Date: March 30th
Weather: overcast and cool
Swell: 2m building to 3.5m E
Wind: SE 18knts
Camp: A little river valley along the coast
Back Country Cuisine Food Review
Meal: Beef Teriyaki
Impression: Yummy yummy yummy! Great taste, good portion, loved it! It is our second go at it and it is still good! Quite sweet however, we loved it!
Stars: 9 out of 10
The day had an ominous start for me, I awoke at 1am in the morning, worried that the increased wind would drive the waves at high tide, over the bar we camped on and wash us away, my logic told me this wouldn’t happen as we have checked and re checked it wouldn’t before we set up camp. There was evidence of it happening previous nights on a higher tide and larger swell. I sleep a bit more.
Day break, we are up and packing early, the wind is constant from the south east though not to strong, the sea is up a bit, though not too bad, it is forecasted to be huge tomorrow so we want to get south to try and avoid being stuck on a beach waiting for it to subside. While packing boats I put a hole in my dry bag and spend time repairing it, Dave loses a lid to a water container we spend time looking for it though never find it. We load the boats climb in a push off into the seaward flow, Dave is all confident and chirpy to get going and we a prepped to punch through the river mouth surf and get under way.
We round the corner and the surf is bigger than yesterday, I had checked earlier and it looked ok, though now with the wasted time, lower tide and increased river flow out, the surf zone was a bit more monstery! Just got to go with it and push through. Dave goes one way I the other, there is a chocolate look to the water and waves bounce back here and there and then we are in the surf zone. The first wave rears up and slams right on top of me, I lean forward to protect my spray skirt form being pushed of and I am tipped upside down, I roll up look over sea Dave upside down. I push through the next wave, look back and see Dave has rolled up and paddling out again. The next wave slams down on me again, I brace and protect my skirt upside down I go again, I roll up on my off side this time, looking over to Dave, he is swimming, ah piss!! Not how we wanted the day to start.
I get pushed out by the river flow and just have to wait and see how Dave goes, if I come in it is over for the day, I will give him one shot at getting back out before I come in. Dave drags the boat up on shore, starts emptying it, I have to paddle out as the river isn’t pushing me now and the wind is pushing me in. I turn back and Dave is gone! Where did he go? I wait and wait, and then I look to my left and see him paddling out through the surf. My smile goes ear to ear, good man that was a tough beach exit; he has learnt some stuff on this trip. We regroup and head south again.
An hour later we look top shore and see we have gone no wear, we are on some funny current tread mill, we pick up the pace and get out of the muddy waters and the pace improves, though not much. The wind was forecasted to die off, though it seems to pick up the swell increases as well. I tell Dave that we should turn back in an hour if things don’t improve, he agrees!
An hour later we have made, just barely 5nm, the weather isn’t much worse though certainly not better, there are options here for landing, little valleys in the cliffs, we either come in here or go back, Dave feels going in here is a good option, I agree, though hate the idea of landing on the steep beaches with dumping surf, but we must except challenges and must face our individual not likes. We get in closer and the beach is pretty dumpy, and there are some bigger sets coming through now, if we go back to the river they may get bigger, Dave is happy to come in here, I consent though hate the dumping surf! We wait and wait, trying to find the pattern in the sets to avoid the large waves, we think we have it, Dave is anxious to get it over with, I make him wait a bit longer then he goes in, I back of to give him space for the safety of both of us. A wave breaks in front of me but behind him, I see the wall of wash move away, Dave doesn’t appear, he must have side surfed it in, all he could do. I wait to see how he fairs, shit more big waves move in, this is not in the pattern we thought we had seen.
I see Dave flush off a wave upside down, another wave washes over him, I see him swimming with the boat, another wave washes over him, and he is gone from sight. I sit and wait, I can’t risk hitting him or being hit by his boat, so I need to wait to see where he ends up before I come in. I wait some more, no sign. Oh man, this isn’t fun, what’s going on that I can’t see, has he been sucked under by an under tow, is he unconscious?? All the worst case scenarios play out. We came in here to try and avoid another nasty landing, oh man.
Suddenly out of the surf I see an 18 foot green and yellow Kayak come flying into the air and summersault, “ Wow , that’s not good!” is state to myself and then think I hope it didn’t land on Dave! Ah piss! This is a bit of a screw up, the weather caught us out and the forecast was a bit off! I see Dave scrambling on the beach, but I don’t see the boat, “Oh man! He has lost the kayak and it’s getting minced in the waves” was my thoughts. He drags the boat up the beach, he is clear.
Ok he is safe, now it is my turn, “oh shit, I hate this stuff sometimes, and I really hate dumping surf!” I exclaim out load and follow in behind some big waves, I take my time, I back of a big face, it breaks underneath me as I slide of the back, I paddle my ass of behind it, the ones are small, I keep of them and done surf, I get really close to shore I look back a small wave is coming followed by an biggy, I want to get on the beach with the small one, I paddle hard as it passes under me a breaks on the shore, I ride it a little way up the beach to a stop, I go to get out though look seaward first, the bigger wave is already breaking and on me. I shrug my shoulders, brace for impact and get SLAMMED up the beach at blurred speed, the boat and I spin to face the sea as the wave recedes, I throw my paddle up the beach and leap from my boat, to find Dave there, holing my boat and paddle smiling. “That was cool how you spun backwards!” and he runs off to get his paddle from the surf. I don’t smile and turn my attention to his Kayak. “Dave must not have seen the damage as he is way too happy” I think.
I empty out his boat by tipping it over and I see straight away, it is mashed! The seams are split, there are big impact cracks. His boat did a pitch pole, where the nose of the boat gets shoved into the sand and the wave mashes the back of the boat over the front as it passes. The weight of the loaded boat bends the front at the week point and it flexes and breaks. Bugger! Dave comes back and I ask him if he has seen his boat. “Yeah the rudders bent!” he smiles, “No, Have you SEEN your BOAT.” he frowns, walks over and …..
It turned out, Dave never saw the spectacular circus display his boat did, and I had to explain why the cracks where there and he was heartbroken, this is what neither of us wanted to happen, and he had talked with me days ago, about not wanting to go past Napier any more as he knew his skills weren’t good enough to keep the boat safe and probably himself. I had agreed and we planned to Part Company in Napier, and I would continue solo if I could to at least Napier. This new incident just reinforced what we were both worried about and bloody hell only two days away from the finish too.
We unloaded the boats, lugged them up the beach to where we now camp, on a flat grassy clearing well back from the sea, we are here for at least a couple of days. We need to see tomorrow if we can fix the boat, and if not how do we end this???
Composite (fiber glass, Kevlar, Carbon) boats are a trade off over the tougher cheaper plastic boats, though there pluses are more than there negatives. Composite boats are more fragile than plastic, though it still takes a lot to break one, Plastic boats can be beaten, dragged and dropped, almost impervious to damage, though they too will break. other than that composite boats are lighter, can be made into much better performance designs than plastic boats and When they do break, can be fixed in the field, often stronger than they were to start with, where plastic boats often end up breaking again in the same spot and need all sorts of heat tools to get the job done.
This incident was unfortunate and Dave, even though swimming, was providing a seaward drag to the boat to try and avoid such an incident as this, though the one particular wave got the better of him. It looks like the boat should be easy enough to fix despite the brutal bashing it got, so all should be well. I am just Super stoked Dave didn’t get hit by the boat as it came crashing back down. The next couple of days will be an interesting twist to the adventure.