NZ 1 – Start 25.11. Okiwi Bay – 06.11. Christchurch

24.10.2007 Wed, Day 0/ 0


I did my food shopping in the morning, packing everything in little ziplock bags, and was worried if thing will all fit in my kayak…ready to go when Bevan’s finished work. After a week’s waiting I was eager to start!

 

Bevan dropped me at Croisilles harbour at 19.30 hr. I was packing in record time, while Bevan enjoyed his deserved dinner, just two little bags didn’t fit where they should…I just stuffed them into the cockpit!

 

Just to get going again, I decided to do a 45 min strong headwind warmup-test-paddle, on which Bevan joined me in his (unloaded…) Nordkapp the first 30 min.
Then I was on my own!
I fighted a bit into the headwind to feel my shoulder and body working again, but I already turned back to cross the bay to a lovely landspit camp. Not much daylight left (different to Iceland!), and I felt the heavy weight of the kayak and my untrained body…I actually was only workinh the last weeks (months…) and didn’t paddle at all since Iceland besides some days on the Isle of Man symposium.

 

I put up my new Hilleberg Allak tent in darkness, still a bit confused about which corner belonged to which side, but I’m sure I’ll learn quick. :-) )
It got shaken already to the ground on the first night in strong catabatic winds coming down the mountains from just about everywhere! But this time no support from inside with split paddles was needed, it stood solid and strong. I think it was a good choice! Thanks Hilleberg!
I fell into my sleeping bag pretty tired from the day, not even having the desire to cook, write or to do a proper teethbrush…

 

My “official” start will be from that campsite tomorrow!

 

 

25.10.2007 Thu, Day 1/ 1

 

French Pass, 30 km. 30 km.

I had good, but strong gusty SW 5 all day.

Through French Pass the strong tidal race stream was still up at 1.5 hr before high tide, but I got through with no problems.

Just keep off the main stream and sneek close to the rocks on the right!
I watched a big motoryacht going upstream a bit first, then ferryglided across to the other side like we would have done it with our kayaks, too, but this fat boat got washed!! It seemed not to have much control…but eventually reached safely the othere side. This *IS* a treacherous place!
I paddled only 30km/ 4hrs today, now allowing myself a bit time to do some gear and body check :-) )

 

 

26.10.2007 Fri, Day 2/ 2

 

Okukari Bay, 80 km. 110 km.

near entrance of Tory Channel. Started paddling 7.40 am, smoking catabatic SW following winds off French Pass/ Admirality Bay, pretty rough stuff! Tide was turnig to follow at 8.30am that day.

Not much “real” surfing, as the boat is heavy and I wanted to save energy for the day. On passing an oil platform halfway to Clay point, the workers on deck probably guessed what is that crazy lonely kayaker doing out there…

Around Clay Point the same strong smoking gusty wind was still up, but now 90 degrees from the right…I ducked down low, and kept on paddling…good to be flexible. But it doesn’t take much to capsize a kayak or to get rolled around even a couple of times :-) ) – almost feels like a propwash of an helicopter !

I happily put in a brief relaxing food and pee stop, once getting off the catabatic mountain winds on the next channel entrance.

Now the wind was a friendly following WNW up to Cape Jackson, a pleasant paddle with good progress in sunny conditions! Even the view of two snow capped mountains came up to the right, and I just felt like being in the Icelandic fjords, paddling way offshore from point to point. Just Greg wasn’t with me…I took my heavy PFD off, felt just great and enjoyed digging in deep.

Cape Jackson was well known for a heavy tidal race around the point, but the tide was still with me, sneaking in close to the rocks was no problem then, I just got washed through in a good speed! This was the time I started to turn my GPS on, to check what the speed was doing, actually a good device to have in tidal areas!

Conditions, time and weather were still good, so I left the last possibility to pull in somewhere into Queen Charlotte sound for the night, hoping to at least reach Tory Channel or even Fighting Bay, if conditions stayed ok.

