Day 429...ESPR (Eat, Sleep, Paddle, Repeat)

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Well, my grumpy mood escalated last night and, after taking it out on everyone in the camper-van, I put myself into the backseat of the ute to sleep it off, leaving the support crew to Cuzzie. I’m not sure who breathed the biggest sigh of relief, them or me, as I slammed the ute door and curled up in my sleeping bag! I checked that my alarm was set for another early morning wake up, hoping that my grumpy mood would go away.

This morning was altogether cooler and there was a heavy dew on the ground. One way to make one’s morning a little tense is to be pulling on damp salty kayaking gear that has already been worn for two full days on the water! I even thought about putting them in front of the heater to warm them up but, in the end, just pulled on layer upon layer, hoping that soon my body would warm up the damp gear. We had breakfast and a drink, during which the team were still a little bit wary of me, so each of us just got on with the morning in our own individual way.

Nevertheless, we were at the beach pre 5.00am. Wayne, from the campsite, joined us for this morning’s launch. As I went to launch, I gave both of them a big hug and said “Thanks, let's have a great day and let's see how far I can get before Mother Nature blows me off the water!” I was reminded by them not to turn off my VHF while they are trying to talk to me! (In my grumpy mood yesterday, I may well have done a sort of VHF hang up!) I nodded and promised. Honestly, after last night, I’m surprised that they didn’t just drive off and leave me to launch and paddle alone and unsupported today, by way of a lesson in how not to behave!! But let’s try to forget about that and get on with today. 

How to be happy? How could I not be? It was so calm and beautiful on the water, with an amazingly clear sky and a sunrise that just got more intense every minute, morphing from orange into red. I had frequent check points today, something that was really nice. We also knew that, if necessary, we could pull out at each location, at every single check point. As only could be expected, today was beautiful, the polar opposite to yesterday! Well, mostly, that is. Boats, small, large, and huge were on the water, all going at top speed. But today, I was mostly able to keep next to the rocks and away from them. Well, almost mostly. A couple of times I had to turn and paddle backwards and let them charge past, and once or twice, I was thankful not to have had some sort of weapon on me; maybe a waterproof paintball gun! Now, that could have been fun, as I think I may have used it on a few of the rude boaties.

Today, I felt like a cyclist sometimes does on the Auckland roads; dicing with death, there were some moments when I was really wishing I was back on more remote coastlines. But, despite the pesky boats, I did have lots of wonderful moments, paddling in and round big rock outcrops and islands, and looking at caves and tunnels. But I stayed well away from doing any solo adventuring, reminding myself of a tunnel paddling story I had been told, one that I most certainly don’t want to add to.

There are some amazing bays along this coastline, a lot on private land, but a few that just appeared and you would never know they even existed! The coastline down to Tutakaka Harbour is lovely, at the entrance to which I paused and dodged more fast-moving boats. I’m actually almost tempted to take up Mike Scanlan’s kind offer to spray paint my beautiful paddles fluro green!! Then, quickly, I gap it across and round into the Ngunguru Bay check point. The wind was still not fully blowing, so we all decided that I should keep pushing on and paddle this Bay towards Taiharuru Heads.

But, as I got going, so did the wind. To take my mind off the chip and the gust, I pulled my red hat over my ears so I couldn’t hear the tormenting whistling winds and aimed Louise’s nose towards Taiharuru Heads. I also started to sing loudly, the only two songs I seem to remember, and that’s just the chorus!! Thank goodness no one can hear me! To entertain myself, I actually try hard to make them sound really bad. Honestly, I think this ocean is making me a little crazier by the minute if, indeed, that’s at all possible!

With about 3kms to go, Mother Nature turns up the wind and the gusts start making me go backwards as I reach the Heads. I contact the team briefly to say I am very nearly with them and, in the end, I just said I would paddle until I could see them. That took me quite some time and not a little effort but, once I got a visual on the pink shirts on the beach, I paddled into a small gap on the rocks to get a break from the wind for a few minutes, to regroup and regain some strength in my arms. Then I pushed back into the wind and towards the beach with renewed energy. I knew for sure that there was no way I’d be pushing further north, this would be the end of my day. A total of 50kms, amounting to nine hours on the water. Then forward and into Taiharuru Bay.

A great beach landing! In fact, Bianca apparently said she missed the excitement of the West Coast beach launches and landings! Honestly, at the moment, I’m not thinking quite the same way. However, we sit and chat and we also wait to talk with the Whangarei reporter, to spread the word about my journey and, hopefully, gain some more donations to MHFNZ. In many ways, a wonderful time was had by us all. Kristin and Mike, it was a true pleasure to chat. Thank you for finding my trip so interesting. Kristin, I hope to see you when I try to paddle the Poor Knights event later in 2017. 

We needed to find a campsite for the night and, as we drove round more winding roads, I was again amazed at this fantastic part of New Zealand. Northland has some beautiful bays that I never even knew existed. Others obviously do know about them and, as we arrive at the campsite, the office is jammed with check-ins. Luckily, however, they do have a space for us for one night (phew!). A shower, then I tuck myself into the corner of Cuzzie, write my blog and keep out of the team’s way!! I try not to think about what it’ll be like once I finish, the first morning when I don’t rise and paddle for the day. Again, I just pause for a moment and think “What next?” I’m happy to say that my mood is so much more improved. 

The final thing that made me laugh today was the fact that, as always, Cuzzie the camper-van decided to have a tantrum and join in the Redz NZ Journey game!! For some reason, Cuzzie managed to fling open the small glass oven door as she rattled along the dirt roads today and also managed to SMASH the oven door! Thanks for your tantrum, Cuzzie. I think you managed to have the final word!!

Tonight we are on one of the busiest family campsites I have seen for some time and it takes a little while to get used to it!! But now, with dinner on and both of us showered and clean, we are finally settled in.

My smiles today:
A great 50kms!
A great day.
A happy team(?!).
A little closer to the finish.
A wonderfully happy part of New Zealand.
A need for a waterproof paintball gun.

My thoughts today:
My goal is to create a life that I don’t need to have a vacation from!
Maybe I’d best just keep paddling.

From a happy Redz team; Goodnight!

Ma Te Wa.


Pre sun-up in Bland Bay.

Pre sun-up in Bland Bay.

My morning sunrise.

My morning sunrise.