Today was huge and I am tired – but with the challenges of the currents and lack of wind meaning I had to peddle for six hours – it will do it to you. I got to a point where my legs were so sore I was paddling with my hands just to give them a rest. But we arrived at Satuiatua Beach Resort safely, which is the main thing.
We (myself and my support crew) started the day with an Anzac dawn mass. It was so moving to stand on the most western point of Samoa and pay our respects to the men and women who fought for Australia’s future – reciting the Ode of Remeberence and having a minute’s silence – the only sound the waves crashing in.
Afterwards I got to thinking. I am an Australian policeman. Every year I have marched in the Anzac Day dawn service in uniform. This is the first year I am not in uniform as I am circumnavigating Samoa solo by kayak to raise awareness about the issues if youth suicide and depression. Anzac Day is a time to remember the men and women who bravely fought for our future, now it is up to us to ensure that our youth – no matter how distressed they are – can also enjoy this future.
That is what Kayak4Youth is doing on this journey – fighting for our youth. It was with this thought that I headed out into the Pacific.
Once on the water I realised leaving early from Falelalupo Beach Fales would be key to success of the day. I overcame the challenge that beat me yesterday, Mulinu’u Cape, and I continue on to Satuiatua hugging the coastline.
Twenty minutes past the point a wind picked up and I covered a lot of ground which was great. In fact the conditions were so good that my optimism kicked in and that I thought I could make it past Satuiatua.
That was a dangerous thought though – because as soon as soon as it crossed my mind the wind just disappeared, paving the way for six hours of hard out peddling.
It was then I hit my physical low point of the journey so far. I cannot say how grateful I am to the guys at JP’s Gym – it was their strict exercise plan that ensured my body could cope with days like today.
Despite pushing through what was essentially a marathon on water – the view from the kayak continued to amaze me. The rolling green cliffs running into the blue glassy water – simply stunning.
Coming around to Lover’s Leap – the biggest sea turtle I have ever seen came up to the kayak. Soon after that about a dozen Spinner Dolphins and six of their calves put on a playful display about 30 metres away. It was the pick-me-up I needed to paddle home.
As I landed, I looked up and saw a crowed gathering on the Satuiatua Beach. It was one of the most heartfelt welcomes I have ever received anywhere. As I coasted onto land, a young Samoan girl walked out into the water and placed a faafeiloai – a traditional Samoa welcome garland – around my neck. As tired as I was – experiences like that make the journey worthwhile.
During the excitement a mate of mine – world champion marathon runner – Rob De Castella phoned up to see how I was going and wish me well. It was great to hear from him and it gave me a chance to thank him – not only for inspiring me to do this, but for all the support he has given to Kayak4Youth.
After the welcome calmed down I got some Andy-time which I used to sit on the beach and think. It may have been the tiredness that was wrung out of the day, it may have been be because we are almost at the half way mark – but right then I really missed my family.
I can tell you with all the challenges I am facing on both land and water – not having my wife and little girl here is tough. I have so much support for this journey. I have support crew on the water and on land. The support from the wider Samoan community has been overwhelming. However, without my two-girl cheer squad I would not be here – they are what keep me grounded, what keeps me going out on the water when I am at my lowest. To Lyndall and Abbey – I miss you guys and I cannot wait to see you this Sunday when I pull in to Maninoa.
Before dinner I had the chance to attend one of Faataua Le Ola’s (FLO) outreach programs. Aftewards FLO coordinator Papalii Carol Ah Chong came up to me and told me out of everything I said to the group one thing stuck with them.
She said when I talked about being out on the water in my speech it gave them an image they could relate to. I told them when I pulled into Falelalupo Beach the water look calm – it wasn’t until I jumped out of the kayak and put my foot straight into some coral that I realised how misleading that calm could was.
I said it is like that with people. They may seem fine on the outside – but you never know what is going on inside – they may feel like they are by themselves. Through this journey I hope to reach as many of these young people to let them know they are never alone – that there is always someone there.