But for sure they didn’t…although there was not much wind left I still made good progress towars Cape Koamaru, but for sure the tide turned around the Cape and I was sneeking along close to the rocks to avoid the biggest tidal stream against me more offshore.

Some bigger rocks close to shore left the decision open how to go against upstream, in between or around…both options proved to be hard work! I just kept on paddling double speed for some minutes, actually the smalles gaps for sure turned out to be the fastest streaming areas. But the longer way around the rocks against the stream wasn’t tempting either!

And then some bad weather came in…actually predictable, after the following wind all morning there was a lull for about two hrs, and then the wind turned to the forcasted southerly. At least after Rununder Point the tide was with me again, but wind against tide created some choppy stuff, and I was hiding behind most bigger rocks, now getting flooded through again. At some point I should have better already put on my helmet, just in case…being alone out there…

Reaching smoother waters of Tory Channel entrance, I sneeked around the corner of Okukari Bay where I expected to hopefull have a good landing. That bay looked really inviting to me after that long time on the water!

Well, I must admit after I kept on going around Cape Koamaru I would have loved to reach Fighting (girl’s) Bay, as Paul Caffyn aimed for that on his trip 30 years ago and couldn’t reach it :-) ), but to reach that bay in time before nightfall I should have started earlier and should have had that on my mind the whole day. But weather and tide didn’t allow me after going around the Cape Koamaru, and I was happy to be just safe in Tory Channel. No, I’m NOT competitive… :-) ))

A big interisland ferry boat just came out the channel when I came off behind a huge rock gap, pretty impressive!

In Okukari Bay I think I made the right choice to land on th beach to the right! Landing on a remote corner to the left where a lovely meadow seemed to be just waiting for me I climbed uphill to the biggest of the three houses to ask for allowance to camp.

Joe Heberley, the owner of the two impressive fishing boats moored in the bay and patron of the whole “Hebeley Clan” living in that bay, invited me to stay in the sheering shed, which was very welcome on that windy wet night after 12 hrs of paddling! He drove me downhill to the beach again in one of those funny working vehicles called “rhinos” reminding me to fast running golf carts with a gas engine.

He showed me around in the shed, a luxury accomodation compared to a wet and windy tentsite!

I was just about to paddle my kayak closer to the shed, as the cart came down again, this time with Heather, his wife, and an upgraded invitation to a stay in their big luxury house! How could I say no…a hot shower, warm bed and some company was more than welcome at that time!

I first hosed myself down outside in my saltcrusted drysuit, then I enjoyed some less cold water with way less clothes on in the shower…what a life! A call to Bevan that I’m fine, the regular sat-phone update for the rest of the world, and a great dinner with some good talk finished up that exciting day.

The Heberly family clan owns a fishig fleet and some land with 2000 sheep, operated already some previous generations in that bay and obviously well prepared for the future! Two sons and some grandchildren live in the other houses, at high sheering season assisted by some workers helping out. An obviously fulfilling life!

 

 

27.10.2007 Sat, Day 3/ 2

 

Day off, bad weather.

It’s going to be a rest day which I don’t mind…I feel good, have pumped up shoulders like bodybuilder :-) )

Saturday turned out to be an (already welcome…) rest day, as strong headwinds wouldn’t be much fun and progress. I took my chance to get on the family computer and typing these updates.

Joe talked me through lots of good fishermen’s experience along the upcoming coast, and the forecast looks like it is really necessary to get past Cape Campbell by Sunday night, even on some headwinds and bad tide tomorrow morning. Tide and wind can only change to the better by afternoon and night, and when I’ll make it around the Cape by daylight I’m fine. Means I’ll have to dig in hard tomorrow again for some 60 km whith not perfect conditions…

When the wind turns to stronger NW on Monday, which is an offshore wind and very much welcome south of Cape Campbell, he said it would be too rough to pass the rocky reefy point of Cape Campbell…especially on Monday morning when there is wind against tide then….so I’ll get up VERY early tomorrow to make that leg well in time…let’s pray for the southerly winds easing down enough to get against!!!

