Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
The next big task now for this project is Film editing and composition of a short film about the Journey in NZ. I hope to have this short film finished by the start of 2012 so stayed tuned. Thanks for following the adventure and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. keep up to date with more of my adventures at
WORLD WILD ADVENTURE
Saturday, April 30, 2011
After arriving in wellington, Leona and I loaded my boat on her car with inflatable roof racks loaned to us by Fergs kayaks and headed to her place. I spent the next 5 days enjoying wellington area and catching up with old friends and family. The storm finally came the next morning after I arrived and proceeded to rain and rain and rain; plus the wind; my, my how the wind blew. This storm travelled north and proceeded to devastate coastal Hawke’s Bay with the biggest floods in 100 years, destroying parts and cutting off many of the coastal villages I enjoyed along the way. No one died, though many people lost homes and farms, I was quite epic. I am thinking of a title for this trip, maybe “ In The wake of Disaster: kayaking the north island of NZ during a summer of chaos” after all, there had been the Christchurch earth quake, the Japanese quake and tsunami, the Myanmar Quake, Floods in Australia and now the floods in Hawke’s Bay. We will see, it is probably to ominous a title.
April 28th was my Birth Day; I turned 30 years old, I couldn’t think of a better way to roll (or should I say kayak) into my 30’s. it has been an amazing 29 years of life so far, I can’t wait to see what more is to come. I celebrated with a small collection of friends and relatives who were around and available for dinner and drinks. Leona made an Awesome kayak cake. What a great little night at a South East Asian Restaurant called Monsoon Poon; it was very funky and the food tasted great.
My father drove down after the storm passed his land in Hawke’s bay hadn’t been affected luckily. We drove up and camped on the west coast looking out at Mount Egmont; it was a fitting way I felt to end things: the boat on the racks of a car, camping back on the west coast and watching the sunset into the Tasman, me sitting in the kayak on top the car as we drove along, setting up the tent in the dunes; all reminiscent of how Dave and I began the trip on the North west coast and now I end it In a similar way. We awoke the next day to a beautiful morning, it was a flat day on the west coast, the snow caped peak of mount Egmont glowed in the morning light and ever so slightly a tingle felt in my belly, an urge filled my mind, the call to paddle on started whispering in the back of my mind…………….. and I knew there would be many more adventures to come.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Date: 25th April
Weather: Over cast with showers, cold
Swell: light SE
Wind:moderate NW to strong W to Light SE
Distance: 37 NM
Camp: Leona’s Place in Wellington
I awoke apprehensively and looked out the window on to the cook straight; small white caps where running from the north across the water and a cloud bank was building over the south island. It looks good to go at the moment, the North wind had dropped, the SE wind forecasted to come, I am just not sure what the frontal cloud bank will bring when it comes, though it feels right to give it a shot and race the coming storm to wellington.
I packed my gear, got into my paddling kit, ate breakfast with Ron and Kath: they ask me if I am sure I want to go today; I again state I am pretty confident the wind will shift in my favor and I should be able to get to wellington harbor easily if I am running with a strong wind. They ask me to call them on the VHF radio at 12pm to let them know how I am going, I promise I would.
The kayak is loaded back onto the trailer and we head of down to the beach. Final prep takes place, I hug Ron and Kath goodbye thanking them for their hospitality, and I push out into the flat calm bay and look out to see the white caps still running and the cloud front is now much closer: it is moving faster than I had hoped, though at the same time that is ok; as I can find out what it has in store for me sooner.
The North wind isn’t that bad I make reasonable head way with it across my bow, the cloud front bears down on me, the north wind drops and a westerly starts to pick up straight into my face. ‘oh shit, I hope this doesn’t last too long’ I hear myself say. Thankfully I haven’t started the big crossing of 18nm that is the mouth of Palliser bay. The wind increases to 25 knots, so if this is the wind for the day I can still pull out at the next point before I commit to the open water. I slog hard into the wind, the cloud front passes over me, it is pissing rain a couple of hundred meters behind me and also roughly 20 nm in front of me, though none where I am; An omen?
As I near the point, where I plan to pull out and wait for the west wind to go away, it goes away! I find myself paddling up to the edge of Palliser bay in dead calm winds, I take a deep breath; feeling that it is the time to commit, and I go. The water is slight, just a few choppy bits, the wind starts to come again, this time from the south and very light, it then swings SE; as I get right out into the bay, and starts to push me along gently. Three hours later it is blowing about 10knots right on my back and I have got half way across the bay; it is 12pm and so I hail Ron and Kath on the Vhf.
