07.11.2007 Wed, Day 14/ 10
Taumutu, 33km. 540 km.
33 km only :-(( solid headwinds and choppy seas & a big southerly swell ending in huge dumpers are draining on a sunny day
Launching that morning through an easy surf, dragging the kayak back to the water was the toughest part. Again I was missing my trolley…
The sea looked almost quiet, the swell was at least on this beach not creating much of a surf.
I was on my way cutting across to the end of Kaitorete Spit. This was the beginning of the most boring but treacherous long dumping surf beach, which goes all the way down to Dunedin.
My GPS told me at least something about my progress, but it also told me the continous force 4 headwind slowed me down to only 5 km/h.
Cutting across the corner again, but once closer to the new stretch of beach, I got a better look to the uninviting dumpers. The first hour paddling along that coast I guessed I could manage with some patience to find a good wave backside and abit of a lull to go in somehow safely. Still I thought the surf is always underestimated…
Wind, chop and obviously the swell increased the next two hours instead of going down as I hoped, and coming up to Fisherman’s Point, the end of the long Kaitorete Spit hiding the shallow lake Ellesmere, I viewed some houses on top of the waves.
Although I planned on reaching at least the Raikaia River mouth, checking if the landig around there would make any difference to the uninviting dumpers, I felt not comfortable enough any more alone out there with no real rest in the choppy waters, and decided I had to go in for a landing NOW before conditions got even worse. And just in case something would happen on the landing, better to be where some houses are visible…
Actually, the last two hours I forced myself not to *look* too much to the beach, as some of the increasing dumpers really scared already the hell out of me…but it came the time I needed to prepare myself mentally for the landing.
Ok, lifejacket and helmet on, seatbelt fastened, backrest upright, table folded down and turning in 90 degrees, facing the scary beach. On waiting for the right wave, I got pushed back down the beach by the wind quite some distance, so I gave me another bit of a rest, and paddled again up the beach way over the spot where I actually wanted to land.
Again I waited for about ten minutes for the right wave and hopefully a lull after that, at least sitting somehow safely right behind the one and only big dumper line.
Eventually I gave it a sprint on the backside of a bigger wave, hoping the next one would be even smaller. It worked, I almost came in ok, but the “smaller” dumper was still that big it turned me sideways and rolled me 360 degrees over up the beach. A hand roll with touching the gravel, it wouldn’t give you points in Greenland, but I was glad about my helmet and about my obvious reflex of bending forward in that shallow water.
Sitting upright again, I needed to remember to get out of the cockpit asap, throwing the paddle high up the beach, as the surge of the next waves would suck me back into the sea. Jumping out and getting the cockpit flooded with the next dumper happened in one second, but at least the boat and I stayed where we landed.
I held onto the boat until it calmed down again a bit, rolled it on it’s side to get rid of most of the water, and to be able to pull it up the steep beach.
My first lonely dumper landing proved not to be very elegant, but at least boat and I were ok!
It was a lovely sunny day and still 3 pm only, but I didn’t feel like launching again today…sun and wind dried me and my gear quickly.
08.11.2007 Thu, Day 15/ 10
Day off, bad weather.
The dumpers became trashy 3m over night with rising SE swell. No way to get out or in later without crashing :-(( some more rest days :-(( – patience…
I’m safe and sound in Christchurch again at John Kirk-Anderson’s house, swell is just too big :.(( – will try on the weekend again.
I had a nice tentsite in the dunes again at Fisherman’s Point, but the thought about launching next day into the dumper wasn’t really putting me to a quiet sleep.
Actually, what I had to learn about paddling in this part of the world is that a safe paddle is not only about the wind. The swell is creating especially on this open steep coastline much more of an hazard with those fat dumpers!
Karel’s forcast was for Thursday an increasing SE swell, but the wind and chop was still looking fine and I guessed when it becomes worse I’ll just stop then.
Although I was already in my dry suit and had packed the boat, telling myself don’t be a whimp and go out and just DO it, I was standing a the beach for a long time watching the dumpers coming in.
