By Marc Hampson
Due to some rookie errors, we managed to lose track of each other in the 8 foot swells. We’d already lost half our team – Matt, Caiden and myself paddled to a point and waited for Sam and Guy for about four hours. After a long walk up and down the beach we decided to carry on, thinking that they were ahead of us. We landed up camping apart for the first and hopefully the last time…
We were stuck with the sleeping bags and Sam and Guy with the mattresses – and it definitely wasn’t our best decision to have put all the phones in one boat. Caiden had a humbling experience when he went to the local village to get us some dinner; the chief (an old lady) was very happy with what we were doing and through a bit of translation, she said that she knew that God would bless us and ‘may the wind be at our backs’.
Once again the friendly Malawians have been there for us. When we pulled into the beach we were greeted by a local by the name of Victor. We were astounded by the knowledge he had of South Africa – he even knew where Wartburg was and half of South Africa doesn’t even know where it is! With the help of the locals we collected some firewood and boiled some water for the next day.
Caiden was kind enough to buy some Nali hot sauce which tickles the taste buds and makes horrible tasting food taste great. Three grown men stuffed into one Cape Union Mart tent wasn’t great but we had to stay out reach of the mozzies! It was very hard to sleep that night; we didn’t know where the other half of the team were…
We were up early to catch Sam and Guy. We paddled straight across the bay to Kande Beach, where once again the owner (Dave) was very kind to give us free accommodation. We still couldn’t find Sam and Guy…
We used a hotel phone to try get hold of them. This was the first time our parents were hearing of this as we didn’t want any unnecessary alarm bells ringing back home. We left messages and finally reception got a message for us to stay put until they arrived … turned out they were just around the corner from where we had stopped!
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Relaxing at the bar that night, we were greeted by a familiar voices – sopping wet and absolutely buggered from a very long paddle were Guy and Sam. We exchanged our gratitude that everyone was safe…
Apparently Guy had shot off a flare and we didn’t even see it! He told us of an experience he’d had on our night apart: while visiting the local ‘chimbudze’ (toilet) he’d made one foot fault and landed knee-deep in local digestive by-products! “Not your best Robertson,” we agreed, and we also agreed to never let each other out of sight on the water again…
Day 14 was a day of relaxation and a short 8km paddle to the next lodge. Richard and Lauren Slater were kind enough to give us a bed and a free meal. Good old South African steak and braai broodjies. We have been so blessed it feels as though we are slowing down but I know that it is going to be totally different on the other side and we need to stock up on protein while we can.
We woke up as the sun was peeping over the horizon and we were on the water for the final day of stage one. The scenery has changed incredibly over the last two days, it has become mountainous and the water has become crystal clear.
As we came around the corner into Nkhata bay the water changed to a deep blue, it’s amazing how it can change over such a short period. I must admit that towards the end of the day’s paddle I was feeling a bit over it and my right shoulder was giving me some problems – but it is so worth it when you get out of the water after a long paddle.
This is the end of the road for Sam and it has been a pleasure paddling with her! She has really helped us out along the way. We wish her safe travelling mercies back to Senga bay and we will definitely join her for a cold one in about 2 months time.
*I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our sponsors, monetary and equipment, without you this trip would not be possible. We have lived in our reef ski pants and rash vests everyday paddling and none of us had the slightest hint of bum rash. Island tribe sunscreen has kept the sun burn to a minimum, Ark dry bags have kept all our stuff dry…
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