Thursday 18th February
At 5am my alarm went off, time to get ready for another push around the island. At 4am it had been blowing a howling gale and the rain was bucketing down. I had convinced myself that I would be stuck on this sand dune for another day but by the time my alarm went off it seemed to me the rain was calming. As I put my head out of the tent to look around at the still quite dark morning, I received my weather update, it was not as favourable as yesterday but still an okay forecast. Three meter swells (yuck!) and I needed to be off the water by 4pm as it was due to get nasty.
I dragged T2 off the sand dune and towards the beach, loaded her up with all my gear and a very damp and sandy tent. The second fly had kept me dry and I was very thankful for packing it! Everything covered in a thick layer of sand I packed my dry woollen clothes into a drybag and pulled on my wet, salty, sandy clothes form yesterday. With a dry rain jacket on top I soon warmed up and was out on the water again.
It was of course clam in the bay but once I left it was like a washing machine for the next five kms. I could not wait for the wind to turn and be coming from behind me, it sure took it's time. I knew that for the next 30 kms there were rocks, cliffs and smashing waves before there would be anywhere suitable to pull off the water. After ten kms it had gotten a little easier and I allowed myself a small sigh of relief and settled into my paddle. I was slightly concerned about further down near the Muttonbird Islands, and wanted to be well past the South Cape before the currents turned against me.
Strange but true, as I got cloer to the South West Cape it got calmer and at times it was a nice, warm sunny day paddling on a mill pond, gorgeous and stunning. I had enough time to rest, drink and take some pictures. I got around the Cape eventually, it did seem to take some time. It had it moments of rough water mixed with a 2.5-3m swell, the backwash from the massive rock cliffs and at times it was like trying to paddle over rutted ungraded roads, a mind field of white caps all over the place. T2 was, as always, brilliant in her stability, and took it all in her capable stride. Even with her heavier than usual load, she felt great to be sitting in.
Once in a while I did think, this is not the place I want to Eskimo Roll and it is not the water I want to fall out in. As we all know, there are a few big sharks that like this section of the world. As I passed Flour Cask Bay I thought 'thank you' to John for his detailed knowledge of where to pull in on these wild coasts, I had thought this was a good spot but as I passed I realised there was no chance and I was glad of his local knowledge.
Next was Broad Bay so off I paddled. As I got to Kaninihi Point I thought, maybe... I did some measuring and if I pushed on another 12kms I could get to Port Pegasus. I looked at the sky, it was starting to look a little stormy so I took a deep breath and told myself to paddle hard. It would have been easy to stop and set up camp at Broad Bay but, "What's another 12 km?" I said to myself.
It was a lot of hard and determined paddling, backwash, crazy seas and one km in particular took me fifteen minutes to cover! I was on countdown, I pulled into a small retreat, that was the hardest 9km of the trip so far! The weather was worsening so I stopped to check my position. The GPS in my iphone had stopped working so it was time to use my Garmin, only three km to go.
Once I had gathered my energy back I pushed on. Port Pegasus was calm and tranquil, I looked to the sky and said "Thank you" to whoever was listening. It was calm with a misty, light rain falling into this stunning bay, the polar opposite of the ocean I had spent the day battling. I scanned the land for some sand and though it took me a while I at last saw a small patch of golden sand and paddled towards it. The rain was getting heavier and I saw a couple of yachts moored in the bay, I slipped by unnoticed quite a way from them.
I dragged myself, T2 and my gear far up the beach, it was low tide so I pulled everything on a small cliff on some flattish forrest floor under some trees, far away from the tide line. I started to put up my tent and remembered that Nat had suggested filming this as a way to share with people my day to day activities. Ah, not today Nat, it is wet, windy and I want to warm up! After I quickly put up the tent I stripped off and got into my sleeping bag to get warm. The day's excursion got to me and I drifted off to sleep.
Once rested and warm I set my electronics charging, tomorrows mission is to find some sun to get the solar panel going. Then food, I have gotten good at foraging for baby mussels on the rocks. I had lots for dinner and with a full tummy it is time for bed. I tuck myself in, listen to the thunder and the sound of the tide slowly approaching, there is also a small stream bubbling along beside me - bliss. Well, not quite, but it is my home for the night and I thank everyone who has helped me get this far.
My smiles today:
Arriving at Port Pegasus.
My tent pitching in the rain and wind.
My Whittakers chocolate rations.
My warm, dry clothes.
My thoughts today:
Determined and driven - that's me. Downright crazy - that's also me!
Big hugs to you all