They seemed to have grown a bit i size over night, and after about 1/2 hr I decided to call Paul Caffyn (good I was in cell phone range!) to ask him if he would think I was a coward pulling out for today with this wind, swell direction and – height…
My fear was he would tell me somthing like: “Liebchen, it is always looking like this on that stretch of coastline, you just need to deal with it!” or “Now when it’s becoming serious NZ – conditions you are showing fear!”…or even worse…
But for god’s sake he calmed me down and told me his forecast predicts even higher swells and more wind…and started to call around who might be able to pick me up and host me for two days. I would have been able to stay at the beach as long as necessary to wait out the weather, as I had enough food, water and shelter, but for sure two days or more to spend off the water are better in nice company!
First I walked up that mile along the lake extension to find a road access, still in my dry suit and even with an overcag on! Chilly it was that morning! The whole area didn’t look too inviting to knock at a farmhouse’s door, and I was glad to get a call soon that John Kirk-Anderson was able leave work early to pick me up at about 2pm. He came luckily with a 4-wheel drive car that we didn’t had to leave my kayak behind on the beach.
We drove back to Christchurch – actually back to the Banks Peninsula where he lives in a lovely house high overlooking Lyttleton harbour.
Mary, his wife, prepared a nice dinner to fill up my not spent energy today. Thanks, Mary!
Later we sorted out two new local contact phone numbers for my epirb, just in case things go wrong that there is no delay in the rescue process.
John Ashby of the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand actually contacted Paul Caffyn about that issue himself after he read in the paper about my circumnavigation, and offered to put his number firsthand in the US-epirb registration list, and suggested JKA’s or Paul’s number as being locals as second. Probably a good thing to avoid delays! Thanks, John, for thinking about that!
09.11.2007 Fri, Day 16/ 10
Day off, bad weather.
I was able to finish my today’s blog update in the Paddler’s Zone kayak shop in Christchurch, where I briefly showed up to check the local NZ kayak equipment.
Dana, being an attentive shop assistant, looked at me, then looked at her computer where she was just busy studying my rubbish I was posting this morning on my blog (this is “work” in a kayak shop!), and said:”You look so familiar, are you not Freya? You are still in Christchurch? Good to see you here!” …and offered me to finish my posting on the shop computer. Thanks, Dana!
The whole Friday spent in Christchurch seemed again like a lost day for getting progress, it was lovely sunny and not too many winds.
Especially the town and the protected Lyttleton Harbour area was just quiet.
To ease my mind, I took the car John borrowed me for the day (Thanks, John!) after stopping by at the kayak shop and went out to Birdlings Flat again, to see how the forecasted SE 3,20 m+ swell looks like…
Good I did that!
What I got to see at Birdlings Flat was earthshaking, literally. Dumpers double the size than yesterday would have crashed a normal house without any problem to the size of the cobblestones on the beach. Not to talk about a tiny person in a fragile kayak. You got to shiver and feel happy to be dry and safe, high above that impact of the narure.
Impressive. Very impressive. I have never seen some force of nature like that. It looked like a momentum pic of the Nigara Falls sometimes. Spray all around you and on your camera lense. You are standig there and feel soooo small. You try to get closer for better pics sideways, then you got to run. Run away from the uphill running water, which wants to catch you and suck you back to it’s deep bottom. 60, 70 m uphill. You feel the beach vibrating on the crushing water, which has only one dumping wave to break on that steep cobblestone beach.
I took pics and videos again, will see next what came out in the low sitting sunlight. I just hope Justine gets a day like that when she’ll be around, and is able to catch that with her professional camera much better than I am with my little Canon.
The swell is on the way down tomorrow, and for Sunday there is a forecasted 1,90 m in the morning, down to 1,40 m. I might give it another go then. The whole week should be (hopefully) around 1 m. Probably time enough to make it to Dunedin.
10.11.2007 Sat, Day 17/ 10
Day off, bad weather.
That last day off I took the chance to teach some rolls in a pool – Martin, Fiona, Jeff and David were quite keen on getting wet.
