Need to buy a new card reader too, hence no pics...yet
On Saturday 17th April, Simon Edwards and I paddled around the isle of Wight...all of it...and despite the glorious weather forecast including 'smooth' as a state state and a big spring tide, there were no other takers. Why? Well a few of the likely takers are still stranded in Delhi while the Icelandic cloud of ash hovered over Northern Europe and it is possible that my original email didn't sell the trip very well when it started 'on the water no later than 5.30am'..
Anyway, plenty of other folk have been around the island in a oner and Simon and I were a bit pushed for time which meant that planning a 2 day affair would have been either unpopular or inconvenient or both.
We met at Keyhaven at 4.30am. Simon having driven from the Thames Valley and me having had about 4 hours sleep in my car. The chill in the air (2degrees) meant that we got on with the task in hand and were slipping along the glassy water out of Keyhaven at about 5.20am.
An easy paddle with some tidal push meant that we threaded the Needles shortly after 6am and then we had a glorious paddle down to St Catherines with the dawn sun (and maybe some icelandic ash) creating amazing colours in the sky. It felt like we were almost at St Catherines before 9am but, being white water paddlers at heart, we saw some tide race and had to go and play. Not sure if this was helpful as getting round the corner seemd to take ages. It's possible that a little bit of late night planning on the back of a scrap of paper could have been more comprehensive and perhaps there was a more boring but faster route round the point?
Shortly after the point we decided to land for a few minutes - a bit of a 'bent' stop, some breakfast and a stretch. We were back on the water by about 10am then headed Northeast along the coast past Ventnor, deciding along the way that it was much more charming than we had imagined and worthy of another visit on foot or on bikes. A huge landslide area followed and we marvelled all those houses not so far from the edge....before heading in a straight line to Culver Down and Bembridge.
Not so sure what happened here but this stretch took us longer than we had planned. We knew we wanted to be passed Bembridge between 12 and 2pm so that we would get some help from the north running stream but by 13.30 the water was definitely running against us and we had a real slog to get past the lifeboat station. Might the fact that it was a very big tide have influenced this?
By now, the weather was glorious. It was hot and we were really looking forward to picking up some tide. No Mans Fort didn't take us too long and then we were speeding along the way to Cowes with a beady eye of the Solent traffic. Having successfully dodged the yachts, gin palaces, jet skis, ferries and hovercraft, we floated for 5 minutes near Cowes to fuel up before deciding to steel ourselves for the last couple of hours....straight into the setting spring sun, with some tide to Hurst Point, knowing that if we dallied too much we might find ourselves going back up the way we came. Fear of doing that was quite the motivator and we found the entrance to Keyhaven harbour just as the sun was going down. A last km and then we would be back at the Sailing club. I found myself hoping that they would have all packed up and gone home by now. It was nearly 7pm and I had been sitting in my boat since 10am...I had no idea what would happen when I attempted to stand up and would rather find out in private! Anyway, before that there was the small matter of having to prise my fingers off the paddle shaft as they seemed to have welded themselves in place !
So after nearly 14 hours and 97km Simon and I were sucessfully standing back on dry (main)land, triumphant and possibly a teeny weeny bit broken.
On reflection, a fabulous day out with great company. It was only the 2nd time I had paddled with Simon on a sea paddle (the first time was XXmiles from Ham House to Greenwich and back!) and I learnt quite a few lessons and wondered a few things which I thought I could post here:
Things that would make this paddle easier:
1. Maybe not the smartest choice of paddle as it was the first time I was in my sea kayak since September and it truly was the first paddle of 2010
2. A faster boat hence http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=62436
3. Paddles with a smaller blade area - I was using my Werner ikelos which I love and are fabulous for big water/playing in races but it did feel like quite a lot of water to shovel after 12 hours
4. I want a boat with a 'chocolate dispenser'
5. I might be converted to GPS...even though I am the complete antithesis of a techie. I would have liked to know:
- our speed,
maybe plot therout in advnce and know progreess against waypoints,
what happended exactly at St Catherines Point and
how much the tide had turned at Bembridge
7 Frubes are great
8. We were both quite chilly and a bit stiff at the end (the sun had gone down and rather than stop and put more clothes on we just carried on). We might not have been very capable of sorting out any incident should one have occured - my fingers/forearms had never seized up like that before...
9. Maybe starting an hour earlier would have helped get the 'best' of the tide...the only thing is I probably would have been paddling on my own as no one would have agreed to that!!!
and of course...
10. do an overnight or two and enjoy ;)
I ducked out the New Forest Sportive the next morning ...getting on a road bike for 5+ hours at 7.30am just wasn't going to happen ;)
Can't wait for the second paddle of the year now :)
Happy boating everyone