Monday past the Cape it would just blow me down the coast with not much big seas running on the beach…continuing with these conditions probably Thu and Wed.

Thanks to anybody who wished me well on the comment site! I appreciate all people being mentally with me in my lonely trip…

 

 

28.10.2007 Sun, Day 4/ 3

 

Lake Grassmere, 65km. 175 km.

9hrs, just 6km close to Cape Campbell…kicked my ass I was not fighting my way through Tory Channel entrance earlier than 11.30 h…
6 dolfins 1 penguin 1 seal 2 surfies and 100 aching muscles beach camp in sand tired but happy

Sunday morning 9.30 am, and I’m on the computer again…why?? I haven’t got a floating office yet…

My hosts left early this morning to go to town, getting up at 5am together with me.
Joe checked the forecast again, put his nose outside, but had to tell me the weather was not following the forecast yet…it was still blowing force 6 out of the south, and the tide was still running into the Channel, pointless to give it an early start to be able to reach Cape Campbell today…

I waved the family goodbye, standing at the sheltered beach, not able to see what was going on there around the corner of West Head.

I guessed better than hanging out for three hours I’ll give it a try and poke my nose around the corner, see how it looks like!
Who’s not trying, won’t get an answer…

First start at 7.30 am, I ferryglided across the Channel entrance, made it up further than the lighthouse, but then my GPS told me my speed was down to ZERO…actually a lovely playspot if you don’t want o go anywhere, but I wanted to go SOMEWHERE!!!
I had to turn around then, got flooded downstream with 10-12 km/h, and just enjoyed the morning sun.

Joy Heberley, Joe Heberley jun. wife, was still at home and asked me to come inside to warm up again, not really unwelcome for an expected 3-hrs waiting time. Thanks, Joy! She was just out feeding three abondoned lambs with a bottle!
They do have a lovely big modern house, too, with lots of wood and a nice backyard.

I picked her up yesterday with her husband Joe riding the family’s motoryacht shuttle deep into the fjord to Picton, the interisland ferryharbour town, actually a good chance to get further inland without the “hard” work of paddling off course…
The ride was cold and rough, and standing on the way back felt much better than sitting! I prefer my kayak on the long run…

I’ll give it another start at 11 am, when the tide has turned running out of the Channel and going south, and the wind died out a bit more then. No wind against tide anymore, but it will still be rough seas out there, I expect. Hope to make it at least to Fighting bay, maybe White Bluff, but no way to reach Cape Campbell today… :-( (

Thank you all guys for all the new best wishes for my trip, it really motivates then to get on the computer again by the next chance…

……………………………………………..

Sunday I had to land in last light 20.30 h at a beach close to Cape Campbell, but as I started that late I couldn’t make it around on Sunday in still kind of quiet conditions.

Whe I arrived at the White Bluffs at the end of the x-ing of Cloudy Bay I actually wanted to land, but a strong current around that corner wasn’t inviting at all. I preferred to rather fight on southwards to get rid of that current, and just to keep on paddling…I was prepared to live in the boat all day as usual.

Who starts late has to paddle a bit harder and longer… once I felt I could at least make it close to the Cape I decided to cut across not only Cloudy Bay, but Clifford Bay, too, heading somewhere to the Lake Grassmere campsite.

I paddled the hell out of my body and against the haunting “estimated arrival time” on my GPS, hoping to make still a landing in last light.

The first wider surf lines were breaking off the Awatere River mouth, and what I guessed were two seals playing in the waves turned out to be two guys on their surfboards!

