Thursday, August 2, 2012

If only we had sails...part 2

So Tuesday night arrived. I'd been watching the weather and the forecast looked ominous. We'd arranged to meet at Lepe to try going across to the Isle of Wight, but that was a non-starter. The tide was at 3 knots through the middle of the Solent, and the wind (going in the same direction) predicted at 14 knots, which is a lot!!

We pulled up at Lepe and, as it was indeed very gusty, all agreed that we'd try somewhere else, plus two out of three of us had forgotten to bring any change for parking. We headed off on a bit of a wild goose chase, trying to find a slipway that was visible on Google Earth along the Beaulieu River, and looked like it was fairly well built up and accessible from a track off one of the roads through Exbury.

After a bit of driving around and no help whatsoever from a Tom-Tom free RAC man, we tried up a gravel track that looked like it was fairly private. The sign on the road ("private") gave it away, really. But it was worth a try and, after about half a mile, we came to a gate. A bemused chap was stood there loading something into his car, and informed Jon that this was a private road (you don't say) and also that the slipway was private.

A bit crestfallen we headed back to Lepe and opted to head out and up the Beaulieu River, only needing to endure a short stretch of open water before getting to the more sheltered rivermouth.

It wasn't actually that windy anymore. We easily got across to the spit that separates the river from the Solent, and decided instead to paddle along the coast towards Lymington. By now the sun had come out and it was beginning to look and feel like a pleasent evening. Occasionally we'd hit a patch of choppy water, but it would pass or we'd simply move further out into the water where it was deeper and the effects of the waves were less pronounded.

We ploughed on. Stu was enjoying it less than usual, having pulled up straight from work and a couple of sleep-deprived nights, but kept a close eye on his water-protected iPhone to measure the distance. We admired some of the rather expensive-looking properties along the shore as we passed them, wishing we had sponsor forms with us.

As soon as we got to 5 miles, we did a 180 and headed back.

The light was starting to dim now, and with the tide and wind behind us, we made steady but difficult progress, the waves constantly trying to move the direction of the kayaks parallel to themselves. This became hard work but we've learned to rear-rudder using the paddles, so aren't completely helpless. It is, however, a difficult slog doing this for five miles.

But it was a pleasent evening and, through the murky dusk we spotted Jon's VW Transporter like a shining beacon of hope. Cowes was lit up like a Christmas tree and there were no other boats on the water, so no immediate danger.

No pub this time.....too knackered even for that. But a good paddle of a decent distance, which went some way to making up for Sunday.

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