Tuesday 20 December 2016
Firstly, I have to say that the thing I will remember Spirits Bay for is not its beautiful beach but, sadly, for the insane amount of mosquitoes. Now normally I don’t mind them too much but, honestly, as the sun set they arrived in their hordes. They were at every mesh window and, as soon as we opened the sliding door of the camper-van, in they zoomed in a cloud of glee!! There they stayed until well after the sun rose the following morning! We were very happy to own a can of fly spray and used nearly half of it last night to try and keep them at bay so we wouldn’t be eaten alive as we slept. Believe me, it was like a TV commercial for Raid!! Our friend Ev was not quite so lucky, as he had no fly spray and spent most of the night awake, swatting them.
However, the other issue was far more important, would I be able to get another paddle day squeezed in? After yesterday’s great paddle day, I was itching to get on the water again as all I want to do now is keep moving. In order to try and beat the wind, I tried my utmost to be out and off as early as possible this morning.
4.00 am, as I got ready, the wind was also awake. But I ignored it, hoping it was because we were in a valley and that, once I got beside the cliffs, I would be okay. All I wanted to do was get another 60kms or so paddled down the east side of this northern tip of New Zealand. The team got up too. The poor support crew. Blurry-eyed, they tried to help but today, I wasn’t keen to force down any breakfast, not even a hot drink. I just needed to get underway. Pretty soon, I’m on the water and paddling.
It was okay, a clear sky and a bright moon made visibility easy. As I cruised along, I felt okay about the day. Then, the further along I went, the wind gusts picked up, falling off the cliffs and over the top of me. The swell and the white caps arrived, then finally, my friendly "wind whistle" radar (that noise you get as the wind funnels past your ears). Wind alert! Was I keen to listen? No, not really! But I was also very much aware that it could get an awful lot worse and if I was feeling uncomfortable now, it would be another 60kms before I could meet up with the team again to conclude my day.
For once I listened, and although I continued to paddle, at my 5km mark, I made the decision to turn back! This has not happened since an afternoon paddle when I was on the coast off Stewart Island. Was I disappointed? Yes, of course! Did I doubt my decision? Again, yes! But, having listened to my gut and my inner voice, it was the correct decision. I landed, dragged myself and Louise back up the sandbank and slowly paddled back down the small river. I then turned and looked back out to sea and just had to smile. Mother Nature had won the day yet again! Or, maybe, there was another way to look at it; Mother Nature had saved me from a horrible paddle, so I thanked her.
Back at Cuzzie, even before the sun was up, I opened the door, startling both the crew awake from a deep sleep. But, somewhat surprisingly, they were both happy with my decision! Once showered and safely away from the mosquitoes, I made another decision; to leave these blood-sucking monsters and head south, wait for the weather to clear and then return and gap it then. We got on the road and have come to Karikari and the little bay of Maitai on the East Coast. Once parked up in a little DOC campsite, we settle down to enjoy lunch and then I head to the beach to walk and sit in the sun while the other two catch up on their disturbed sleep.
Late this afternoon, the cloud cleared at last and the sky became blue. I may even be brave and follow along with Ev for a bit of sunset fishing and to do some gently paddling round some rocks away from the wind. A sleep-in is on the cards for tomorrow morning and another day of discovering a part of the coastline on which I have never been before. I also plan to keep smiling as, soon, I may be paddling past it, although maybe not before Father Christmas passes by!!
My smiles today:
A false start.
Mother Nature’s gentle reminder that she knows best!
"Raid" insect spray. The best!
Cold showers pre-sunrise. An acquired taste!
Driving to a location I have never before seen.
My first coffee of the day, a treat for having made it to Spirits Bay.
My thoughts today:
It’s often the end of the road that makes the drive really worth while.
As our day draws to a close, we all say “goodnight” from a sunny bay in Northland. From Red and the team.
Ma Te Wa.
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