As many of my regular readers know, I have been working at the yacht club for the last few months, getting things in the office all ship shape to hand over to a new club manager.
Every day I sit at the desk, gazing jealously at the people heading down the boat ramp, while I answer phone calls, reply to emails, listen to people dropping in for a chat, growl back at grumpy people, sell T shirts, order bar stock, sort boat storage, collect lost property, pay wages, write newsletters, send invoices and reconcile bank accounts.
Today was no different. The water was glassy calm, and the pile of things in my to-do basket was getting bigger by the minute.
But then in walks Brian…
Brian is the Naval Point Kaumatua, and I think he is fantastic. He makes sure that the boat ramp isn’t slippery, cuts up firewood, fuels up the rescue boats, mows the lawns, unblocks the drains, fixes everything, and makes me cups of tea.
“Let’s go for a paddle” he said to me.
If there is water involved, it doesn’t take much to twist my rubber arm. I have been wanting to have a go in a waka for ages. Who knows why it hasn’t happened until now. But today the stars were in alignment. The conditions were perfect and I had some appropriate clothes in the car. I quickly got changed and went to get some gear.
You don’t need much apart from a life jacket and a paddle. You can get special paddler vests which leave plenty of room for your arms to move freely. Your paddle should be up to about your armpit in height. Once we were kitted out we carried the waka down the ramp and in to the water. Brian very kindly paddled around so I didn’t get water over the top of my Dubarry sailing boots! I was given a quick lesson in how to not capsize (something I was very keen not to do seeing as I had already fallen off my paddle board and in to the freezing cold harbour yesterday) Next thing we were off.
We glided smoothly through the glassy calm water, weaving our way around the marina, and around the bays. Past Wildy (who I am sure was glaring at me) and all the way through Corsair & Cass Bay and in to Rapaki.
Pulling up to the beach we jumped out and wandered along the golden shell studded sand. The warm winter sunlight was reflecting off the still ocean creating a magnificent backdrop as we soaked up the rays.
We wandered along the beach. Brian explaining how there was recently an attempt to regenerate the shellfish on the beach, but it wasn’t successful as there are little hot springs along here, making it too warm for the shellfish. We stopped and dug down in to the soft sand, creating a mini pool which was quickly filled with warm water. The smell of sulphur a reminder that we are living on the rim of an extinct volcano, and a nice way to warm up cold toes.
Looking up to the maunga (mountains) behind us, we could see some of the the large rocks which rolled down the hill in the earthquake four years ago. One car sized rock actually crashed across the road and right through the middle of a house and out the other side!
Our arms rested, we decided to head back to the club along the shoreline. You get a different perspective of the world at this height. Birds eyed us cautiously, a fish jumped up ahead creating the only ripples on the water. Mysterious creatures or weed, I am not sure which, floated past and quickly disappeared in our wake. Neglected boats on moorings wearing skirts of green slime, were gazing at their own reflections as we silently slipped past.
Brian upped the pace “pull, pull, pull!” he chanted as I dug my paddle hard in to the water, trying to use my core muscles to create the power propelling us through the water. “Hup!” he called, indicating, one more stroke before changing sides. Arms aching, lungs heaving, I had a whole new respect for the paddlers who take these boats out in the wind and waves, doing marathon races.
Before we knew it, we were back at the club. We washed the waka and put her away, and then I was back at my desk.
What a wonderful day for a waka adventure.