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From Altona to Australia in a paddleboat - The Adventures of an Intrepid Altona water sport athlete

Date: 10 January 1936
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Nancy Jean Steele Bequest
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Newspaper clipping
Object No: ANMS0542[022]

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    Description
    Article begins: 'Shot At By Predatory Bedouins Hunted By Arab Smugglers Suspected a Spy Afflicted By Hunger And Pain For Days

    Almost four years ago, on 13th May 1932, a young enthusiastic kayak rider left his birth place Altona to embark with his little craft on the most daring journey that one can imagine. Hardly anybody would believe that it is possible to sail the oceans in such a tiny tub, overcoming the thousands of miles separating the continents of Europe and Australia.

    Our Altona Boy, Oscar Speck his name, begged to differ. He had just went under with a small, initially promising electrician business and didn't have the courage to throw himself again into the hopelessly unsafe torrents of business as it was at the time....

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: From Altona to Australia in a paddleboat - The Adventures of an Intrepid Altona water sport athlete

    Primary title: Von Altona im Paddelboat nach Australien

    Translation
    • [At the top of the page in hand writing] Oskar Speck in a paddle boat to Australia Friday, 10 January 1936 From Altona to Australia in a paddleboat The adventures of an intrepid water sportsman from Altona Shot at by Bedouin robbers / Hunted by Arab smugglers / Suspected a spy / Plagued by hunger and thirst for days It is now nearly four years ago that the young, enthusiastic canoeist left his home town of Altona, setting out in his small craft on the most adventurous journey anyone could think of, on 13 May 1932. Hardly anyone will be prepared to believe that it is possible to travel the oceans in such a nut shell, and to cover the thousands of miles of sea water stretching between the continents of Europe and Australia. Our man from Altona, Oskar Speck is his name, had a different opinion. He had experienced failure with a small, promising business selling electrical goods, and he didn’t have the courage to throw himself back into business life, which was hopelessly uncertain in those days. He saw no safe harbour in the economy, had lost faith, and preferred to move out into the world in his small kayak, the only possession he had left, paddling towards new possibilities in life. [Photo of Oskar Speck with the caption:] Oskar Speck, a boy from Altona Initially, however, he didn’t think of circumnavigating half the globe. He just wanted to get to Southern Europe at first, following rivers and canals. From the Mediterranean, he hoped he would find opportunities to get back to Germany, if there hadn’t been any opportunities earlier somewhere along the way, to start a new existence. So he slipped upriver, under the bridges across the Elbe, crossed the whole of Germany, constantly heading south, glided through Bohemia and Yugoslavia on large and small rivers, until one day he found himself happily bouncing on the soft blue waves of the Aegeian. He had had a wonderful journey. But the opportunity he had hoped for to start a new existence had not presented itself in strife-torn Europe. And now even his hope, to be able to catch a passage back to Germany on a steamer in exchange for his labour, was dashed. Our Viking was probably gripped by despair for a while. But then an amazing plan started taking shape in his head, and by the time he arrived on the island of Rhodes, it had grown into a fixed idea. - - Three years later From now on we follow a report by a large Anglo-Indian Newspaper, the “Ceylon Observer”. Its edition dated 18 August 1935 carries an extensive article about the adventurous journey by the young man from Altona. It says that Oskar Speck paddled into the harbour of Colombo, the capital of Ceylon, on 13 May 1935.That day he had completed half the distance he was planning to cover in his canoe on his way from Germany to Australia, with nothing to rely on other that his little boat and the strength of his will. The journalist in Colombo chats about the first impression he had of Oskar Speck, in no doubt honest recognition of his personal and sportive achievement: He left Germany during a period of bitter disappointment. Today, the bitterness has vanished, washed off by the waters of the ocean, leaving nothing but a sunny disposition, his hope intact that he will reach the “journey’s end”, just as he set out to do. He is a long way from making any fuss about his achievement. He is a friendly and polite young man in peak physical condition, that’s all. He stayed in Ceylon for three months, and since he is good at mixing drinks – bar tenders are sought-after and very popular in hot