Wednesday 17th Feburary
We went to bed last night chatting about Nat's departure and her trip back to Mason Bay. It was going to be a tough hike, first straight up a tree root covered hill, then flat along the top over a marsh, then down again and along the sand on Mason Bay. Her backpack was packed and everything was ready for her 7am departure, her theory being get up the hill before it got too hot.
My news last night had been disappointing as the winds had picked up along with the swells, and it looked like I would be stuck in Doughboy Bay another day. I made mental plans to try again at the fishing and paua collecting.
The morning dawned and it was raining a little but up Nat got, the sandflies with her. I walked to the hut to chat with her as she got ready to leave, an unusual reversal of roles! I was grumbling a little as the wind was not blowing, I was wondering if I had been given the correct weather forecast. I sent a message and asked for an update as it really did feel calm, not a blustery 30 knots.
I walked to the start of the track with Nat, we shared a big hug and said our goodbyes, I told her she would be fine by herself and to just enjoy it. Nat had already been smiling today as the sunrise when she popped out of the tent was amazing and her first picture of the day had been brilliant. Her day is going to have it's ups and downs (pun intended Red?) but she will love the challenge.
As we were saying goodbye I received a message saying that the weather was good for me to paddle now, but slowly getting worse during the day. I returned to my tent, unsure what to do, should I stay, or should I go? It started to pour down and visibility on my walk was not great. I had a lot of conversations back and forth with weather man Jase while the weather eased and things warmed up! This was the window I needed to get on the water, so as my bags were packed I quickly pulled down the tent and carried all my stuff to the beach. By 8.30am I was on the water and paddling, I was feeling good about this next section.
I got rained on but the water was okay. The first pull in option was 17kms away and I opted to keep moving, as then it was only 26 more kms to Easy Harbour. There I decided to touchdown, camp, recharge and wait for the tide and current to start running in my favour for the next possible leg.
At Easy Harbour the furtherest beach is gorgeous but the sandflies welcomed me. As I sat and ate they became thicker and I had to walk or jog up and down the beach to avoid them, a black haze following behind me. With a weather update and a calm bay in front of me I put my gear on, trying all the time to keep the sandflies off me, and was soon back on the water.
I left the bay's calm waters and the now southerly wind and swell rose up to meet me. The washing machine waters began and I had a biggish section to paddle until my next great pull in location. I have a new way to pacify my caged tiger moments, I paddle out and then ask myself again, "Do I really want to do this?" Today it was still crap after four kms so I turned back to a calm beach.
By the time the tent was up and the extra fly sheet on it was raining really heavily, I was totally soaked but pleasantly happy at the same time. My tent was 95% dry, a damp pack up this morning hadn't been too disastrous. T2 was pulled safely up on high ground away from the high tide line so off came my soaked paddling gear and into the tent I crawled, dripping wet but very happy with my achievements and my decisions.
Inside my tent I sit, wrapped in all my woollen gear, even my hat and tucked in my sleeping bag. I am still liking Stewart Island, even on a misty wet day. Easy Harbour is beautiful, and this new bay has no sandflies in it! They don't seem to like the rain, fantastic. Nat would hate the tent today as there is even more sand through it.
My smiles today:
Sending Nat off on a tramp.
Getting a small step closer to the east side of the island.
Being happy while soaked to the skin.
Being on a random beach on Stewart Island, unbelievable!
Taming the 'caged tiger' within.
Cooking a one pot wonder.
My thoughts today:
The wise words of Nelson Mandela, "Everything seems impossible until it is achieved."