Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

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snapper
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Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by snapper » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:53 pm

Sometimes something you fancy gets put on the back burner for a while. Sunday’s journey was one of them, having been first thought of around a year ago. It was just that there was always something else to do, some fishing for example, some Yakboarding, perhaps even some yak sailing...why would I bother going for a paddle just for the sake of it? Okay, sometimes I do just have a bit of a jaunt, Saturday, for example, being one of these times. I’d got up early and headed less than a couple of miles south with the flood and a couple of miles back against it (three times as long). It took me over an hour and a quarter, almost an hour of that being the way back ;D. Anyway, it blew the cobwebs away having been largely absent from the water for the last month or so and I need to get some training in for when I get my Necky. Usually though having a general paddle is something I do with my mate Liam who isn’t really enthused by fishing...and it just so happened we got bored at a party and decided to chat about paddling at the weekend.

10pm Saturday night saw us ditching Liam’s car down in Southwold. That’s a sufficient distance away, being ten miles south of home. Last time we’d done Gorleston to Lowestoft on a pretty flat day and we’d previously run up from Kessingland to Lowestoft one evening but with Liam having had a hard week and me feeling twitchy from dehydration we decided to combine both and go for an epic – Gorleston to Southwold. We estimated around twenty miles all-in, dependant on exit point, and with a big spring tide to speed us along we reckoned we could do it in a tide with ample to spare...which is probably why we didn’t leave so early...of course there was another reason why it was just paddling this weekend – the sea. With a strong easterly blowing for a few days there was no way I’d be able to anchor and fish; easterly winds bring chop and short swell. It’s not a kind sea on the east coast. It was going to be bumpy.

A 5:30 alarm call saw me up, coffee’d and out looking at the sea in good time. By 6 I was at Liam’s house and soon after we were on our way to the launch spot. Twenty minutes later we pulled up and parked, unloaded and dragged the kayaks down to the water’s edge. It was starting to get light and the sea didn’t look as bad as expected although the reflected waves in the cauldron by the breakwater were crashing together nicely. It would have been fun to play in but there really wasn’t time this day. No, we had to get on...

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The launch was fun. Straight into a couple of feet of water, closely spaced and breaking and it soon woke us up and got us in the mood. It was a bit more lively than it looked from the beach but all good fun. If it stayed like this it’d be a walk in the park. We paddled out a bit and then turned south towards the wreck of the White Swan, getting there just after the sun had risen above the horizon...

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It looked pretty turbulent over the wreck and the sea had picked up a bit now, a mile south of our launch point. We continued down towards Hopton, enjoying the paddle. It was windy, a good 15mph from the east, and the swell was hitting us beam on.

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Hopton. Haha. I knew what was coming having been through here in a decent swell a couple of times. The shoreline disappears just south of here and becomes a long stretch of sea defences below the cliffs. This wouldn’t be such an issue if they weren’t quite so solid...but they are and so the swell hits them, explodes upwards and then surges back out towards the horizon. Or rather the incoming swell. Or, in this instance, Liam and I. We’d played safe and gone half a mile out to allow it to dissipate slightly but still had waves coming from left and right at the same time. It’s rather disconcerting and demands concentration but is rewarding to paddle through. It’s also a relief to get through it!

We finally got clear at Corton as we paddled past the beach anglers at Tramp’s Alley. I would have loved to have known their thoughts as the swell was now running around 3-4ft and choppy with it. W carried on past and in no time reached Gunton before paddling past Ness Point and the Gulliver turbine at almost 6mph. The flood was starting to aid us more as we came to the headland that is Lowestoft Ness. Again we tried to get out a bit so as to avoid the turbulence experienced just short of the harbour entrance but with the wind now full in our faces from the south east as we turned and the current and our forward paddling combining to push us south at a rate of knots we were going to have to bite the bullet and go through it. Still, that’s what it’s all about after all. We weren’t having a lie-in followed by bacon and eggs...

The sea picked up. It shallows here slightly, there are rocks and pipelines and remnants from wrecked craft that came before us. In short the ground is a mess. This makes the sea, when it’s decent to begin with, a mess too. We were now going from 3-4ft chop and swell into a mixture of 4-5ft chop, swell, rebounds and larger clapotis along with standing waves up to 5-6ft which were really impressive and rather worrying! The word maelstrom is the one which sprang to mind.

We got through. I was buggered if I was getting the camera out though! I needed both hands to paddle, brace and steer my way through. I did, however, have to get my radio out urgently the moment we cleared the worst of it as the last thing I wanted to do was get hit by a boat. I tuned into channel 14 and called up Lowestoft harbour control to say we were two kayaks transiting the harbour mouth 400 yards out and would be through in a couple of minutes time.

“kayak snapper this is Lowestoft; you are clear to proceed there is nothing coming in or out, over”

“Lowestoft this is kayak snapper, thank God for that because we can’t stop, out!”

The sea had settled somewhat now and we got past and clear of the approaches in a few minutes. I called up to let them know:

"Lowestoft we are now clear of the harbour approaches, thank you, Out"

Thirty seconds or so later there followed another transmission:

"Lowestoft this is (insert name of known motor vessel) we're coming in. It's far too choppy for us over"

...and so we settled down for breakfast, feet up, a swig of water and a chocolate bar ;D It was quite pleasant here – the sea was back down to a couple of foot swell at most, the sun was out and we were making over 2mph without paddling. We’d covered over seven miles and our respective families were probably having breakfast as well now.

We dug in again and carried on south. Past the Claremont Pier, past Pakefield Church and down towards Kessingland. Passing Pakefield rifle range we laughed about the time we’d tried to surf a Malibu 2 there one evening, with predictable results.

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Next came Pakefield Coastwatch who no doubt kept a close eye on us as there was no other bugger about to watch...we were making well over 5mph. Soon we started to hear a bit of noise ahead of us.