and hard-drinking India – he quickly became famous in all circles in Colombo and made many good friends who showed an active interest in his endeavours. The Seafarer’s Tales On the shady deck of a bungalow Oskar Speck chats with the journalist in Colombo about his journey. “Adventure?” “Well, yes, there are a few things to mention: I was shot at by Bedouin robbers, hunted by Arab smugglers, nearly died from an unexpected attack of serious malaria, I was arrested as a spy, was at sea without food or drink for days, capsized three times -those would be some of the details. But none of these events, no matter how exciting, left as horrific an impression on my memory as the numerous desperate hours I spent in a storm in loneliness at sea, particularly at night, during which I used to travel because of the unbearable heat in the day. The sea is my greatest challenge. I experienced all the horrors of being alone and helpless, exposed to the stormy sea in total darkness, racked by fever, fighting tiredness, incapable of moving even just one muscle in my body. I came to know hours of self-loathing and hours of profound despair, in which I cursed my adventure and my boat. Those are my most frightful memories.” It’s a long way to India “It might be of interest to you here in Ceylon that I met the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Edward Stubbs, and his delightful wife, on Cyprus. They showed a lot of interest in my endeavour, giving me all kinds of assistance and wished me luck for my trip upon my departure. They expressed their hope to meet me in Colombo, and I greatly regret not having met his Excellency and Lady Stubbs again. So you would like to know something about the route I took? I went on to Cyprus from Rhodes, continuing to paddle along the coast of Turkey. From Cyprus to Syria, crossing 93 miles of open ocean, I established a world record in long-distance paddling. I lost my compass then and drifted from my intended route for two nights. When the sun started rising, I could make, very faintly, out on the left and far off in the distance the mountain tops of the coast of Syria. They disappeared in the mist when the sun rose higher, but I had regained my bearings and I managed to reach the Syrian coast the next morning. The crossing had taken me 48 hours.” [Photo of person riding an elephant with the caption:] Working elephant on the coast of Ceylon “My next aim was the river Euphrates. This is where some itinerant Bedouins shot at me one night as I was paddling near the coast. My poor little terrier, whom I had been given as a present in Turkey when he was only nine days old, took a bullet, tumbled overboard, yapping miserably and drowned.” A tragedy After that I reached the lower Euphrates without further incident. The American journalist Fischer and a German canoeist named May were not so lucky. Hearing that I had gone down the Euphrates, they decided to take the same route. They were attacked by Bedouins while resting on the shore. The German escaped at first, swimming across the river even though he was wounded, but he died later. The American, underestimating the aim of his assailants, started to fight them, trusting in his superior physical powers. He was later found in the river with four bullets in him. The murderers did not escape the punishment they deserved, though. Three of the Bedouins were hanged, one of them jailed for life.” [Photograph of waves breaking on the shore with a tiny speck of a boat in the distance] Caption: The biggest danger for me is a stormy sea and hand written with an arrow next to it: My boat, including sail “Under ordinary circumstances it would have taken me eight days to travel from Basra to Bushire. But because of very high seas it took me 35 days instead. I was forced to spend seven days on a small desolate island waiting for the opportunity to continue my journey, even though I had barely enough food for four days. The only company I had was a half decomposed corpse which had been floating in between the cliffs, and the smell was intolerable. In Bandar-e Deylam, a Persian village, some policemen gave me food and drink, and afterwards they stole from me! In Bushire lots of birds that looked like ravens swarmed around my boat, so I couldn’t even contemplate sleep. In Bandar-Abbas I signed a contract to do some electrical work for the customs office. But they didn’t keep the conditions in the contract, resulting in a court case. When the hearing was about to begin, the judge left for three months for his summer holidays. I was expected to humbly await His Lordship’s return. This was just about the most miserable place in the Persian Gulf: hot, filthy, desolate, and I was forced to spend six months there. It was there that I came down with a severe attack of malaria. Pursued by Smugglers “Graft and corruption are common along the coast of Persia, and there is hardly a single customs officer who isn’t friendly with some