Today is a big day for a couple of reasons, the main one is that I will hit the 1000km mark (!) on my journey today. We firstly thought we would just do a short paddle, come off the water and head back to the same campsite to go foraging for Paua with the locals, but after hearing there were big winds coming by Friday we thought we best push on and get around the next point to Herbertville, about 50 km.
It was 5am in the morning when I headed out on the water. Sunrise and the moon at the same time, what more could you ask for? In my world really not a lot. I have to laugh at myself each morning as I always leave my XL woolen leggings on until the last moment before I step into the kayak. I try to stay warm and snuggly until the last moment with my leggings and my Sharksin jacket on, they are the last two items I stash in my front under deck storage before I depart, and then I am into the kayak and doing it again, always wondering what I will see and what the day will bring.
This coastline as lovely as before, the beaches and bays are long and wide, a stunning section of the NZ coast. I edge past the breakers rolling into one end of Pourerere Beach and wave good bye to the team on the beach. Poor guys, they still find my early starts a challenge but are totally supportive and go about getting me out on the ocean. Then I am sure they breathe a sigh and say, "Yippee, no Red for the next 3 plus hours." (I usually go, shit, I have to be at the next beach in two hours and its a 90 min drive, better get cracking... Nat)
Out on the water the ocean looked like glass and I zoned out to paddle... I then heard a loud "Phish" (the sound of a large whale coming to the surface for air). A little way on the horizon I could see a whale. I am sorry to say for you that by the time I got the camera out it had disappeared and did not surface in range, but so cool for me.
At my 10km mark I sat and looked around and to my amazement right next to my kayak in clear water was a blue shark finding my kayak extremely interesting. I was sad to say I was not sharing any of my food with him as I was hungry and I was sure he did not like chocolate brownie. He swam past me enough times for me to get some video footage and then I was on my way and heading to my first checkpoint. I sent a couple of messages saying that the day was going well and that I had seen more and new fins, YIPPEE!
The day was shaping up really well and the team had said once I had paddled 25km I would be at my 1000km milestone. :) I was not sure now how I actually felt about this, as it seemed huge before I set out on the 27th Oct. By doing just bite size sections each day it has been achievable. Yes there have been some bad times, and rough days, but when the sun comes out and you are the only person on the entire ocean for as far as you can see, it is very special.
1000km DONE! I sat and just looked about, smiled, sort of congratulated myself and did what I had promised to do at this milestone. Mike I thought about an Eskimo Roll, but as I thought about it the wind started to pickup and it reminded me that really and truly I should hurry up and try and get around this next point. I still had another 20+ km to go and there were now whitecaps in the distance!
Another 5km closer to the point and Nat called to say that the wind was extremely strong around the corner and that it looked far to rough to attempt heading around. I took her advice and turned back. I was now in a rather sloppy, rough ocean and headed back for Porongahau Beach. I had also now turned into a, yep you guessed it, the knarliest head wind, and I had 10+km to paddle in a outgoing tide with offshore wind and white caps. This beautiful day had just turned into a wind battle, it was rather brutal and I did think that a couple of times that crying maybe an option. Ha! What was that going to do? Not help me at all! So I just focused smiled each time I was washed totally in sea spray, and told myself, "You wanted to do this journey, so enjoy it and harden up!" I smiled and battled on, I had been in worse.
The sunshine was intense and it kept me warm, so with a bit of a head wind it was a solid workout for me. In slow time the beach got closer and as I neared the beach the gusts calmed a little as I was now under the protection of the hills and sand dunes. By this stage I was pleased to be on the beach, even when I went side ways on a small wave. I actually enjoyed being in the small wave, it was fun to get wet and wash the dried salt off me. Big high fives to Nat once we had carried the kayak to Cuzzie, it was a great day and a (huge) milestone, and I actually feel great.
In the past 1000km this is what we have lost or broken to the ocean:
1x life proof mobile phone cover failed (now replaced with a new and improved case, and then carried in another waterproof case)
1 x iphone (due to lifeproof cover failure)
2 x water bladders (now onto plastic recyclable water bottles)
1 x deck compass.
2 x sponges
1 x kayak flag (I called it my Learners flag).
Big thanks to Colin at the Pourerere Beach Campsite, for his Paua info and also keeping us up to date with the weather and the nearest roadside SPARK mobile points for sending out blog last night.
At all the campsites we have stayed in the caretakers and owners have been really helpful, THANK YOU, we enjoy arriving and chatting.
With a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose in my hand, sitting in the camper van after a dinner of fresh Paua (thanks Paul and Luke), I am still smiling and I am still enjoying paddling. I enjoy the journey most days, and when it is a bad day, someone cracks a joke and we all just have to laugh. It really is the best medicine.
Thanks! Cheers to the next 4000+ km.