Date: March 5th
Weather: Overcast and rain
Swell: moderate NE
Wind: strong NE
Distance: 40.13 NM
Camp: Jill and Dave’s Whitianga
Meal: Toasted Sandwiches.
Impression: Nothing fancy, just good hearty Vogels bread, lots of butter, cheese, tomatoes, Bacon (for Dave) and one with vegemite and cheese (for Jaime). Ate 3 each. Awesome at the end of a long wet day! and thanks heaps Jill for making them for us!
Stars: 9 out of 10
Today started with our usual routines, which have become efficient over the past month….. pack gear, gear into kayaks, eat and go. Our first stop was at a nearby DoC (Department of Conservation) campsite to top up our water supply. The camp managers were very friendly and filled our water bags while enquiring about our journey. It was 9:00 am when we pushed off the campground beach in Stony Bay and headed towards Long Point and the large open waters of Colville Channel. The weather forecast had called for strong NW winds with potential heavy rains at times.
We had no particular destination in mind at this time other than we wanted to take advantage of the favorable wind conditions and get as far as we could before the winds did an about face, which was expected by tomorrow. The conditions were gray and cool, but with the winds and waves at our backs our spirits were high and our speed quick. It wasn’t long before Cape Colville and the Moehau Range at the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula were left far behind.
We had been heading SW towards Whangapous Harbour to avoid a 10 nm open water crossing, but we eventually had to head further west so the time had come for us to change direction otherwise we would eventually find ourselves fighting the same winds and waves that had been pushing us to this point. The winds were now a solid 20 knots with gusts pushing close to 30 and the sea state was rough with 2-3 meter of swell. As we made our move the skies were dark and threatening.
Our jovial mood ceased as our workload increased and we concentrated on the task at hand. For the most part we were able to take pretty good advantage of the NW winds, but they wanted to push us towards shore, which meant working against it to some degree. Our angle against the swells meant we had to constantly be on guard or otherwise risk being hit by large random breakers. It was going to be a bit of a slog, but we knew that once we hit the headwaters at Tokarahu Point we would once again have the winds and waves solidly at our backs and with those conditions it just might be possible to make it to Dave and Jills place at Whitianga….. and hot showers, this would be at least a 36 nm day if we did it!
The carrot had been set…. now we set our course and sights on making that a reality! It took 4 hours of solid paddling to make the headwaters and with 7 hours of rough seas since we had departed the beach at Stony Bay it was definitely time for a pee! Now 4:00 p.m. and roughly 12 nm to Dave and Jills….. we decided we can do this! A short nourishment break….. a bagel with cream cheese, which had been made in the morning but couldn’t be eaten during the rough ride was quickly downed with great satisfaction. Now back to paddling…. best to start soon before the body starts to seize up.
It took us another 3.5 hours to reach Whitianga Harbour. Fortunately the tide was still rising as we reached the mouth of the estuary, which made for a very leisurely and scenic paddle as we meandered our way upriver past the marina and boats moored in the waterway and completing our days paddle right at the foot of Dave and Jill’s’ property. We had just spent 11 hours in our kayaks and come a distance of just over 40 nm (73 kms)….. the furthest either of us had ever paddled in a single day. We must have looked like drowned rats, but none-the-less very happy. ~ Dave
Jill and Dave Cochrane, where there, with smiles on their faces, when I knocked on the door, they knew we were aiming to be here Saturday, though weren’t sure we would make it in the weather. The back gate was quickly unlocked, boats brought in, gear unloaded, kayakers in showers and toasted sandwiches on the grill. Dave and I couldn’t believe our luck, hot food, warm beds, hot showers and great hosts.
Dave and Jill are my best mate Jon’s parents, and I have spent a lot of time hanging around with them as one of many extra children they claim, it was wonderful to see them after 3 years and share the recent kayak story and other stories of the past years since I was last visiting them. The body ached and the blurred and soon we were all fast asleep. ~ Jaime