smugglers and cooperates with them. One day some smugglers followed me for hours, shooting at me with a breech-loader until I finally managed to move out of their range. Their rifle was a very modest thing. When I complained about the incident at Kangun, I was told that this was not unusual in these waters and that unfortunately they could do nothing for me. There are lots of sharks in this area. I’ve seen them in groups of up to eight or twelve, often very close to the shore in shallow water, contradicting the claim that they are to be found only in deep water. They never attacked my canoe though. Quite a few times I paddled amongst the monsters at a distance of no more than ten feet, hoping to be able to take a photo, but they always remained just underwater. I also encountered swordfish. These animals are a brilliantly colourful sight in the sun. All shades of blue, purple, red, brown and grey appeared, the most beautiful colours I have ever seen. In Baluchistan my canoe had become too defective for the long journey at sea. Nobody would believe that I reached the harbour in this craft. I repaired it as best I could. Another bad part of my journey was the trip from Karachi to Kutchmandoi during the last cold days of January. I had nothing left to eat and survived on oysters that I caught myself. So there were oysters for breakfast, oysters for lunch and oysters for dinner. On the Persian coast I lived on hardboiled eggs, since I could not find any tinned food anywhere. As I was travelling along the coast of Probennda, tortured by malaria and without having slept for a long time, my boat capsized in the huge swell for the very first time. But I managed to get to the shore. I was admitted to the hospital of the Maharaja of Probennda, and was treated for malaria by his own doctor. In the Gulf of Cambay I was held as a spy for two days. They thought that my canoe could be used as a submarine and an aeroplane and was therefore ideally suited for the purpose of spying. After I was released I crossed the Gulf of Cambay to Surat, where a mighty swell of 35 feet created the most difficult water.” Bombay “I had a most unpleasant, nine-day stay in Bombay. Then I continued on to Goa and Mangalore, where I capsized a second time and lost all my equipment. Later I reached Cochin and then Comorin, where I capsized a third time. I was lucky and did not lose anything this time, for I had nothing with me in the first place! I arrived at Colombo via Tuticorin, Adam's Bridge, Tataimannar, Puttalam, along the canal. At various times I made an effort to use inland waterways, but I kept on being delayed by teaming masses of people who wished to see the magnificent German, who lived on pills and travelled in a boat that, as had been reported, could dive and fly. So I preferred to go back out on the clear, albeit dangerous, open ocean.” [Photo of O. Speck in a workshop with the caption:] Repairing my boat O. Speck, (4) “I’ve been in Ceylon for three months now and find it most exceptionally beautiful. Next Sunday I shall leave Ceylon and try to reach Australia - in possibly three years. Half of my journey is over. I’ve had some fantastic experiences, and even though it was difficult at first, I found the task I had set myself considerably easier as my success kept growing. From Colombo I want to go on paddling to Galle, Dondra, Batticola, Trincomalee, Madras, Calcutta, and on to the South to Akyab, Rangoon, Singapore, Batavia and then across the ocean from island to island up to Australia. The largest distance between two islands is 60 miles.” The last Goals This is where the reports from the “Ceylon Observer” stop. A copy of the newspaper arrived in Germany, in Altona, sent to Oskar Speck’s relatives. After that nothing was heard of the brave young man from Altona for a long time. Then one day a rumour started that a British newspaper had reported his demise. There were no further details, but unfortunately there was the strong possibility that the daredevil had fallen victim to his own courage. But then a cheerful postcard – written by Oskar Speck himself – arrived home from Kokinada (India), dated 10 November 1935: ”I’m healthy and happy and on my way to Calcutta. I want to be there for Christmas. It will be tough work, 1200km against wind and current. I’m giving myself five weeks to do it. – If all goes well, I’ll celebrate my fourth paddling anniversary in spring in Singapore. And then on to Australia.” He hasn’t reached his goal yet. Oskar Speck will have to cross many miles of ocean in his little boat. All our good wishes from his home town are with him. As we can see, courage, perseverance, good humour and a bit of luck can still conquer half the world, even today. Edgar Walsemann. [on the back of the first copy of the article in other news reported:] From the Courts Gold coins are foreign currency as well Johann Fl. has been called before the Special Court accused of a crime committed against