Monday 22 February
My alarm went off at 5am, game on.
There is a plan for today, I want to be on the water by 7am to paddle to Big Koru Bay, and then there is a personal inner plan that I have shared with no one!
I stumble out of bed and eat my brekkie that I made last night as I pack up. I sit inside my tent, pack my remaining gear into dry bags and stash everything at the end of my tent. I try to be as methodical as possible in the early morning darkness as to not forget anything. Lastly I pack down my tent, I make sure my fire is out completely and put back the cast iron grate to where it was leaning for the next visiting hunters or kayaker.
It is low tide and omg the tide goes out for 500 metres at least on this bay so a few trips are needed. Firstly an empty T2, then my gear and then a last check that nothing is left behind. I sit for just a second, hold onto my pounamu carving and say thanks to all for watching over me on this journey. Then it was off to load T2 and paddle out into the 6.30am darkness. For the first five km I was still in the bay and all was calm until I headed past Pearl Island. Then it was out into the bigger sweeps, the wind and I wondered what would this all turn out like. I had a dry feeling in my mouth and thought well worst case you have some pull in points, if it is bad that is always a good feeling.
Ten km in and all okay, just settling in. 21 km to Big Koru Bay and it is still okay. There is a large swell from behind but now this is where (sorry support crew) the plan was to change. I had decided if it was okay on the water then I wanted to see if I could stick out ten hours of paddling and see how close I could get to Oban. Off I set to the sound of my Inreach unit receiving messages, the support crew asking what was I doing! Small 11 to 15 km sections were what I had set myself and I gradually chipped away at them. Some were pleasant and some not, the swell got quite big and I did not look back at as it was bigger than 2.6m. I just focused on surfing down them and looking forward, it was fine. I saw a large boat heading towards Pegasus Bay and they dropped from sight a lot, that says something about the swell.
Focused I was today and gradually it calmed for awhile until I had to go round another point and then the washing machine appeared again. I am not sure how to describe some of the sections. They were not scary, as T2 is so very stable and sits well in these waters, it is more the constant reminder to stay focused and roll with the ocean. The currents went mostly my way, same with the waves and swells. Further on when I had past Owens Island the large boat returned, I was in the worst lot of waves for the entire trip. He got close enough for me to sign I was okay, I waved and then re focused on getting out of this rough section. Ten minutes more of paddling and it was calm again, phew.
Time for me to check my location, eat and drink. Just for your information, out this side of Stewart Island iPhones do not even pick up GPS signals so if you are planning to only have your iPhone or android as your navigation tool please think again. My Garmin was my go to for locations today, so glad I had it. I had it firmly attached to my deck bag for a lot of this section. As paddlers and boaters would understand every headland and island seems to blend together on the horizon and it is hard at times to know what angle to aim at and also it is hard to try and juggle a touch screen in the wet and windy conditions.
Anyway back to my trip. My Garmin watch battery is getting a little worn out on this trip and decided to stop for the next three hours so I pull out my phone to check the time and see if I have coverage yet. Ten km still to Oban. No coverage but I actually do not care, I have a tough head wind to battle. It is toughen up day and Oban here I come. Slowly but steadily I get to the point and swing into Oban Bay. The head wind takes a long while to bugger off but eventually it does. I pull up next to a Crayboat to ask for directions and then I am off towards the main beach.
As I pull up I see someone waving from a window of a building and a lovely lady pulling up in her jeep! Dave from Good and Bone carvings and Pip from Aurora Charters (it was her husband with the boat from earlier today) came to say hi. Both where amazing, I stored my kayak
with Dave and Pip dropped me to the backpackers campground. The biggest thank you to this gorgeous town, what a lovely welcome.
With my tent set up I chatted to my neighbour and then also with two fellow kayakers, Grant and Mike, with their kayaks in tow, ready for a few days of paddling. We laughed at me still covered in salt and sea water and looking so not glamorous, nothing like my Wellington pics they had seen earlier this year! Well, it surely is not a glamour contest, especially at this stage after over eleven hours on the water . I was off for a quick shower and then raced down the road for a bag of hot salty chips, yummmmm. Thanks also for the couple of chunks of Whittakers special orange and chilli chocolate from my fellow kayaking buddies.
So much to chat about but so many things to do, I am in my tent now, it is late but heck today I am a little proud, I have got to Oban! That is one big grin. Not much else to report, I hope T2 is not lonely, I am looking forward to my day tomorrow, no paddling until I get my tides right and my weather forecast under control. By the looks of things I just might have enough time to hike around this island with the storms that are sweeping towards Stewart Island, so typical, lucky there is plenty to see and do. I will also try and find out who is on the super yacht in the Oban harbour with its own personal helicopter, maybe I should have asked if I could pitch my tent on their deck!
My smiles today: (so many it is crazy)
I have made it to Oban, hugest smile.
Being rather misleading to the support crew, sorry guys, I am pleased you can not read my mind!
Talking to people after so many days of solo, it was actually nice.
Listening to the amazing bird life just in the campsite alone.
Meeting more gorgeous kind people, it is mind blowing and again I am humbled.
Being in this beautiful place.
Having forgot to take any money with me, $10 is all I have.
My thoughts today:
We all have choices, and I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life. I am giving it a good go!