‘Go ahead Red Sea Bear’
‘Everything is A OK Kath, the wind is light and on my tail and I am making great headway, I feel I will make wellington easily by nightfall’
‘Good on yah, you made the right call on the weather, enjoy the rest of the paddle and let us no by phone when you make it to wellington’
‘Will do, this is Red Sea Bear Out on 06’
The rest of the day was a great paddle, moving really well, eating and peeing on the go, I calculated I should make downtown wellington about 5.30-6pm. Reaching the other side of Palliser bay it was nice to be near the shore again and see the lighthouses and beaches along yet another part of coast I had never seen. I was able to get cell phone coverage now, and sent a message to my friend Leona that I will be in down town wellington at about 5.30pm. She was excited and would be there.
I slogged on, my head a mix of emotions and unknowns. While on this trip I had nothing to worry about really, I had a place to stay, the food and water I needed and a very interesting journey to par take in; now it was coming to an end. Time was up, though the journey I wanted to cover; all the way to Stewart Island was not, I still wasn’t sure how I felt about ending now. I had 6 – 9 more days I could possibly squeeze out, though felt still I would be starting something more frustrating by reaching the south island and then just having to catch the ferry back again; plus the coming storm was due to rip up the seas for at least 4-5 days, so my time would not really be that much.
I kept paddling, my mind wandered to my family here in NZ and how it is important for me to spend time with them before I leave once again to North America and the life that still pulls me back there. ‘yes it is time to end’ I remember thinking; time to swallow my pride, except that even best laid plans don’t always work out the way you wanted and adventures are far more fickle than a lot of other things we plan. It has been awesome, I learnt a lot, experienced much and realized a dream; I am a better person for it.
Paddling into the entrance of wellington harbor it at 5pm I realize I won’t make it to the kayak dock at Fergs kayaks until 6pm, I let Leona know. No one will be there to see me in except Leona, it won’t be a media fan fare to feed my ego, it won’t be an epic first in kayak adventures, yet it will be the end of a great adventure for me and the people I have been able to share this experience with along the way and via my blog. I feel, and know, I have accomplished something remarkable for me, right now at this point in my life. New doorways in my reality are now open to me, this has been AWESOME.
I round the head lands into the port of wellington and see the Sky scrapers of the city; the water in the harbor is dead flat, sheltered from the wind. The interisland ferry (that services the north and south island transit route) comes past me with a honk (I was later to discover that Dave was probably on this ferry coming back from the south island; where he had been traveling since leaving the expedition; ironic), the lights where coming on in the city and the sun was gone, leaving a pleasant ethereal dusk. I see a lone surf ski paddler go past and then he rounds up on me and comes towards me with a smile.
‘It is you! I was worried about you since I saw you paddle off from Riversdale beach, wondering if you would ever make it!’ said the guy on the surf ski, as he pulled up next to me. It was the knee boarder I had met in the surf two days before the last big storm up the coast (about 10 days ago ), how ironic we just happen to be in the harbor the same day I come into finish, and thus close the chapter of wonder on my journey for this guy.
‘It was all good mate, had a blast!’
‘Good on yah and good effort, might see you round’
‘Yeah for sure bro, see yah’ and we paddled off from each other, I realized I never did ask his name but it was too late now; we were far from each other going opposite ways. The storm never came that day; I pulled into the floating dock at Fergs kayaks with just a little light left. Leona was there with camera and a beer for me. It was 6.30pm; I had been paddling 11 hours, I was smiling, I was sad, I was happy; I was successful at doing my best, and I needed to get changed.
I awake in my Bunk bed, reach out for the handheld Vhf and turn on the weather. I then turn it off and roll back up in my sleeping bag; Gale force winds from the north again, currently blowing 17, gusting 25 and forecasted to increase in the afternoon to 35knts. I am here another day; which is quite cool, as I want to explore the coastline a bit any way.
I have a good breakfast with Kath and Ron, they are happy I am not going in the weather and invite me to stay another night. We eat while looking across the cook straight to the south island through the window. White caps run and rain clouds streak the western sky, yet south the sky is clear and the coast of Kaikoura on the south island, looks like you can touch it. My heart aches a pang at the thought of not getting there this trip, yet the coming weather storm from the south reminds me; this isn’t the time of year to be pushing south.
The coming storm is already causing heavy downpours on the south island as I moves up, and it is predicted to hit the north island hard, particularly on the east coast. My last chance to get to wellington is tomorrow, if a gap doesn’t come; the storm looks to hold me up for about 5 days and the swell caused by it may extend it to 7. I am eager to run ahead of the storm to wellington if it gives me the chance.
