.
The kayakers, Will McCreadie, 21, and George Parry, 22, were marking the final moments of their monthslong expedition from the island country of Grenada. The pair, both England natives and Durham University students, hoisted a smaller version of the British flag across their vessel and erected two lit torches on the bow and stern.
As abruptly as they had appeared on the horizon, they were ashore in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, out of the kayak and calling their parents on the phone to relay the good news.
“Yeah, we made it!” McCreadie said when they came ashore. “We’re very happy to be here. Slightly relieved, we’re ready for a little break.”
McCreadie and Parry set off on Sept. 26. Both were new to sea kayaking, Parry said, but not to being on adventures together. “It goes a long way back,” he said of their joint expeditions. “We’ve always done challenges together and we decided that we needed one last big challenge.”
The friends of eight years, whose excursions have included driving, cycling and climbing across countries, said they decided to take to the seas.
For their last hurrah, McCreadie and Parry said they established a charity that would help young people have the same kind of adventure, calling it the Get Exploring Trust. The pair said they hope the funds raised will help disadvantaged people who otherwise couldn’t afford excursions.
“What we want to do is bring people back to the essence of life and what it means to actually go out and enjoy a bit of adventure,” McCreadie said.
Rewarding as the journey was, it was also emotionally and physically taxing, McCreadie and Parry both said.
The two said they were circled by sharks, danced around towering cargo ships and cruiseliners, and battled large waves breaking over their 22-foot kayak, as well as stubborn currents and violent storms. They sometimes traveled through the night, and spent one full 24-hour period paddling, McCreadie said.
They would make stops on land along the way, and when they couldn’t find lodging, they spent the night in hammocks on the beach, they said.
“I think we’ve had every emotion imaginable,” McCreadie said. “Scared definitely, and apprehension, excitement. Some of it’s even been fun. Most of all we’re just happy to have got here.”
That’s why the pair were so grateful for the help they said strangers gave them along the way.
“Everyone who fed us and gave us a room for the night, they were so warm and so kind,” Parry said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without all the people that we’ve met along the way.”
A nearby beachgoer who had witnessed their arrival in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea gave them two Michelob Ultras, congratulating them on their journey. “It tastes like victory,” McCreadie said as he sipped the beer. “Absolutely brilliant.”