Date: April 18 -20
Swell: 4m SE
Wind: 50 -60 knot SE dropping slowly
Camp: Flat Point
The storm beat and slapped the ocean into frenzy, rain poured from the sky like a shower head with the tap all the way on. My Fur seal friend hunkered wet and miserable in the Dune grasses as the seas smashed on the shore behind him. I sat inside looking out the flexing windows, warm and comfy inside the cabin.
The next three days became pretty relaxed, I read and I watched some TV, though mostly I gazed at the sea; it’s wild aliveness fascinating. Oh how it would be to paddle amongst that wild weather!? I am drawn to be amongst it, yet I fear it; this kind of reminds me of the sensation to jump when standing at the edge of a 1000 foot cliff. Some self destructive urge whispers to you to experience the adventure of that wild sensation that will ultimately destroy you; perhaps this call is what created adrenaline sports? Ultimately wild weather and seas energize me, fascinate me, intrigue me, scare me and keep me coming back for more, weather it is to just watch, or to play in the wild surf; however today I just watch and be thankful for the shelter of a solid house, that I don’t need to paddle in those seas, yet I still imagine the sensation. Salt spray over my face, the wind in my eyes, rain falling on my bedraggled hair, chilled hands gripping the paddle, torso driving powerful strokes; I smile, nature is wonderful.
The weather improves, the sun starts to show over the days, I walk the coast and explore the dunes, the Fur Seal takes this time to dry in the sun, and soon he is waddling down the beach to the surf ( I guess hunger takes him back to the larder). The wind still beats hard up from the south east, bringing white caps running wild across the south pacific as far as I can see towards the steal grey sky on the horizon. I find foot prints in front of me along the beach, who else is out here? A man running. A man approaching me after he notices my foot prints in front of him on his return; probably also asking the same question I did stumbling Upon his prints.
I meet Steve lawrie; a likeable chap, originally from NZ, though has spent most of his life in Alaska and now spends the year halved between both. A commercial Salmon Fisherman and Artist, Steve is instantly intriguing to me; the similarities in our life styles, origins and chosen homes in the North West made us easy friends. He invites me on a car drive to the nearest town (Masterton) an hour away. I accepted as it was a chance to restock the fridge, at the cabin, of the food I have eaten. Plus I want to share stories of life more with Steve and hear more of Alaska and how a kiwi boy ends up that way.
We drive out , Steve gets a haircut, I wander the streets a bit, we then get some great fish ‘n’ chips and drive back again to drink baileys on the rocks next to a fire, the whole time chatting of adventures and the costs of life and love. Steve had meet an American girl at a young age, Steve left art school and they ended up hunting professionally in Fiordland area (the far south west corner of NZ’s South island; NZ’s Alaska) , back when you could make money hunting dear in NZ ( they once had a good bounty on them as a feral animal, until the it was discovered money could be made from hunting them). After a couple of years they ended up in Alaska, and Steve became a fisherman, many years later; Steve rediscovered art as his passion and life took some interesting turns as a good life will. He remains a fisherman though spends the northern winters back in his homeland and focuses on his art.
I thoroughly enjoyed Steve’s company and stories of how the world he has known has changed; older than I by a few years, yet just as wild with the passion of life and the turmoil’s those passions bring, I deeply respect his journey and feel I have meet a kindred spirit who I hope to meet again. I come for lunch on the third day of the storm after deciding I couldn’t leave in the wind still, get to see some of Steve’s Awesome art (www.stevelawrie.com) and talk of commercial fishing and the joys of the wild beauty that is the Pacific North West. Both of us are drawn to the wild of BC and Alaska, yet feel our roots to NZ, there are a strain yet our hearts still take us to the wild flip side of the world.
Another late night yarning by the fire and I then head back to the cabin to sleep, in preparation that the next day WILL be the day I leave, the forecast is looking good. I hope to see Steve in Alaska this year if I have the chance to get up there, which I am certainly sure I will.