Approaching the Lake Grassmere area I was looking for where the official DOC motorcampsite might be, and saw some lights by the water, but I never guessed this was the campsite so close on the narrow strip between the water and the bluffs…and I landed about 200 m to the right. It was almost dark, and I actually guessed why should I bother with an “official” campsite…I was more than happy to relax in my own sand dune spot than to deal with elderly people travelling in motorhomes (who needs a motorhome…?) :-) )

 

 

29.10.2007 Mon, Day 5/ 4

 

Rounded the Cape in rough conditions. Landed to find a way to launch without this fucking skeg becoming stuck and climbing out in rough seas :-( (

Needles, 35km. 210 km.

35 km only. The skeg problem wore me a bit, but the rope trick works fine now :-) ) ugly dumping stuff to launch tomorrow :-( ( dolphin played with me.

Cape Campbell…Joe Heberley told me I might not make it around in Moday’s forcasted conditions…it was about 7 km away from where I camped last night.

I launched through some moderate surf from a small cobbels beach, and for sure I got the rope skeg stuck…with a sidewind becoming stronger I felt the urgent need to figure that problem out at some point.

So I just climbed out straddling the back deck, slid backwards until I could reach the attached loop on the skeg and luckily pulled it out. Balancing act succesfull done…but was that a solution for all the next lauchings, too???

But first around the Cape…it is a flat area with very confused seas through lots of reefs. I knew there was a way sneeking around close in to the beach, but the water was so shallow I got stranded on the first try…
I took my chance to jump out and to have a look around the point to check the situation, and what I saw was very confused seas, but at least I thought I could manage to stay close in as planned. Some fat seals were occupying the beach at the Cape, obviously surprised to see a person out there…I hurried to leave them alone and launched again – again with a stuck skeg…

Paddling around proved to be tricky and to be some hard body work, but it was actually even more rough south of the Cape then! For some reason I expected it to be somehow sheltered, but I should have better studied Karel’s forecast more carefully…wind 3-4 from nw (following), but seas 2,90 m from s/se!! Still I wasn’t used to seas coming from the opposite wind direction, but for sure it created some lovely water…

Should I dare to land again and hopefully manage to launch then with an idea of a rope-system for a non-stuck-skeg, or just keep on going with no skeg? There was no inviting place to land around the Cape in these conditions, lots of reefs with intimidating spray going over it. Just don’t look at it and stay far off and out…

I decided it was worth a try to climb out again to loosen the skeg, I trusted my balancing skills even in rougher water…but it happened what must have happened – I lost balance on straddeling the stern and fell into the water :-( (

Not too much of a big deal, as I was in a dry suit and had lots of options to get in again, but being out there on your own first time in such a situation makes it feel a bit different.
I decided not to go for the wet-hair option with an elegant re-enty and roll, but rather just pull myself up again, straddling and slide in – just into a fully flooded cockpit from the next set of waves then…hmmmm, ok, pumping out was the job to do, and I was really missing my electrical pump I used to have in my older kayaks…I used my helmet for bailing out most of the water, and the manual pump with an almost full on spray deck eventually continued the draining job, but I felt it was not worth to keep on pumping. I was a bit exhausted and chilly, and rather spotted a bit of a protected gap behind a reef to somehow land safely.

I gave my body and soul a full two hours break after that funny exercise, and pulled a long piece of string out of my repair kit which I dounble-threaded through my already existing little pull-out-loop on the tip of the skeg. I attached it behind my seat, and on the next launching it worked well! The rope skeg was stuck from cobbles and sand again as usual, but I pulled on the launching rope, released the long double launching rope off the skeg loop, and out it was! I will never launch again on my own without that piece of string attached to the rope!
I was already thinking about how to release the skeg on my own when I paddled with Greg around Iceland, but you actually DO you feel what needs to be done at some point just sometimes a bit later…

After a two hours break the launching off that beach was almost impossible, as the ebbing tide left only a kayak wide gap in the reefs…I really hadt to kick me to give it another go, as the strong following winds were so tempting out there…

But I noticed once being on the rough sea again, although I made good progress, the previous experiences were telling on my body and mind today at the beginning of the trip, and I pulled to a next inviting looking beach spot after only 1 1/2 hr of paddling again. Some broaching sideways in a moderate dumping wave, still keeping dry hair…well, I am used to paddle with my dry suit hood on :-) )

I stuck my helmet under the back deck net only without clipping it to the net, that it gives me an easy access to grab it, and it somehow forces me to put it on on any landing and not to loose it then in sizable surf. It doesn’t hurt or bother me to put it on, and it is easy to underestimate the conditions…being out there on your own anyway. And a dangling helmet besides the kayak which came off the net but still being clipped on is nothing worth either.