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When I say noise I mean kind of a roaring sound that slowly grows the closer we got. A proper roar too, the sort of roar I hear in bed when a strong wind is blowing from the east and a big sea is hitting the shore. The sort of roar that is really good fun when you’ve got a Yak Board and a surf paddle. Not really the sort of roar you want to deal with when you’re in 15 footers and trying to go across it to get somewhere. I switched to chart view and looked at the options. There was one. Because of the various banks in relation to our position we again had to just go through.

This is how I found one of the most impressive local surf spots.

I checked the depth and we’d dropped from 25-30ft to 6ft. There were walls of water and walls of foam everywhere. The sound was fantastic. We had to paddle out from the shore as well as down the coast at the same time. There were waves rearing up, waves folding over and swirls everywhere. At the bottom of one 6 footer I pulled the nose up out of the trough and up another that broke to my port quarter and nearly took me out and over...but I went through and down it’s back still upright and through the next one. Liam was popping back into sight occasionally, also still upright, also getting swamped and also nearly getting dumped but in ten minutes we were through again. It was still pretty rough and still windy but at least we could relax just a little and we soon swept ourselves down past Benacre Sluice from which point we could finally see Southwold lighthouse in the distance across Sole Bay. Six miles or so to Adnams O’ Clock.

It was quite pleasant down here – sand cliffs with sand martin holes, sand and shingle beaches, driftwood on the shore. ..we passed Benacre Broad and Covehithe and started checking the time...with a bit of effort we could just do it, we could make the pier in 4 hours!

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The sea was still pretty wild and the wind still strong in our faces but we were enjoying the effort. We’d passed the point of our longest previous paddles quite a way back. We’d had possibly our two best rough water experiences that weren’t surf-session related and we were ahead of schedule. The only thing was we were starting to tire. Wrists were starting to be felt, arms were swinging slower, hips were rotating less freely and my right leg was starting to stiffen...3 hours of constant hard paddling in one position had preceded this point. Still, we were getting close...another 4 miles and we’d be ashore; another hour.

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As we approached Southwold, we started to see water spouts. High tide was imminent and the sea was up very high. There looked like a distinct lack of beach the other side of the pier and in fact it wasn’t far short of the concrete promenade as it was. We would have to land quarter of a mile short on the only clear bit around. We turned and, with the camera transferred to Liam’s safekeeping, he went in through the decent waves and big shore dump.

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Safely up the beach it was my turn. Turning was tricky, I had to concentrate not to broach. Then I began coming in, slowly. I had to time it right to avoid being walloped big time. I didn’t know the beach or how it would react either. I paddled, then slowed to let one pass under me, paddling hard again to try and get on its back and chase it in...I sort of managed and then it crashed on the shore and I bottomed out, the following wave coming up fast, crashing over me and pushing the kayak, on the gravel, up the beach. I hopped out and pulled her up to the wall. Apart from lost time and distance on the two occasions the GPS had gone down (about a mile and about ten minutes went unrecorded I think) we’d covered a recorded 17 miles in 3 hours 50 minutes at an average paddling speed of 4.4mph. The sea had been big all the way and coming at us from offshore, the wind had been coming at us from ahead and offshore. I reckon we did alright.

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We walked the yaks off the beach, fetched the car, loaded up and went to find a pint of Southwold’s finest, Adnams.

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Video here:

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GrahamKing
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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by GrahamKing » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:56 pm

I reckon we did alright.
Oi reckon yew did too! Nice report, and good to hear about this less-paddled bit of coast.

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by soundoftheseagull » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:21 pm

A well deserved pint after that gents, great video as well
Dave

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by snapper » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:14 am

Cheers fellas. The pint was one i'd not tried before - Adnams Spindrift. Like everything in Chelsea-on-sea it was overpriced but it wasn't half nice. Kind of lager colour but bitter thickness, flavoursome and not gassy. I reccomend it.

It's not the most inspiring of coasts to paddle in terms of visual appeal to be honest - especially for photographs as there's no real height to the shoreline unlike the Southwest, Wales, Scotland etc - but the water is pretty good to go in with strong currents and ever-changing sandbanks. Next up is probably going to be Lowestoft to Aldeburgh so expect another write-up in a month or so...
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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by Adam_Bradley » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:13 pm

Thanks for the post. I've been kayaking on the Norfolk Broads lots but never ventured into the sea (even though I live in Gorleston). Any tips or pointers on how to start paddling in the sea. For example, what would be a good stretch of the Norfolk coast to paddle as a first shot? Any places I can go for advice? Thanks

Adam

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by pugwash » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:18 pm

Nice write up Mark, enjoyed reading it, reminded me of the day we did the Ocean Kayak review and I took a swim round about there. Glad to see you’re still paddling.

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by DaveB » Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:47 pm

Replying to the last post but one:

Buy and read and re-read franco ferrero's book on kayak navigation
Go on the British Canoeing Coastal Navigation and Tidal PLanning course
Get an emergency beacon and a radio and learn how to use them.
Get some mates with expereince and ask them to check some trip plans prepared by you before you and they set out to paddle them.
Asking for a good stretch of coast to paddle as a novice is, in my opinion, asking how long is a piece of string. Any reccommendation is going to be subject to caveats about state of tide/swell, current and forecast weather and the strength of your group, and the suitability of your kit.

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by Adam_Bradley » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:42 pm

Thanks for the advice. I've done point 1 and 3. Would love to do point 2.

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Re: Gorleston to Southwold paddle, 10th October 2010

Post by DaveB » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:58 pm

Another resource:
https://www.pesdapress.com/index.php/pr ... -kayaking/

But get some people to paddle with who have expereince. CHeck out the local clubs if you have not already done so

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