Monday, May 21, 2012

Three months later... and the crossing is booked!

It's been a while - almost three months - since our last post, but masses has happened in that time.

The main things were:

- Sunday afternoon tea to discuss how to really get this thing moving, at Charlie's mum's house. Yes we are so disorganised that we are having to get our parents involved!
- An evening training session for Jon & Stu with Liquid Logistics down at Buckler's Hard on the Beaulieu River
- It's booked!! w/c 27 August is the chosen date for our cross channel kayak, and the kind people at Action Duchenne have paid the deposit on the safety craft! So it's definitely happening!
- Lots of kayaking - now twice a week! All of these things will be written about but first it's worth covering our new regime.

We decided that once we were just four months away from our chosen date i.e. 27 April, we had better start getting serious about the training. I have been getting hassle from one mate in particular saying that we won't do it because we won't be fit enough, and as he no doubt suspected this has riled me a little and had the desired effect! So we are now going twice a week, on Thursdays and Sunday.

The distances are creeping up. Or should I say wrenching up, or even throwing up, because last Sunday (13 May) we set off from Calshot Spit (£6 for the day) towards The Hamble River and ended up going all the way to Fairthorne Manor, which is almost 8 miles from Calshot.

We left Calshot knowing we were going up with the tide, and that it was not long since low tide and therefore we would get pushed nicely along upriver. We also knew it would be a hard slog coming back against the tide, and this was deliberate because we need the exercise. We sort of think that if we go against the tide, we can add 50% to the distance (although any distances mentioned here are actual rather than manipulated!).

So we got to The Jolly Sailor pub and I started to pull in, thinking only of the Doom Bar, Jon called me back and suggested we go on to the next pub, which apparently Stu and he had paddled to whilst I was away one weekend a month or so ago. "How far is it?" I asked, the imaginary but very realistic taste of Doom Bar evaporating from my mouth. "Just around the corner a little bit". Stu clearly doubted Jon's estimate, given he'd done it so recently, but played along with only a small mumbled caveat, and off we went.

It was at least an hour before we turned right up a small creek and got beached in the mud as the water ran out. High tide hadn't arrived here yet. We retreated, our goal desperately close, and I decided that I was going to race back to the JS as quickly as possible to see if I could get some perseverance and stamina built up, despite the almost-eight-miles that were behind us (or, as they were now, in front of us again). Plus I was gagging for a pint.

Now going on A to B to A routes is a always very exciting and inspiring during the A to B bit, but coming back via the B to A bit is actually quite demotivating, because you start to see landmarks that you saw on the A to B bit, only now to realise how far they are from A. You constantly are saying to yourself "flippin' heck, we've got miles to go yet!". And so it was on this journey. I kept waiting for the motorway to go over the river. Around every corner I was thinking "the motorway bridge will be just around this corner" but, alas, it was not. Until, finally, it was. But it took ages.

Not exactly "Just around the corner a little bit", eh Jon??

So we disembarked at the JS and duly had a pint of shandy, because by now we were dehydrated and needing a sugar rush (we added a couple of bags of crisps each for salt), and Jon mentioned that he was feeling a bit nauseous. It had occurred to me that during this marathon and unexpectedly long journey I had not worn a hat or suncream, and it was not a dull day at all - very bright and mild, in fact. I knew that I would be burned by the time we got back and that Jon was probably getting sunstroke or something. But we tried to ignore those minor inconveniences and set off again.

Another landmark eluded us, this time the pink ferry shelter which sits on the north side of the river near to where the Hamble meets Southampton Water. We kept thinking it would be in sight soon, but it kept failing to deliver. And then, all of a sudden, we almost got chopped to pieces by the pink ferry! Imagine the shame of being knocked into The Hamble by a pink ferry....well it almost happened. But we survived and now, almost at the mouth of the river, we felt like we were getting somewhere.

However equally we knew, from previous experience, that doing the crossing back to Calshot against wind and tide (which we were about to do) was a nightmare scenario. It was going to take an hour, we guessed. Fifty minutes later we beached on the slipway at Calshot having hauled ourselves against Southampton Water like paddling through treacle.

We were knackered, but it was all worth it about an hour later when Jon's text came through. 15 miles. More than 50% more than our previous best!!! The only downside....? The channel is 21 miles in a straight line, and more likely 25 once you take the tide into account.

So there's a long way to go yet!

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