Tara mulvany


A Race with Cyclone Lusi - part 1, Mt Maunganui to East Cape

Posted by Tara Mulvany on March 15, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Tonight is a full moon, the fourth full moon of my journey. It was three months ago today that I packed my boat and paddled away from the South Island. So much has happened in that time. Or maybe so little. It all depends how you look at it.


In Mount Manganui I stayed with my friend Dave and his wife Adina. He met me on the beach when I arrived and immediately began to describe how I'd just missed the best show ever. An obese elderly couple had just gotten the place confused for a nudist beach.. how excited was Dave!!


It was a rushed stop over. I caught up with my cousin Jess and met Tim Taylor who paddled around NZ a few years ago.  I washed my clothes and did a big supermarket shop which I hoped would last me until Gisborne. A day later with the forecast looking good, I was ready to go for it.


At 6am on the beach, I stood on my tip toes and hugged my giant friend goodbye. Then I slid my boat onto the dark water and paddled out through a few small lines of surf. Everything was still dark, only a string of lights along the waterfront and the growing glow of the rising sun in the distance.


I paddled close to shore, stopping whenever I was hungry and munching on fruit and chocolate, how good are the treats of day one from a resupply. The sun was bright and the sky was blue, and everything seemed prefect apart from the fact I had so far to go. I passed Ohope Beach sometime around lunchtime and paused for a couple of minutes for a feed of tuna, cheese and tomato on crackers.


Huge schools of silvery kawhai splashed and darted around under my kayak, possibly the biggest school of fish I have ever seen. The entire ocean seemed full of them.


A slight headwind slowed my progress for a couple of hours but right on dark, after 13 hours of paddling I at last landed. As it turned out the hardest part of my day was not over. I struggled to haul my heavy kayak up a steep sand dune and down the other side to a DoC campsite. A few people watched. No one offered to help. I could have asked and I'm sure one of them would have obliged, but for me it's a weird social experiment. What were the people of the Bay of Plenty really like?


I pitched my tent as close as I could to the dunes, right on the edge of the road. The campground lady was confused. "That's a strange place to pitch your tent," she remarked. She didn't seem to understand when I told her that I just wanted to be close to the beach and that I couldn't drag my kayak across the road. "Well where is your vehicle? Why haven't you checked in? When did you arrive?" Too many questions after a long days paddle.


That night when I flicked on my phone I got a txt from Ginney. It read, "I guess you've seen the forecast for later in the week, gutted, but it'll be exciting.." Exciting in my paddling vocabulary means something more like 'shits going to hit the fan.' It didn't sound good, and I had not yet seen the long range forecast. Txt number two read, "There's a cyclone coming! Make sure you get somewhere good by Friday!" I did a quick calculation of the kilometres between me and East Cape. If I boosted, there was a chance I'd make it around the cape by Friday. The race was on. 


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