I am not sure where to start as this news of my crossing is out, thank you all for the messages. Honestly many have done this before me and I just followed their paddle strokes.
How it began... we scanned, we read, we re-read the weather apps, we talked with the local gurus about this weather window, we have been watching for the past three days and we have been hoping. As Wednesday progressed I got gradually more and more tense at this next upcoming section of my trip. All of the normal doubt, and probably more this time as there is so much written and said about the strait and how it can turn nasty really quickly was with me, but fortunately the day also speed past. It was like one of the most looming intense days of my life, all was unknown to me. I was told about and read some of the nightmare stories. Some great paddlers have turned back from this trip due to incorrect forecasts and I was nervous that I may become one of them.
I managed two hours sleep, I was up at midnight and wanted to be on my way and paddling by 2am. I sat in the passengers seat spooning breakfast into my mouth, steak, potatoes, avocado, olive oil and tahini dressing. This is normally not a problem but today it was, my mouth was dry, it was hard to swallow my food but shit I knew I had to eat, or hug a great big energy wall before finishing this day! T2 was slowly packed. I could see a mirror calm ocean with an amazing near on full moon. This also meant bigger than I wanted tides, but all the other weather was aligned.
Big hugs to Jase, (support crew) a re-check on the plan and calls and then I had to start. I had a tail wind, a small outgoing swell and still an out going tide. Then I was off! I would check in each hour with the crew and at the third hour either make a decision, keep going if all good or if in doubt turn around and return to Makara Beach to regroup for another day.
First hour all good.
Second hour all good.
Third hour still all good, so no return now, I was not brave enough to even think it would stay this calm. I was certainly still waiting on big waves, a bigger swell or to be paddling for my life from a cruise liner!
Fourth hour, I did not read the current and speed very well and had aimed far to high! I readjusted my course so I did not miss the tip of the island.
Fifth hour, paddling extra now from my overshoot, I managed to add 5 km to this section.
Sixth hour, I wanted to eat but there was too much current still and a chop. I had to keep pushing on until I was just about to cross the Tory channel section. Then it was food, more liquid and I could dare to stop and breathe.
The rest of the five hours I had mainly a tailwind with a swell going with me. A few sections had some washing machine swells but I got happier as I edged down this coast towards Whites Beach. I was trying to only stop every hour for a break, water and some mouthfuls of food but for those watching in Yachtbot, I do stop to remove extra clothing as the day warms up and I try and drink all my fluids. I also have to stop every now and then to recheck directions and distances to go. The battery life on my phone and Garmin watch are being stretched today so I was being careful to keep their use to a minimum.
There were plenty of sweet little blue penguins, gannets and other bird life, but Mother Nature did not send me any fish, dolphins, whales or sharks to see on todays adventure. I at last got to Whites Beach. I was not expecting to see anyone on the beach so I mucked around off in the sea, then I heard my name being called! How cool it was to see Gerry Maire, what an amazing surprise. Once on the beach and when my legs were working again, I managed a cold shower and ate some food. I needed a slept so I headed to the beach and did just that, it was great to fall asleep listening to the waves, and you can bet I was totally smiling.
This Christmas Eve will not ever be forgotten. Thank you Wellington for this window to 'gap it' across the strait, I am forever grateful. The biggest THANK YOU to the people who have mentored me on this section, without you I am unsure I would be this far. Thank you to the ones who watched my Yachtbot progress, sorry for the diversion! Thank you Whites Beach for this amazing sunny afternoon.
And now my journey really begins, Te Waipounamu, the South Island.
I am still waiting on my team to arrive, but I have food, bedding and my bivvie tent so I think I will be asleep until they arrive. Big ups to my Goal Zero solar pack recharging kit, you are doing me well. Time for a lie down also and an early night as father Christmas is coming. I am smiling! It has been a very special day, in fact it will take me a little while to find the words to describe how special and any more hours paddling to understand my feelings, my craziness, my mind and my need to do this journey.
Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night,