They brought their own kayaks, and I tried to fit myself into each of them.
They felt quite different to what I was used to. I enjoy having quite a low backdeck and a good kneehold in my kayak, things which I feel are quite essential for an easy layback roll. But don’t blame your kayak for bad performance… :-)) – I just can’t tell I could show off as I would have liked to…I even fell out once :-))
Anyway, Martin started in his Prijon Barracuda. After getting rid of the terms like rolling with “speed, force, power and strengh”, and applying more “don’t look, feel what you are doing”, he got more and more relaxed and started to sidescull and to roll with feeling for the water and paddle, and with good bodymotion…it looked pretty smooth then!
David struggeled a bit with the kneehold in his kayak, and plans to give it a better outfit next time. But I think he got what it should be like, even with the bad outfit in his kayak and more with watching the others.
Jeff seemed to have the best layback position in his boat, he was quite flexible and performed as well as Martin after a while.Fiona never ever tried to roll, but squeezed herself bravely in Jeff’s boat, and after a bit of hypervetilating she started to relax under water. The guys could see what female intuition looks like on getting started…she learnt in a different, female way, felt, what was right or wrong and was successfull with smooth rolls without assistance at the end! Good job, girl!
11.11.2007 Sun, Day 18/ 11
Long Beach, 62km. 602 km.
Late start with push through big surf good paddle and landing Sandy Ferguson is here I’ll go past Timaru tomorrow.
Will try to pass the 140km to Oamaru harbour in 2 days…
John Kirk-Anderson’s posting on Paddlewise:
“After she had a few days off while waiting for swells to decrease we took Freya out at dawn on Sunday, back to the place she had landed on Thursday.
The surf had decreased but was still dumping on the steep shingle beach with the larger sets over two metres, easily enough to smash boats and bodies.
We watched the surf for a while and Freya finally decided to launch with our help. After a bit of a battle with the surge we launched her into a low surf which she got through, with one high brace after being knocked half-over.
She lost her speed in the set and the next wave was one of the biggest of the morning.
I have no idea how she managed to get through it. Her kayak stood on end and the wave collapsed on top of her. Martin and I sprinted away from the area, expecting her smashed kayak to be flung out on top of us. After the carnage cleared she rose from the spray and calmly paddled away, stopping to give us a wave before continuing south.
We were left shaking and gob-smacked, while some watching fishermen were still clapping.
She made good progress and was met further south by another friend who camped with her before helping her launch again.
Last night I had a call from her, sitting in “A meadow in the middle of nowhere”, as she put it. Another long day, she is in good spirits and making good progress.
She asked how big the surf was when she left, as she had her head down. She said it took her an hour to lose the adrenaline feeling from her legs!
Paul Caffyn is going to meet her for a few days, but the forecast is for gales, so her paddling may come to a halt again for a while.”
Message from Martin:
I helped Freya launch today from Taumutu about 30 km south west of Banks Peninsula into 3m high dumpers, she launched with total commitment into extremely unforgiving waves in what would rate as the gutsiest piece of paddling I have seen that left us shaking and the onlookers cheering.
The weather for Sunday showed easy winds, but most important the SE swell was supposed to go down the day, starting about 1,80 m to about 1,20 m at night.
John and Mary got up early with me at 5 am, meeting Martin and Fiona at a junction on the way up to Fisherman’s Point at 6.30 am. I appreciate all those people getting up that early to see me being off (and to help me launching, actually…)!
Arriving at the beach, everybody guessed hmmmmm, is that the water you want to get through this morning? Still crushing dumpers, but there *were* occasionally lulls in between…every 15 min or so…if you do it wrong and get washed back into the surge you and your boat won’t have much of the original shape!
We were all watching, discussing, watching and thinking if it will be worth a try and the risk. Actually, I was sure I won’t have tried on my own at all. The water behind the “dumper barrier” looked ok and easy, if there won’t be that launch…and actually a landing, too, at the end of the day!
