Hi Dana

I have just read “Paddle to the Amazon” and on searching for more information on the Internet was saddened to hear of your Dad’s passing last year. What an amazing achievement and experience for the two of you. I would have liked to have congratulated your Dad whilst he was still alive but to both of you well done!!

I am a paddler myself (having done many long endurance surfski and canoe races in my home country South Africa) so know (on a minute scale compared to you) some of the hardships that you went through. For you I’m sure that the physical pain of the trip is much forgotten and only the memories of the incredible experiences you had are left!

I have passed on your details to a friend of mine for inspiration as he is currently paddling along the South African coast from the Namibian boarder to the Mozambique border.

Congratulations once again.

All the best

Andrew Hardie

Hello Dana,

I just wanted to say a big thanks to you and your brother and mainly father, that I could spent time reeding your canoe story. I admire you very much. Your strength and self-discipline. I also play the guitar and I like your music. Your story inspired me and my friends for big journey in Europe. I wish you much success and love in your life. Fulfil your dreams.

Please excuse my english.

Have a nice day.

Ekhard Tomáš (adventure FAN)

from Czech republic

Name: Justin McAnaney
Location: Maine, USA


I found your father’s book, Paddle to the Arctic, in a coffee shop book swap on the island of St. Thomas in the caribbean. I took it home with me to Maine, USA and just finished it. Truly inspiring. Loved meeting your father through his journals.
Thank you.

Recently Dana received an email from a fan with the attached scanned page from an old edition of Paddle to the Amazon.

I am currently reading “Paddle to
the Amazon” It is autographed by Dana, Canoe Orellana and Don. It is made out to someone named Lee, thanking them for the great interview and dated October 27, 1987. Sorry to hear of Don’s passing earlier this year.

Thank you.


Hi Patrik,

Thank you very much for your sentiments about my dad. That date refers to an interview we made during our Canadian book tour.  I’m away from home but have kept a daily diary since 1984.  Please send me a follow up email in May as I’m curious too to know the source of the interview.

Very best to you and thanks again for your thoughts for my dad.


Dana Starkell

Hi Patrik,

I was able to track down a little info on the signature date.  My dad and I were on our Canadian book tour.  We did media interviews in Red Deer, Alberta and then drove to Calgary. My best guess is that Lee was either a radio or television personality in Red Deer.  I tried Googling Red Deer radio and TV but nothing came up so not sure.

You are spot on with the simplicity of our Paddle to the Amazon adventure – for 2 years we had a simple goal – get closer to Belem, and stay healthy and alive.  We overcame obstacles when they stood in our way the best we could and we considered every major screw-up likely to be the best possible thing we could have done as other choices may have led to our demise.

Out of curiosity, in what city did you pick up your copy of Paddle to the Amazon – maybe this is where we can track down Lee.  I will eventually be scanning documentation from that book tour and believe I may have precise details of the interviewer somewhere in my archives.  I will send you an update when I get that done, but it may be a few years before that happens.



Thank you Dana.

I purchased the book through, an online used book organization of some 7-8 mid sized used book dealers in the states. I suspect my copy came from either Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington. I live some 30 miles west of Portland so this gives me reason to believe it came from one of those two locals.

I continue to tell friends and family of this adventure with your Dad with most reactions being that of first surprise that it would even be attempted to eventually amazement you succeeded without peril.

The biggest question my kayaking partner had was how do you paddle against a river current?  I may attempt to purchase him a copy of your book for his birthday.

Happy to hear you are making a living with gift for music and hope you can keep some degree of adventure in your life.

Hope to hear from you again.

Patrik Curtis

Hi Dana,

I am a stand-up comic and avid traveller. I read your dad’s book “Paddle to the Amazon” back in the 80′s and enjoyed it immensely. In fact that book and the journey you guys made, sparked an explorer streak in me. I have done a few canoe trips in the Whiteshell back when I lived in Wpg. Currently my travel passion is motorcycles and, with a spirit like Don himself, I am out to travel as much as I can via my passion. I have even started my own online web series The Planet Tour. I would love to be a part of that commemorative cruise in July. I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to set out living off my motorcycle while doing my business as a stand-up. Would love to discuss this if you have a moment.

Cheers Daryl Makk


I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying Paddle to the Amazon.  I picked up as part to read while recovering from some surgery stack.

