At 4.30 am I was up and looking forward to a big days paddle. The support team and I were on the road and down onto the beach promptly, they shoved me onto the water at 6.00 am. I got a little wet but nothing too bad. Off I headed to get some km's under way, as I headed out of the bay the temperature was a little cooler than I wanted it to be and I hoped the wind would drop as it was forecast. The coastline is next to the road for the first part of this section of my paddle, I see Cuzzie whizz past and ahead of me. They have an easy job some days, once they have the crazy redhead on the water there is two hours of peace for them both. There were lots of seals scattered along this coast line on the rocks and banks as I paddled by.
About 30 mins into my paddle I see Cuzzie parked on the side of the road, "Is there a problem?" I wonder. I try and call but no service so I VHF but no reply. I cannot see either of the crew so I shrug my shoulders and head off again, not a lot I can do. Later on I discover they were on a scenic walking track watching the seal pups play in the stream and waterfalls, such a nice life for them, but this was about to change. The southerly head wind was not going away, it was increasing (it was meant to be 7 knots, ha) and there was a steady stream of white caps coming towards me with a relentless chop. The 12 km to my first check point took me rather a long time to reach and when I was asked how I was feeling I did not describe this paddle as pleasant to the team. This long planned paddle was not going to be a happening event, so much for forward planning and weather patterns arriving early. The team on land said the landing point was not pleasant and there were surfers scattered about as well. That said it all about this beach so off they headed to find me a beach that may be better along the upcoming coastline.
Now was time for the fun to begin. Around the point I slowly went, head wind and a big, big surfers swell. I watched and keept out the back of the surf sets, up and over T2 and I rolled over some massive waves, disappearing behind them to Tricia's horror, and then rising back up on the next one. Jase was honest and said if you land here we will get you out but it is not going to be nice. My thoughts were if it ain't going to be a nice landing then for goodness sake imagine the joys and water to get myself back over this ugly beach when it comes time depart. The swell is due to get bigger in the next few days. To my left and in the horizon was Kaikoura, so with I looked at the beach one last time and made my decision. I said to the team, "See you in Kaikoura. Find me a beach that is pleasant and tucked away from the southerly wind." In my thinking it would be closest to the cliffs on the opposite side of the bay, typical, the furthest distance to have to paddle.
As the crew headed back to Cuzzie, off I paddled and the head wind battle began. So much fun! At least the hector dolphins came and said hello, I saw at least six today across this next section of paddling. That was the nicest part of my next two hours, as along the coast line it was sad to see a whale on the beach with a group of DOC staff members there. It is sad when you see a beautiful creature like this dead on the beach. I pushed on trying to focus on my final goal and making slow head way. My mood was not a happy one and we communicated on and off via VHF. It was probably a good thing that I had to be pleasant to the crew as I knew others could be listening to this channel, a couple of times today this was a little difficult as I was trying to see the land marks they were talking about as I paddling along and it seemed to take forever to sight Cuzzie parked on the beach in the distance and then finally the pink shirts (thanks guys). As I got closer the wind was getting a little more bearable, the sea was flattening and I was making headway. I was grumpy as this day was not meant to be this short in distance but also pleased and relieved to have not gone around the Kaikoura Peninsula and East Head Point as it would not have been pleasant. We had called it a day, 30km and it was over (in fact probably less km).
We loaded up T2, I ate and sculled a litre of coconut water, I then lay in the back of Cuzzie and slept while we drove to the campsite. I was tired and needed to rest my grumpy mind and tired body. Let me try and explain, for all of you who paddle you will understand head winds and hard paddling but for others today was like running up hill for the entire time today. Far harder and more tiring than a flat or down hill run.
We have found a great campsite, nine km down the coastline by the beach. There are picnic tables and space the spread out, the awning is out as the sun is damn hot. Drinking coffees we all are now feeling better about today. The wind gods won but the sun gods were making me smile again, see something good has come from this less than perfect morning, it seems to always be like that, just it takes time to see the good bits.
Swells are picking up and the southerly is too, it is looking like Kaikoura is where we are going to be spending New Year's eve. The whale and dolphin boats have cancelled their trips today and for the next few days, that says it all about the pending weather. We will be exploring inland and the coasts on foot and with Cuzzie I am feeling, this will be way cool fun.
Tonight we are heading for fish and chips in Kaikoura and a supermarket supply run. Soon I will be back on the water but how cool to be seeing everything new and exciting along the way. I am now not stressing about the wind as it gives me time to see things from shore. It would be nice to get lots of continuous days on the water but that is not how mother nature is dealing out my cards at the moment, so I am not bashing my head, just taking a diversion for a few days and then returning to my ocean journey.
Smiles for today:
Making it to Kaikoura, that was a big smile once I had shaken the grumps away due to the damn wind.
The amazing showers at this campsite, they have to be in the top one or two so far on this journey.
The download from the team as they described me disappearing over the backs of some huge waves and their description of events from the shore.
Dolphins again, five days in a row, that is magic stuff.
My thoughts today, something good always appears soon after a bad moment. Today it was the yuck head wind and then the sun gods rescued my mood. Fish and chips, here we come!