Bart de Zwart Begins Expedition through French Polynesia

Bart de Zwart is a man of missions. And we’re talking big missions. He’s crossed the North Sea, standup paddled from Hawaii’s Big Island to Kauai, completed the 220-kilometer SUP 11-City Tour course solo and nonstop, and paddled the Ilulissat Icefjord. Now, Bart’s embarking on another expedition, and this time he’s paddling in French Polynesia, solo, unsupported, and for multiple days.
Here’s the first update from Bart:

In the next weeks I will have regular updates with the gear I am using. Below are some details about this crossing.

Bart-3WHEN: May 15-24, 2014, start will be depending on weather conditions.

WHERE: Tahiti – Bora Bora, French Polynesia; +/- 180 miles

THE CROSSING: Start of the trade wind season, May 2014

This French Polynesian crossing will be solo and non-stop. I will be sleeping, eating, and navigating on board for the entire time. I will be doing this trip without any support from outside.

I have been planning this trip the last months. It will be in similar conditions as the 2011 Hawaiian Crossing, but with a new expedition board from Starboard and this time with a dry suit from SUPSKIN for the nights, which were wet and very cold on the Hawaiian crossing.

The Board
For many years now, Starboard has been an amazing supporting sponsor. This year again they will supply me with a special board: a prototype for the 2015 Expedition, outfitted wit special adaptations you need on an expedition like this, extra safety lines, front steering system for side wind conditions, water compartments and many other details.

The Dry Suit
SUPSKIN developed a dry suit with the latest materials. This suit is saltwater proof and still breathes, and is specially developed for expeditions like this. This is very valuable during the nights, and essential to stay warm. Patagonia is helping me out with their incredible clothing. Some warm layers under my Dry suit will be all the difference at night.

The Sunglasses
Being in the sun for four full days it is extremely important to protect your eyes. MAUI JIM provides polarized sunglasses with super clear view. I Love them

The Tracker
You can follow the whole crossing with a live tracker. This device made by DeLorme sends a signal every three hours of my position and speed. I can even send text messages to send reports and receive weather up dates.

Safety on Board
EPIRB, (personal satellite beacon), VHF radio, GPS, back up GPS, maps, tri-color navigation lights, Life vest, Water maker, five gallons of water, food for seven days, a second paddle, and solar panel

With three cameras I will be documenting this crossing on film and photo.


The gear for a multi-day crossing is a lot more than you would take on a regular tour—a lot more. Especially because this crossing is unsupported, I bring a lot of back up and extra gear, like a water maker. Water is the single most important item on board; without water, you won’t survive very long. Although it is a lot of work with a water maker, I make drinking water from saltwater, about one liter in one hour of hand pumping.

I have two GPS’s and a tracker system (INREACH), which sends a signal with my position via satellite, so everyone can follow me. The Inreach also serves as an emergency beacon in case of a life-threatening situation. I also carry an EPIRB (personal locator beacon), which I have on me day and night.

For the night, I have a mattress where I build some sidewalls on so I don't get too much waves in my face. I have to blow it up every night and strap it on the board. Many ask me if I use an anchor at night. Most places where I did crossings are between 300 and 4000 meters deep and impossible to anchor. If the wind is not in the right direction, I set the sea anchor though. It's basically a parachute in the water, which stops me from drifting too far in the wrong direction. And, I use my back up paddle with two floaters in the night as small outriggers, so the board is a little more stable.

At night, it does get very cold at sea, especially when you are wet. That’s why the dry suit with under layers under it will be a big upgrade from the Hawaiian Crossing, when I only had a wetsuit and was very cold every night.


Here is my packing list:
• Expedition board with front rudder and grab line around the whole board to attach all gear
• 2 paddles
• 3 leashes (I always wear min. 2 at the same time)
• Sea anchor
• Survival blanket: a thick one with insulation; works as a sleeping bag, which can and does get wet.
• GOPRO Camera Hero 3
• Small waterproof hand camera, Canon D10
• 2x GPS, Delorme and Garmin
• Epirb, ACR
• Tracker DeLorme Inreach
• iPhone (for two-way, short message communication via Inreach)
• Hand watermaker, Katalyn
• Compass
• 2x Headlamp
• Strobe lamp
• VHF radio
• Backup battery to charge cameras and iPhone

• SUPSKIN Dry Suit: very advanced, lightweight suit
• 2x Patagonia under layer pants
• 2x Patagonia thin under layer shirt
• 2x Patagonia warm under layer shirt
• 1x Patagonia thin down jacket,
• 1x Patagonia thin down body
• 3x warm socks
• Warm head (night)
• Sun head (day)
• 2x Surf shorts
• 2x Long arm lycra

Water (for five days, 25 liters+): packed in several two- or four-liter containers

Food (for five days):
• Heed (Hammer) electrolyte powder
• Perpethuem (Hammer), liquid bike food, Powder
• Recoverite (Hammer), Protein recover drink for at night, powder
• Muesli/oat breakfast with milk powder (just mix in water)
• Dry freeze meals (mountain House)
• Heat packs (these packs react with water and warm up my meals)
• Sport Bars
• Nut and dry fruit mix
• Chocolate

Medicine Package:
• Strong painkillers
• 2x Antibiotics
• Tape
• Bandage
• Sunscreen and blocker

Repair Sack:
• Dingstick
• Epoxy
• Tools
• Rope
• Tape
• Tie reps
• Handy knife

Emergency Pack:
• Flares
• Life vest
• Mirror
• Whistle
• Sea chart

Sleeping Gear:
• Inflatable bed
• Small hand pump
• Straps

Everything is packed in zip lock bags in dry bags. All electronics are in small dry packs with small leashes attached to the grab line.

Weather looks good for the next week. Medium trades in OK direction.
I can’t wait to try out the board…


Stay tuned for more updates from Bart.

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