Landing at 4pm already gave my some rest I needed, I was in cell phone range and could call all my contacts who wanted to hear from me.

 

 

30.10.2007 Tue, Day 6/ 5

 

Kaikoura South Beach, 70km. 245 km.

No break, dead calm, fighting only my aching body with closed eyes paddel, plenty of seals & dolphins on a sunny day.

The launching this morning looked like it’s gonna be wet through some dumping stuff…I saw some fishermen down the beach launching their boat just when I started packing…shit…lost chance to ask for help!…but they came in again already when I was just about to start!!! I waved frantically to make them coming closer to help me launching, but off they were…driving away with the fishing boat on the trailer…

I need to get that launching in dumping surf done on my own!!! And don’t forget the skeg help rope…

Actually, I guessed when you try to stay dry you probably will be thrown sideways by the next wave, so I just walked in the water on a lull between the sets pulling my boat behind me, straddled it quickly and paddled out with the open spray deck to a quiet spot – but still caught a wave which filled my cockpit. But again pumping this time I used first my helmet as a bailing device and then th manual pump - you know, on a trip like this any piece of equipment needs to have double function… :-) )

The day was a quiet paddle, far offshore, uneventfull besides lots of dolfins and seals again. I probably missed to see way more things on the coast as I use to paddle on such long days with about 80% closed eyes…a meditational day…but I liked to reach Kaikoura that night, a 70 km day. And in this way I avoided th noisy raod and train along this part of the shore.

Around Kaikoura Peninsula the reef was full of seals. Plenty of tourists parking their vans exaxtly at the place where my little boy and I were sleeping 7 years ago (as normal tourists…) with open van doors and some seals on the doorstep…good rememberings!

Two snorklers were probably as surprised as I was when they lifted their head out of the water, but I kept on going around the Point to the South Beach. The sun was low and bright, and I unfortunately couldn’t see much against the sun.

I felt a bit sorry for the missed chance of great pictures! But I had to land in last light again, not being too picky about the obvious “no camping” area on a nature reserve ara on a walkway along the coast…a paved corner with a bench served well for “homeless” Freya :-) ) But although I got up at 6 am next day some jogging guys were already on their way…

 

 

31.10.2007 Wed, Day 7/ 6

 

Gore Bay, 60km. 315 km.

10.5h a bit boring in quiet wind and water…1st campfire tonight, listening to easy surf, it’s a lovely night!

Another uneventfull paddling day, again a way offshore crossing over from the Kaikoura Peninsula.

I came in closer to the shore at the point where the main road ( and the noisy trains…) left the shoreline, enjoying a bit more the view of a now remote coastline again. It was a tough long paddling day for me, I took lots of breaks, but could count 60 km at the end of the day anyway.

I came almost into Gore Bay, but decided to stay off the little village, and landed at 7 pm on a gravel bar before, just surrounded but sheep and cows. It was a lovely night! I put up my first campfire with the plenty of convenient driftwood around, and just enjoyed being on my own actually! The surf didn’t look too threatening.

When landing on lower tide you have to pull the kayak more up, but the waterline doesn’t reach the steep gravel bar and stays on more shallower sandy areas where landing doesn’t hurt the boat or me at least…

 

 

01.11.2007 Thu, Day 8/ 7

 

Motunau Beach, 35 km. 375 km.

Only 35 km, half day off in civilization for shower & skeg repair. Lovely paddle along white bluffs. Maybe cut across Pegasus Bay tomorrow.

