Date: April 10th
Swell: Moderate SW SE
Camp: North end of Ocean Beach, Just SE of cape Kidnapers
After an attempt of almost 2 hours to get off the beach at Napier yesterday, I am finally on the move today. Yesterday I aimed to get off the beach at 2pm and paddle a short way down the coast to a spot I used to camp as kid, meet some mates from high school and eat fish and chips, but the surf had another idea. Big dumpers came roaring onto the stony beach angry and hungry, there were gaps and you could get out if you really wanted it.
Dave, my cousin Ben and I carried the boat and all my gear down from Bens house on the hill, to the beach, I loaded up and got ready to go, but main the dumpers where angry, I was cautious, my heart in my throat, beating like a load drum. Every time I went to go after huge dumpers smashed the beach and waded in to the wash of the littler dumpers, there always seemed to be another big one coming and I would have to run back and drag my boat up the beach again as another huge exploding wall rushed in.
At one point I almost got the gap I was waiting for, though my boat slipped sideways in the withdrawing wave and before I knew it, the boat was sucked into the next small dumper, filled with water and rolled up the beach, as I scrambled after it. My cousin Ben came down to help and he grabbed the other end of the boat and tried pulling it up as I pulled the other end. Not going to work, I ran over to help him at his end as I knew we needed to be at the same end, that’s when the next dumper came and I Yelled at him to “Let go and get out of the way!”. As the boat got smashed up the beach, I jumped as high as I could just clearing the boat as it surged under me, Ben fell over and the tail of the boat caught his leg and cut his knee. I emptied the boat, Ben went off to get 3 stitches and I then tried again, another 30 minutes passed and it was 4.20pm. I called it quits as it was late, the swell was due to drop tomorrow and I might as well go then.
Found a chap Hans at the surf club, he let me store the boat and gear there over night, which meant no lugging gear up and down again from the hill, yay! That night my mates Jodi and Miky came and had Pizza with us.
That brings us to today. Today was awesome; I came down at 9am, got the boat out with Hans’s help, loaded the boat, waited 10 minutes, pushed out on a small wave and was on the water in the warm sun of the morning heading to Cape Kidnappers. The swell had dropped by at least half, I waved goodbye to Dave and Hans, and I paddled off alone.
The day was beautiful, but my body was a little lazy with a fully loaded boat after maybe 5 days paddling in the last 3 weeks, so it took awhile to get back into the groove, and I had lost my inflatable seat yesterday when my boat got swamped and shoved up the beach, bugger! My bum will get sore now sitting for long days in the boat; I will have to find a replacement soon.
By 2pm I was at the end cliffs of cape kidnappers and I pulled onto the beach right in front of the walking track up to the top, where the largest mainland Gannet colony in NZ is. I had plenty of time and a great day to get around the cape, so I took the opportunity to go up and see the birds and the view. I used to come here as a kid and have fond memories, though I tell yah, now the walk isn’t as big or as horrible as I remember, which is good. The Gannets were great, though there weren’t the 5000 that usually nest there (most had flown to Australia for the winter feeding grounds), there was certainly enough, and you could get nice and close to film and takes shots. Amazing fliers that they are, they sucked at landing and would drop from the sky like a feathery rock with a squawk near their nest or mate.
I hung out for a couple of hours and headed down about 4pm, I meet a couple of chaps that run the tractor rides along the beach to bring tourists out to the gannets, Rod and Collin, and they got excited about my journey and helped me launch my boat through the reef. While I was gone the tide dropped a lot more and exposed some clay rock reef, so Collin and Rod helped me roll the boat down the beach on logs and channel it through the clay rock reef, and then I punched out through some small but step waves.
The lighting on the end of the cape was stunning as I passed the triangular rock island off the end. The chalky cliffs glowed in the low light and I passed around onto the now dark side of the peninsula and headed SW to ocean beach. As I paddled along further out, the sun still shone on me and as it dipped below the cliffs and the time reached 5.30 pm, I decided to pull up on a nice sheltered little beach with sand dunes to camp.
What a great night, though things are a bit slower now there is only me to set the tent and cook the food, plus lug gear and my boat. However I am enjoying being alone, in the last 2 months it has been a rarity for me to be alone with my own company, and I normally like alone time. I am ok so far to be by myself on the rest of the trip, though we will see how long that lasts and how far past wellington I might get.