DAY 252...Twists, Turns, Winds and Swells

Okay, to make this mad adventure of mine have as many unexpected twists and turns as possible (tinged with a little good fortune) here is today for you all! The boat rocked back and forth most of the night. It was actually quite nice and relaxing, (kind of like being in a hammock, swinging you to sleep) but not a motion that some people would like, especially not if they had a tendency towards seasickness.

At 5.30am, I was up and receiving my weather satellite message. As you might have guessed, it was no longer favourable to be on the water (so a ”no go”) and I had to put the paddle down. By a stroke of good luck, the crew of the fishing boat were due to unload their filled bins today onto a pre-booked chiller truck that was meeting them at the wharf in the Westhaven/Whanganui Inlet. As the sun rose, they started to ready their bins. They were on a tight deadline to get across the inlet’s horrendous bar and were due to go up to the wharf to unload, re-load with provisions, throw me and Louise overboard until such time as a more suitable weather window arrives and then, get back across the bar before the tide turned.

It was literally “all hands on deck”, with me grabbing the frozen boxes of bait from the truck driver and then, when Jase arrived soon after, he was also on the wharf, wading knee deep in water (there being a huge high tide up over the wharf ramps) carrying bins of crayfish back and forth to the truck. It all was done quickly and without any hitches. Then it was my turn, we dropped Louise over the side, I clambered over as well, sat in her and paddled quickly to the ramp, while the team on “Preditor” headed back out of the inlet to the bar in order to get out onto the West Coast ocean again.

We exchanged details of when, where and how I would get back with them. I plan to begin my paddle at the original pick-up point once the weather has cleared sufficiently. There was no point me staying on board as they, too, could be heading back into dock in the next day or so, as the winds are looking really bad. “Oh, well” I thought, “Westhaven Inlet needs to be paddled around as it looks pretty amazing at high tide.” As we loaded up, we found we had an extra bin, our own huge crayfish for dinner tonight. Although “huge” doesn’t describe it well enough, “MONSTER” maybe!

Having waved goodbye to the “Preditor”, we left the wharf and headed back to the Wyllie farm, a favourite place of mine. Big hugs and “hellos” to Joyce and family, then a long shower as Jase cooked up a big lunch and I chatted and laughed about the last twenty-four hours of this crazy journey. How incredibly lucky to have met and been connected to these groups of people and how they have all helped so much to get me this little bit further north.

I have to sidetrack for a second to tell you that, when Jase was whizzing back along the road yesterday, just a little further south of the Mokihinui River, who did he happen to see walking along the beach but Kirsty, the way cool lady who waved me goodbye a month ago from their crazy, heaving West Coast beach. I will never forget the colourful, cool people who have stopped to chat to us every day. Thanks to all, you are the ones who have helped to make this trip so memorable.

Anyway back to my day. Once we had been fed and my gear was washed and drying, it was then beach walking and assessing time. As suspected, it was a seething mass of water with a big, westerly swell rolling in, with a really low tide and big winds. But as always on this coast, there is something that makes you stop, something that makes you sit down and absorb the incredible force and rawness in this part of the country. Whether it's the massive sand dunes, so tall they nearly reach the sky; or the huge rocks and cliffs to climb, on which to feel the wind trying to blow you sideways; or the rock pools that have been formed, looking like big, mermaid baths in and around the exposed low tide rocks. I walk and continue talking about everything I see. It’s as if my eyes are new and I’m looking at everything with an enhanced sense of excitement and wonder. This beach today is powerful and the feeling has cemented itself in my mind as a place just to sit on a huge, high rock and look out to sea. It makes me feel very much in the moment.

But I’m dragged back to the farmhouse as we have to cook the monster crayfish. Now I love eating the beasts but, alive, kicking and very active crayfish are not my best friends. I leave this to Jase to deal with and there’s lots of laughter as he tries to get it in the pot. Dive gloves on, pot and tongs in hand, he’s in his element. Go Chef Jason! Tonight it’s crayfish for starters and roast lamb for mains, for our dinner at the farmhouse table.

My smiles today:
Helping out on the cray-boat. I reckon I could be a useful crew member, well, nearly!
Climbing into Louise off the back of the huge boat.
Back on the farm, back by the fire.
The beach today. Wild, raw freedom.

My thoughts today:
Life is a wave. Catch it!

Tonight we have the fire cranked up and I’m actually very happy. Another step closer, baby steps, perhaps, but at least not drifting backwards.

Goodnight from Red, Jase and everyone else at the farmhouse. Ma Te Wa.

New Crew... 

New Crew... 

Overboard you go Red.

Overboard you go Red.

Rock Pools.

Rock Pools.