We were up way before the sun this morning and on the road, it is was still well and truly night time, even in my early bird world. The roads we had to ourselves and we wove our way back to Little Akaloa. I am about to get on the water, even if it is only a half day it is further around this cape and that has to be a good thing. There is a chill to the air but at the moment not a breath of wind, what a nice change. I get my gear on and sit and drink my normal peppermint tea with a huge spoonful of honey and am watched like a hawk by Tricia to make sure I eat all my food. It will be the last time I have tinned salmon for breakfast! It was liking eating a can of Dine pet food, I think I have to thank Regan for leaving this gem behind! Not at all enjoyable, but down it went with the rational thinking that it is energy and I would be thankful of this later on.
I jumped into T2 only getting my ankles wet. I adore these calm departures in the early hours of the morning, there was no moon this morning, to me it is always a little weird and haunting not to have a moon shining on the water, but it was not for long. Paddling out of the bay was easy and it is always nice once you are back on the water for a few kms, getting settled into a nice rhythm. Along I went and as I got out of the bay and turned there was a smallish swell with a little breeze, again I have to say this Peninsula is brilliant and the colours in the early hours of this morning continue to blow me away. Browns, tans and black rocks with the turquoise ocean and not a soul to be seen. It stayed this way and soon I was at the first check point, no cell phone coverage so Tricia crackled over the VHF asking how I was going. "All good," was my reply, looking up I see Cuzzie pearched way up on a barren hillside, smiling at me from a distance. She is a character, I know you all think I am probably a little strange talking about our camper van like this but she surely has a personality, one would have to to survive this road trip with us. This check point was Okains Bay, not far as we have shortened the checkpoints for this section and try when and where ever there is a road as there are only a few out to certain Bays. It is a challenge for Tricia and Cuzzie to locate me and chat.
Next check point and as I round a point the swell picks up, my weather forecast said it was 2 to 2.2m swell and it surely was. No wind so it was okay, I tucked into the cliffs and stayed close to them, away from the wind that was picking up. At this stage I had a feeling that I might as well make the most of cave paddling, seal watching, getting up close to the seagulls and shag colonies on the rocks. I cruised in and out of the rocks and the cliffs, still making good time and enjoying just looking up up and up towards the steep cliffs. The seals were not even awake or in the water and they just looked at me like I was disturbing their sleep, a little like my support crew when an early morning pre-dawn alarm goes off, one eye open going, "You have got to be joking."
Enough mucking around and talking with the seals, the gulls have had enough of me as well and I am being dive bombed as I carry on, crazy birds. I am in the entrance to Le Bons, I have only been on the water for 2.5 hours, Tricia and I are at my next checkpoint and it is crunch time. There is a wind building and further round this Cape today the swell is increasing, it is not little and some are 3 meters. I either go another 18 km with wind and swell increasing or make a decision to call it an early day. This hurts my spirit and my mind, but I promised all that I would err on the side of caution. I do not push on to Flea Bay. I doubt my decision all the way in and at one moment did think of turning and heading out again, but I stayed and committed to my decision. I am pleased I did.
Once on the beach we chatted and then we noticed large Pipis on the beach so I went back into the water to do the Pipi dance to locate some more for a snack. Alas I did not locate any as hard as I tried, you have to love Tricia's enthusiasm as she joined in knee deep to help and then produced some huge ones she had found. After quizzing her more I discovered that they were just lying up in the shallows and dear Tricia, bless her, they were just shells filled with sand! Nothing in them to eat, next time or maybe in the morning we will locate some.
Le Bon, I am pleased I came into this bay, it is beautiful, small and like a visit NZ advert. I am happy the wind keeps me on this peninsula as I have found some real gems.
Back loading Cuzzie we chatted with a lovely local, Kate, who had been walking her dog, Boston. It is always cool to listen to people and chat for a while, Kate even offered us hot showers! As we had not even got a sweat up on this leg or got wet we headed on our way to check out the next possible landings and access options. There are not many and the hills are steep and winding, Cuzzie was in first gear at lot of the time so we headed into Akaroa to look around. We were both looking forward to stopping and checking out this little gem, it is beautiful. There is stunning scenery and this is an amazing location. We parked up and where about to jump out and go for a walk when we got the sternest finger waving and biggest frown from a dressing gown clad lady, pointing at her hand made sign on her picket fence "NO CAMPERVANS". Opps, we were blocking her view, so we smiled and moved on, we did not receive a smile back, just another frown. The rest of this little town was filled with tourists and we looked in and out of some of the shops, had a coffee, and then headed back to a beach away from the cold strong wind to rest after such and early start. We both agreed that Little Akaloa and Le Bon were places we would re visit, the smaller bays seem to have far more personality and deeper souls. I feel a little sad that Akaroa has lost hers and that the friendly Kiwi welcome seemed to have disappeared.
When we were rested we set off for the campsite, it is actually cool site, up on the hill looking down into the bay. We are sheltered and ready for dinner, I am looking forward to getting a little bit further along the coast tomorrow, but it is up to the wind gods and my little arms paddling as fast as I can. We have option 1 and option 2 with bail out options as well, lets just see what tomorrow brings.
My smiles today:
To be back on the water, it is wonderful, truly.
For a Facebook comment saying that I look truly happy, and that I am, happy from the inside.
Having a finger waved at me today, it reminded me to smile and hope her day got better. It made Tricia and I both laugh, worse for her as later there was another camper van parked in the location we had been, they must have no been able to read english, dressing gown lady would have been grumpy.
Two sayings I related to today:
If you want something bad enough how much are you prepared to sacrifice? (me creeping around the coastline bit by bit, sacrificing my big long paddling days, but just getting out there and moving forward)
What are you willing to struggle for? Because it seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.
PS: Pipi gathering and paddling tomorrow, maybe some dolphins
PPS: Bye Gerard & Donna, see you on the other side, the west cost. Thanks Corporate Cabs Christchurch, and thanks to Sydney Street B&B