the “Treason against the German People Act”. In autumn 1935 the Tax Department received notice that he was still in possession of foreign currency that had not been offered to the Reichsbank, nor had it been registered. Officers from the Hamburg customs department conducted a search at Fl.’s house, but without success. After some intensive questioning, Mrs Fl. stated that they kept some foreign currency in the safe at the office in Hamburg. At first Fl. denied this, but when the officers demanded for the safe to be opened, he admitted to keeping some gold coins there. They found 17 20-Mark gold coins and 6 10-Mark gold coins, but then also 45 English pound gold coins. Under no circumstances should he have kept the latter, and not handed them in. Fl. was arrested. During previous interviews he had stated that he had bought the coins at the Alster Pavilion from an unknown person in 1931. This excuse sounded curious since one of Fl.’s colleagues, who had been found guilty of the same crime in Hamburg recently, had stated the same thing. Before the Special Court, Fl. then made a different statement. He said he had obtained the money through his brother-in-law from a bank in Altona back in 1924. How he came to be in possession of the gold coins only plays a minor part here. But Fl. also cited another fact in his defence – and this is an erroneous opinion which unfortunately is very common - and that is that foreign gold coins are not foreign currency. This opinion is wrong, in any case since the introduction of the Foreign Currency Law. Foreign currency does not only include shares, but also paper money and coins. Based on the entire proceedings, the court was led to hold that Fl. knowingly committed the crime of Treason against the German people out of sheer greed for gold, as stated by the chairman in the grounds for the judgement. With no regard for the interests of the German people, he horded gold coins in order to have safe money available for times of hardship, he thought. Since the amount is not very high, the court believed that it could not deny the defendant some extenuating circumstances, since otherwise a severe prison sentence would have to have been pronounced. The defendant was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of RM 5000 for treason against the German people and for his offence against the foreign currency law. In case he is unable to pay the fine, one day in prison will be equivalent of each RM 30 of the fine. [….] The road is not just for pedestrians. The Altona court presided over by a professional judge and two lay judges has had to deal with a regrettable traffic accident that cost one life recently. Coming from Blankenese, 25 year old Rudolf C. was riding his motorbike along Flottbeker road on 11 November. As he was approaching Fischersallee, he saw a tram stopping ahead of him. At the platform there was a pedestrian, apparently making some inquiries with the tram driver. C. had stopped his motorbike at first, but then accelerated again, assuming he could pass. Just in front of him the pedestrian turned around suddenly, ran into the path of the motorbike and was so severely injured that he died soon after. The court was forced to find C partly responsible for the accident and to sentence him to a fine of RM 100 in place of a one-month prison sentence. In the grounds given for the judgement, the chairman pointed out that the main fault lay with the accident victim himself. Pedestrians are not allowed to move on the road until they have convinced themselves first that it is safe for them to do so. The road does not belong to pedestrians, but is made for vehicles. However, the defendant shares some guilt too, even if it is not so significant as to warrant punishment by a prison sentence. In accordance with the German Traffic Law, he is required to pass a stopped tram at a speed slow enough to possibly even stop, to ensure any passengers, boarding or alighting from the tram, do not come to any harm. Advertisement: Dralle Toothpaste – Large tube 40 pfennig. [on the back of the page of the second copy] More and more English transports to Egypt The 20 000 ton English passenger steamer “Scythia” has been equipped to transport troops and is currently taking on board not just soldiers, but also tanks and other military equipment, about to leave port for Egypt. In our photo we see army lorries being heaved on board the ship in Southampton harbour. (Associated Press, K.) [….] Princess Senije gets married Vienna, 10 January. Princess Senije, one of the sisters of the King of Albania, is to marry Prince Mehmed Abid, the youngest son of Sultan Abdul Hamid, next Sunday. […..] A consequence of the sanctions Paris, 10 January. The introduction of sanctions against Italy caused a shortage of goldfish in France. Hitherto all supplies of goldfish had come from Italy, since all attempts by French traders to grow the fish in France had been quite unsuccessful.