The day is quite lovely; despite the strong wind, and I go for a walk along the beach exploring and enjoying the strange items and machinery in the village as well. I sit and contemplate the trip while gazing across the Cook Straight to the South Island. The feat of the length of the North Islands East coast isn’t super human; though it wasn’t easy either. I am mixed with disappointment and pride at what has been achieved; I have learnt so much about myself, the sport of sea kayak expeditions and my country. This is a momentous point for me in my life, the step towards dreams I only hoped could be possible and now I can taste; from this point I can only see up. So much more scope and possibilities are obvious realities to me now. This new mindset is a huge victory for me just on its own; yet I don’t feel joyous, I feel real, I feel sad nearing the end, and now near the end it all seems so minor, my new reality is just that; a reality, no longer a point to strive for, but a constant that is an achievement of the past. I morn all I have lost in order to achieve this point in my life, I embrace the new gifts I have received in return and I feel stronger and wiser for it. An adventure is not a true adventure unless you lose something to achieve it, as only then can you gain.
The rest of the afternoon is spent exploring cape Palliser light house and sitting by a wonderful rock pool that forms at low tide. At this time of year, young seals are learning to swim, and a natural pool like this makes a great play pen. As I sit on a rock, young seals frolic about me within a couple of feet. There must be 50 young pups splashing, diving, leaping and biting. Their youth brings curiosity and lack of experience brings no fear, they approach people on rocks, sniffing shoes, they chase over curious kids from the water edge, not in aggression; more like they want to play yet the kids run. The watchful mothers sit and tolerate a surprising amount of close interaction with humans. It is mesmerizing and wonderful, I could sit all day.
The forecasted winds come in the afternoon and Kath, Ron and I retire to their place for dinner. Looking at the weather map and listening to the marine forecast, I am gambling that the supposed SE Gale force winds won’t come tomorrow and if they do they will simply push me to wellington. I am counting on the change of wind direction from decreasing north wind over night to SE east Gales, to mean a solid period of calm weather and slowly building winds; the proverbial “calm before the storm”. We will see.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Date: 23rd April 2011
Wind: Ne – N 15 – 35 knts
Camp: At Ron and Kath Beil’s Bach in Ngawi beach
Wind rips across the sea, creating a fuzzy white haze in patches about me and the boat. Sea spray slaps me in the face and every time the kayak bow crests a wave and splashes down, I am doused in a rain of salt water. My body aches, I pull and push as hard as I can, the wind backs off, I move forward, a ferocious gusts slams upon me, I lie flat and paddle, I move backwards. I am making headway in the ferocious head wind and rough sea, though very slowly, the lighthouse at Cape Palliser looking stoically down upon me, as Fur seals frolic in the water un hindered by the angry winds.
The morning started out well, small surf, calm seas, warm sun, I awoke early packed my gear meet some new surfers, had help from the Harveys to move the boat down to a break in the reef on the beach, they even gave me a cup of tea and toast before I left. I said good bye to Steve the pyrotechnic, and then pushed out across the reef during a flat lull and effortlessly got underway with the light wind heading south. Dark clouds loamed above the mountains though, and the warm morning became cool as I headed on, quickly the winds picked up behind me and I was able to paddle a quite a clip. A little rain and then the sun was out again, beating down on me. There were Gale Force wind warnings out again today, though I felt I needed to at least get into the cook straight; that way I was a day’s hard paddle from wellington and I could wait for, and see, a weather gap; thus I was on the water.
The day seemed great; not too stormy, it was sunny and as I reached cape Palliser 17nm later, at 12.30pm, it seemed I had lucked out again with beautiful weather at a legendary head land. As I crept closer, the winds started gusting round the corner, slamming me sideways then leaving me to contemplate that I was about to officially finish paddling the entire length of the east coast of the north island; from Cape Reinga to Cape Palliser, it had been a very cool journey, so much had happened. I felt I had achieved something, though also felt sad to be looking across the cook straight to the south island and, at that point knowing, I wasn’t getting there this trip.
As I came around the corner onto the south coast the white capes where running and I had a head wind to battle, as I came around a bunch of rocks of the beach and headed for the southern point, it became a brick pushing exercise. That wind was only a touch on what was in store for me as I rounded the southern point of the north island and headed north towards Palliser bay and the seaside hamlet of Ngawi.
The seas where messy, chopping and sloshing all over the place, slamming into rocks and slowing me down with jarring ups and downs, on top of that, the wind barely let me get anywhere. It had taken me over an hour already to travel almost 2 NM. Now I was trudging along towards Nagawi at rate of 1nm an hour. I would move forward in a slight lull of 20 nm winds then at least 29nm would hit me and I would slip back. I managed to find the grit to just keep going to Ngawi; just around the corner. People in cars, fishing on rocks, walking the beach stopped to look at me it seemed.” who’s that crazy bugger?” I could imagine them asking their friends or themselves, But that could have just been my imagination helping me find some amusement in my situation; instead of thinking about being blown out into the south pacific.
