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Every boat needs a name: Welcome to the world Simpson’s Donkey!

As the title of this post suggests, every boat needs a name.  Following along from my trusty inflatable kayak which is named ‘The Divorce Machine’ (given by kiwi buddy Blair Spendelow), there were rumors and suggestions abounding that the rowing boat would be suitably named ‘The Divorce Machine 2’.  This was not to be and after a few months of brain storming I am proud to announce that our beautiful Rowing Boat is officially known as ‘Simpson’s Donkey’.

So where did this name come from? It is to do with a very sad part of world history, World War 1.  One of the great battles of WWI was fought at Gallipoli, this became known as the Gallipoli campaign, the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Canakkale to the Turks.  Gallipoli is a peninsula on Turkey’s coastline.  Between 25 April, 1915 and 9 January, 1916, the allies consisting of troops from the UK, France, Newfoundland, India, Australia and New Zealand mounted a massive attack, and attempted to storm the Gallipoli peninsula. The ensuing battle resulted in 500,000 casualties and after 8 months of fierce fighting  – the allies withdrew, their campaign a failure.  But for the Turks it is regarded as one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war.

“In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation’s history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Atatürk) who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli” [source: Wikipedia]

It also formed a very significant part of Australia and New Zealand’s history.

“The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as “Anzac Day” which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries.”[source: Wikipedia]

As with every battle there were many heroic feats on both sides.  One of the more intriguing and inspiring stories is of an Australian soldier John (Jack) Simpson Kirkpatrick who served as a stretcher bearer with the 1st Australian Division during the campaign.  After landing  on a beach at Gallipoli peninsula known as Anzac Cove on the 25 April 1915, Simpson began to use donkeys to provide first aid and carry wounded soldiers to the beach  for evacuation.  Simpson and the donkeys continued this work for three and a half weeks, under very dangerous conditions.  They were often under fire and the story goes that he used a at least 4 different donkeys during this period as each one was killed in the line of duty.


Simpson (right) with one of his Donkeys carrying a wounded soldier. (Source Wikipedia)

“Colonel (later General) John Monash wrote: “Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self-imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire.”[source: Wikipedia].

As with many stories over the time, their are varying accounts of the exact facts.  It generally seems to be accepted that Simpson managed to bring over 300 men back to safety during his 24 days serving at Gallipoli.  Sadly Simpson was killed my machine gun fire at Anzac Cove on 19 May, 1915.  However “Simpson and his Donkey” are now very much engrained into the “Anzac legend“.  You can read more about the man and his colorful history here: or here:

Simpson’s Donkey is a synomonous with bravery, faithfulness and courage.  But most importantly to me, the little donkey was a symbol of hope and safety. Imagine being a wounded solder on the battle field, under fire and in pain, far from home, the sight of Simpson and his brave little donkey coming to your rescue as your lifeline must have been one of the most beautiful things you could ever imagine to see.

Our rowing boat is our lifeline, just like the little donkey, she does not move very fast, but we must rely completely on her, for her strength and her sturdiness to carry us safely From Home to Home.




Simpson’s Donkey is officially registered as  New Zealand vessel (Registration number NZ 2270).  She arrived in Singapore two weeks ago and I am very proud to now have her in the water at the beautiful Raffles Marina.  Raffles Marina are very kindly hosting her at their world class facility for the entire 9 months leading to our departure in January 2017.  During this time there is a massive amount of training, preparation, familiarization, modifications and enhancements to do before departure. (See two very short videos of the arrival and launch below)

As with all major expeditions, budgets are always challenging and I am always happy to hear from any potential customers who may be interested in my inspiring keynote speaking services, which is the way I have funded the bulk of the campaign to date.

For those of you reading this who use Facebook, please note I also post regular weekly updates to the expedition facebook page which you can see here:

Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson

NB:  A big thank you to my friend Ms Lyn Fielding, for helping suggest the name ‘Simpson’s Donkey’.  Originally I was contemplating ‘Anzac Spirit’ for the boat name however the word ‘Anzac’ is protected in New Zealand and Lyn gave me this alternate suggestion which I immediately loved. Lyn, for an Aussie you are not bad 🙂


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