We went to bed as the fireworks started at our campsite 9.30pm! Jase had his ear plugs in, I just turned over and went to sleep as per normal and Tricia was in her single bed space in the walk way of Cuzzie. Both of them were entertained by the fireworks and at midnight, even I stirred a little as the fireworks reached a crescendo of noise. Before too long it was 3.30 am and we were having to get up as this crazy red head wanted to be on the water by 5.00 am to make the most of this day. "Make hay while the sun shines.” I think is the newest slogan on the walls of Cuzzie. So when it is fine and sunny and paddling weather I have to try and go as far as possible before I am allowed off the water for the day, so a 66km paddle was planned. It was weighing on my mind a little as we got ready, food heated and tea made. I settle in my seat for a drive to my launching beach. I am finding it hard to swallow this food today as it is so damn early to be force feeding myself with steak, potato & broccoli, mmmmm. I need the fuel to get going and give me the energy to push on down the coastline at a good speed. Check points set and I was tracking okay for time.
Checkpoint one: My smile was with me as dolphins headed towards me jumping completely out of the water as the sun was rising, this was going to be a good day. At Pinnacle Rocks I see the team. We chat via VHF and I tell them about the dolphin citing, hope the video footage is good and on I go.
Checkpoint two: Oaro is my next checkpoint and all is going well. The weather is as predicted and doing what it was forecast to do. It is a little bit too still if I have anything to complain about, but, I am not complaining because no whistling wind is a good thing.
Checkpoint three: Around the point I go and dare to cut across the swells and small turbulent section of water and get to the start of this large river mouth, Claverley. Now this was the last location the team could chat. If I wanted to pull out now there was a massive black beach with dumping surf. I was asked the question, "Are you okay to continue?” I really had to push on. This was too short a day so off I headed for the final 33km!
Now, how my mind works to get over this next hurdle, I look at another 30 plus kms and it actually plays with my mind, so I just break it down to 3 x 10 km sections. I paddle ten km then rest, eat and drink for ten minutes, then repeat this three times. Small sections at a time but as I head off I see a couple of Hector dolphins. I expected them to disappear asap, as they have done for the past few sightings, but today they stayed with me for the next thirty kilometres. They kept me company along this long section of coastline, in and out of the milky blue water of the river mouths to the clear blue sections of ocean. When I thought they had got bored and disappeared, back they came. Always the first to appear at my bow was the small baby calf, so cute. There was about a dozen in this pod and they danced, frolicked, jumped and whizzed under my bow and entertained me for the next long section. The video footage is truly amazing. SONY Action Cam, you have succeeded today in capturing the best 2016 moment so far. My biggest thank you to the SONY team. There is no cell phone coverage for this leg, so once I got about 7 km from Gore Beach, I tried the VHF. The support crew answered and let me know firstly that the beach landing is a surf beach and they wanted to know how was I felt about that. I said, "Ah well if it ends with me swimming that is okay. I still have about an hours paddle and my dolphin friends are making me laugh." If I slow down or stop to sit and readjust stuff or try and drink all my fluids, they too slow down and just chill beneath the hull of T2 as if to say come on we want to play. They escort me to the final large rocks before I head towards the surf and then the pod are gone. All I can say is this was truly spectacular. I feel honoured and it has been a privilege to have them with me on my first day of 2016, it will never be forgotten.
As I cross the bay to the middle of the beach the surf and waves are surely there. Just what you need at the end of a big paddle! I talk with the team on land and then lock down and pack away everything in my red deck bag and then gradually inch my way closer and closer to the shoreline, back paddling when needed and waiting until I try and race in the back of that big wave and paddle, paddle, paddle towards the beach. I nearly made it to the beach but when I got caught by a smaller wave I did not brace enough into the wave. I was only just short of landing easily out of the kayak, standing up immediately in water waist deep. T2 speed towards Jase who was waiting thigh deep in the waves. All and all after a really hot day on the water, it was nice to get wet, nice to rinse myself and T2 off. Then I sat on the beach. As I sat a little Asian man wandered up to me and ask if I had seen his Kontiki unit out the back of the waves. My answer was yes. His line had broken and he was hinting that myself and T2 could maybe head back and grab this for him. I suggested kindly that the surfers further down the beach would be his best bet, so off he wandered to ask them. They did succeed and returned his Kontiki to him. I do hope there was some kind of reward for their efforts as it was an outgoing tide and his unit was way out the back by this stage of the day.
We loaded T2 onto Cuzzie, Tricia was doing a great job, her worst fear is to drop T2, I assured her that everything was fine. Jase has been a fab help on this trip. Tim the Tool Man is great when we need practical things done and his patience with all situations is astounding, most of the time he is calm and tranquil. Sometimes he can be a tad bossy, but I am surely not perfect either. I get changed and out of my wet clothes and just as I go to strip off in Cuzzie our lovely campsite owner drives up to see how I got on and have a chat. Terry, now you are special, your humour and wit has me laughing within moments of meeting you, I gave him a huge hug and we went off to see Susan, his wife, at the campsite and get clean, washed and fed.
Now I forgot my brownie today for the trip, so on arrival I had a large bowl of it, topped with Coconut Chocolate Ice cream and some coconut cream yoghurt. I had been dreaming of this for the last section of my trip and it was spectacular, I then washed it down with a well deserved honey sweetened coffee. Delicious.
The video footage was viewed and we have some stunning footage. Tricia and Jase are both transfixed with the dolphins and how close they were to me for so long. It was nice for them both to see this for themselves and feel the experience as well. Even Tricia said she would paddle with me if she could experience this on the water.
My gear is drying, Tricia is getting dinner sorted and Jase (Tim the Tool Man) is on a mission. The side door of Cuzzie has decided to lock permanently and he is looking for a way to repair it. There is a little bit of sighing and chaos in the camper van at the moment but if anybody is going to fix this problem, it will be Jase.
Tonight I am going to have my New Years Eve cider, as tomorrow looks like a stop in Gore Bay. The southerly wind is increasing, so it is a bit of a stop start leg to Christchurch, but we will get there, the dolphins told me so.
My Smiles for today:
Dolphins, how amazing. You can not help not smiling. What gorgeous creatures.
2016, the first day of this New Year was a success and I am smiling about this year.
Big day and I completed it all.
The final wave, the one that tipped me, I had to laugh at this today. It was actually rather fun, and totally my error.
Trying to get changed in Cuzzie as Kerry arrived to say hello, we all laughed at me being nearly butt naked for his welcome to Gore.
My deepest thoughts for today:
I always have a quiet thoughtful time in the early hours of a New Years morning. It is my son’s birthday, as of 1.42am in the morning. 01/01/89 he was born 27 years ago. It is a strange time for me, each year as I always seem to contemplate his life and wonder how and what I could have done differently as we now have very separate lives. We have too many differences, thoughts and outlooks on life and at present it is for him to find his own place and destiny and look inside for his own life answers to find his ME inside. Like all Mum’s do, I have tried to be his angel and solve all for him, but I have realised in the early part of 2015 that the only person that can help now is my son. He will discover life and his meaning and his own journey as he grows and develops in his life, maybe then we will reconnect, when we both have a new found respect for each other.
For me having someone in your life who suffers from depression or a mental illness can be expressed by the following:
It is like a massive grenade exploding in your lap, the closer you are to the person who is the sufferer the more damage occurs to you and then the shrapnel/ fallout damages and effects others about you. Sometimes this damage never will heal, it is a lifetime wound.