Friday 29 April
Early starts are always good once you are on the water and paddling, even when it is dark still. Thanks to an enthusiastic Nat and Paul I was safely on the water and paddling just after 6am. With a favourable wind and tide I was making good progress up the coastline. After 16km I was floating out on the ocean beneath Paul Caffyn's place, ahead of schedule at 8am. Next I was heading to Punakaiki, it again was a fast section and I hoped the day would continue as it had started. At one stage I did think of removing a layer or two as the sun was hot and I had a couple of beads of perspiration on my face, but this stayed as a thought only because the wind started to lift a little.
As I got further north to Woodpecker Bay I messaged Nat and said I had about 17 km till Nile River mouth and would see her there. We were hoping that maybe a miracle would happen and I could push further than this 67km today as I had time and daylight still, but MN and miracles... She just ramped up the swell and the wind and gave me an exciting final section to my paddle. By the time I had my VHF conversation with Nat and she asked me how I was going I said, "that last section was colourful!" She knew that this meant I was not going further today and it had turned to custard on the last leg! I was coming off the water and ending my day but it was not the river mouth now as it was awful, I was to aim at the opposite end of the beach. While I focused and I headed towards the beach, Nat and her helper for the day, Paul were great and coped with my terse words every moments on the VHF. Nat is sort of used to it now but for Paul it may have been a little entertaining.
I waited and watched these waves then I gapped it when I saw the back of a biggish wave. Nat caught my kayak as I landed and I survived another day. I am pleased there was no carnage for Paul to photograph on this day. I was instantly happy on arrival, as those who paddle understand it seems to make a good day a great one if you nail the beach landing at the end of it. So smiles and a couple of high fives.
Once I was loaded we headed to the campsite, I did not want to camp by the river mouth. Nat cooked me sweet popcorn and made coffees and tea for us all. We chatted in the back of Cuzzie for a couple of hours until it was dinner time. Lamb curry with smashed potatoes. It was amazing, thanks chef Nat. Tonight I chatted to a few friends, it was nice and now it is time to sleep before another early paddle in the morning. Heading up this coastline a little further I am hoping.
It was a good days paddle, nice to have another join us for the day and entertain Nat.
My smiles today:
Being on the water pre sunrise.
A calm and tranquil Greymouth bar.
Dolphins arriving to play on and off today.
My checkpoints and VHF contact along the way, it is such a nice change from my solo times further south.
Sunshine, you have to laugh, I have a suntanned brown face and hands!
Huge bowl of sweet popcorn with lashings of coconut oil and sugar. It is SO yummie.
Our new support crew recruit. We are whipping him into shape! I am not sure if he is used to the colourful language being hurled his way!
My thoughts today:
People change, things go wrong, just remember: life goes on.
Good night from Red
Thanks Paul Caffyn for the photos and enthusiastic, expert guidance on this section :)