The West

Perth paddler tackles mighty Missouri
Bob Bellingham.

Stuck in the middle of a storm on Fort Peck Lake in the US State of Montana, 59-year-old Perth man Bob Bellingham was ruing his decision to attempt a crossing.

An untested paddler, he had set off down the mighty Missouri River on June 1, looking for an adventure during some time off from work.

Three weeks into his journey, he was urging his kayak - named Barbara May after his wife - to hold on as 1.2m waves broke over her bow.

He made it to shore an hour later and watched as the weather he had misread lashed the lake throughout the night.

"I was foolishly trying to get a few more miles in before making camp but a storm blew in when I was half way across," he said.

"I was concerned that the kayak would flood and capsize, causing me to lose my boat and equipment."

There were bigger lakes yet to cross on North America's longest river but he was better prepared to tackle them after Fort Peck.

Three months and 3600km later, Mr Bellingham had completed his mission on the Missouri after just one practice session on the Swan.

He returned to his home in Mt Claremont last week, happy to put the powdered potatoes behind him. "I've always had a wanderlust," he said. "I'm 59 now and I think if you've got a bit of a leaning to do something, do it.

"You don't fail if you don't finish, you fail if you don't start."

The West Australian

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