After watching a scary looking weather forecast last night, it was nice to wake up to the sound of my alarm clock rather than pouring rain - a good omen for the rest of the ride?
Breakfast put away and bike readied I started getting dressed for the ride while waiting for Mark. He rolled up at about 7am and we were off! Our first stop was a massive 2km away at the local BP station where for the incredible cost of $2.109 per litre we filled our bikes - if it's this dear in Palmy then what's it going to cost us in Haast?
Never mind, they had us over a barrel and the bikes won't run on thin air so with full tanks we set off South. As the skies got lighter we could see a lot of cloud about but it was actually pretty warm and we did not hit rain (light) until Paraparam. The further South we got the heavier the traffic until just South of the Tawa turn-off we were down to walking pace and being forced to lane-split to get through the traffic - not easy on big bikes with bulging panniers. Shortly we came across the cause of the delay - a little 250 lying on it's side just off the road. Darned if I know what happened but it appeared that the girl riding it was ok and the emergency services were looking after things as they do.
From here it was a short distance but a decent period of time (damn traffic) to the waterfront and the Ferry Terminal. As it was raining we got directed to the new (well first time I'd seen it) shelter for bike riders where we got out of our gear and readied ourselves for the wait. It wasn't long before other riders turned up - the first being a group of German tourists riding a couple of rental Beemers and a couple SV650's. Not long afterwards the first of a few Southern Cross riders turned up and soon there was ten of us trying to (and not completely succeeding) keep out of the weather. Greetings were said and comments made on the lovely state of the weather (now chucking it down and blowing a gale) and then we all settled in for the wait for our boat.
As mentioned above the weather had really changed for the worst and when the ferry first tried to back into the dock it was blown badly off course and had to go around again. In the end they had to drop an anchor to help steady themselves for the delicate reversing maneuver. All this was not that encouraging for those with stomachs prone to being easily upset when travelling by sea but eventually we were aboard and on our way to Picton.
In the end the howling gale appeared to be flattening the sea rather than heaping on ginormous swells so the crossing was fairly uneventful. Mark and I spent our time chatting with another Southern Crosser and kicking back in preparation for some pretty serious riding in the coming week.
Regardless of the how nice the sailing is, disembarking in Picton is always a most welcome experience as you are now in the South - motorcycling heaven! In Picton the weather had really improved so we decided that Queen Charolette Drive had to be done and had a great run through there (only a couple of campers to get past) before turning back onto the main road at Havelock and heading onwards to Nelson.
The Rai and Whangamoa Saddles were absolutely spectacular in the dry so Mark got to scrub in his new PR2's and I had to laugh when I entered a corner with the Connie laid on her side only to have a cop go past the other way - a quick look at the speedo showed 90km/h but I was having a ball and not speeding (well at that particular moment)! Mark also enjoyed a similar moment a couple of seconds later...
Anyway, this seems a lot of blather for a ride of only 260km but we are here in Nelson, safe and sound and raring to go tomorrow - the West Coast is calling...
A few stats:
Moving Average: 73.5km/h