Friday, 21 August 2020

I must go down to the seas again... or river, not fussy

As usual, I didn't have my phone with me to take a photo, so you're going to have to use your imagination. Start with the above, then move the tide to high, cover the sky in dramatically dark grey cloud, make the water in the bay cloudy turquoise, dark out by the rocks, on which the waves should be breaking white, and lighter turquoise near the shore. Then shift your point of view a bit further to the right, so you're looking straight out over the bay, and step back so that there's a cluster of red, yellow, lime green and blue kayaks in the foreground. And then, for the final flourish, picture shafts of strong sunshine angled from the right, highlighting the kayaks. Got that? Gorgeous, isn't it? 
It got me thinking, as I continued on my walk, about the fun I've had in kayaks - despite not being very expert, and always ending up with blisters on my thumbs and forefingers. I've paddled them in exotic locations, bird spotting along the coast of the Big Island in Hawaii, counting monkeys from the upper reaches of the Amazon, spying on Bill Gates's house from Lake Washington in Seattle, watching sealions play catch with seaweed in the Galapagos Islands. I've paddled along the the calm waters of Margaret River, and a croc-infested river in the Northern Territory, and watched a dingo chasing a kangaroo along the shore for maximum clichĂ© points. I've done it at Freycinet in Tasmania with the Firstborn, and also there along the dark and sinister Gordon River, and a similarly tannin-stained river up near the Bay of Fires, and out into the sea where it was so windy we could have sailed. 
You can do that, in a kayak, using just your paddle held up, if the wind is strong enough - I tried it once up north a bit, heading inland from Sandspit to Matakana. Most of my kayaking has been done here at home, of course - pootling around a peaceful bay at sunset on Stewart Island, drifting down the Avon River in Christchurch, stirring up bio-luminescence in the water on the way back to the city from Brown's Island. 
My most memorable paddles have been with the Baby, though: there was the one ages ago on Waiheke, with the German exchange student who she didn't get on with - that was awkward; and before that, the ill-advised and fraught battle with an incoming tide, waves, wind and rocks at Brown's Bay that could so easily have ended badly that it still makes me shiver; and the more recent marathon struggle against head winds both ways on Waiheke again, when we were disturbingly far from shore. But best of all were the two days we  spent paddling along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park, in sunshine, with no wind, when the only things that were saturated were the colours. That was brilliant. 

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