Up at the crack of dawn, excited about my morning exercise. I sat in the warmth of Cuzzie, lay my gear on the floor to warm by the blow heater and drank warm coffee, filling a thermos with more coffee for when I’m on the water. I winched down Louise and then got dressed. The morning, as expected, was cold. Even the grass and the ground was cold and there I was, just in my jandals. As I dressed, I reminded myself of the mornings back in Auckland, in the cold and the wet at a local marina, launching in the dark to paddle. I told myself it would be easy, it would be fun. I carried Louise down onto the sand, with my head torch on and got myself sorted. Then, at the calm water’s edge, I clambered in, skirted up once on the water and started to paddle into the cold winter wind. About fifteen minutes into the paddle, I regretted not having my pogs.. (for the uninitiated,paddling gloves!) on me but convinced myself it would warm up as soon as the sun had risen.
I spent an hour pushing into the wind and the little waves that were being whipping up in front of me. Then, as the sun started to rise behind my right shoulder, I turned and paddled into the full glory of the Golden Bay sunrise. I was certainly not disappointed and, for the next thirty minutes or so, I just paddled, with a small tailwind and swell behind me. Right now, there is not anywhere else I would rather be. It’s glorious, breathtaking and, apart from a large fishing boat way, way out on the horizon (nearer the end of the Spit), I am the only person on the water! I paddled as far as the harbour entrance, past the rocks and in and out of small bays, before turning back to do another hour into the headwind again. Then I decided to treat myself and turned yet again, this time aiming past the harbour mouth into the next bay, then out towards the islands and the open ocean. I stopped in the shelter of a small group of rocks and had my coffee and a snack and sat thinking “this is why I paddle, this is what I enjoy, this is a perfect day”. It has been a little while since I have said that. I could feel the cold South West wind whipping down from the steep terrain in front of me and was only thankful to have been this side of the mountains, thankful for having taken the time yesterday to have driven over to see for myself what it was looking like. Was I one hundred per cent satisfied? Well, to be honest, no. But hey, that is what keeps me and this nutty dream alive. The insanity and the determination and the "maybe, just maybe".
Back to this morning. What can I say? Except that it reminded me at last to enjoy my water time, to be on the water when I liked it, and to be in tune with nature and to actually enjoy it. I never set out on this journey to have daily, hideous, near death experiences, but rather to see this beautiful coastline at its best (not at its worst) and certainly not to end up hating each day. Thanks Mother Nature for the reminder and thanks for this morning. Thanks for letting me spend time in bays and harbours I had otherwise been planning to pass by while way out to sea. By going from point to point, look at what I would have missed! This bay is magic, beautiful. Just what the doctor ordered! Eventually I aimed back to the beach but not before I had been in and around lots of little islands just at the point, past the harbour mouth. I had to convince myself that, after four hours of paddling, that was enough and I had other places to go today, other things to do. As I was paddling in, I did several rolls (well, only two actually). As the tide was going out, the water was rather shallow and it was also quite cold in the water. I’ll be spending more time here in this bay, that’s for certain. I like doing circles in and around here, as it’s a beautiful winter location.
Back at Cuzzie, dry and warm. I made my classic soup out of “not a lot”! It was in the kitchen heating up while I loaded Louise. Once everything was in place, I wandered down to the beach to sit, to eat my soup from the large pot and enjoy this magical, tranquil place. For me, this is a perfect winter location but I’m not sure I could cope with the crowds in the summer. Today there’s no-one about, it’s warm and still, with not a sand fly in sight. The campground people have been lovely, saying that there’s no hurry for me to leave my site, just to take my time. But, eventually I did have to leave and headed to grab some raw milk from the local farm vending machine. Then it was back over the Takaka hills. I’m heading back to Nelson for the weekend to catch up with a couple from Auckland (Margaret Ann and Rob) who will be arriving tomorrow for the Nelson Marathon on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to seeing them both and to cheering Rob on as he runs the race. Support crew Jase also arrives back, Rob being a client of his from Auckland, so he’s keen to see him in action. On my way back to Nelson, I couldn’t help myself returning to the Riwaka Resurgence. It was misty and there was still frost on the ground at 2.30pm! I sat for about an hour at the source of the water and just absorbed my surroundings, feeling special, as if I was being welcomed back. The droplets of water glistened almost as if they were luminous as they dripped into the clear pool. For me, this has become a very special, almost sacred place for my soul and I know that I will always come back and visit whenever I’m in the area. I can’t explain it, but somehow it calms and centres me (thank you!).
The sun is getting low in the sky and I still have to get Cuzzie to the car wash. She is absolutely filthy!! But not for long. After a session with the high pressure hose and lots of foam, she too is smiling and feeling loved again. Believe it or not, it’s four months since she was last cleaned. Back at the campsite. At the rate I’m going, I’ll soon be placed in the permanent residents’ section! I really like this location which is why I keep returning. Besides, there’s not a lot of freedom camping in Nelson and, whenever I can connect up to power, I do so.
Now it’s night-time and the heater is on but there’s a late pick-up for me to do from the airport on the 10.30pm flight. It’s going to be cold! Another week has gone by and, it’s Saturday Market tomorrow! Yippee, there are worse places to be, and so, I repeat to myself “eat, sleep, paddle, repeat“.
My smiles today:
My winter morning paddle. Glorious, probably one of the best.
Remembering why I enjoy my paddling.
Sunrise on the ocean. Quite simply superb.
Talking to myself about life, the good parts and the reasons for the bad ones!
My second visit to Riwaka Resurgence.
A thermos full of hot coffee (thanks Sue L. you are my inspiration for this!)
Soup made from “’not a lot”. Yumbo!
Message from Nat in London.
My thoughts today:
One day, it just clicks. You realise what’s important and what isn’t. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you have come and you remember when you thought things where such a mess that they’d never recover. Then, you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself, and the person you have fought to become.
Enjoy your Friday night, everyone. Also the weekend.
Good night from Red. Ma te Wa.