Sailing south, dwarfed by the big rigs
Morning. I tiptoed over the wet, newlymown grass to the ablution block for a hot shower, got dressed and was blown about by the gale-force wind as I wound up the stabilisers of the caravan, got into the car with several kilograms worth of grass clippings attached to my shoes, and set off.
Controversial as it is for not being up to scratch, the Kapiti Expressway brings a swiftness and simplicity to the journey south.
I loved that I was making good time to catch my ferry sailing – ever at the back of my mind is a ferry crossing in 2014, at the end of my first South Island trip on ‘‘Po’’, my Harley.
I’d arrived at Picton to an empty parking lot and felt very chuffed for being so early.
The lovely young girl at the kiosk said, ‘‘You must be Helen.’’
‘‘Yes,’’ I replied, thinking what extraordinarily good customer service.
‘‘You can go straight on.’’
‘‘Thank you so much.’’ A marshal at the foot of the ramp smiled broadly: ‘‘Glad you could make it.’’
I was quite taken with being so warmly welcomed and – full of joie de vivre – headed up the metal slope to the top deck ... which is where I encountered a ferry busting with vehicles, all neatly parked, and people looking at their watches, saying: ‘‘What time do you call this?’’
I was last on. Oh, the ignominy. I scuttled around, quickly tied Po down, and scooted up the stairs. Looking at my ticket, I saw my mistake.
The sailing was at 8am, not the check-in. Bless Bluebridge for waiting.
After what seemed a mere twinkling of an eye, the ramp was up, the engines rumbled and we were on our way north.
The memory of that blunder ensured I got to the dock in plenty of time.
We were directed to wait in the line for towing vehicles and eventually sent to the bowels of the boat, where I’d never been before.
Here, where the big rigs settle, little Vee was dwarfed, and drew many amused looks from the silent, grizzled-bearded blokes descending from their mountain-high cabs.
It was a doozy of a crossing. White caps on the mountains copy-catted by white caps on the waves, but once in the Sounds, we were blessed with that peace that comes from being held softly by the land.
Those green-backed hills
Rising from the dark.
The sight never gets old. Shadows deep in their muscular folds. Sun bright on their verdant skin. Like spines of giant dragons Who, long ago, frolicked in the sea Until, deciding to have a nap,
And sank into the deep.
Picton. Down into the guts of the boat I return with the big men and their big machines.
Thunderous engines fire to life, shaking my ears in the cathedral-sized cavern of the hold, and listen to the bang and bash of the boat’s metal deck as the behemoths each pull their five axles, 18 wheels and 40 tonnes down the gangplank, heralding our arrival in the South Island.
When opera singer Helen Medlyn withdrew from performing, she threw caution to the wind, took out her savings and bought a little caravan and an SUV. She’s been on the road ever since, enjoying a mobile lifestyle.
Though controversial, the Kapiti expressway brings a swiftness and simplicity to the journey south.