What jumped out at me is that once I figured out when it took place is that you and I are of the same generation, I was in my early 20s when you were paddling.  My Dad was born the year after your Dad. Some how that is making the book even more enjoyable.

I just reading wondering how much more physical and mental trials you will endure. Currently you are enjoying the well deserved break in Trinidad

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome read. And wanted to convey how much respect I have for you and your dad to tackle such a challenge. I am into travel myself,  and most of my friends think mine is adventersome. Mainly because I go to places many fellow midwesterners do not.

I also play host  thanks to to long distance bicyclist. So far this season have hosted 26 yr old pedaling from Charleston, SC to Seattle, WA and 62 yr young French man en route from NYC to SF, CA

Thanks for the enjoyable read and having the spirit of adventure

Kevin Kimpel

Hi Dana,

I am Frederic Depke from Germany.
Are you that guy I met in Veracruz, Mexico in 1980/1981? How are you and your father?



Hi Frederic,

If you lived at a house with people like Gabby, Pablo, & Hendreke next to the Gulf of Mexico, then, you bet.

Great to hear from you.

We’ll have to catch up. My Dad will be amazed to know you found us.


Hi Dana,

You cannot believe how happy I am, that I found you! It is great!!! I tried to find you several times over the years. We lived together in the same room in Veracruz and we spent a wonderful time. I still have some photos from you and your father.

Are you still in touch with Gabriel Delgado? I heard from him once, when he came back from your journey with the canoe. How was your journy to South-America with the Canoe?

Best regards


Dear Dana,

You won’t remember me, but I’ve never forgotten you.  Twice you came to the small farming community I grew up in (Roblin, MB) to do a songwriting workshop, the first time would now be around 16 years ago.

The reason I wanted to thank you is beacuse before you came along, I was likely destined to become a farmer stuck in one spot for my whole life.  Then, this really cool guy came along who had done this crazy trip with his dad (I can still remember you saying that you had travelled “Ohhhhh legos!!!”) which planted a seed in me that if you could do that, well, I could probably do anything I want as well.

Because of your inspiration, I am the only member of my family who didn’t become a farmer, the only one who went to university, and the only one who has travelled outside of Canada.  I have lived in Australia, and recently moved back to Winnipeg after spending three years living in the Arctic, in a community called Kugluktuk in the heart of the Northwest Passage.  (I became a psychiatric nurse when I grew up). It was probably still called Coppermine when your dad stopped there on his other trip.

One of my prized possessions is a copy of Paddle to the Amazon that you signed and told me to follow my dreams.

Yes, writing you out of the blue like this is a bit weird, I’m sure.  I’ve found in my line of work, however, that people often have no idea the impact they can have on another person’s life, and I wanted to let you know the impact you have had on mine.

Thank you for helping me to believe in myself.

Kevin Laliberte

“I read paddle to the Arctic first and then found the other one about the Amazon. I have to say it was hard to decide which was better because both stories are so unique. I have read the Arctic one though a few times.

Scott Abramson

Hello Dana,

My name is Dominique and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Paddle to the Amazon. I read it when I was in high school in the mid 90s. The book had a profound impact on me.

Paddle to the Amazon fired my imagination and I dreamed of canoeing from Saskatchewan, where I lived at the time, to New Orleans, but as the years past my dream died.

In November of 2010, my life changed following the death of my hero – my uncle Mitch. Following his death, I knew there would never be a better time to turn my dream into reality.

Starting June 8, 2012, I began my journey on the Frenchman River. My goal was to raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of my uncle who died of a heart attack at age 42. I carried his ashes with me and spread them in his favourite city – New Orleans. I arrived there Jan. 28, 2013.

I can not understate the impact Paddle to the Amazon has had on my life.

Regards and appreciation,


I was at Bronx Park in Winnipeg the night before they left for the trip. I remember that night very clearly even tho I was only 12. My dad took a picture of me sitting in the canoe.I’ve read the book at least 15 times.

I cant wait to see the documentary.Its been too long in coming

I am from the Peg city. I read the book in Grade 4 and was lucky enough to meet and interview the Starkells during a school visit. I think a doc. and movie are a great idea and look forward to sharing them with my students.

Brian Schmeichel

“You can’t lose what you don’t put in…but you can’t win that much either!”