I launched late at 9.15am that day, as I planned to paddle only 35 km to Motunau Beach, the start of my planned crossing of Pegasus Bay. I guessed if I cut across the bay I’ll save 30 km, which I can spend in a 1/2 day off that day…and paddling along the Christchurch corner would’t be as interesting. Almost the same as open water…

That short paddle went along some amazing white bluffs, lovely to look at!

Coming into Motunau Beach, I paddled up the river in lowest tide, and soon got stuck in shallow water…first time I missed I didn’t pack my trolley! It will be a long drag to the grassy edge…

I walked up the beach to bump ino a gathering of elderly ladies, who seemed to be interested to hear where I came from and who I was…where please would be the best place tp put up a tent???

I knew already the village tent site is way up the road, and who wants to walk…so it happened that one of the ladies, Rosalyn Richard, invided me to “put up tent in her backyard”, which turned out to be a lovely room with a hot shower and some nice company…just across the landing site! Thanks, Rosalyn! Lucky I am…phone calls were made, laundry washed, buisiness as usual as a lonely traveller…

I found my skeg box was eventually fully broken out of the attachment, but two little screws fixed the problem for now…I hope to get a new skeg box sent from Britain asap.
Dragging up the boat is probaly one of the most challenging tasks as a solo traveller, either unloading it completely (which I barely do) or dragging the heavy barge meter my meter up the beach, straddling the boat and pulling on the cockpit rather than just pulling the toggle.

John Kirk Anderson, one of the most experienced New Zealander’s paddlers, happens to be a reporter for the “Christchurch Press” and was keen to meet me around his area to take pictures for an article. As I would miss to paddle into Christchurch the way I planned to go, he decided to drive up early next morning to take pics before I launch at 6 am for the 75 km crossing…what a job! Getting up at 2 am to catch up with a crazy lady…but thanks, John!
Another writing reporter gave me a call and interviewed me for the article.

 

 

02.11.2007 Fri, Day 9/ 8

 

Okains Bay 75km. 450 km.

I saddled my Flying Horse today and cut across Pegasus Bay to the Banks Peninsula. Some entertaining seas out there :-) )

My alarm went at 4.45 am, as John Kirk Anderson, aka JKA, wanted to show up at 5.30 am. Actually, he knocked at my door already at 5.15, I was barely dressed yet :-) )

At least I had a strong helper to get my kayak down to the waterline again, as it was still lowest tide.

I couldn’t tell taking “official” publicity pictures is my favourite job, but someone has to do it…and least this reporter was well-known to me, welcome and announced. Different to the guys in Iceland just showing up and disturbing our well-desrved rest :-) )

He wanted “action” shots, but how pretending kayaking action in 50 cm hig surf waves??? Out came a really funny shot which was in the Saturday news allover New Zealand.
I eventually managed to launch then at 6.30, mentally prepared for a boring 75 km crossing to Okains Bay at the Banks Peninsula.

I headed right into the darkest spot on the horizon, no land in sight until 2-3 pm, and even then it was hidden in some foggy stuff. Only my trustworthy T-GPS told me I made good progress, despite of some seas coming from the side. Every hour I allowed myself to switch it on, and to reward my efforts by counting down the numbers in a reasonable way. The “estimated arrival time” still left an hour open for unexpected delays, and eventually I hit land at 7.30 pm then.

I couldn’t help but exploring at least one big cave at the entrance of Okains Bay…sitting in the wide first room for about 10 min to check and listen, no swell was coming in, until I decided to pull out my light to get in a bit further…just backing up from the cave beach through a narrower gap, as there WAS some swell coming in…just in time for me to be safe again…take care, girl! Not the first time to be in caves with some unexpected swell, or, Greg ??? :-) )

The same situation as in Motunau Beach, lowest tide and shallow water upstream the river.  I should actually paddle a bit to see the campspot…means carrying the gear and dragging the boat some 100 meters again.