I decided to get at least the gear and kayak down and to pack. Something to keep me busy while everybody else was still watching and thinking and discussing.
We got Paul Caffyn on the phone, and listened what he was thinking about it, too. But at the end it was really up to *me* to say “yes, I’ll do it”… Everybody said I would be welcome to stay another night, Monday was supposed to be really down with the swell.
John said eventually he would do it (but he didn’t… :-)) )…and was dressed already in shorts, PFD, helmet and tow belt…and he had to meet a student at 10am…and Paul organized Sandy Ferguson to meet me at the end of the day to give me a catch if necessary…so NOW or never that day at all, maybe tomorrow if I’d stay on the beach on my own without help…
There was a good chance with a good push to do it. But if things went wrong and you get braoched sideways and rolled up the beach again I might be trashed…there was only one try to *not* get it wrong.
I felt like before an exciting skydive in former times, fully aware of the risk, but quiet and fully concentrated, and relying on the good job of the “launchers”…and then the GO!
John advised me to give it a good scream, but I guessed a mouth full of water was the least I would need by then :-)) So I just paddled from zero to full speed, until I felt clear.
One wave crashed above me, I ducked down and had to brace a bit. But I kept straight! The next one came, and according to John it was one of the biggest coming through all morning!
I couldn’t size the amount of water, just ducked down again and kept on going after the heavy shower was over…but I knew that I made it after that!
I didn’t realize (actually couldn’t hear…) the shouting and screaming crowd on the beach, just lifted my thumb up to thank them and kept on going a slight bit more out. I turned around in safe waters and waved them good bye. I kept me busy getting my skeg launched with my rope trick (worked again!), taking the helmet and pfd off and to get into a smooth going mood again. But it took me about an hour to get the shaky feeling out of my legs…
“Come on, Freya, I know you are in there somewhere!”
The day was an easy paddle then, just NO landing in between…but eating, drinking and peeing was no problem.
Sandy (Alex) Ferguson was waiting at the Asburton River mouth, 50 km further south, equipped with a VHF radio for contact. I arrived at about 5.30 pm, guessed, the day is so nice! Despite the late launch I made good progress with 7-8km/hr, and I need to keep on padling for at least two more hours! But I decided to land and to talk to Sandy about his plans in person rather than just letting him know over the VHF: “Sandy, it’s nice you made it out here to catch and meet me, but I just don’t want to land yet…” :-))
Talking to Sandy on channel 16 only didn’t seem to bother anyone here…he didn’t see any need to move over to another channel to keep on talking.
My landing through moderate rough stuff was probably not really out of the kayaking book Sandy wrote, but this was the German beginner’s way :-)) – rolling up the beach again with a most elegant gravel handroll…his wife caught everything on video! No publishing without editing by the actor, please… :-))
We talked about the plans, and I found out they came with a van ready to stay the night! Means another helpful hand in the morning…thanks Sandy and wife, to spend the time for me! But I dared to ask if they wouldn’t mind if I kept on going for another two hrs or so…the meeting point was Long Beach then.
The beach in general changed from the gravel only Kaitorere Spit up to Fisherman’s Point beach down to the Ashburton River mouth. It had some steep gravel in front of cliffs now. It was probably the going down swell in general, or the beach was creating just a bit less of a dumper, but during the day the landing was not that much scary any more for me. Or maybe I was just able to calm down, knowing that there was someoneone waiting for you ready for catching…
It turned out that the road acces on the map wasn’t existing, and Sandy spotted me from a cliff top already further down south!! Means I had to turn about 500 m back to meet them…but oh well, for some good company and talk at night and a helpful hand it was well worth going back!
The second landing of the day was easy going, and probably the dumpers were even less, as forecasted. The only problem was Sandy’s van and wife were sitting high on top of some cliffs already on a private farmer’s meadow, the best acces he could find, and I was down there at the cobblestone beach with kayay and equipment…no big use to carry the gear up the cliffs. Sandy made it easier accessible with a rope, not to just slide downhill again…
I put up tent and came up to the van the for a short night’s talk, it was good to meet them! But back to my tent I was just discussing the next day looking at the maps with Sandy, and cooking was too late then…and avocado and some soup from the hot water in my thermos did the job. It keeps me slim anyway…
Forcast for Monday showed a calm and easy day, Tuesday was supposed to get some southerlies in again!
