Ilfracombe to Swansea Crossing

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Ilfracombe to Swansea Crossing

Post by new_to_this » Mon May 01, 2017 1:06 pm

Hi guys. Im new to kayaking, have only done it 5-6 times. Im grew up in Swansea and have always loved surfing and swimming. Ive decided to buy a kayak this summer and would use it go go around bays in Gower. One thing i've always wanted to do is cross the Bristol channel and am considering doing it this summer for charity. However, I have no idea about what sort of boat i'd need and how much training id need to be able to cover distance and manage the currents. My main questions are:

1. Whats the shortest possible boat i could comfortably do the crossing in (after the crossing i will just be using it for bays / lakes
2. How achievable / dangerous is the crossing on a flat calm day.
3. How much practice in a boat would i need before hand

Apologies is any if the questions are stupid.

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Re: Ilfracombe to Swansea Crossing

Post by Owen » Mon May 01, 2017 4:10 pm

You really need to get a coach, I think there are a few local to you who post on here. "How much practice do you need" is an impossible question without seeing you paddle. The tide range in the Bristol Channel is huge and the current flow is far faster than you'll ever be able to paddle, you have to use the flow don't fight it. This isn't something to do solo - unless you're very experienced, which you aren't.

So you need,
1/ A coach who can put together a training program for you and help you plan your crossing.
2/ A team of at least two others.
3/ A Sea Kayak each.

You've not left yourself much time so start right now or plan on doing it next summer.

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Re: Ilfracombe to Swansea Crossing

Post by Pitchpole » Mon May 01, 2017 7:41 pm

Coincidentally my windsurfing mates are considering the same thing. It's 40km from Caswell, obviously longer if you are going to Swansea. That's 6-7 hours paddling plus rests plus 3.5knts sideways mid channel (6knts at Foreland point) plus shipping. You can't see either shore from sea level mid channel.
I would say as a minimum if unsupported you need good navigation skills for tidal planning and in case of fog, lots of safety kit, food/water, excellent kayak handling, a minimum of three people and excellent fitness. Additionally long crossings are a bit boring. Having said that Swansea-Lundy-Ilfracombe-Swansea has been done over three days.
Why not go down the coast?

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Re: Ilfracombe to Swansea Crossing

Post by journeyman » Tue May 02, 2017 7:18 am

"New to this" - your challenge brings back very fond memories of how I got seduced into seakayaking.

Like you, I only had surf experience. It took around a year to build up from no experience to what for me was enough experience to feel I could do this.
It might be useful to you to read some of my journey here - ... nning.html

It will be your own journey, part of which is when you can answer all the questions yourself then you know you might be ready.

One word of warning though, this could totally change your life. Lol.

Good luck and stay safe.


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