Cape Town dad-and-son duo paddle to Robben Island on makeshift raft

Joshua Rubin. (PHOTO: Instagram/AJoshWideAwake)
Joshua Rubin. (PHOTO: Instagram/AJoshWideAwake)

It all started out as a joke.

Joshua Rubin had launched a YouTube channel called Josh Wide Awake and was trying to come up with ideas for videos.

He playfully mentioned paddling to Robben Island on a homemade boat to his family.

“But after a while we were talking about it and it turned into something we became pretty serious about doing,” Josh tells YOU.

Josh and his dad Tony started planning and for the next three weeks worked on creating their makeshift raft.

They have always been an adventurous family who enjoy outdoor activities.

“Especially me and my dad,” Josh says.

So Tony had no hesitation when his son suggested they paddle more than 7km from Big Bay to Robben Island.

The pair used plumbing pipes, wooden planks and metal bars to build the raft. Plastic chairs were fitted on top for them to sit on.

“The only time we spent on the raft before we got on the water was in our pool for four minutes. So there was no preparation at all!”

It was a beautiful sunny day in Big Bay, Cape Town, when they finally set out on their journey.

“It felt absolutely amazing,” Josh says. “We were really happy. It was also my dad’s birthday so that made it all the more special.”

Josh, who works as a documentary photographer and videographer, says that because he isn’t fit he relied on Tony to navigate the craft.

His focus, naturally, was on filming the trip. And the footage is breathtaking.

Pristine blue waters set against a cloudless sky with Table Mountain as a backdrop. . . the images capture nature in all its glory.   

But the trip was anything but plain sailing.

In the first kilometre of their journey they encountered several powerful waves and at one point their raft flipped.

Tony took a knock to the head but fortunately he wasn’t injured.

Josh admits the experience was scary and at one point he was worried about making it to the island.

But after the 1km mark the trip went more smoothly.

Josh and Tony were kitted out in lifejackets and had a boat following them to make sure they were okay.

After three hours of paddling, they reached their destination.

“It was a lot more work than we thought it was going to be,” Josh says. “So it was a huge relief getting there.”

And they wouldn’t hesitate doing it all over again.

In fact, Josh and Tony have already decided that for their next trip they’ll build an even quirkier raft.

“We’re living in tough times, so it was special doing something we’ve never done before,” Josh says.

“It was also the first time we’d been to Robben Island – a lot of new experiences in one day.”

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