Up as per normal, reading the weather report and I couldn’t believe my eyes, swell under 1m and winds no more than nine knots. What a great start to this Sunday! Now all I need to do is nail this beach launch and I’ll be off and racing!! In fact, I said to Elaine at the campground that, if I couldn’t get past the waves in my kayak today, I would tie it onto me and swim out past the breakers! We still have time today to try again. This launch is going to be further back along the road from Kohaihai (a repeat paddle of the 14km one that caused me so much grief) a trip down memory lane for the first two hours.
Now for the launch: We’re both nervous, running up and down the beach loading up Louise and then, a few loud yells of “Can I go yet?”. Massive waves were smashing onto the beach but then, for what seemed like minutes, there was a break. Again I screamed “Can I go?”. Jase hesitated only for a moment before shouting “Go!” and I damn well did, paddling two hundred strokes before even daring to stop. Then another fifty to be sure I had missed any random rogue waves. Then I stopped to VHF Jase, saying “Talk to me!”. I really needed to talk because I was so fired up, I almost wanted to scream before my heart jumped out of my chest. We reconfirmed the paddling plan and then, I was on my own again.
It takes until I’m well past Kohaihai Bluff to settle down. I said “goodbye” to Kohaihai Bluff as I went past, then as we got further along the coast, I looked at Nettle Bay, at the beach that had sucked me in before slapping T2 and myself hard some four weeks earlier. This time, however, I just keep paddling. At the mouth of the Heaphy River, the beach looks rough and treacherous. A totally never-to-be-attempted location for me and my kayak. I shimmy along this coast on a beautiful day with calm seas. Once in a while, there’s a head wind but nothing bad, nothing to complain about, not even a bird, or a fin, or a jumping fish to be seen for most of my six and a half hours of paddling. Every 10 to 12kms, I send a message to Jase saying I’m tracking okay.
Slowly but surely, I get closer to Kahurangi Point. At the 48km mark, I was very happy to have at last passed it, and to have turned a corner towards being closer to the top of this island. The wind at that stage had turned. There was a south-westerly blowing and I was humming along nicely, doing six to six point five minutes per kilometre. (Yippee!) Now this is the fun bit, as I am due to locate the fishing boat "Preditor" just round the corner and meet up with the owner (Jason and Charlie his crew member) as their vessel is to be my hotel for the night.
The angels must have been looking after me because, even though I was an hour earlier than expected, when I messaged them to say where I was located, the crew were already mooring up for the night, just off the big river. They replied, telling me to stay put, that they would locate me. Now that was no easy task, especially with a tail wind and a swell, so slowly I moved another couple of kilometres further north. I certainly didn’t want to paddle in the dark another 37kms to the farm beach and, in any case, I had promised the team that I wouldn’t even attempt to do that (not like the last time).
I scanned the horizon for a good thirty minutes before, finally, seeing the fishing boat heading towards me. I was more than a little bit relieved, as it was getting cold out on the water. But they located me easily enough and they pulled up right next to me. I climbed up a rope ladder they had made for me and then, much to my surprise, they reached overboard and hauled Louise up onto the deck. We are both aboard and high and dry for the night, how sweet is that! If the weather turns , I’ll be dropped off oat the port as they off load there full bins of crayfish and then rejoin them on their next trip out, when I will jump overboard from where I was collected and continue. Or, if once back onboard and the weather turns bad, I'll have to stay on-board and work my passage until my next chance to escape. Unfortunately, the weather seems to be turning. I hear there are forty knot winds forecast!! I risk losing my sea legs with that kind of weather report. Once again, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Anyway here on board, for the time being I’m dry, having had a hot drink and hot food, so I’m feeling pretty blessed. Tonight, as I lie in a bunk bed, getting tossed to and fro by the swell, deep inside me I already know the answer as to whether or not I’ll be paddling tomorrow, and somehow, I think it is a not. But at least I’m more than happy with today's 53kms.
My smiles today:
The adrenaline-stoked beach launch.
The beautiful day on the water.
Seeing “Preditor” on the horizon.
My bunk bed on the ocean.
My escape from that beach, at last!
My thoughts today:
It will eventually happen, you just have to wait and be patient. Oh, yes! A whole new level of patience.
Goodnight from Red and Louise, on a fishing boat out in the Tasman Sea. Ma Te Wa.