Waking up at an unusually early time still very much in the dark was not creating an overly enthusiastic mermaid, however the reason for the wake up I knew would be well worth it!
Over a month ago, quite literally the week I began my paddle I moved out of an amazing beach side apartment (the mermaid frat house) in Newcastle. Jess my house mate/ big mermaid sista also had her own nautical adventures planned a few weeks after mine began. She was off to work on the ocean on a yacht for who knows how long…
The stars aligned and we both happen to be docked on the Gold Coast at the same time, her on a luxury yacht, me on my trusty JM Paddle board. Our early morning sunrise coffee date was the best, so many laughs, stories, smiles and tears! After a quick breakfast we all headed back to the marina to have a look at the vessel Jess now calls home. I was absolutely blown away, the yacht was immaculate, I could see my reflection in the paint work.
Driving back to our home stay to prepare for the morning’s paddle was fun, especially when Nick asked if I remembered the address?! I didn’t but magically enough my sense of direction and sheer luck found us back at the home stay just in time to see the rest of the house beginning to rise.
Soon after we were Northcliff bound ready for go time, knowing it was a shorter day helped me mentally, however getting me moving and ready this morning was another thing. I felt so tired and lethargic the thought of paddling hurt. When we arrived at the beach it was amazing to see all the professional Nutri Grain Ironmen and Women training. I did gasp with excitement when I saw Courtney Hancock! My energy levels were lifted immediately!
The local Gold Coast Council lifeguard Paul went above and beyond with assisting us over the past two days. He helped beach and bring in the jet ski as well as provide much needed local knowledge about the up coming Straddy Island sections.
The moment I hit the water I felt better, despite this being a scheduled rest day the paddle up the Gold Coast coastline was incredible. The contrast of warm aqua clear waters with high rise buildings and a city scape for a back drop was breathtaking. Early into the paddle a small pod of dolphins playfully floated around just north of Surfers Paradise so I paddled towards them and enjoyed the local company.
After the morning paddle was complete we again ventured back to Northcliff, this was soon becoming my new local! We had an amazing lunch with a view at BMD Northcliff, this was a moment with probably the most silence that I can remember on the entire trip. Finally fueled with energy returning, my phone started buzzing like crazy I was semi optimistic about a helicopter flight that had been discussed over the previous few days. Based on the next call I received it was locked in and we jumped in the car and raced over to the heli pad outside Sea World.
Myself, Nick and Mark were ushered around a few stationed helicopters then through a few security gates and boom we found ourselves inside the gates of Sea World!!! The boys were so excited they were talking rides and all things sugary. It wasn’t long before I was waiting my turn to board when Jane the amazing lady behind the scenes to organize this entire adventure experience came and greeted me. Not only is Jane incredibly generous and stunning, but she is what I call a ‘boss chick’. Jane is a helicopter pilot herself and also drives one of the most amazing trucks I’ve seen. It was great to be able to spend some time with her after the flight and talk all things paddle and flying!
What can I say, I have never been in a helicopter before so I was excited beyond words, and a little nervous too. The take off was crazy a slight forwards lean as we lifted off the ground and next moment I had a view of the entire gold coast! It was so beautiful and surreal, we flew over the exact section of beach I spent the morning paddling so to have another perspective of just a small section of this paddle was incredible! A huge thank you to Sea World and the helicopter staff that were so excited and supportive about what I am doing!
The rest of the afternoon became a standard blurr of tiredness and laughs as we arrived at our evening home stay on the Brisbane River. Mark the water safety driver organized for us to stay at his parents place which was absolutely stunning, the fact that we were in the city yet by the water made it all the more special for me!