Last night it was a really cold, very calm, and clear star filled night. It seemed to us both that the calm window had arrived earlier than predicted. I was stressed, thinking I may miss the weather window as it could pass overnight. As I went to bed last night I was a little nervous and woke at 2am. Then at 4.15am. I turned on the heater in Cuzzie and lay in bed waiting for the updated weather. When it rolled pre-5am, I shoved the mobile phone screen in Jase's face and said "NO WAY!" He said "What?" The day ahead was going to be Perfect! I had asked so many times to have a blue weather report (calm winds in my weather forecast) and we had exactly that. From the start of the day until the finish. Mother Nature you are a rock star! Thank you.
It was cold, the grass had a thick ice coating, but it did not matter. We were both so very happy. We drove to the DOC car park at the base of the Spit and loaded ourselves up with my day paddling gear. Me with two jackets on, two hats, gloves, wet-suit, booties and double of all my sharkskin paddling gear. The sunrise was spectacular and the walk along the beach briskly cold, but it had an awesome feel as well. We got Louise loaded and me ready. What an easy launch. I did get a couple of waves splash freezing water at me but nothing really to complain about.
We VHF once I was out on the calmer waters. First hiccup: I had left my VHF on and it was only receiving messages. Jase asked did I want to land back on the beach and take his one. No! There is actually no need for us to talk via VHF as I am too far from the coast most of the time! But note to self: remember to check your VHF before you get out on the water. Anyway back to paddling. Farewell Spit on a sunny winters day is pretty amazing. Try and picture this: the blue ocean, then the beach rising up to sand dunes, then up to the far mountains topped with snow, and then a clear blue sky above. This ran the entire length of the spit. Three vehicles was all I spotted on the spit. DOC use, ECO tours bus and ECO tours red truck. They looked as foreign as me against the skyline.
It was a 23km paddle to the light house and then another 8km up the spit before the waves stopped breaking across the sand bar. Once I did think of gapping it across early, but I listened to the fishermen's advice and the reminder from Jase. As I looked once across the spit at an escape plan, I was lifted up by the swells and realised that on the other side it was still dry sand with birds resting on it. Now that would have been a disaster to cut across there, so once I was safely around the spit in calm waters. I stopped and called Jase on the mobile. I sent a couple of pictures to him and then it was a 21km paddle to Separation Point. Oh how wonderful this was. A calm ocean, a little swell, and blue skies.
I arrived at Separation Point and said thank you to all the amazing navigators who have paddled this section well before me, and then just could not describe the excitement inside of me. At last I could go further. I could paddle now to Totaranui and feel content and feel oh so happy to be moving forwards again. The mind and the body today have enjoyed this paddle. Lots of times I had to remind myself "you have paddled Farewell Spit at last". It is an incredible feeling, one I will not ever forget. Another milestone for sure.
At the golden beach of Totaranui I gently touched down. There were big hugs and big high fives. Thanks to the team. Thanks to everybody, your support is incredible. Tonight we light a fire and we toast a glass of champagne to celebrate. Farewell Spit, done. West Coast South Island, done. 4000km, done. Actually, 4012km today.
My smiles today:
Mother Nature answered my prayers.
A beautiful day of paddling.
A DOC fire pit tonight with a glass of champagne.
My thoughts today:
Be patient, never give up, and never loose hope. I have been rewarded. It is a wonderful day.
Goodnight from Red, Jase, Louise and Cuzzie.
Ma Te Wa.