12.11.2007 Mon, Day 19/ 12
Hook, 83 km. 685 km.
A quiet, luneventful ong day.
I got up at 6 am, raedy to launch at 7.30 am…but I had to knock on Sandy’s van door up the cliffs to say good bye! Early morning bird wants to fly a long way…
Anyway, they came down both within two minutes, and Sandy’s wife took some video footage again.
An easy launch on the quiet morning, and I said to myself you are not going to land until it’s getting dark today! I will be a landing somewhere in the nowhere land’s beach, nothing to hide or to go in after about 80 km I planned to go that day.
I expected that to be the last landing and launching on the steep gravel stuff, as I hoped to make it to Omaru harbour the next day then, but oh no…no way…
Paddling past Timaru, there was a disgusting freezing works outlet, pouring like a waterfall a bloody greasy animal’s rest brew out of a huge hose sticking on poles wide out into the sea.
I never smelled such a disgusting dead body’s smell, for a whole 1/2 hr going south! The surface was covered with floating grease…that kind of pollution in these days!!! But who cares about those occasional 6 paddlers who go along that beach within the last 30 years…I just felt I need to wash paddle and boat after going through, and don’t touch the water, no drips on my body on paddling through!
It turned 8pm, and 80 km were done, so I guessed the last almost 1 hr of daylight will be nice to put up camp! The swell was down, and it seemed like an easy landing.
I sticked my feet out of the cockpit and sat there for a while until I paddled in on the back of a wave.
Jumping out was fast, safe and easy then, but the beach turned out to be a bloody bastard of being steep!!! More than 45 degrees, loose gravel only, and the first step about 2,50 m high above water level! No chance to get the loaded kayak up there on my own! Additionally, for sure the cockpit filled with water on the next wave, and I had to figure something to get my boat out of the rolling waves up on terra firma again.
Rolling the boat on it’s side to get the water out was working, but it slid down again a bit, including myself…bugger…another effort, and the whole boat was sliding out of my hands! I managed to grab it again, and the same game, pulling as hard as possible, rolling it on the side to get the cockpit empty, but still no chance to pull the heavy guy up…
On a short lull I found a use for the towbelt the first time I was paddling solo (good I wore it!). I clipped the boat to the belt and managed in a short lull to keep the boat where it was and to climb at least on the next gravel step. Another hard pull got it up a bit more, at least out of the reach of the most dumpers. But still it was pointing bow to the sky, and stern to the hell…I had to unload some stuff! I could reach the front hatch from my step on top, and just hoped it wont slide down again once I unloded the front hatch. It might fill with water, too…
One bag flew up the beach, the next, and some more, until the whole front hatch was empty and all gear spread out evenly on top of the gravel step. Another pull, it came up a bit higher and stayed where it got pulled…
Now I could reach into the cockpit…one, two, three fresh water bags flew uphill, too, not caring if they would burst on the crash landing. My precious North Water under deck bag, cockpit bags and the thermos went the same way, and that was it I could reach from the top step.
But it was light enough now for a final pull uphill! Sliding it over the somehow soft, but still sharp cobblestone beach edge made an ugly crackling sound on the hull, but I couldn’t help…it was safe! And I was done for the night, 80 km of paddling, and such a lovely additional workout! At least the night was dry, and although the sun was gone I just stripped fully in the middle of nowhere, enjoying to spread out all gear on clean cobbles to dry. I didn’t bother to use tent pegs on my free standing Hilleberg Allak tent, just jumped in and started my night’s camp routine.
I was in cell phone range again, and could give JKA and Paul a call about the situation. John told me the first time about my scary launch the previous day, and that he posted some pics to Greg to spice up my blog a bit…thanks, guys, for all the supporting comments!
