Day 350...40kms North

Monday 10 October 2016

Whenever the weather gives me a chance to paddle, I most certainly try to do so, so it was a normal paddling morning for the team. I paddled out of New Plymouth harbour at 6.40am and headed towards my first checkpoint at Waitara. Surfers were out on the waves closer in and, as Anna stood at the edge of the river mouth, we had a brief chat. Then I headed further north and we confirmed my next checkpoint would be at Wai-iti, three hours away for me and probably a thirty-minute drive for the support crew.

As I paddled, I looked up at the cliffs. There was green grass to the edge then sudden, steep drops, with brown and rusty-red earth that’s being washed away by the ocean. Cool nooks and caves have been formed along this section of the coast. On the way, I passed the huge Methanex factory with smoke and steam pouring out of all the chimneys.

As I turned to wave goodbye to New Plymouth, Mount Taranaki was clear and in full view. It’s a bluebird day and, as I paddle along, I give thanks to the sky for the beautiful conditions. There are always two or three big rolling swells that seem to barrel through as I paddle along but none of them are breaking until they’re very close into the shore. In other words, a pleasant enough paddle so far, with bright blue skies, sunshine and only a rolling swell. As usual, a nice day doesn’t always last and, true to form, the weather is due to turn by 3pm. I’m always a little tentative, knowing by now that this anomaly mostly seems to arrive early and arrive early it did! Just before Wai-iti, the wind turned, picked up the swell and almost before I knew it the ocean had gone from peaceful to white caps in under an hour.

Mother Nature sure doesn’t make it easy. As I got closer to the checkpoint, I was debating with myself on whether to push for another 28 kms or end the day at 40 kms. For once it seemed that my head did the talking and not my heart! I knew there was an okay beach or river mouth at Mokau. Then a few more swells and ocean spray passed by me. I managed to contact Anna to tell her I was landing, then locked everything down, wave-counted and paddled hard towards the beach.

I could feel the drag of a wave forming right behind me. I’d got that wave count a little wrong, but there wasn’t much else I could do once I was committed. I was very close to the beach when the water and foam actually hit me so I was a little damper than I might have hoped for but not that bad all things considered. Once on the beach, Anna said she was relieved I’d decided not to continue any further. As the wind was whistling off the ocean by then, I agreed wholeheartedly! Even when we were off the beach and back by Cuzzie, Louise was being rocked by the stiff ocean wind that had certainly picked up even more speed by then. We couldn’t even keep Cuzzie’s back doors open while we were packing down because the wind kept blowing them closed again.

Was it good to be off the ocean early? Yes and no is the only way I can answer that! Yes, because it was my head that took control. No, because I like to make it to the furthest possible destination each paddle day. First some popcorn and sunshine while sheltering from the cool wind. Then it was back towards the city to grab some needed items. Although New Plymouth let me paddle today and I may well now be in Wai-iti, I’m still not that far north. It looks like it’s going to be sunny again tomorrow but it also looks as if the winds are going to be back. In a weird kind of way, I just have to laugh at Mother Nature and say “Thanks for giving me at least one day of paddling,” and we’ll be back training in the meantime.

My smiles today:
I paddled. Yahoo!
Wai-iti. A wetter landing than I might have wished for.
Blue sky day and Mount Taranaki in full view.
The heat of the spring sunshine.

My thoughts today:
Nothing happens without total focus, so break down your big vision into small goals and take it one step at a time.

Goodnight from Red and Anna.

Ma Te Wa.

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The cliffs.

The cliffs.