Colin was born in Victoria, BC in 1971. Along with three siblings, he was then raised in the industrial town of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island where his single mother worked as a high school teacher. After graduating, Colin enrolled in the University of British Columbia to study science. His initial plan was to complete his degree and then head off on his dream sailing voyage. However, gazing out from his English class over Vancouver harbour one day he decided that studies could wait, but youth would not. After raising the money himself he bought a yacht for 15,000 dollars and headed off with a mate with very little sailing experience for three years of adventure. Sailing took him across the pacific to Australia and Papua new Guinea where he eventually sold his boat. Since then he has rafted the length of the Amazon and the Yenisey, and forged a career out of writing, public speaking and film-making. He is the Author of 'Amazon Extreme' and an upcoming account of the Yenisey adventure. At the moment Colin lives in Vancouver where he is planning more ground breaking journeys.
Tim joined Colin on the Yenisey adventure when they rowed 5000km in a leaky wooden boat through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. Contact Colin and find out more
Intreview with Colin, Adventurer Extraordinaire....
1. Where did you grow up and what did you get up to as a kid?
I was raised in Port Alberni on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. With its back to the mountains and face to the ocean, this small working town was an ideal location for me to enjoy the wilderness. I spent much of my time as a child exploring the woods, fishing, and riding my bike. I was also fascinated with things that would fly and would spend much time building and flying model planes, gliders, kites, etc.
2. How did you find your senior years of School? Did you know what you wanted to do?
I decided at the age of 12 that I was going to embark on an offshore sailing journey after finishing school. I spent much of my senior years studying books on offshore sailing and working to save money for this trip.
3. What was something important that sparked your decision to launch into dreams of adventure and exploration?
Definitely the spark for me was reading books about otherís adventures. The book that transformed spark to flame was 'Dove.' This book detailed a sixteen-year-old's odyssey of sailing around the world solo.
5. Any advice for young people who are wondering how they can aim for their own dreams?
Very simply, do whatever it is that tickles your fancy and don't let other peopleís negativity stop you. With my first sailing journey I didn't have one friend or family member who said, 'Sounds like a great plan, mate. Go out and do it.' Instead, everyone told me why I shouldnít or couldn't do it. It can be very difficult shedding the pessimism and listening to your heart.
6. What do your parents think about your adventures?
Aside from the obvious worries, my mother's biggest concern is that I'm wasting my life and should instead be following a conventional career path. She comes from harder times, so it is difficult for her to shake the notion that a life of financial stability is preferable to a life of contentment.
7. What would you say are the low points and high points of your adventure travel lifestyle?
The best thing about adventuring is the fact that dreaming is an essential ingredient for success. I love the planning stages where it is a big unknown and your imagination is filling in the blanks. Sitting in libraries, poring through atlases, and trying to imagine the scenarios and obstacles you will encounter is definitely one of my favorite parts of my adventuring lifestyle. I guess the low points would be the brushes with death or times of extreme hardship. Having said this though, without these low points the highs would not be as fulfilling as they are. One of the most satisfying moments of my life was arriving in Australia in my sailboat after being hit by a cyclone in the Tasman Sea. During that four-day storm I thought there was a good chance my boat would sink and I would never be seen again. Had I simply flown from NZ to Australia, that feeling of complete and absolute ecstasy of kissing Australian soil would have been absent.
8. In really hard times what is it that gives you the motivation to go on?
The will to succeed.
9. What is the worst situation you have encountered and how did you get out of it?
Getting shot at by guerrillas while running the Amazon. Ben Kozel, another team member gets the credit for getting us out of there. All I did was lie flat on the bottom of the boat while Ben kept rowing.
