Day 420...I Love The West Coast!

Monday 19 December 2016

For the kayakers:
I paddled!
But only 60 kms.
Headwind of 10 to 12 knots to the Cape.
Flood tide for 5 hours to the Cape.
I gave myself 1.5 hours spare to make the slack tide at the Cape.
I needed just about all of that spare time; the current was tough.
Great timing for 1 hour pre-full flood tide at Cape Maria van Diemen.
It was beautifully calm at Cape Reinga.
The lighthouse was covered in mist.
I cried as I stopped to say “Hi!” to Cape Reinga and the many spirits.
It’s a magical place and she let me pass by today.
I wanted to paddle further, but decided to keep boxing clever!

My day:
I knew I was going to paddle in the morning, my instinct told me. Did I dare mention it to others? Well, a very select few knew! I have become so superstitious about this trip, that I don’t ever presume I’ll be on the water paddling until I actually get out the back of the waves, and that is when I send out the satellite message that I’m paddling from my in-reach unit. Today, I wouldn’t even allow the support crew to let anyone know what I was up to until I was safely underway.

Awake too damn early, at 6am, we were all sitting with hot drinks. I was way ahead of schedule this morning. Oh well, let's get this paddle underway. This was going to be one of my last "water in the face" launches on the West Coast. Now (and this is the funny part) we wander to the beach and I knew the swell was going to be 1.4 metres but, truly, I didn’t believe it would look so amazing. Really, was today's launch going to be this easy? Honestly, I was stunned! Mother Nature was being extremely nice. I even stopped and was okay about a few photos being taken before I left; my stomach felt calm and at ease.

By 7am, I was launched and paddling out over a couple of small waves that broke gently over the front of Louise. I actually paddled rather a long way out before I felt sure I was safe to stop and do my VHF checking and send out my satellite message saying I was on the water and paddling. At long last, I was finally on my way to Cape Maria van Diemen and round Cape Reinga. Off I set and, as planned, I had the tide helping me for the first 2.5 hours, then I knew it was going to be tough going from then on until I got to Cape Maria. The flood tide was getting stronger and, with a steady 10 to 12 knot headwind all the way, I was not disappointed. In places, I slowed to a crawl but it was still okay. I knew I had time and also knew exactly where and when my major and important checkpoints were. Timing was everything today, and time it to perfection we did!

Cape Maria let me go through between the island and the mainland and then out towards the lighthouse and the team on the cliff top. It was calm and beautiful, the lighthouse coming in and out of the mist and, when I stopped to chat to the team on VHF, all the tourists let out an almighty cheer. I could hear it on the water way down beneath them. It was pretty emotional sitting there in the calm of the slack tide. But I was mindful that I needed to push on toward Spirits Bay.

As I turned and started paddling, the slack tide made the first 5kms feel like I was paddling in thick treacle, which was slower than I wanted, but I kept waiting for the turn of the tide and the current to push me faster. Eventually, it did and I picked up a good pace and was soon up to speed again. I talked with the team on VHF and we had both a plan A and a plan B in place. I was on time to keep going but we were all a little unsure of the weather for the following day and, keen as I was to keep paddling past the North Cape, finally I decided to call it a day. Better to wait, roll the weather and re-plan for a possible tomorrow. Strangely enough, I was not mentally keen to get stuck on a beach and also, our local contacts were not able to get the team out to me tonight, so it was a shorter paddle day than normal, the B plan having won the team vote.

Once dry, once lots of hugs and high fives had been given, and all my stuff sorted out (oh, and a telling-off for not drinking enough of my fluids) I was made to stand and drink it all and also a huge cup of tea!! All they do now is laugh as I complain about having a constantly-full bladder and having to wander back and forth to the toilet for the rest of this evening!! Then out came the favourite rug and the celebration bottle of champagne. Thanks, Jase, it was really appreciated! We ate chips and drank a glass of the bubbles to celebrate this milestone and we are all so very happy with how the day panned out. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Bianca has headed for a late evening swim, unable to convince me to get wet again. Our wonderful friend Ev has been out spear-fishing, so we have fresh fish for dinner and Jase gave us all big hugs before jumping into his car to head back to Auckland to work for the remainder of this week. And me? Well, yes, I’m smiling, but have to look at the map to remind myself exactly where I am. I’m about to turn the corner and be back on the East Coast. Wow!

That is me and my day. It’ll take me a few more paddling days to totally absorb this great day. At the moment, all I can say is “thank you” to Mother Nature for another beautiful, incredible West Coast day. Perhaps because I asked nicely, Mother Nature obliged and, for that, I’m truly thankful. I have utter respect for this coastline and I also have to say that the West Coast has captured part of me.

My smiles today:
The top of New Zealand. Wow, I can’t stop grinning!

My thoughts today:
Today has been a very special day. “Thank you” to the universe!

Red and the Redz NZ Team. 

Ma Te Wa.


Cape Reinga.

Cape Reinga.

Arrival at Spirits Bay.

Arrival at Spirits Bay.