    • From Altona to Australia In A Kayak The Adventures Of An Intrepid Altona Water Sport Athlete Shot At By Predatory Bedouins / Hunted By Arab Smugglers / Suspected a Spy / Afflicted By Hunger And Pain For Days Almost four years ago, on 13th May 1932, a young enthusiastic kayak rider left his birth place Altona to embark with his little craft on the most daring journey that one can imagine. Hardly anybody would believe that it is possible to sail the oceans in such a tiny tub, overcoming the thousands of miles separating the continents of Europe and Australia. Our Altona Boy, Oscar Speck his name, begged to differ. He had just went under with a small, initially promising electrician business and didn't have the courage to throw himself again into the hopelessly unsafe torrents of business as it was at the time. He didn't see business as a safe harbour, had lost confidence and preferred to try and seek out new opportunities in life by paddling away with is kayak, the only possession left to him. However, he didn't think of circumnavigating half the globe right from the outset. At the start, he wanted to get to southern Europe by following the channels and rivers. In the Mediterranean, so he hoped, he would be able to find a way to return to Europe unless an opportunity to build a new existence could be found on the way. So he passed the Hamburg Elbe bridges upriver[1], crossed Germany southbound, rode small and large rivers thou Bohemia and Yugoslavia to one day find himself merrily bouncing upon the waves of the Aegean. He had a great trip behind him. But an opportunity to build up a new existence had not arisen, and even his hopes to return to Hamburg via working on a steamer were dashed. For a while, our Viking must have been quite depressed. But then, a fantastic idea started to take shape in his brain, and when he had reached Rhodes this idea had become a full-fledged plan. Three Years Later In this report, we are from here on following the publications of a great Anglo-Indian newspaper, the “Ceylon Observer”, which published an extensive article about out adventurous Altona Boy in an issue of 18th August 1935. According to this, Oscar paddled into the harbour of Colombo, the Ceylon capital, on 13th May 1935. With this, he had completed half of the distance that he sought to conquer in his kayak from Germany to Australia, armed with nothing but a small boat and the tenacity of his own will. The newspaper reporter in Colombo chats with indubitably honest admiration for his sportsmanship about the first impression Oscar Speck made on him: He left Germany in an hour of bitter depression. Today, the bitterness has passed, washed off by the ocean water, and there is nothing left but a sunny disposition and the unbroken optimism to reach “journeys end” (sic), the end of this journey as he had taken it upon himself. Far be it from him to make much of a fuss about his accomplishment. He is a friendly, gentleman-like young man in perfect physical health and nothing else. He stayed in Ceylon for three months, and since he is a good drinks mixer – bartenders are much sought after and always welcome in hot, hard drinking India – he quickly became known in all of Colombo's circles and made many good friends, who met his endeavour with excited interest. A Seafarer's Tales On the shaded bungalow veranda Oscar chats with our reporter colleague in Colombo about his journey. “Adventure?” “Yes, there are a few things I could recount: Shot at by predatory Bedouins, hunted by Arab smugglers, near death through an unexpected malaria attack, arrested as a spy, without food for days on end, adrift on the ocean without potable water, capsized three times, these would be some details. But none of these events, no matter how exciting they were, has left such a horrid impression in my memory as the many hours spent in storms in total isolation on the sea, especially during the nights which I mostly spent for travelling because of the unbearable heat during the day. The ocean is my greatest danger. I experienced all the terrors of isolation and helplessness, exposed to the storm tossed sea in utter darkness, shaken by fever, fighting against exhaustion, incapable of using a single muscle in my body. I found myself experiencing hours of great rage against myself, and