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Picton for tea

A trip report for a memorable Cook Strait crossing with Tony Jennings and Glyn Dickson*, for the 1996 KASK forum:

We started in the witching hour

- around a half past three.

A dark, moonless night it was

for Tony, Glyn and me.

Titahi Bay we left from,

to reach Picton for tea:

In-between, Cook Strait,

and fifty miles of sea.

Into inky water we

slid our chosen craft:

Three Slingshot kayaks,

long, sleek and fast.

A high over New Zealand;

a metre's ocean swell;

A light southerly breeze;

all these boded well.

We rallied off the beach,

torchlight on frozen breath,

Splashes, voices, yawns:

we set off, heading West.

Mana, squat and brooding,

one league to our right.

Ahead an eerie nothing,

but the Brothers' light.

One for all and all for one,

we paddled in racing vee,

In line abreast, in Indian file,

a gaggle upon the sea.

Starlit sky above us:

heaven's very essence.

Black depths beneath,

touched with phosphorescence.

Through the hours of night,

into the twilight zone,

Three ghostly silhouettes

paddled on and on.

(Tiring was the effort,

but what was twice as bad:

To catch that crucial tide,

just two hours' sleep we'd had.)

The sun rose over Kapiti

radiant pink and gray:

No dawn parade more splendid

on that ANZAC day.

Daylight spread around,

uncovering we three

Perched in tiny kayaks

alone there on the sea.

Past Brothers' Islands

tidal streams abound.

Cape Koamaru the prize -

gateway to the Sounds.

On Arapawa Island

we found a tiny bay.

Tucker, tea, an hour's rest:

still only half way!

Queen Charlotte Sound:

ridges, bush and shore,

Mile after mile of it,

and then some miles more.

We raced against each other,

taking turns to lead:

Carbon paddles flailing

each trusty kevlar steed.

Or we'd throttle back

relaxing with the flow,

Yawning, stretching, chatting:

still some way to go.

Thirteen hours all told

(or sometime thereabout)

To reach Waikawa Bay,

and Picton's lengthy Snout.

Finally, we're there,

Picton beach at last -

And perfectly timed, for

the opening of the cask!

Conrad Edwards, May 1996

* Glyn, who'd built the boats,

paddled a Mark 1B,

an experimental hybrid,

spawned twix rock and sea.

Published in The Sea Canoeist Newsletter, Issue 63, June - July 1996, available at www.kask.org.nz/newsletters

Page last modified on December 27, 2010, at 04:51 PM