To sum up today before I start, it felt like one step forward and two steps sideways, but that is the nature of this journey...
We woke, we refreshed the weather charts and got ready and on the road back to Le Bon Beach to get underway and launched. With a calm beach sunshine and a positive head on my shoulders we laughed a little, got everything ready and wen down to the beach, then off I went, out onto a calmish ocean. We had waited a little as the wind further around the cape was not dropping until 11am, so an earlier sparrows start was not a wise idea. This trip was an interesting one. as sections I thought would be flat and calm it was the commercial washing machine at it's finest hour and at times I seriously thought I had got the weather wrong. The points that I was going around were extremely messy and all over the place so I took my time, watched and read the waves as they aimed at me from every angle. There was calm moments and there were beautiful bays, coast and rock formations to keep my mind occupied. The Dolphins came to play and then would disappear and then a different set would turn up. I think I had at least a dozen sightings today as well as a group stay and play around my bow for about ten minutes. This always makes the time go quickly and the kms ticked over, there was no cell phone coverage and no VHF check points until I had covered 30kms, all the way to the point by the entrance to the Akaroa Bays. Poor Tricia was wondering how I was getting on and had been on her own adventures while I paddled, trying to find a possible point she may see me from or be able to get cell phone coverage or a VHF to me. Tight turn arounds and gravel had her heart racing and Cuzzies wheels spinning a couple of times as she chatted to the local farmers for directions and possible access points. There was to be no luck on her side of the hills, at one time she said that she did not dare look to her right as she was so close to the cliffs and it was rather scary, the poor support crew.
Tricia has had a great time chatting to locals today first up was at Le Bon, then Alan a local on holiday stopped for a chat when she was leaving Le Bon. The Farmer when she was on her adventure and then the local Kelp Farmer, Peter, so her time waiting for me was entertaining, in fact she only had time for one coffee the entire day I was on the water.
For me the paddling was going okay, a couple of fishermen watched me rise and fall in and out of some big swells and I am sure there was a small frown on their faces as I picked my way through the waves and swell. It was only on the points and then calmed down again as I got past and into the bays. Along the way I filmed some video footage of the coastline, the water and the waves I was going through so others could see that the ocean was not as calm as the bays we all sit and look out at, dreaming of a perfect calm, like a Fijian lagoon. It was not and my weather window for the other end to make it to Te Oka was again disappearing. As I got closer to Akaroa Point, the lighthouse and cliff I tried the VHF, no answer. After the third attempt along the way Tricia replied and we were back in coverage. I think it is harder for the support team waiting than for me paddling on these silent sections.
So the discussion started about the weather, the distances left to cover and option 1 or 2. As I sat the point was calm and blue, I looked and it was hard to go and believe the wind was going to lift and make my life miserable, but talking with Tricia we made the call and memory of the bigger than expected swells and washing machine paddling earlier swayed me to turn in towards Wainui. A sort of side ways move, but, we had agreed and it made everyone, support team and myself, feel comfortable. Off I headed, I played with some more dolphins and then saw three dolphin boats scattered about with their customers swimming in the water with some of the friendlier Hectors. One boat headed my way so I pointed to the small pod I had just left and waved good bye. They gave me the thumbs up, thank you, and headed to have some fun.
As like magic he wind arrived and it built steadily as I got out and started to cross to Wainui. I was actually surfing with an extremely brisk tail wind, I got some way cool runs and was motoring along, no skirt on and just my thigh braces, keeping me cool but still secure. Waves would wash into my cockpit once in a while so I paddled with the Venturi open and listened to it gurgle as it sucked the water out at great speed. I love this little piece of equipment! I was making great time, I spoke with Tricia as I spotted her on the beach parked in Cuzzie, she could not locate me as there were too many white caps. Within no time I was aiming at her feet and paddling into shore, a very quick ten km done and dusted, and the weather gods telling me a big congrats for listening to my inner feelings. We had called this correctly, it would have been unpleasant on the outside of the Peninsula now, so big smiles, sunshine and a high five to the support team for their gentle persuasion to call it a day at 40 km. We were loaded and in the sunshine chatting, drinking coconut water and sharing my whittakers chocolate bar and in no time at all we were ready to hit the road to the nearest campsite. On the way we stopped off again at the small cheese factory for Tricia and it was as cool as the first visit.
The campsite is great, the veiw is pretty stunning and the wind has dropped, yep dropped. Of course it has, just to torment me! It is 8.30pm at night and it is picking up even in the tranquil bay we are in by midnight, and out on the coast, well you have guessed it, big winds and southerlies. I am frustrated, it is so deceiving, calm where you are and blowing a gale further where you need to go. I have about 350 kms to get to Dunedin and it might as well be 3000 kms! I will get there but I have jinxed it and booked a flight for Nat's return into Dunedin, and would you guess, I am never going to be there by the 18th of January when her flight arrives. So much for pre planning, I will never learn.
Frustrations aside, everything happens for a reason and we have seen and are seeing this wonderful Cape bit by bit. Tonight we are in a beautiful location, we have cool and lovely people and tonight we meet a cool couple, Ford & Lena, they have a great little VW Combi camper. So cool, brown and cream, as we watched them pull in and parkup we smiled and got chatting. They have had a bad, stressful day on the Akoroa, we joined them to laugh and share horrendous stories. Ford when we complimented him on the cute VW van, just said, "OMG this piece of Sh**?" and we all just cracked up laughing.
Coffee, chocolate, a gossip and story telling after they have cooked their dinner. We have loaned them out baby Weber to cook up a storm as we have had the yummiest roast chicken cooked on this little BBQ, with sweetcorn and stir-fried greens, yumbo. Tricia has cooked up a storm. Dishes done, showered and warm, we are off to gossip, tell stories and enjoy, as no paddling tomorrow, and that is getting a little boring I have to say.
My smiles today:
Dolphins from Le Bons bay (biggest smile of any day)
Listening to the waves and ocean as I paddled along
BBQ CHICKEN and fresh sweetcorn
Laughing with new people about our daily adventures
Sitting on an old family blanket in the sun sharing chips and sipping on a stout shandy, just like my Grandad liked.
My thoughts today:
Actions speak louder than words. This saying is so true, my my. Sometimes you will never know The true value of a moment until it is a memory
Ciao from Duvauchelle Campsite
Red & Tricia and Cuzzie.