The alarm was set for an early morning start, we were in Blenheim overnight after picking up Tricia from the airport on her later flight. We had a 45 min drive back to my launch location and we were up bright and early as the weather window was going to be small today, we had planned always to be off the water by 10.30 am as this is when the wind was picking up.
Poor Tricia, her first day with us and I was up and moving everyone at 3.30am. As I got ready and went about getting food and a large cup of hot sweet peppermint tea into me Jase and Tricia packed up Cuzzie and we were on the road actually ahead of schedule, what a luxury to have two support crew. They chatted as we drove along a well driven section of the road with Jase retelling locations along the way. Wineries, the saltworks and the lakes. It is a great time first thing in the morning as we wound and wove up and over back to the departure beach Kekerengu. There was not to be any paddling till about 6.30/7.00 am when the wind started to drop.
We arrived and the wind was still brisk and rather cool, the poor support team were in there hoodies, leggings and jackets to try and keep warm. I went for a long walk down to the beach and along it for awhile trying to locate a section that looked okay. We checked the updated weather and it was looking okay to go. As we got ready the waves where I landed were crashing into the beach, I was not looking forward to this launch. We carried T2 down to the beach and then along a little way to the point, it was a little calmer there and so with a massive shove by Jason into some waves I was up and over, with a couple of waves trying to fill my cockpit. Now this is a reason why I luv my little STAR, she paddles even when I am knee deep in water and once I get out the back of the waves I just empty her by the Venturi that is fitted in the bottom by my feet. It is a great way of warming up with a quick fast 50 paddle strokes and she is empty and ready for me to skirt up and get going, no pump needed on T2.
Settled in and on my way, it was in my mind to get this done before the wind arrives and at least you are ticking off some kilometres, even if it was only 15 km. My weather window was only about three hours and I did not want to risk getting stuck on the water when turned, not be near a good pull out point and crash land on the stone beaches. Then I would have to drag T2, my gear and I up a step bank, across the railways lines and then get to the camper van some how. Checkpoints and timings we did each hour, I was enjoying this paddle today even after getting wet at the start. The weather and the wind was helping me today, wave riding and swells in my favour and the wind was dropping quickly, but still a nice small tail breeze.
Checkpoint was at Pigeon Hill , we did mobile contact before that as the team said that this location was not going to be ideal for an exit option. They went on a scan down the coastline and by the time I got to Pigeon Hill they had some good news, Mr Have-a-chat, aka Jase, had located a cray fisherman a couple more bays around and he had informed them the wind was now not picking up till after midday and he suggested the best pullout point was another 16km away. Off I went around Clarence Point, over the large river mouth (dirty turbulent & rough river mouths), surfed on the waves and swell then aimed at the turquiose waters in the distance past the turbulent waters. Along this next section of water I sighted three separate Hector dolphins but only briefly as they seem to shy away from my kayak as soon as they notice me. What a shame, still no pics of these gorgeous creatures. I surfed most of the way along to the final location, seeing the team with there pink tops on the point and Cuzzie with my white kayak Louise on the roof. It was a great sight. I had beaten the wind so I made a VHF call to them to get my final landing location. I was tempted to suggest I push onto Kaikoura but as I was thinking about it I felt this brisk breeze start to pickup behind me and thought better of this idea, listen to the ocas and get off the water when they suggest. It was brilliant to have got an extra two hours on the water as it was, thanks Mr Have-a-chat for talking.
As I was landing there were rocks scattered in the shallows so was watching them when a bigger than average wave picked me up. I thought it would go under me and that I would miss catching it in but oh no off I went like a surfer down the wave. Surf, surf, surf, massive bracing and leaning right back, keeping the nose of T2 up. I damn well nailed this landing! I was stoked as typically there were spectators on the beach waiting for some wave and kayak misfortune to happen butI was not to be their entertainment for today. It was a beautiful landing and I took the crew by surprise. Support person's No 1 missed the landing as had stopped to pat a cute dog on the beach(!) and No 2 was a little shocked by my quicker than predicted landing and was expecting me to be aiming their way and not where I landed. It was bliss to have two of them, as they carried my kayak up to Cuzzie I strolled along with just my paddle, how special did I feel. I chatted to a family on the beach enjoying a blissful South Island summers day. Kids surfing and having fun in the sun, bliss.
Back at Cuzzie the team had made me 'Nothing Soup,' yumbo. It was great to have something warm and scrumptious after my paddle. Off we headed to the campsite. We hooked up to power, got my gear washed and blowing in the wind, brewed up coffee and sat in the sun. We planned tomorrows leg of the journey and generally enjoyed being tucked away from the now strong wind and warming up in the sun. Low tide was upon us and so we headed to the beach for Jase to try and locate a cray or two for us. I was not keen to get wet again so I lay on the beach and just rested, nodding off to sleep and then being woken by the train going past. What a cool trip that would be in the train looking out at the ocean. We waved to them as they passed, bikini clad girls and wetsuit clad Jase, what a sight for the train passengers. Alas no crayfish.
Friends of ours were passing through (Kate, Erin and kids) so we stopped and had a chat with them. It seems that a number of people we know are in the South Island at the moment, how way cool is that, it is nice to see everyone relaxed and chilling on their summer break.
Talking about summer breaks, normally I would be at Hahei beach in the Coromandel at this time of the year and it seems a little strange not be be at our regular haunt. Getting up early, running to Cathedral Cove in the mornings, swimming, boating, fishing and chatting to the regular campsite people around us that we see once a year. Thanks Trent Smith for keeping us updated with pics and Facebook, I will be back. I hope the campsite is there for the 2016/2017 summer.
My smiles for today:
More Hector Dolphins, it is a special moment each time I see the fins.
Locals walking out of the water with Paua stuffed inside their wet suits looking like they have deformed shapes inside and the main beach transport is quad bikes racing along the beaches at low tide, gathering food for their summer dinners.
Another sunny South Island day, this is always amazing to me.
Seeing Cuzzie on the hillside waiting for me. I feel she is smiling in a crazy cartoon manner (she has a personality).
Eating Sausages, mashed potato, fried onions and an entree of Paua.
My thoughts where light hearted and fun today on the water. This kayaking gypsy has had a great day.
Tomorrow hoping to get past Kaikoura.
PS. Today was amazeballs!