hours of deepest despair the next, in which I cursed my boat and my adventure. These are my most terrible memories.” It is a long way to India “It may be of interest for you in Ceylon that I met Cyprus' governor in Ceylon, Sir Edward Stubbs, and his charming wife. They were both very interested in my endeavour, gave me any conceivable assistance and wished me a happy journey upon my departure. They expressed hope to meet me in Colombo and I deeply regret not having met His Excellency and Lady Stubbs again. You want to learn about my route? To Cyprus I came from Rhodes, always paddling along the Turkish coast. From Cyprus to Syria, 93 miles across the open ocean, I set up the long distance world record. I lost my compass on this leg and bobbed around off my intended course for two nights. At dawn, I saw to the left of me in the clear morning air, far away, just over the horizon the mountain line of the Syrian coast. They disappeared into the morning mist as the sun rose higher, but I had regained the direction, and I managed to reach Syria by next morning. It took me 48 hours to complete the crossing[2]. My next goal was the Euphrates. It happened here, as I was paddling along the coast one night, that I was shot at by nomad Bedouins. My poor little terrier, whom I had received as a present in Turkey six months before, at an age of only nine days, was hit by a bullet and fell, whimpering pitiably, overboard and drowned. A Tragedy I reached the Euphrates without further incidence. The fates of an American journalist called Fischer and a German canoe rider named May, who took the same path I had when they heard of my going down the Euphrates, were less fortunate. They were attacked by Bedouins while they were resting on the shore. Ther German, although wounded, at first managed to escape by swimming across the Euphrates but died later; the American, who had underestimated the bandits' marksmanship and tried to defend himself trusting his physical prowess, was found later in the river with four bullets in his body. The murderers did not escape their just punishment, however. The Bedouins were hanged, one sentenced to life incarceration. From Basra to Bushir would have taken me a journey time of eight days under normal circumstances, but because of heavy sea I needed 35 days. I was forced to wait on an empty island for an opportunity to carry on for seven days, although I barely had enough provisions for four days. The only company I had was from a half rotten corpse that had been carried through the cliffs, and the stench was unbearable. In Bandar Dilem, a Persian village, Policemen first entertained me as their guest, then – they stole valuable stuff from me. In Bushir, ravenlike birds swarmed around my boat. I couldn't even think of sleeping. In Bandar Abbas I sealed a contract with the customs office for electrical services. But the conditions of the contract were not honoured and there was a lawsuit as a consequence. When the court proceedings were about to start, the judge departed into his summer holidays for three months and I was expected to devoutly wait upon his Lordship's return. This was just about the most miserable place on the Persian gulf, hot, dirty, barren, and I was forced to stay here for six months. It happened here that I collapsed with a severe case of malaria. Hunted By Smugglers Bribery and corruption are perfectly normal on the Persian coast and there is hardly a customs officer who is not in friendly cahoots with smugglers. One day I was hunted by smugglers for hours while they shot at me with a breech-loading rifle until I managed to get out of shooting range. Their shooting stick was a modest make. When I complained about this harassment in Kangun I was told that this wasn't unusual in these waters and that unfortunately they could do nothing for me. In this area are a lot of sharks. I found some in groups of eight and twelve, often in close vicinity to land in the shallow water, which contradicts the claim that these are deep water fish[3]. My canoe (sic) was never under attack by them. Often, I paddled through between the brutes within hardly ten feet of distance with a view to make a photo, but they always remained just under water. I also met swordfish. These animals made a colourful sight in the sun. All