Day 321...West Coast Wow!

As we parked up last night, the sun was setting, the beach and ocean calmed, and the sky continued to keep turning a deep red until the sun dropped and disappeared beneath the ocean. There was still a little bit of a wind and it got cold as night fell. But the calmness of the ocean had already been mind-blowing for me and, according to the forecast, it was going to get even calmer by morning. Really? Was this Mother Nature showing me that she can be nice?

We all curled up in Cuzzie for dinner, Martin in charge of the BBQ outside and me on veggies inside, while Anna got used to having to wear a few extra layers. But, once we got the heater on and the cooking going, inside Cuzzie was warm and cosy. A discussion ensued and a plan made about the checkpoints for the following morning’s paddle and soon we were tucked up in bed, Martin for his first night in his camper-van and the girls in Cuzzie.

I woke to update myself on the weather, listening for the sound of the waves and any wind. Nothing! It still seemed as if the forecast was near on perfect. Under 10 knot winds all day and (get this) only a 0.4m swell for my departure. It was nothing short of a miracle! I pulled on my clothes and walked down to the water’s edge, brushing my teeth! I stood there in utter disbelief, watching the small soft, fluffy waves that, as the forecast had predicted, rolled gently onto the beach. I was smiling on the inside and had a warm, pleasant feeling about today as I headed back to Cuzzie to warm up my gear, cook some breakfast and make coffee.

This morning I had plenty of time and, by 6.15am, I was sitting happily eating hot pancakes and drinking my celebration coffee. The sky was light now and, as the sun rose, the water looked even more impressive. Anna and Martin were both up before 7.00am and we unloaded Louise from the roof. We then walked her down to the river mouth, with not a wave in sight! I did mention to Anna that this was, indeed, miraculous, and not a normal West Coast sight at all! I was given the push out onto the river mouth and gently paddled over and out on the gentle swell. The only thing that got wet this morning were my toes! It was more than incredible, it was fantastic!

Once on the water, I settle into my day’s paddling, but not before I take a picture of Mt. Egmont, in all her full glory, looking like a Mr Whippy ice-cream, floating on top of the ocean so far away in the distance. Then, as I look back across the beach and the sand dunes, I see the Tongariro Ranges, covered in snow and looking absolutely amazing.

Today's check points went well. Only on the first one were the team in their black hoodies, so it took me a long time to pick them out against all the driftwood but, from then on, one of them would wear the pink sharkskin top and that made it far easier to locate them. The beaches looked like highways with 4WD utes and cars, motor bikes and quads whizzing up and down the river mouths to go fishing, with whitebait nets on the back of the vehicles. A stunning Sunday for everyone it would seem!

I had some Google assistance locating the boat ramp and, as I got near the harbour entrance, I again had to stop and say a quick “thank you” to whoever it is who is watching over me. The entrance to Whanganui River mouth was like glass, with not a wave or any swell in sight. I talked with the support team on VHF, then paddled down the river towards them, keeping well clear of the fishing lines all along the edge of the shoreline, until I could see the boat ramp. 49 kilometres paddled today and there were still daylight hours to be enjoyed. We chatted while we unloaded Louise and, after I got changed, we sat in the back of Cuzzie in the afternoon sun, watching a mixture of people arrive and depart from the boat ramp. At one stage, I thought that a man in his motorised wheelchair was about to fall over the edge and into the water as he went to the end of the wharf, and then did a ten point turn to get back off the wharf. In fact, I couldn’t even look but made Anna watch from her vantage point on top of Cuzzie. At last, but in no-way soon enough, she gave me the thumbs up to say he was safe and I could return to watch the other boat ramp antics. There were big dogs slightly out of control and, to Anna’s horror, a cat covered in snow also came to visit us today. For your information, I now have a member of the support crew who, believe it or not, is actually scared of cats! Now they keep appearing from everywhere it seems!!

Once we were all fed and watered, it was a quick trip to the supermarket. I’m dreaming of roast chicken and roasted veggies for Sunday dinner and the team don’t seem to be complaining about this idea either. We drive back south, to a little campsite recommended to us by Gerry Marie, to a friend of his called Tom (the campsite at Koitiata). Cute and little. Tom is a kayaking legend in his own right and was extremely generous. After a quick chat, I made plans and am heading back tomorrow to chat to him over a cup of tea or two about kayaking. In the meantime, Anna and Martin had headed off to walk along the beach and I was keen to get the roast dinner underway. Chicken on the Weber BBQ, roast veggies in the electric frying pan, leaving the broccoli and peas for the support crew to cook!

Tonight, as the sun sets, I’m still in disbelief that the West Coast actually turned on this magical day and I have to say that I feel truly blessed on this beautiful West Coast Sunday evening.

My smiles today:
A bluebird West Coast day.
The mountains looking like Mr. Whippy ice-creams.
A magical day on the water.
A Sunday roast dinner.
Sunrise and sunsets you can only dream about.
A West Coast beach launch during which I actually stayed dry!
Coffee after a wonderful day’s paddle.
Feeling that a 49km paddle is an easy day!

My thoughts today:
"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams." Thanks Oprah Winfrey!

Goodnight from Red and the latest recruits on the Redz NZ Journey team.

Ma Te Wa.

Mr Whippy Ice-cream!! AKA Mt Egmont

Mr Whippy Ice-cream!! AKA Mt Egmont

The other snow-clad ranges.

The other snow-clad ranges.