10. What are the good and bad points of travelling with Tim? Any dirt you want to share?
One of Tim’s greatest strengths on our Yenisey expedition was his ability to communicate. It is not just his knowledge of the Russian language, but his ability to become friends with everyone that constantly opened doors for the whole team. As well, Timís excellent sense of humour helped decrease the tension on the boat during the more stressful times. Strangely, I didn’t encounter his worst side until a later non-adventure trip with him in Australia. Ben Kozel, Tim, and I were travelling doing some film presentations. Tim had only brought one pair of socks for the entire trip and his feet were god-rotten. By the end of the trip we were all begging him to keep his shoes on.
11. Ultimately, what do you love about adventure travel?
It helps me score with the chicks.
12. What was one of the funniest moments you have shared during a journey?
A humorous moment that stands out took place on the Yenisey River shortly after finishing our source-to-sea expedition. I'll slap in a quote from my book that details this bit nicely. The following takes place in Northern Siberia on our way back home: "The supply ship arrived and tied up at the wharf for the night. The captain allowed us to sleep in the hold before the two-day trip back upriver to Dudinka. First thing in the morning, Tim and Ben made a quick dash to the store. But during their absence, the ship slipped her lines and began chugging south. Remy and I were asleep, oblivious to the fact that the lads had missed the last ship of the season. Ben and Tim stood on the pier in disbelief, watching the rusty ship that carried Remy and me disappear around the corner, and howling at the prospect of waiting seven months for the next boat. Frantically they ran through the village asking if any fisherman with a fast boat would try to intercept the supply ship. A couple of grizzled salts sauntered down to the shore and told Ben and Tim to hop in their boat. The smoky 40-horse roared to life, and the chase began. Half an hour later they caught up, but the captain wouldn't stop. The aluminum dinghy pulled alongside, matching the shipís speed. Ben and Tim had seconds to grab a tire hanging over the freezing water. With the boys still suspended in the air, the dinghy pulled away to avoid being swamped by the larger ship. Ben and Tim climbed up the rope and over the rail to safety.…Remy and I slept through the whole ordeal."
Here's another couple of funny moments from the same journey:
"The banya, a log structure with a corrugated roof, was nearby, nestled amid the birch trees. It had three rooms: a changing area, a washing area with two wooden barrels with large metal ladles, and a sauna room equipped with a round woodstove big enough to have powered a steam locomotive. A big bucket of rocks sat heating on the stove. Three bleacher-style benches sloped away from the roaring inferno. On the wall hung bunches of dried birch branches still bearing their leaves. The local tradition was for the sweating, naked supplicants to beat each other with the scratchy boughs. The massage was said to stimulate the circulation, help slough off dead skin cells, and relieve stress. Nick spent his time smoking fish while Remy, Tim, Ben, and I sweated away our aches and cares. Afterwards we ran down to the river and plunged into the frigid river. A full moon suspended above the Angara spilled peach-coloured quicksilver across the water. "I didnít know they had piranhas here," Ben said. I looked at him quizzically. "It looks like theyíve taken a couple of inches off the end of your c**k," he said with a grin." And: "Is everything good?" Olya asked nervously. "Why was boat tipping over?" "Remy was on the side pinching a loaf," Ben said with a sly grin, knowing the colloquialism would escape comprehension. "Nothing to worry about." I lay restlessly, listening with every pore for the dull thud indicating weíd hit a snag. A few seconds after that, the boat would start to fill with water. "Colin, it is your turn for row," Olya said, shaking my shoulder. I looked at my watch. I had been asleep for half an hour. Through the round porthole, I could see that the sky was at its Michael Jackson stage: transforming from black to light. "No snags?" I asked groggily. "I don't think so. But if you want, I could cook up potatoes. You want potatoes for snack?" (Thanks for that Colin...)
13. If you had to pick one highlight to date what would it be?
It would be the day I sailed into the Marquesas archipelago after a month out at sea. From the age of 12, I would envision the day when I would sail into a tropical remote island in the South Pacific in my own boat. Ten years later when I finally dropped anchor, listened to the call of the tropical birds and smelled the sweet smell of earth and coconuts carried over the water by the gentle trade winds, it felt as though I had reached paradise.
Thanks Colin, and good luck! More about Colin