combinations of blue, violet, red, brown and grey came up, the most beautiful colours I had ever seen. In Baluchistan my canoe (sic) had become too damaged to carry on seafaring. Nobody could believe that I had reached the harbour with that vessel. I repaired it by the book. Another unpleasant part of my journey was the ride from Karachi to Kutch Mandvi in the last days of January. I had nothing to eat and lived off oysters that I could catch. It was oysters for breakfast, oysters for lunch and oysters for dinner. On the Persian coast I had lived off hard-boiled eggs because tinned foods were nowhere to be found. When I rode along the Porbandar coast, shaken by malaria and without having slept for days, I capsized in the surf for the first time. But I managed to get to shore and found admission to the hospital of the Maharajah of Porbandar and was treated for malaria by his personal physician. In the Gulf of Khambhat, I was arrested as a spy for two days. They believed of my canoe (sic) that it could be used equally as a submarine and an aeroplane and thus be perfectly adequate for spying. Released with clemency, I crossed the Gulf of Khambhat to Surat, where a tidal range of 35 feet produces the most difficult water conditions. Bombay In Bombay, I had a highly unpleasant stay of nine days. Then I paddled on to Goa and Mangalore, where I capsized the second time and lost my entire equipment. Later I reached Kochi and (Cape) Komorin (today Kanyakumari), where I capsized a third time. This time I fortunately lost nothing, because I had – nothing with me. Via Tuticorin, Adam's Bridge, Tatai Mannar, Puttalam and through the canal I finally reached Colombo. Here and there I tried using inland waterways but was stopped time and again by abounding masses of perople who wished to see the crazy German who lived off pills and travelled in a boat which, as was reported, could dive and fly. So I kept coming back out onto the clear, if more dangerous, open ocean. I have been in Ceylon for three months now and find it extraordinarily beautiful. Next Sunday I will leave Ceylon and attempt to reach Australia in maybe... three years. Half of my journey is over. I've had wonderful experiences and although it was difficult in the beginning, with growing success I found my task considerably easier. From Colombo I am going to paddle further to Galle, Dondra, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Madras, Calcutta and further southwards to Akyab (Sittwe, Myanmar), Rangoon, Singapore, Batavia (Jakarta) and then across the ocean from island to island to Australia, the greatest distance between two islands is 60 miles.” To Final Goals Until here reach the records of the “Ceylon Observer”. One paper arrived in Germany, to Altona and Oscar Speck's relatives. Then, for a long time, nothing was heard from the courageous Altona Boy. Until some day rumours went around that English papers had reported his death. No more details were available, but regrettably the chance that the daredevil had fallen victim to his daringness had to be drawn into realistic consideration. But then there arrived a jaunty postcard, signed by Oscar Speck himself – from Kakinada (India) at home, dated 10th November 1935: “Am well and happy and on my way to Calcutta and want to be there by Christmas. It'll be a heavy chunk of work, 1200km against the wind and currents. I have planned five weeks for this. If all goes well, I'll be celebrating four years of paddling anniversary in Singapore. And then comes Autralia.” As yet the goal hasn't been reached, many miles of ocean are left to be covered by Oscar Speck in a wobbly boat. All the best wishes of his home are with him, and with courage, perseverance, humour and a little bit of luck, one can – as we can see – conquer half the world even today. Edgar Walsemann. Image titles: 1. Oscar Speck, an Altona Boy. 2. Working elephant on the Ceylon coast 3. My greatest threat is the stormy sea. (on the image: My boat. With sail.) 4. Repairing my boat O. Speck, (4) [1] According to the ANMM, Oskar himself seems to have stated that he took to water only in the south German town of Ulm at the Danube. [2] Three nights in 48 hours. It's just as strange in German. [3] That would have been Bull Sharks.
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