Date: 23rd April 2011
Wind: Ne – N 15 – 35 knts
Camp: At Ron and Kath Beil’s Bach in Ngawi beach
Wind rips across the sea, creating a fuzzy white haze in patches about me and the boat. Sea spray slaps me in the face and every time the kayak bow crests a wave and splashes down, I am doused in a rain of salt water. My body aches, I pull and push as hard as I can, the wind backs off, I move forward, a ferocious gusts slams upon me, I lie flat and paddle, I move backwards. I am making headway in the ferocious head wind and rough sea, though very slowly, the lighthouse at Cape Palliser looking stoically down upon me, as Fur seals frolic in the water un hindered by the angry winds.
The morning started out well, small surf, calm seas, warm sun, I awoke early packed my gear meet some new surfers, had help from the Harveys to move the boat down to a break in the reef on the beach, they even gave me a cup of tea and toast before I left. I said good bye to Steve the pyrotechnic, and then pushed out across the reef during a flat lull and effortlessly got underway with the light wind heading south. Dark clouds loamed above the mountains though, and the warm morning became cool as I headed on, quickly the winds picked up behind me and I was able to paddle a quite a clip. A little rain and then the sun was out again, beating down on me. There were Gale Force wind warnings out again today, though I felt I needed to at least get into the cook straight; that way I was a day’s hard paddle from wellington and I could wait for, and see, a weather gap; thus I was on the water.
The day seemed great; not too stormy, it was sunny and as I reached cape Palliser 17nm later, at 12.30pm, it seemed I had lucked out again with beautiful weather at a legendary head land. As I crept closer, the winds started gusting round the corner, slamming me sideways then leaving me to contemplate that I was about to officially finish paddling the entire length of the east coast of the north island; from Cape Reinga to Cape Palliser, it had been a very cool journey, so much had happened. I felt I had achieved something, though also felt sad to be looking across the cook straight to the south island and, at that point knowing, I wasn’t getting there this trip.
As I came around the corner onto the south coast the white capes where running and I had a head wind to battle, as I came around a bunch of rocks of the beach and headed for the southern point, it became a brick pushing exercise. That wind was only a touch on what was in store for me as I rounded the southern point of the north island and headed north towards Palliser bay and the seaside hamlet of Ngawi.
The seas where messy, chopping and sloshing all over the place, slamming into rocks and slowing me down with jarring ups and downs, on top of that, the wind barely let me get anywhere. It had taken me over an hour already to travel almost 2 NM. Now I was trudging along towards Nagawi at rate of 1nm an hour. I would move forward in a slight lull of 20 nm winds then at least 29nm would hit me and I would slip back. I managed to find the grit to just keep going to Ngawi; just around the corner. People in cars, fishing on rocks, walking the beach stopped to look at me it seemed.” who’s that crazy bugger?” I could imagine them asking their friends or themselves, But that could have just been my imagination helping me find some amusement in my situation; instead of thinking about being blown out into the south pacific.
Eventually I pulled into the Cray fishing village of Ngawi, there was a bit of shelter from the wind In the crescent bay, with barely a wave on the beach I pulled up and stood below 25or so boats, all lined up on trailers attached to bulldozers, I knew that this was really a calm day for an area that required bulldozers and floating trailers to launch 30 -55ft fishing boats off and on a beach.
I walked about the village, located the free camping area, but also went looking for a chap called Bill Jagor, that Ron Harley from the night before had told me to look up. I found no Bill Jagor ( he was out) but I meet his neighbors, kath and Ron Beil, who invited me in for a cup of tea, then came down to see my boat, helped me unload then ended up taking me back to their place to stay and have dinner. Ron and Kath are wonderful people, now in retirement and enjoying their holiday Bach; we had a great chat, and ate a good meal. Despite my exhaustion catching up on me and barely being able to keep awake, we talked until about 11pm, when I finally had to go to sleep before I did so in the seat at the dining table.
The forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look good.