Tired from the day’s paddle and dragging the kayak over that long distance I picked the next best (actually a great remote one!) spot in the dunes to put up camp, not bothering again to find the “official” campsite…and actually happy NOT to see anybody.

I just found out at night when I switched my Sat-phone on again I obviously forgot to send out the message of the previous Thursday night I was already typing! I stored it as I wanted to check the weather first before I announced to cross Pegasus Bay…sorry, guys, especially Karel and Greg!  Will never happen again…not that the next “Lost in New Zealand” search and rescue story is going to start… :-) )

 

 

03.11.2007 Sat, Day 10/ 9

 

Te Oka Bay, 55 km. 505 km.

I’m in Christchurch now, having a day off tomorrow. I will update my blog tomorrow, too!

The paddle along the coastline of the Banks Peninsula promised to show a lovely coastline with some impressive high cliffs.
As I planned only to paddle 55 km into Te Oka Bay, I started late again, launching at 9.30 am.

I was thinking about having a day off at Christchurch after 7 days of consecutive paddling, updating my blog and doing some other “buisiness” stuff (no, my body never needs a rest…), but couldn’t make up my mind until lunchtime…when I passed Akaroa Harbour entrance I thought I must be within cellphone range again!

I managed to give JKA a call, as we were talking about that already on Friday morning. He arranged a pick up be Martin and Fiona Frazer, a nice kayaking couple from Christchurch.

Before rounding the last corner, a guy on a sit on top kayak was floating around dangling some fishing lines into the water, and I thought no, that can’t be Martin expecting me…waved at him and passed…but still I thought if it was him making fun out of me coming in later then???

Into lovely Te Oka Bay, Martin and Fiona were already standing in the water and expecting my landing! Some small surf got my top wet again… This time I guessed I didn’t need to put on my helmet for landing as there are people expecting you…and the surf is small…but the loosely attached helmet got washed off the back deck by just this small wave!…never get out of your planned way…

We unloaded the boat completely, dragged it up the sandy part, but then I thought how could I have managed to carry the boat up this steep boulder beach on my own? No way of dragging a kayak up that steep one without cracking the hull…I would probably have taken it apart then!

BUT – this time a lovely “support team” was waiting for me, having a pickinick dinner ready spread out in the trunk of the car! What a warm welcome! Thanks Fiona and Martin! I thought of Paul Caffyn 30 years ago, when his support crew played every night such lovely hosts and served dinner in that way…

An hours drive to their house in Christchurch, where I’ll spend the next day “recovering”…and typing my updates.

 

 

04.11.2007 Sun, Day 11/ 9

 

Day off, not too bad weather.

The first rest day, dedicated to necessary computer work for my shops, e-mailing and updating my blog…although it was great paddling weather… :-( (

Monday were some rough southerly seas anyway, so I will take my chance to see the NZ immigration office to precautionary extend my visitor’s permit, that I don’t have to deal with that issue paddling somewhere in the West Coast bushes!

Actually it’s history now, but sometimes I did regret my decision to stop for a day after going around Banks Peninsula, I should have better kept on going…

But Martin and Fiona are great hosts, they helped me with everything I needed to repair a tiny leakage or two in my kayak, washed my stuff, and prepared a famous NZ-delicacy for dinner – “Whitebait” patties, some little tiny glassy slithery fishes eaten whole…actually once they get cooked in an egg omelette and turn white they look like “normal” white fish meat and taste pretty nice. Martin was proud of me overcoming my doubts, as Fiona refused to try :-) )

 

 

05.11.2007 Mon, Day 12/ 9

 

Day off, bad weather.

A visit to Christchurch to the immigration office. I felt like applying for asylum…but the officer saw me as an “easy case” and made it possible the same day to get the necessary stamps in my passport.

Martin cooked a great curry, and I bought a Pavlova for desert, which we enjoyed with Strawberries, golden Kiwifruits and some whipped cream. Enough calories for tomorrow’s paddling day!

