Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hamble and back, lessons put into practice

Today we did 4.5m paddling across the mouth of Southampton Water from Calshot Castle to Hamble. It was another really nice day, the late autumn/early winter sun low in the sky and I forgot my sunglasses....great! But a great day for kayaking and not really cold until we got out and the end.

John and I were joined by Stuart, who hasn't kayaked with us for a couple of months now, but is back in action although admitted to finding it quite hard work after so long away from the water.

We arrived at Calshot and, unlike our previous excursion from there when we parked on the main road and launched from the beach, today we drove all the way along to the castle itself and launched from the slipway. The big difference was the fee.... £6 to park and launch from there as opposed to gratis from the beach but..... there you go.

After out recent aborted trip to the IoW, both John and I had done some research this time. We knew what the tide was doing so were fairly sure the paddle across to the other side of Southampton Water, about 2 miles into the marina just up the Hamble River, would be relatively easy. Tide was low and we were paddling around the time of the lowest tide, so it was all fairly calm from that point of view. However the water in the middle was fairly choppy. Occasionally a cruiser went past creating a bit of wake, but it's fair to say that we were getting pushed around a bit as we travelled along the waves coming up Southampton Water from The Solent.

Once we got across to Hamble, it was very calm and the river was very easy paddling, although we only went for a short distance to the first marina. At that point our previous experiences told us that, before the tide starts coming in we should get back out of the river to make our lives as easy as possible.

So, after a Snickers break off we went. More choppiness, a number of breaking waves and a decent breeze didn't really quell our enthusiasm for what was, we all agreed, a really good paddle.

Lessons learned.... the hard way, yes, but we got there in the end.

An awkward moment on these trips is the decision whether to change into dry clothes or just put a towel on the driver's seat and get home asap. I decided to change this time, and only just retained my modesty as another vehicle came from nowhere and started reversing down the slipway where I was changing behind the car door. All present and correct in the nick of time, I'm pleased to say.

After a cuppa in John's VW Transporter mystery machine we had a pint at Calshot Activity Centre (that's my favourite of the activities offered there!) and then agreed that, before Christmas, we would have to make another attempt at crossing to Cowes....

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