I went to bed thinking that today would be a little tough. I woke with a calm sea and calm skies and it was warmer than I expected. That calm feeling only lasted until I popped the head of my red kayak around the point, and yes, as I thought, two metre plus swells greeted me. Do you love big seas? Well I like them as a rule, but at the start of a new day and when you have been off the water for two days the idea of swells was not plesant. With a big swell one side and then the swell backwash from the steep cliffs on the other, ohhh yes it was so much fun. Then I had a strong cold southerly blowing at me and the next 12kms was a time to reflect on what I was doing. I was convincing myself at every paddle stroke that I was coming off the water at the first VHF checkpoint. What would you know, the waves and surf were so BIG at that point, there were surfers out and also Jetskiers riding the waves. Much fun for them but for me to actually land was going to be a bad experience. Totally entertaining for Nat and anyone on the beach but not something I wanted to display. And I would have been OH SO grumpy with myself for packing it in early.
I could see sunshine and I just had to try to get closer to the cliff face in front of me, get some calm away from the wind and drink the thermos of coffee that Nat had made for me earlier. After a rather one sided conversation on the VHF and concerned comments from Nat I pushed on, hoping the Predict Wind App was telling the truth and the wind was going to drop and swing to be more beneficial.
I got to the calmer area and I got to sit in the sun, drink my coffee and regroup my rather ugly negative thoughts. I said " SO" to myself and sat for a good 20mins soaking up the sun and thinking...
Then it was around the next point out the back of more breakers and I had 17km to cover. I refocused and concentrated on everything in front of me. I looked later at my Garmin to realise I had covered 14km of my next leg. I actually got a bit of a fright as it seemed a little easier and it was great that I had been so focused on my paddling and the waves and the sunshine that this middle section had flown past. I smiled inside and thanked all for helping me push past that ugly first 10km and was pleased I had pressed on.
I tried to VHF at the next point but only got a little coverage and then they had gone. With no mobile and no VHF I paddled to the far end of Whangara Beach, hoping to see them there. The only good thing at this end of the beach was I was sheltered from the wind and swell so I got to sit and rest. No sight of the team (later I discovered they had been there but it had taken me too long to get to that end of the beach they thought I had gone past) but no worries, I had to head back out and around as the cut through was a no go, to shallow and way to much surf on the other side. Out over the swell again and to a safe distance to head to the next checkpoint which was 12km further on at Tatapouri.
I paddled this section till the 6km mark and at this stage could see caravans and campsites so headed in that direction. At 8.5km I thought cool, a beach I can see people, and I tried the team on the VHF. They picked up and said they were on the beach...well for the life of me as I got closer not a pink top to be seen. No VHF coverage with them initially, then we made scratchy contact, this was strange as the closer I got, the worse the contact was. It got worse and worse and then non existant! By this stage, my dear Nat, had run back down the road over a hill and in the distance I could see this pink shirt! I was a bay early! I should have known as my Garmin does not get distances wrong. Oh well that was 30mins of rest and I assured them I was fine to paddle onto towards the campsite.
After that it was all good. I managed to sneak in through the rocks and breakers and land at the boat ramp. There was a group further along feeding stingray as I pulled onto the sand. A nice landing, and the BEST part of the day, in fact the best part of each day is when I see the pink shirts on the beach! That actually rocks my world.
THANKS SUPPORT TEAM. I am in debt to you all.
Food, water and lots of coffee needed as lack of food today on the water. Oops, yes I was bad today and am sure I will suffer for not eating enough. The team had a yummy coffee ready so I sat and ate brownie with honey, coconut oil and a large, hot, sweet coffee. A blissful shower to get warm and a full tummy...happy Red.
That is it from me tonight, Nat is off to Auckland for a week and Reg is in the KSP role.