Wednesday 23 November 2016
Up before dawn and awake throughout the early hours of the morning way too often, waiting for my alarm to ring. In fact, in the end, I just got up before the alarm went off and started to get ready for a paddling day, for I was determined to get moving north. I was, however, a little concerned today as when the weather rolled last night the wind forecast had, of course, picked up. How typical and if I didn’t get out of Raglan today and further north I would maybe miss an opportunity.
With Bianca on her first day as support crew along this coast, we got ready. We drove Cuzzie to Manu boat ramp and ignored the wind as I climbed onto the roof and unloaded Louise. Then came the routine of loading and getting ready for the paddle. Bianca kept me company out in the cold and soon I was ready. Today it was already my wish for a magic wand to be able to race to the end of the day. Twenty-two days with no paddling and now I was about to punish myself with an 80km day! Off I set at 5.30am. Off the boat ramp and out to the wind blowing at my back! I go wide so as not to get near to the harbour entrance and any crazy rogue waves on the bar. The wind was certainly blowing and I had bigger than welcome swells to deal with. When they rolled through they weren’t pleasant, that I can tell you, but it was most certainly a paddling day and that was what I had to focus on.
The first leg was Raglan to Port Waikato (50kms). The nice thing was that at least I was whizzing along and it made a change not to have a head wind. It took six hours but the swells in the river mouth as I got past Port Waikato slowed me down somewhat as I had to negotiate choppy, rough brown water. I kept looking to the horizon for calm, blue water. It took a while but, at last, it was passed.
I arrive at the second checkpoint before Bianca, so we chat by mobile phone. I’m pleased not to be landing at this beach as the waves look horrible and the not at all pleasant. Further up the coast, I see para-gliders enjoying their day soaring high in the sky; not something I would like myself. A little like the ocean, this coast is rough and rugged. It has been worn away by the wind and the ocean; a little hard to photograph as the swells lift me up and down too much to get a great shot.
Soon enough, I arrive at today’s final destination and the swells were still up. I chat to Bianca and we discuss a kamikaze-style landing. I lock down my gear in readiness and turn my attention to the waves behind me. There are also others on the beach waiting and watching (bloody brilliant). Whenever it looks like there’s going to be a rough landing, I always seem to attract an audience! It takes me a little while to sort out my brain, trying to work out my landing procedure. Then it’s time to paddle, paddle, paddle; let's see how my kayak-bracing goes today.
I nail at least three waves really well, then brace a little too hard and, suddenly, the wave had gone from under me. Into the water I go, but I have my feet on the ground and then manage to grab Louise’s tail and get swept in by the next two waves; a bit like being on a boogie board! All things considered, today’s landing was a damn good one for me and the watchers on the beach seemed to be impressed! I was equally impressed with Bianca as she was up to her shorts in water but still managed to grab Louise and then I was on dry land! Trish had come to watch me land and I hadn’t seen her since January of this year. Holy crap, how the year has flown by! We spend the next few hours chatting and cooking dinner. Wow, how cool to see a familiar face.
My smiles today:
Friendly locals who have been wonderful to us both today.
Deigh and Valerie, wonderful people who gave Bianca donations to my charity MHFNZ.
My crazy beach landing.
Bianca and Trish cooking dinner.
My thoughts today:
At the end of the day, I’m only thankful that my blessings are bigger than my problems.
Tired but happy. Goodnight from Red and Bianca.
Ma Te Wa.
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