The weather forecast looked a little windy this morning so we had a sleep in and got up just before 6.00am, aiming to drive up the coast a little to check the waves and swells along the coast out near East Cape. The best laid plans...often go askew. The bridge out to the East Cape was under repair and no access for the next 3 days! Fortunately the sea looked calm and the wind was in my favour. We got ready and packed the kayak, planning for the worst case scenario that I have to pull out at a beach with no access and do a sleep over. This was going to be a long day for myself and also Nat, lots of rugged coastline and winding roads.
Section One: Te Araroa to the mouth of the Waiapu River, touch base via VHF, 30km.
Section Two: Waiapu River to Reporua Beach, touch base by VHF, 14 km.
Section Three: Reporua Beach to as far as I could go, aiming if possible to Waipiro Bay, 20km, or otherwise a beach landing and satellite phone call to the support team and do an overnight on the beach.
SECTION ONE: Along the coastline heading to East Cape.
I followed and weaved in and out of the craypots dotted along this coastline, the crayboat was out, it was nice to see them and get a couple of friendly waves. It would have been nicer to get a cray(!) but I did not get close enough to ask. As I rounded East Cape there was a current, yes they were going in crazy directions and at one stage it seemed as though they where meeting in the centre, there was eddies all over the place. Gently and carefully I paddled through and around the waves and breaking water, I went wide and out the back to miss any kind of trouble. The kayak was full with overnight gear so was heavier than usual and I did not want to tip out.
Past the East Cape the wind as predicted had turned and was now a tailwind, with an accompanying swell. In my head I could hear Nat's voice, asking if I wanted my sail for this leg and I was now regretting saying no. :( Off I headed surfing waves and regretting this all the way, thinking this section would have been even faster if only! I hoped that at the first check in I would be able to grab the sail. Ah yes, hope was the only word to use, as there was no chance. Food and water every 10km, making sure I stopped and rested for five minutes, even if just to refocus and look around. VHF check point and feeling good! No chance to go to shore so off I went.
SECTION TWO: Across the river outlet.
I do not enjoy these normally as the water, currents and waves are all over the place. Today with the strong tail wind it did not cause me any problems. Whakarihi Point, this was a charmer for sure! Waves, swells and again out the back to stay safe, which ends up adding on a kilometre to a trip, but better to be safe and cover an extra km than rolling in the surf by trying to do a short cut. I battled through this and headed to our next checkpoint at Reporua Beach. All good, it took me awhile to visually sight Nat as she was parked up on a hillside to get better VHF and there was no road access to the beach. I got in close to the beach away from the tail wind to discuss the next stage and my options. 43km done! It was time to aim for Waipiro Bay which by my GPS was 20km away.
SECTION THREE: How far can I get?
I made the call that with the tailwind and swell in my favour I would try and push to the final meeting point. I could hear in Nat's voice she was a little concerned, I said it was my call and I would tough out the next 2.5 – 3hrs as the weather was looking okay. We agreed to talk in 2.5hrs time, either by VHF or satellite phone. Mobile coverage has been really bad for this entire section, so very pleased we have the other options.
We knew that in a couple of days the winds where going to be way to strong for me to paddle in so today paddle I did. It sure was tough. At least the swell stayed (ever) in my favour, the wind however did not, and had started to swing to a headwind. Kaimoho Point to Whaikahawai Point was intense, but fun. There was waves breaking everywhere, I picked my way through them as best as I could and tried to stay safe, again out wide and to the back of all the breaking sets and the coastline. Once past all this I was able to surf the swells, not many photos this leg as I left my video camera running in my PFD so lots of pocket coverage only!
When it was time to check in 2.5hrs later I was way out the back of some really big swell, but VHF worked so I said I was going to make it to the final location and to keep a look out for me. Within 15 minutes Nat said she had sighted me. It was a good 45 mins before I hit the beach, I stopped and ate a chocolate bar and drank some of my home made sweet lemonade cordial. This gave me enough energy to get to the beach. Pretty impressed with my surf in today, but once I jumped from my kayak to get out of the waves my legs did not really want to work. Ahh well my kayak needed a wash out.
Safe on dry land! Pretty dam pleased with this effort (61.9km!!) and actually looking forward to getting to Tologa Bay tomorrow before the weather turns.
This coastline I think reminds me of Jurassic Park, it is breath taking, wild and I will be back for sure.
Food was waiting on the beach for me and it was SO GOOD (boiled kumera with coconut oil, honey and lashings of salt) Rinsed my gear and had an amazing one pot dinner, mince, bacon and onion is a great combo, with potatoes, broccolili and (my favourite) cabbage. I really do love this vegetable!
With a full tummy I am tired and bed calls. We have no internet so this will be posted in the morning.
Red had an amazing day today, she constantly inspires me with her determination to get up in the dark and paddle everyday! Support crew had a relatively easy day, and stopped off in some breath-taking spots. Managed to get stuck in a ditch in one, and am very thankful to Jason for packing me a shovel and some get out of trouble boards! A couple of days off lined up for Tologa Bay, so if you're around, come visit!