Friday 30th September 2016
A brief outline for fellow kayakers:
Northerly wind 9 to 15 knots,
Northerly swell only 1 meter,
32,640 strokes paddled,
11 hours on the water,
4 checkpoints along the way,
Approx 10 minutes stop each time,
Approx speed 6.11kms per hour. A tad slow!
Now for the story of the day:
At 6.30am, off I head with a dry mouth and a tight feeling in my stomach. It’s like a millpond as I leave Opunake, but we are protected from the northerly wind that’s blowing up towards the Cape. All I can think is “How far will I get before it turns into a head-on battle?” First check-point was perfectly okay. Now I need some luck! 14kms to the tip of the Cape and now all I can think about is how close I can get before I get slammed by the wind and the swells coming round this particularly unpleasant section. I try hard not to think about what I had read in Paul Caffyn’s book about how he couldn’t see the lighthouse because the swells where so huge!! I knew it wouldn’t be that bad. But I also knew that Mother Nature wasn’t going to allow me to have an easy passage round and past this treacherous Cape.
Then, 4kms before I get to my checkpoint, we are slowed by the wind, a current and bigger swells coming straight at me! Eventually I get into a position to be able to chat to Anna on the VHF and said “Let's see what it’s like round at the boat ramp,” because I had another 4kms before having to make a decision on whether to end the day there or continue. Just to make matters a little tougher, a small rain storm came through as well, but there seemed to be lighter skies towards New Plymouth. As I passed behind all the surf breaks, I also noticed that it seemed somewhat calmer further up the coast. Much to Anna’s surprise, I said I was going to aim for Okura, some 22kms away and that the time would probably be really slow; an estimated 4 hours. The pace didn’t improve any and a whole lot of patient determination and not a few blisters later, at last I managed to VHF Anna to say “Hi. I’ll see you in New Plymouth!” But it took me another 12kms, it was a really slow slog to get there as I had tried unsuccessfully to get closer in to the shore.
I had to work really hard for every kilometre today. Eventually the day is a success and, as I paddle past Back Beach, seagulls dive bomb me. I dare them to try and peck my head and I was ready for them to try and fly off with my hat! Then it was the last straight, in the lee of the rock wall and into New Plymouth harbour. Today, a couple of news reporters from the Taranaki Daily News came to say “Hi!”. Thanks guys, for coming out on a wet and windy Friday evening, it was good to chat. Thanks, too, to Sharon for the long chat. It’s great meeting like-minded people who have been following my blog.
At last, we’re parked up at the campsite. I’m tired and hungry. I’m making do with some Whittakers chocolate while Anna and I cook some steak and veggies and wait for Jase to return with some hot chips to have with a well-deserved dinner. In the meantime, I’ve also been busy treating a few too many blisters, which is what happens when I only get to paddle a few days each month, my hands get soft!! Now it’s windy and raining but, actually, I don’t care. Bed is calling and I need a good night’s sleep. No need for weather checking tomorrow, that’s for sure!
My smiles today:
New Plymouth, we have arrived!
Jase being there to welcome me when I land.
Anna has fully mastered her support crew duties.
Eat, sleep, paddle, repeat!
VHF working again.
My thoughts today:
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think!
Goodnight from us all.
Ma Te Wa.
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