Monday at 10 p.m. ET, the National Geographic Channel debuts Solo: Lost at Sea, a one-hour documentary that follows Andrew McAuley’s attempt to spend about a month kayaking 1,000 miles from Tasmania to New Zealand through the Milford Sound in early 2007. As the narrator says early on, it “is the story of one man’s obsession with adventure, and the true cost of that obsession.”
Like Animal Planet’s fascinating series Grizzly Man Diaries, the documentary includes footage from the actual kayak narrated by McAuley, as he filmed his voyage. This seems like a growing trend: People who intentionally film themselves doing apparently crazy things because they want to tell their stories later, even if those stories have unintended outcomes. Crews also followed his family and support team on land, and the media covered him, too, so there’s real-time reaction to his voyage from his wife, Vicki.
The on-kayak footage of McAuley sobbing while paddling away from the beach, where his son and Vicki yell goodbye, is devastating. So, basically, is the entire hour, regardless of whether or not you know if he makes it or not. “I’m really worried that I’m not going to see my wife again, or my little boy, and I’m very scared,” he cries. “I’m wondering why I’m doing this, I really am. And I don’t have an answer.”
The documentary doesn’t really have one, either, and despite–or perhaps because of–that, it’s definitely worth watching.