Paul envisioned to come out to me from the West Coast for some 7 days and to maybe do a bit of paddling together! Most appreciated for some company and learning opportunities!
I slept well that night, felt safe in the midlle of nowhere and high above the haunting dumpers, put my earplugs in and got a good deserved rest.
13.11.2007 Tue, Day 20/ 13
Morven, 35 km. 720 km.
Got stranded in the bush again .After 18km South wind came with 5 to 6 at 9.32h :-(( I walked out to the road to meet Paul :-))
In the afternoon I paddled another 18km southwards, up to the Waitaki River mouth. I had a nice dinner with Paul.
I got up early again, Paul’s latest marine forcast and Karel’s update by the morning was for southerlies coming in at noon already, and probably stronger than I would like it….
Ok, getting up early and going as far as possible I guessed, winds and seas looked still easy that morning.
Launching was easy, too, but my skeg rope deploying system failed the first time, as the little loop on the skeg broke and the skeg stayed stuck…
Seas were calm, and I’d rather climbed out on the stern again as being successful once (and failed another time…) than landing on that dumping beach again! But I couldn’t reach it to pull it out, it was stuck deep inside the skeg box…I slid forward again to reach my knife out of a cockpit bag, tried again to fumble around without slicing into my drysuit, but I couldn’t find the tiny cobble which caused the problem.
Ok, landig again… somehow I got the boat up enough to roll it on it’s side, getting the repair bag out for an new loop, scratched the cobble out with my knife and to launch again with success this time.
7.15 am for the second start of the morning, still early enough for Omaru harbour, I thought…
9.32 am, and from one minute to the next it was there, the front with southerly winds, which was already announcing himself an hour ago with some dark clouds to the south. I kept on pushing a bit, but my GPS told me I was down to 2-3 km/h, pointless for the effort I put in, and I won’t make the 50 km to Omaru anyway.
So just land after about 18 km, in the middle of nowhere again…
I hoped I picked a good spot for road access to meet Paul somehwere around 2 pm, as I couldn’t see any hinterland behind the steep beach. Landing was rough, but ok, and maybe after 2 hrs of paddling only I was still strong enough to pull the boat up the steep beach, as it worked better than the previous night.
For sure I had to unload it fully again, as there were two more steep steps waiting to be pulled up until I eventually felt safe and dry enough high on top of the gravel bar.
I would have put up tent right there again if I would just be by myself for that day, but Paul was announced to call me from 2 pm on, to make sure we’ll meet somewhere. He hasn’t got a VHF or GPS, just a (luckily working there) cell phone…hey, modern expedition times are up! :-)))
I walked out to the main road, and with the help of a farmworker’s lift I was sitting besides the A1 at about 11 am, still quite early for a rendevouz. Ok, time to work on my fingernails a bit and to type some messages on the Satphone ;-))
Rain came up, and I prefered rather walking up the road towards Timaru for a meeting than to get cold.
At least I was still in my Kokatat drysuit and had my Kokatat Gore-Tex overcag on, so well protected! But it must have been a funny figure walking along the noisy main road without asking anyone for a lift…just for fun…
Eventually it was 2pm and Paul’s car turned up, most appreciated as it became a bit chilly on the the long run.
We managed to find the little dirt road where I came off the beach, and had a nice lunch at Paul’s car, with a convenient two flame camp stove in use. Car camping has advantages…
The local farmer drove by on his 4-wheeler and probably was wondering what we were doing out there, almost on his meadow…
After two hrs the wind seemed to be down enough I could start at 4.30 pm for another two or three hrs paddle. We agreed to meet again at the Waitaki River mouth.
Launching went well, a nice push is always appreciated!
Approaching the big river mouth, the water bacame pretty racy at times, and I kept a good eye out for Paul. But only three fishermen catching whitebait were busy out there, no orange jacket to be seen indicating the end of the day!
Well, cell phone contact was luckily available, and Paul told me he was waiting about 1 mile down the coast where he found good road access. He would have a blue tarp put up and would be good visible.
