Saturday, September 24, 2011

First blood

So, during the week I texted John and Stu and said "how about we kayak from Eling to Hythe, leave a car at either end, and then we'd have done 5 miles".

John's reply was "how about we kayak to Hythe and back?".

A sharp intake of breath later, and I was unbelievably agreeing that this was a good idea. Earlier in the year we went on the Christchurch River and out to Mudeford, coming back against the tide and river flow. We did about 4.5 miles that day, and it was flipping hard work, plus the pub on Mudeford quay wouldn't serve beer to people in wetsuits. And I fell in at the end.

Eling is similar in that, when the tide goes out, you have the flow of the River Test and the tide against you. So, of course, we chose high-ish tide (but starting to fall) as the time to leave Eling, meaning that a couple of hours later, when we were paddling back, we were against a very strong current.

"Dig deep" said John as he paddled on ahead, obviously with either a deeper place to dig in to, or he's just a lot fitter than me. Luckily for Stuart he wasn't able to make it. John got back probably a full ten minutes before me.

Personally it was a big struggle for the last 45 minutes. We could see the entrance to Eling marina for almost an hour before getting back there, because the tide was so strong. It was like a light at the end of a very long tunnel, that didn't seem to be getting closer. I felt like Sam Tyler, stuck in a time loop, paddling away but not really getting anywhere, desperate to get home! Apparently that is what it's like half way across The Channel... you see France but it doesn't really come any closer for ages. So there's a mental challenge as well as a physical one.

Once I had finished, I thought that today would lay down a marker for the future. Not least because, if I re-read this post in six months time, by which point I hope it will be a very nice spring day on The Solent and paddling 15 miles in a day won't be a problem (thanks to a winter of fitness building...!), I will realise how far I will have come. Or maybe I'll stuff my face over Christmas, put on a stone or two, get on the kayak and just sink.

I really think that, by the time we get to Shakespeare Beach and head off towards the French coast, we don't want to be worrying about the distance - if we are, then we won't have done the right preparation. We want to be worried about ships and weather and needing a poo, things like that.

So, a winter and spring of kayaking round and round the Isle of Wight?

No comments:

Post a Comment