Kayak4Youth Blog Day 7 & Day 8

Day 7 Satuiatua Beach Resort to Nu’ulopa Island and Day 8 Nu’ulopa Island to Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa

What a day. Huge swells, killer winds and a few kayak-related casualties.

The boat support crew who not only answered Andy’s cry for help – they are a few of the many people who have given him the strength to keep fighting.

The boat support crew who not only answered Andy’s cry for help – they are a few of the many people who have given him the strength to keep fighting

The day started after a very warm and homely family and village style stay at the Satuiatua Beach Resort. Satuiatua is beautiful and the welcome I received from the villagers yesterday really set the tone for the next 24 hours.

Before I even got out of the bay one very fatigued rudder pin broke in two places. Again a big shout out to Hobie for making sure I was well stocked with extra parts – they are what have kept the kayak on the water.

Once I did get out of the channel the surf really started to build between Satuiatua and the Taga Blowholes. It just kept rising until I ended up peddling through a five to six foot swell.

So there I am battling a strong head wind and massive waves and the kayak suffered further blows – which I was able to fix out on the sea.

The wind made for a frustrating run and after three to four ours I was both physically and emotionally exhausted.

However, the kayak reached breaking point before I did. When I was paddling fairly close to the cliffs I made a turn and before I knew it a strong gust caught the sail and then ‘crack’ – the mast just snapped clean off at the base.

The rescue boat responded to my mayday immediately. More than at any other point in my journey I was grateful they were there. That is what I want our youth to know. When you are out there by yourself and you feel like you’re about to be slammed against the rocks ask for help, it will make you stronger. That’s the sort of help the boat crew offered me – and I am still here and still fighting.

So once we secured the vessel – which was made difficult due to the huge swell – we went after the sail and towed both the rest of the way to Aganoa Surf Resort.

Once there I took time to take stock of what it was that had happened. So much. Today almost broke me – but thanks to those who answered my call for help I am stronger and will get up tomorrow and try again.

With that thought I called Hobie in Australia who said they would express post another mast over. I then returned to the kayak with a member of our water support crew Dave and assessed the damage. Together we worked into the night to raise the sail.

Andy and boat support crew member Australian Youth Ambassador for Development David Guest working on the kayak.

Andy and boat support crew member Australian Youth Ambassador for Development David Guest working on the kayak.

I have thought this so many times. Throughout this year long journey – the right people have come on board when they were needed – my family, my support crews and everyone else who has contributed in any way to ensuring the Success of Kayak4Youth. Not one person has ever said ‘no it can’t be done’, they have only sought solutions and said ‘just tell me where, when and what is needed’. That is pretty rare in a project which has become much bigger than I ever envisaged. It is pretty awesome.

So the only thing to do then was rest up and wait until morning when I could get out onto the water to test our handy work.

The next day peddling out through the break I couldn’t have been on the water for more than half an hour when I was knocked down again. Our hard work blown into the water as the sail snapped in the same place. It is one thing to be hit once like this – but twice in as many days? I was guttered.

The boat crew was there in minutes and I thought this is it – I am done – I have nothing left.

Without skipping a beat the crew pulled me on board, secured the Kayak and gave me the strength to know that I was not beaten – not with them out there, not without my land crew out there, not without my family and their unconditional support. These people have refused to give up and it was then I resolved that this was not over until I pulled into Apia harbor. I can do this because I am not by myself.

Bypassing Nu’ulopa Island we pushed on to Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa where I moved my rest day to the Sunday. That was a good decision because it gave me a chance to apply the first lesion I learnt as a police officer – improvise, adapt and overcome.

So I spent the day reassessing my strategy. The past 48 hours were so physically, mentally and emotionally draining that I needed to take a step back before I could go forward. Thanks to Joe and Sose Annandale and the staff at Sinalei Reef Resort & spa – I was given the chance to do just that. So I rested and spent some much needed time with my two-girl cheer squad. It was so good to see them. I am not saying it was easy – but they are my strength and that time was what I needed so I could return and take a different look at the journey.

When I got back to Sinalei I was down with the kayak and I remembered seeing some local fisherman out on the water in their dug outs. It was then it hit me – I knew what I had to do – I had to strip the Kayak down to the bare minimum and go on from there. So I took off anything I didn’t need out on the water and made her as light as possible so I could paddle and peddle as much of the inner reef as possible before the mast arrived from Australia.

I got back up swinging and knew that if I cannot go over this mountain I am going to go around it – and the mountain right now is Lolomanu. To the youth out there – no matter how many times you get knocked down – look up for the hands that will reach out, pick you up and give you the strength to keep fighting for everything that matters. They could be family, friends or even a stranger – if nothing else this journey has taught me that no matter how had it gets – there is always someone there, you are never alone.