Wind freshened up again, and the last 1/2 hour was a good workout to reach the blue tarp and orange jacket spot somewhere out there on the long gravel bar…good feeling whith a support crew! At least for some luxury days…actually I guessed Paul wanted to get on the water with me at some point as he brough kayak and all kit, but understandable he wasn’t too much attracted to paddle this stretch of coastline!
He obviously enjoyed acting rather as a support crew he was lucky to have himself on most of his trips. Besides some days with Bevan Walker he admitted he was never on that side of a trip, so very much appreciated he was there!
For landing in strong wind and sidewaves up the steep gravel beach I carefully watched his signs from which side to approach. I understood his signs he wanted me in diagonal with the waves…and I readily got my legs out of the boat to jump out as soon as possible paddling carefully in after a big wave like I was successfully doing it on my own the last days.
But on catching someone else Paul’s idea was I should have paddled up the beach full speed on the back of a big breaker, to get up as high as possible. Obviously right, but somehow I was too scared to time it wrong and maybe dig my nose into the steep gavel and pitchpole as I did in Iceland once…so after jumping out on the waterside of the kayak a big dumper washed the boat onto Paul, knocked him over and the heavy barge was sitting right on his leg…it didn’t look too good, but luckily nothing was broken, he just wasn’t too happy about water in his gum boots…well, things happen on big trips like that with unexperienced kayakers…(me!)
But I did my job on drying his only pair of socks later with a hair dryer in the little campside hut he was so nice to book…a hot shower, laundry and dry place to stay is always appreciated after some days in the bushes! And it was pouring rain all night long…
We checked what each of us brought for food and put together a delicious meal, again conveniently prepared in a big pan on a two flame stove.
14.11.2007 Wed, Day 21/ 13
Day off, bad weather.
No paddle today :-(( non – inviting headwinds. Spent all day in Oamaru looking around. Sounds ok tomorrow to keep on going south.
Forecast said stronger winds, but it’s always worth a look out to the sea…I jumped in my drysuit, ready to push on for at least a while, but what we saw out there was not really inviting…back to plan B, a day off paddling!
Paul and I were driving out to Oamaru then, as he was interested to look into various antique bookshops on the hunt for old books he was interested in.
Oamaru enjoys to be a “Victorian” town, with an historic city with lots of antique shops, theatres and some more tourist traps. It was nice to look around for a while, too. In a shop Paul got to talk with a lady about what we were doing, and she couldn’t help but calling the local paper for a story!
A walk out around the Oamaru headland where a “pinguin viewing” amphitheathere was put up for tourists watching the little bue pinguins coming In at night completed the day off.
The same convenient hut for the night – I think I’m getting spoilt!
15.11.2007 Thu, Day 22/ 14
Waikouaiti/ Cornish Head, 85km. 805 km.
13hrs grey drizzly chilly day but good paddle
Weather looked inviting this morning, calm, but grey and drizzly. Paul helped me launching again, sliding downhill in a seal launch that extreme steep gravel into moderate dumpers is actually not that tough.
Paul enjoyed some more bookhunts during the day, heading south towards Moeraki.
We agreed he will look for me first at the Oamaru harbour, but I knew already I won’t stop there if paddling was good…and it was good and easy, after a day’s rest anyway.
I gave him the first call on the cellphone I won’t come in for lunch, ok, next meeting point would be Moeraki beach, 50km overall down south.
The weather bacame not really attractive for a land mammal, with rain and dark sky, but for me as a mutated marine mammal I was quite happy out there, still following winds and moderate seas.
Paul obviously felt more like a land mammal and booked already another hut at Moeraki at 3pm, obviously convinced I would be stopping there.
I cut across the bays as usual, just feeling sorry I would miss another look on the famous Moeraki boulders on the beach in that way…happy with good progress that day!
On the second call to Paul it sounded already he didn’t feel too happy with me wanting to push on to Shag Point rather than stopping at Moeraki, but he thought we could have easily been driven back to Moeraki from there…
On my third call at at 5.30pm I asked him for the last delay on the night’s meeting, as paddling with 7-8 km/h felt just too good…Cornish Head 3hrs south sounded ok for him then.
