Paddling Update: Day 62-65

Paddle Day 62

Umhlanga to Zinkwazi with a 10min break at Tinley Manor 62km (6hrs 20min)

After a few days staying with the Harker’s and loving their aircon’s much to the displeasure of my man Warren, I decided for a late start in the hope the the forecast was going to deliver said SW 15kt winds. On the water at 08h00 at “Grannies pool” Umhlanga. The first hour reminded me of my ocean crossing days. I was paddling in a rain squall for ages. I could have had dozen washes if on a yacht. I love paddling in the rain today. It cooled things down a bit and

Paddle Day 64

Mtunzini to Richard Bay 41km (4hr 15min)

I thought that the rain was over but it just poured all night. The gate to the reserve only opens at 05h00 so a 06h00 launch was the order of the morning. A quick photo shoot with Isabella before we set off to meet Craig Webster at the reserve gate. Once on the beach the surf was not looking so friendly but a well timed dash to the back line made it look easy. The water was still dark brown from the river that was still gushing into the sea. I think I am over this brown water now!

Craig paddled a straight line across to the first point just past the Umlalazi river mouth and I followed the shore line. There was not too much in it other than I guess I had less of a head current on the inside. I moved off a bit to join Craig and a little while later a tail wind started to give a bit of assistance and the runs started to become easier to catch but our average was slowing down. Classic case of being in a adverse current with a tail wind. We headed closer for the shore into less of a current. We stopped alongside the light house for a few minutes and then again for me to take another great picture of a rainbow. See album 61 to the Finish

As we got closer to “New Mouth” the surf started to break a long way out to sea and this forced us back into the current but with less than 10km to go now it was not too much of a worry. As we started to pass New Mouth we met Leon and Jacques on their single surf ski’s. From here it was a quick hop passed the harbour wall and into the the yacht basin and on to the Zululand Kayak Club. Along the way the a large bunch of novice paddlers taking part in the clubs training program joined us for the final kilometre.

After a quick interview with the local press and a nice shower I was treated to a local refreshment. Milk stout in a pint glass topped up with cola. Sounds odd but its right up my alley!

Unfortunately the forecast is looking bleak for quite a while so we will be sitting in Richard Bay. Only 5 paddle days to go!

Paddle Day 65

Richards Bay to Nhlabane 25km (3hrs 11min)

The weather and sea have not been playing along and I am getting frustrated waiting in the bustling city of Richard Bay! The forecast for today showed a small gap in the late morning. Sitting around waiting for this change somehow makes me a little nervous! Similar to the butterflies before a big race. Who know why but the second I get on the water I find myself in my happy place and no more butterflies.

I had to split day 65 into two days of paddling. A 25km today to Nhlabane and then a 36km to Mapelane on Friday morning.

Craig our host joined me again and we set off from the ZKC and paddled out of the harbour just after midday. As we left we could feel the wind that was supposed to swing to SW was in fact coming from the NE. Straight into us. Bugger!

Well not much to do but try and get into a rhythm, stay close to the shore and watch out for any rouge waves. A one point Craig was sitting tail slip and I hit a bigger wave causing me to slow down and rocked up and down. The nose of his ski went under my tail which slammed down on his boat and knocked him into the drink. I am glad that my ski is well made and no damage was inflicted.

As the afternoon moved on the wind increased and it started to rain again. As you know I like the rain which cooled everything down from the 34 degrees when we started. Always look for the positive!

It was quite frustrating at times especially when the boat stops after bashing into a few waves in a row and then have to work a bit to get the boat going again only to have it happen a few minutes later. Yes, I know a lot of it is in how you steer over the swell and chop but sometimes it just gets you.

In last 5km the rain and wind stopped and the clouds moved off. The sea flattened out and it was back to a decent pace. It really is a beautiful coast line even with the rehabilitation after the mining. I am looking forward to the next few days.

Landing at the beach was straight forward. Take the gap between the sets and don’t get caught in the shore break. I must be improving because that’s just what I did.

On the drive back to Richard Bay I got a message reminding me that in 7 days it will be Valentines day and would I be home in time. I guess I have been away from home for much too long that my loving wife would ask such a question. Maybe Judy was hoping that being at sea every day has soften my brain. Maybe a little!


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