Seakayaking Abel Tasman April 2021


After the Graperide I picked up Craig from Picton and we drove back to Nelson. We met Ellen in the evening and picked up the sea bear (a huge double kayak) with her. We drove slowly over to Motueka and stayed the night there with her and Annu who’d come across from Blenheim.


We left early-ish in great weather from Marahau after packing more than enough food and random stuff into the kayaks. We had the huge sea bear, my single sea kayak and another one from the club that I had rented. I kayaked with Annu in the sea bear and Craig and Ellen tried to keep up in the singles. We stopped at Watering Cove for a snack. Ellen had baked some delicious fruit bread yesterday and it was just what we needed. We swapped boats. It was all sunshine and lollipops. Continuing we kayaked around the coast and up to Mosquito Bay where we came ashore and set up our camp. We’d thrown out Craig’s tent at the last minute as I’d not been sure we’d had enough space. Amusingly we’d had a communication breakdown and Ellen had brought both her tents meaning we still had one each. Oh the luxury.


In the afternoon, at low tide, we went climbing around the island in the mouth of the bay. Then later on we went out again in the kayaks to watch the sunset. We paddled around the coast until we could look out towards Tonga Island. After bobbing around for a bit we returned to camp for dinner and bed.



We kayaked over to Tonga Island in the morning. There we found some baby seals playing in the water. Three or four came up to my boat and checked it out as I tried to film and fend myself off the rocks at the same time. Next we headed up to Shag Harbour. The seals were plentiful there too. The tide was on it’s way out but still full enough that we could kayak into the inlet. In the swift flowing current the seals swam and dived chasing fish.


We debated the idea of continuing to Awaroa but to save our arms we kayaked back to Onetahuti instead. Kayaks were dragged up the golden beach and we sat at a picnic table on the edge of the camp site and ate lunch. After having a nap on the beach we walked down to the other end of it and watched fish from the bridge. Then it was back into the kayaks and we headed back to camp.




Ellen left in the morning and kayaked around the corner to Bark Bay. This left Craig in charge of pancakes. To be fair we didn’t have the best equipment with just his extra-stick aluminium pan.


It was windy as we packed everything up. We set off towards Sandfly Bay. We kayaked up the river and then back out again and along the coast taking in Frenchman’s Bay as the water left the inlet. We continued stopping at Te Pukatea for lunch. The wind had dropped entirely. It looked like it might be raining further inland. We continued around the head land and across towards Marahau on completely still water. The tide was completely out and we landed well away from the road running out of water. It looked like an hour or more of hauling kayaks across the sand to the road but as we stood there one of the guys from the water taxis stopped and told us to throw our kayaks on the back. Awesome. We were very grateful.


Craig and I ferried the Sea Bear back to Ellen’s in Motueka and then came back to pick up the rental. We left Annu to ponder her evening and drove back to Nelson. A nice trip.



Graperide 2021

It’s been a long time since I rode the Graperide. I entered last year but Covid stopped it happening and my entry was deferred to this year. This is the part where I list all the excuses why I didn’t win… After a busy week at work and being ill on Friday I wasn’t sure I’d ride the race but as I was to pick up Craig on Saturday afternoon from Picton anyway, I decided I’d head over and see how I felt. I stayed the night at Annu’s flat in Blenheim.


I drove out to the start line and hid my car on a side road on Saturday morning. It was a cold clear morning and the weather was supposed to be fantastic. I cycled to the start and lined up early at the back of the 2 hours 45 minutes wave. This seemed reasonable as it was 10 minutes slower than me 2009 winning time. This was my folly. The sign was misleading. Many many slow looking people lined up in front of me and instead of letting everyone off in waves dictated by their signs they let people off in small bunches of perhaps 60 people. Grrrr. I waited and waited and waited as the people in front slowly started. Then the people who were pushing in the side snuck in front and started too. Anyway….


I crossed the start line and rode hard to the front of our bunch of slowpokes. There were a couple of faster guys and we worked together much of the way to Picton until nobody at all  seemed to be keen to work. At the little hill into Picton I rode off the front with a couple of guys. Then again out of Picton onto Queen Charlotte drive I rode away with one other guy. By this stage it was really nice and warm and the views down into the sounds were amazing. The ride along QC drive was really nice although not very fast. I rode alone mostly  catching some stragglers and passing them. Later slightly before the turn off to Linkwater a bunch began to form and we rode very slowly into a headwind until the last climb before Havelock. I rode to the front with a couple of others and we increased the pace dropping the bunch before descending towards Havelock.


There were five of us as we began working together back towards Blenheim. One guy dropped off early. We worked well, regulating our pace so as not to drop anyone else. We were riding a good pace but as we came to a hill two guys powered up behind us. We jumped on and one guy put in an amazing effort and towed us for the next 10 minutes at over 40 km/h. I wish my legs would let me do that. I don’t seem to have much power these days. My legs began to feel a bit cooked. We rotated some more and then I sat at the back until the last bridge where I took another turn. We turned off the highway and it was a couple of km to the finish line. Nothing much happened in terms of sprints.

A nice ride all up but an aggravating start. Given the poor starting position I wasn’t too much slower than 2009, at around 20 minutes slower. The course is also slightly different from 2009 but I’m not sure if it’s longer or shorter.


Graperide 2021 – Time: 2:56:16, Dst: 103 km, Overall 103/524, Category: 11/21 (M35-39)

Finish result pdf 2021

Above: 2009’s result was faster but I also had a much better start, had trained more, and was 12 years younger… Not sure how much of a difference age has made. These are the results before they were mysteriously altered some weeks later.