Passing Shag Point through the reefs proved again the saying “If in doubt – stay out”, as I didn’t follow, and caught a big wave which washed me sideways towards the next rocks…pooohhhh! But I was bracing successfully, just learnt something again!
I eventually paddled around the corner of Cornish head at 8.30pm, already seeing Paul’s car with the orange Nordkapp on the roof on the beach.
I was thinking about giving him a fourth call just to tease him, to ask if he would agree if I would like to push on to Dunedin that night…”Then you would have camped on your own, girl!” was the understandable answer…as he lost already 40 dollars on that early booked hut we didn’t use then…sorry about that! But who was always pushing on, too, when conditions were good 30 years ago??
85 km for that day was actually enough, as night came in soon, no Icelandic 24hrs of daylight!
Another delicious couscous meal prepared on the back of his car, and a quiet remote dune tent site to sleep.
16.11.2007 Fri, Day 23/ 15
Smailles Beach Dunedin, 50km. 855 km.
Big swell east of Otago Peninsula. Landing on surfbeach sneaking in close to rocks. Plenty of dolphins!!!
Paul said goodbye that morning, as I would be expected in Dunedin by Rob Tipa, another paddler of the KASK network. Thanks Paul, for three interesting and helpful days!
Paul proved to be my main New Zealand contact, as he was already really helpful with contacts, phone support, publicity, local advices and a close eye on the trip over all. I hope to host him a bit in Europe next year!
Cutting across to the Otago Peninsula harbour entrance I had a big school of dolphins playing with me for more than 15 min! All close to the kayak, almost jumping over the bow! But don’t even guess of beeing fast enough for good pictures…maybe there are some when I take my time to download them. Justine, your job for the video camera! I told the dolphins to be back for you then!
I’d rather kept on paddling to stay interesting for the playful mammals, expecting they appreciate more a moving paddle to play with than a just floating boat. I just enjoyed the moment…
Some huge Albatros from the Dunedin colony enjoyed their circles around the kayak, almost touching the waterline with their wings. I wonder why they (and other birds, too…) think a kayak is a great spot to fly around in circles for minutes…
Off th east side of the Otago Peninsua the swell felt big, reflecting from the steep cliffs. But no worries…I was more worried about the landing on the open surf at Smailles Beach south of the island, only broken a bit by Bird Island. Just next to St. Kilda beach, NZ most popular surf beach!
Rob Tipa and Mark Robertson were expecting me there, and Mark checked that morning already how the surf was looking like on that beach. He said “with your experience…there are gaps to land safely…” (whose surf experience???), so I trusted his judgement in my skills.
Coming around the corner to the beach, the usual procedure of PFD, hood and helmet on, legs locked in, and with several looks back I managed to surf in without being knocked over, sneaking in close to the rocks on one the side of the beach.
I saw Rob and Mark running from the middle of the beach towards me, as they obviously saw another safe route of unbroken waves just behind Bird’s Island and expected me there.
The only issue about my landing spot was the longer distance of carrying the kayak and luggage to the car, maybe we should have had VHF contact before landing! My cell was ringing sometimes, but no call was possible.
Anyway, it took only two minutes and the next reporter from the Dunedin paper were on the beach for pictures and interview. Paul’s and Rob’s job again…but Ididn’t mind. At least it was not after 22hrs of paddling and 1 hrs of sleep when the reporter showed up in Iceland!
Rob’s and Mark’s hospitality was perfect, they briefly dropped me at a supermarket to shop for the next leg, and Rob’s wife Stella cooked a delicious venison dinner.
I was just too tired to update anything on my blog on his computer…and actually I thought having that short time together with lovely hosts it’s just unpolite to sit on the computer all night.
Thanks for hosting me that night!
Mark enjoyed to put me in his self-built SOF for a picture! Nice boat! I like the rubber-like hull material, black for sure…