Monday, April 07, 2008

Back for more ...

Sunday rolled on around and as I peeked out from under the covers to see it was daylight outside I thanked my lucky stars Daylight Savings finished this weekend giving us an "extra" hour to sleep in this morning. As I rolled over to check the time a groan escaped... good lord was there any part of me that didn't hurt? We had another hour before we needed to get up... I carefully snuggled up again and tried to remain as still as possible in the meantime.

We all met at the shop at 8:30 and along with coffee discussed the weather, where to find weather reports and how to utilise them to plan a day trip. Based on the forecast that predicted southerly winds we were to be paddling on the northern coast of the Whangaparoa Peninsula.

Off we all went and met again at the boat ramp at Tindalls Bay. Andy parked on the ramp and we unloaded as quickly as possible so as not to tie up the ramp for too long.

We each picked out a kayak, different to the one used yesterday so we could get a feel for the different makes. Once we had adjusted the foot pegs and loaded up, Andy showed us how to enter the water "gorilla style" - scooting the kayak forward with hands over the sides pushing against the sand. Once we were all afloat we set off as a group.

It really is a relaxing way to travel, cruising along and chatting to whoever happens to be near you at the time. Looking out to sea we could see Great Barrier further out and closer in the birds were working in several spots. Every so often the bait fish would rise and skitter across the surface close to us... Tom wished he'd brought his rod along!

I had realised pretty quickly after we left the beach I'd made a mistake when I set my foot pegs... I'd tested them out with my legs straight out in front but of course when you're on the water you bend your knees pushing against the pegs to lock yourself in. This wasn't an major but it meant I was on tippy-toes for the first leg of the trip and this got quite uncomfortable towards the end... I'll not make that mistake again!

We made good progress along the coast although the group seemed to be a lot further out from the shore than I'd expected. This meant we were just paddling from spot to spot rather than getting to look at nooks and crannies in the rocks, which, I think, would have been more interesting. I guess though some people weren't quite as confident about being too close in to begin with.

As we arrived at Army Bay, where we'd planned to stop for lunch, we grouped up and Andy reminded us about how to handle a surf landing. The waves were pretty small but it was still a good opportunity to test out using the paddle as a rudder. We landed one by one on the beach pulled a couple of kayaks right up the the sand to use as tables and tucked into lunch.... ravenous!! While we were filling our stomachs Andy led a discussion on different places to go kayaking around New Zealand, we each had to come up with somewhere and he would give us a run down on the best times to go and things not to miss at each place.

Before long it was time to head back again. I reapplied sunblock, picked out a different kayak and set the foot pegs up... remembering my earlier mistake. As we scooted our way back into the water I realised my skirt had popped off the cockpit... Damn, I was virtually afloat!! I back-paddled a bit, trying to keep the kayak straight into the waves and sorted the skirt out... back out again, this time with a helping hand from Andy giving my kayak a shove to get it afloat. Thanks mate!

Off we paddled.... this time sticking a little closer to the shore and getting a bit of a closer look. The kayak I had on this leg handled a bit diffently and was a bit more sluggish responding to the rudder... a matter not helped by the fact I hadn't tightened the straps up enough... something else learnt! In the finish I gave up on using the rudder and pulled it back up. Instead I played about with the different sweep stroke we'd learnt and used my paddle to steer on the way back.

As we got closer to the beach we started out from we grouped up again and Andy encouraged us to try out different rescues before we had to go home. This was by no means compulsory which was a bit of a relief. By this time I was feeling quite exhausted from the efforts of the weekend, all the physical activity combined with a day out in the sun and salt air... I was almost at the stage where I just wanted to curl up in my comfy chair and snooze! Still, I'd gotten in a couple of extra rescues in the lake on Saturday so I wasn't going to feel guilty about not getting wet today! A few people took the opportunity and I assisted someone else getting back into their boat before heading back to the beach to pack up.

Back at the shop we were all presented a completion certificate and an information pack. We each had to sum up our experience in a few words. Mine were... "I want to do more"... ...

I suppose that means I'll be needing my own sea kayak... time to go shopping!!

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