Eventually I pulled into the Cray fishing village of Ngawi, there was a bit of shelter from the wind In the crescent bay, with barely a wave on the beach I pulled up and stood below 25or so boats, all lined up on trailers attached to bulldozers, I knew that this was really a calm day for an area that required bulldozers and floating trailers to launch 30 -55ft fishing boats off and on a beach.
I walked about the village, located the free camping area, but also went looking for a chap called Bill Jagor, that Ron Harley from the night before had told me to look up. I found no Bill Jagor ( he was out) but I meet his neighbors, kath and Ron Beil, who invited me in for a cup of tea, then came down to see my boat, helped me unload then ended up taking me back to their place to stay and have dinner. Ron and Kath are wonderful people, now in retirement and enjoying their holiday Bach; we had a great chat, and ate a good meal. Despite my exhaustion catching up on me and barely being able to keep awake, we talked until about 11pm, when I finally had to go to sleep before I did so in the seat at the dining table.
The forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look good.
Friday, April 22, 2011
I awoke to a most beautiful sunrise, striking orange across the sky and backlighting beautiful hollow faced waves that reared up in most stunning sets that roared across the reef in front of my tent sending spray into the air off their crests like diamond dust thrown into the rising sunlight. But wait!!! Big beautiful waves across my reef!! Shit the surf is up and it is big, churning up my entry exit point, there are lulls however so I know I can time my way out, so I get up and start to pack.
I am nervous there is now a Gale warning out for today in the cook straight, I gave myself the rule to not paddle on Gale force days, but the day seems good, the wind taking me south, however it is already blowing quite strong and it is only 6.30am, plus the surf is quite decent. Tomorrows forecast (thanks to the local Farmer, Tora, his wife Jen and sons) is looking kind; at same and a big stinking low is brewing in the south. I am not sure what to do.
A surfer, who had camped up last night to surf this swell, comes over to chat. His name is Matt and he is a builder in wellington and knows the coast quite well. He was a bit ominous about the wind and suggested it would only blow harder if it is blowing like this already, plus he said the swell is dropping tomorrow and there is a music festival on here for the weekend. I then meet another surfer Dave from California, we all chat for awhile and I decide I can afford to wait a day and hope the winds drop tomorrow. The boys head out surfing and I then meet the Harvey’s, a family from Auckland who are now camping next to me. There is Mark and his wife Jenny, their kids and the grandparents ( I hope they can forgive me for forgetting names I know granddad was Malcolm and one of the kids was Mathew, ugh I am meeting so many people) I end up enjoying their company, telling stories, eating food and then gathering Abalone (Paua) on the reef to cook. Good fun and tasty. The Paua was collected easily on the reef at low tide at about ankle to waist deep water and tasted great thinly sliced and fried in a pan with butter.
I also wandered up and meet Neil who was helping organize the concert on his property, it was a great deal $30 for two nights camping on the property (wonderfully located at the foot of bush covered hills, looking out over the ocean with many private campsites amongst trees and shrubs), toilet facilities and two nights of 3 bands playing per night. Neil invited me to move up and camp with them and he would lend me his truck and trailer to do so, though I felt I was better where I was as I would need to sleep and get up early and get on the water tomorow, however I would attend tonight’s concert for a bit.
On the walk back I bumped into Dave from California again, with his NZ wife and her relative Steve, they invited me up for dinner at their Bach down the road, so later that night Dave picked me up and I got to meet the Harley family, they had prepared a wonderful steamed meal in a Beer keg and it was fantastic. The Maori traditionally would dig a pit light a big fire in it that would super heat larva rocks, then they would layer food in it and bury it, all to cook by steam, this was called a Hangi, the Harleys had done a Keg Hangi!
After meeting some wonderful folk, and talking about the seas and adventures of life in all choices of lifestyles, Dave and I then went up to enjoy a bit of the live music; which was an awesome eclectic ensemble of talents. An old truck made the stage and along with a great bomb fire and even pyrotechnic explosions; that ripped into the sky as huge fireballs that doused you in heat, it was an awesome night., the pyrotechnics where thanks to another surfer and sea kayaker, Steve. Steve and his buddy Pete are surfers and Sea kayakers form the wellington area and I had meet them earlier in the day and had talked about their sea kayak journey around the east cape some 12 years ago, they had had some amazing travels and we shared accounts of the mighty East cape and coast.
The day in general had been amazing and the weather was good as well, I felt guilty I hadn’t paddled today as the weather ended up being amazing, though they day was so eventful and fun I was very happy to have experienced it. So when I reluctantly drew away from the Fire, live music and fun; to go get some sleep for tomorrow, I knew it was a day well spent.