Monday, February 13, 2012

Paddle to the Island

On Saturday 28th of January, I arranged to meet Charlie and Stu for a paddle on Sunday the 29th for a 13:00 high tide.
The plan would be to paddle across from Ashlett creek and up the Hamble as we had done before.
Stu had text me on Saturday to tell me how calm the Solent was and that he couldn't wait to get out there paddling.
Unfortunately on Sunday morning I received a text from Charlie to say that he wouldn't be able to make the paddle, so I rang Stu and we decided that we would change our plans in favour of Lepe with the aim of paddling towards Lymington.
We arrived at Lepe at approx 13:30 and looked out to what can only be described as "wait for it" A MILL POND "whoop, there it is!", I mean, it really was incredibly flat and probably the best chance with regards to the tide and conditions that we have had for an Isle of Wight crossing attempt.
We got ourselves ready and in to the water and before long were paddling towards Calshot, passing a yellow marker buoy then aiming for Cowes, we knew we had about an hour of slack water before the tide would turn.
I then decided for some strange reason that now was the perfect time to chuck in a line and see if there were any fish in the Solent by dragging a lure behind me.
We continued to paddled across in the flat calm not quite believing how little traffic there was, after thirty minutes we noticed that what had started as a very easy paddle was starting to get just a fraction harder with every paddle stroke feeling a little more like custard than water, we also noticed that the original target of Cowes was not appearing to get any closer and this could only mean that the tide had turned and was on its way out, with this in mind we decided that the best option would be to head straight for the beach at Gurnard which is a little seafront village between Cowes and Newport creek, at least I think that's where it was, as we aimed towards the beach we noticed another kayak coming from the direction of Cowes WITH the tide "nobody likes a smart arse!", giving him the nod as you do and exchanging some words of disbelief on the amazing conditions we paddled on to our goal, eventually reaching the beach 47 minutes after leaving Lepe "Hooray!".
A fine figure of a man!
After congratulating each other for while on our Great Triumph and pulling a few Brucie moves, we decided to send Charlie a picture message to rub his nose in it "it was all Stu's idea".
Eventually we pulled ourselves together, got up off the shingle and decided that it was probably a good idea to make a move back as it would probably be getting dark early and the tidal currents would be getting much stronger in a short while, it was at this point that Stu saw fit to tell me that he had had a conversation with his wife about how he would not try to make a crossing to the island today as we had only a few hours of daylight to paddle in "again, it was all Stu's idea Becky!".
We left Gurnard beach setting a course for Calshot chimney knowing that when we got to deeper water the current would be much stronger, just as we thought it was going to be incredibly easy and were about to change our course for Lepe, the current hit us, but not with the force that I had been expecting and indeed experienced with Charlie on our previous and failed crossing, but never the less, we had to paddle quite a bit harder to try and maintain our course.
You can always tell when things are getting slightly harder because there is a sudden silence as you all start to feel a little uncomfortable and have to dig deeper, its that feeling that I think sometimes brings out some incredible qualities in people, the feeling of not letting the side down that makes some people stand out from the crowd and able to achieve some amazing things.
Anyway maintaining our course for Calshot chimney was our objective and maintain our course we did, we had rightly predicted that if we tried to keep to our target that the tide would play its part in pushing us around towards Lepe, which is exactly what had happened and we arrived back at Lepe 33 minutes after leaving Gurnard, a little cold and with no fish, but very happy with ourselves never the less.
Not the longest of paddles at 4.5 miles, but a good psychological battle won!

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