The next stretch of coastline is said to be the most boring one of NZ, up to Dunedin it’s only flat hinterland with a steep, unattractive shingle beach, shapeless and with no place to hide and land safely…hope the swell won’t be too rough. Some 5-7 paddling days for that leg, and I’ll be in Dunedin, where the coast is going to be attractive again all around the southern and western part!

 

 

06.11.2007 Tue, Day 13/ 9

 

Day off, bad weather.

Tumbledown Bay, 0 km. 505 km

I took option B and just escaped the high tide boulder trap into the next lovely sandy beach. Tumbledown Bay seas are just not inviting yet for a solo paddler :-) )

Martin and Fiona had to work on Tuesday like normal people, so they were so nice to get up at 4.30 am with me, and dropped me at Te Oka Bay again where they picked me at 6 am – yawn!! Can’t tell I’m in best shape that early, but that’s a kayaker’s life!

The surf waves going into the bay that morning looked a bit different with the increasing southerly than the day they picked me up, and both admitted they’d rather go to work now than paddling out there…

The tide was going down until 9.20 am. I didn’t see a chance on launching from the steep boulder bank with the waves crashing on it, so I guessed at low tide the sand bank will show up again as it did when I came in.

I put up the tent as it was quite chilly that morning, and went for a quick nap.

At about 8.30 am I climbed up the hill to have a look out there on the open sea, and from the hilltop it felt quite ok. I knew from driving along there the next bay  around the corner – Tumbledown Bay – had a flat sandy beach only with no boulders. That there were two tents in there two days ago, and no farm (like here…) to be seen at the bay’s end. The surf going in there was much less than what went into Te Oka Bay.

Low tide came, and the waves were still touching the steep boulder bank, no way of loading the kayak on the flat soft sandy ground. I felt a bit trapped in, and thought when even on low tide launching in these southerlies is still difficult, when else shall I get out of here???

I decided to give it a try, checking how it is out there, and when it doesn’t feel good, I will just land in the more inviting Tumbledown Bay right around the corner and wait for better times.

Packing on and pushing down the loaded kayak from the big boulders was probably not best for the kayak’s hull, but I had no other chance…I dragged the boat in the last shallow breaker line into the middle of the bay, the cockpit cover still on to prevent it from getting flooded too early (it worked!)  I  waited for a lull, quickliy jumped in and even managed to put on the spraydeck before the next breaker came. And yes, I took the cockpit cover OFF before doing that!

Breaking through the several surf lines proved to be a bit of a punch and quite wet, but it was a good practise for future launchings.

But once being out of the bay, the swell and seas were feeling pretty high, and especially too high for feeling good to plan a landing somewhere on that frightening long steep boring boulder stretch of coastline which was next on the map.

So I took the expected option B and was at least away from that steep boulder beach trap, and surfed smoothly into Tumbledown Bay. I found a pefect camp spot in the dunes, dried out again and just relaxed all afternoon.

At about 5.30 pm two guys came down the long walkway to the bay from the gravel road, they have seen my kayak from above, and due to the press article on Saturday they assumed it must be me, the lonely German kayaker…

They were teachers in an ourdoor education camp back in Te Oka Bay, with 30 students spending a week together. They asked if I would be up for a talk in front of them, and I thought yes, why not? At least some distraction from “waiting” only.

I got a ride in their van to the camp, and just felt sorry I had already eaten a boring noodle dish…that night everybody cooked something and put it on a buffet table to share, but I just managed to try at least a bit of a delicious pie for desert.

After dinner, everybody gathered around an open fireplace in the camp’s main building, and it was FAQ – and answering time :-) ))

I think I enjoyed their engagement and interest! 30 young students aged 20+, the only question they didn’t ask me was my age…am I really already that far away from them??? :-) ))

I found my way back to the tent in darkness later, enjoying a lovely clear southerly night with stars.

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