Day 405...What Coast Am I On?

Sunday 4 December 2016

For the kayakers:
68kms paddled today.
10 hours paddled.
Under a 1m swell.
Small head wind.

Sleeping is hard for me when I know that I have a day of paddling ahead of me. I was awake far too early and then dozed until the alarm went off. Then I was up and out to get on the water as early as possible. Between them, Bianca and Ev had cooked a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon with lashings of maple syrup ready for me, as well as steaming hot cups of tea; thank you both!

Far too soon, I’m by the water at 5.40am. As we stood on the beach, staring at the ocean and watching the waves, I was conscious that I had an audience for the launch. Yikes, that’s when things tend to turn bad, but maybe not today! I felt good, the water seemed to be okay and, as it got lighter, we started to make my exit plan. It was a good plan in theory but, in practice, a little bit poor, as I paddle out and throw a couple of waves. Of course, I got hit by a couple of waves; my morning wake-up call!!

Once out the back of all the waves, I sit and say “thanks” to the team for a great launch and apologise to Ev for having hit his head with my paddle as I set off today. Oops, he kind of got in the way! I was wet, but why would that be a surprise? After all, I’m on a West Coast beach and it was never going to be a calm, dry launch.

The start of my paddle was a little windy and the ocean was a bit unsettled but I was hoping it was going to settle down and become a beautiful day as promised by the forecast. Today, once the sun was up and high in the sky, I was treated to a glorious day on the water; sunny, with a small breeze and some new scenery. Hills covered in bush, rock cliffs and it’s really nice to have a bit of a change from the long, sandy beaches and the huge sand dunes that I have had for the past few days.

A few fish leapt out in front of me during the day and the checkpoints went well. I actually made it to Bayleys Beach before Bianca, but she was getting a gas matter sorted out in Cuzzie, so it was no problem. I got reminded to drink all my fluids and eat. I listened, acted accordingly, and every time my bladder felt like it was going to burst, I cursed the support crew! I did have to try and remind myself that I was still on the West Coast, as the day was like a pristine, hot East Coast day. Even the beaches along the way just had small, soft waves and I kept thinking “This can’t be possible!”. But it was and it stayed like that all the way. As I neared the Waimamaku river mouth, I stopped to talk to Bianca about the lowdown on the best spot to land. In the event, after I had negotiated the waves to the beach on landing, Bianca actually swam across the river to come and meet me. My landing was a success today; absolutely perfect! We carried Louise to the river mouth then, with Bianca floating behind, I tried to paddle her across to the other side. Not that successfully, as we discovered it was easier for her to walk because it was so shallow!

I glided up to the boat and beach ramp, while Bianca walked along the river edge. The beach and the river had a number of local characters out enjoying the sun today and, of course, we chatted to a few of them but then got busy loading up Cuzzie and heading into The Opononi fish and chip shop for an easy dinner. We sit in the sunshine at a beach table and look out at the harbour entrance. My word to describe the vista tonight is “divine”; what a slice of paradise! Thank you Mother Nature for arranging such an amazing weather day, so far, the West Coast is treating me really well. So, from our slice of paradise, we say "goodnight” as we sit and wait for a glorious sunset.

My smiles today:
Is this really the West Coast?
The soft murmur of small waves on the beach.
A hearty breakfast cooked by Ev and Bianca.
The local characters at the beach.
Bianca swimming in the river to help with kayak portage.
A wonderful day on the water. Just beautiful.

My thoughts today:
No matter what happens, some memories can never be replaced. Today is one of those days.

Goodnight from Red and Bianca. 

Ma Te Wa.