Date: April 14th
Swell: <3m SE
Wind: 20 -30 W
Distance: 20 NM
View Kayak Down Under NZ Journey in a larger map
Back Country Cuisine Food Review
Meal: Roast Chicken
Impression: YUM YUM AND YUM!! good
Stars: 9 out of 10
I awoke early started packing, got my Cray fish on the boil in a pot I borrowed from Lyn at the shot night, moved the kayak down to the water ( I had to unload the whole thing, carry it on my shoulder down the beach till there was no reef in the way). Once the Crayfish was cooked I let it cool as I loaded the gear into the boat, then I ripped of the tail and some legs, put them in my lunch bag, got everything ready to go and started chatting to a chap on a quad bike.
The wind had picked up this morning from the west, and I remember the Cray fishermen the other day warning me of the westerly’s between Akitio and Castle Point, though everyone here seemed to think it was just a little offshore breeze and would actually help me down the coast, hmm ok. I dragged the boat into the wash and fought a bit to keep it straight and water out of the cockpit, as there was wash from all directions, at this point I really started questioning why I had to do this?
It is a funny thing to start doubting why you are doing something after over two months and only a couple of weeks left of doing it. Perhaps it was the anxious feeling I had about the surf the day before or the uncertainty of the coastline ahead and all the bad stories everyone keeps saying, or perhaps, and most likely, I am just exploring my weaknesses and my fears in my head, giving them there moment and then choosing to accept them as right or wrong. I climbed in the boat, stretched on the spray skirt, took paddle in hand and worked my way through the little surf, one little wave actually broke hard on me and unexpectedly gave me a whack in the chest, Hmmm that shook me a bit more. I paddled out around the big surf breaking on the reef that sheltered the shore and worked my way south as usual.
OK a gentle sea breeze, my rear end, HELP me down the coast, F*#% that! The wind picked up more and more, blowing me away from the shore at quite a pace if I stopped paddling, I instantly thought of the Cray fisherman telling to watch out for the westerlies! He has a grin on his face in my mind, as I paddle my balls off along the coast, working hard to angle at and down the coast at the same time. I didn’t want to get to far out in case it increased and stopped me from getting back to shore though I wanted to get down the coast as much as I could at the same time. It ended up not being so bad, I made reasonable ground,, that’s until I hit my first river valley. As I crossed the valley, I was buffeted by strong gusts funneling through from the west. A number of times the boat got shoved on its side or my paddle pulled me to the side; I can’t say I have almost being blown over so many times in 10 minutes. I started to worry ‘is is the wind for the rest of the day?”, but eventually I got passed the valley and the wind dropped slightly.
I again started to think why am I doing this? I mean really what am I trying to prove? That I am Hardcore, that I am stupid, that I love to be hurting all over and uncomfortable, that I love having a wet bum all day, that I love smelling of BO and piss (It is hard not to spill a bit while peeing in a bottle on the ocean), being unshaven, having pimples on my bum from sitting in a kayak for weeks on end in the same pair of board shorts? I mean really, there is a bit of glamour, though there is lots of non glamour especially now it is getting colder ( at least up north you could go swim naked and bath in beautiful streams in the sun), there “IS” beauty though also ugliness, both sides of the gun, a double edged sword. I think of what I had originally hoped to achieve, paddling to Stewart Island, and here I am almost three months later and still not even off the north island. Man! Why continue?
I then think of how, I would have never been happy if I had never tried, How much I had wanted to do this trip, how much work I had put into planning, organizing and setting this up. I remember the exhilaration of paddling the loaded boats out through the big surf on 90mile beach on day one, the ecstatic feeling of finally being underway, the nervousness at what adventures lay ahead. I remember all that has been achieved and experienced so far, and that if I can’t get to Stewart Island I will at least get to Wellington and the bottom of this island before I finish. I choose to do this as I want to know what I can do, I want to learn more about me, I choose to do it as I love too kayak and explore and maybe I will inspire someone else to step up to the challenge of their dream as others have inspired me. “the only true failure is to NOT try!” Right that sorted, let’s get back to business.
I slog it out all day, the only respite is that the bay starts slopping out Eastward to Castle Point and so I finally do get that slight push in the right direction, my back aches between my shoulder blades, my old injury in my right shoulder is flaring up, but I have a great rhythm and despite my late start and the strong winds I have still almost done 20NM by 3pm. As I near the beach of Castle Point, I spot the camp ground and at 4pm, I work my way through the surf and pull up on the beach in front of where I now camp, 20 nm done and I am very tired.
Castle Point is an amazing place, a big arching north facing beach that runs out to a spit of sand that connects to a long rocky island, on top of which stands the castle point light house, tall and regal. The rock is long and narrow and runs south stops abruptly, allowing a channel (the Gap) between it and the next huge rocky headland that I believe gives the place its name, as it looks like a big castle on top of the hill. A very cool place and very beautiful.
I have had a shower, eaten a hot meal and lots of desert, and I am now really scrutinizing the charts, this part of the coast IS very rocky, there are very obvious places you can and can’t land, and some just not so clear. The weather is looking edgy in the coming days as a new low system moves in. tomorrow I rest here, enjoy the amazing scenery and also plan out my moves on how to best get to wellington safely along this rocky stunning coast.