Sunday, September 2, 2012

The call comes

Friday morning, 31 August. The weather for Saturday looked very promising apart from some strong wind forecast after lunch, so we spoke to Full Throttle, the safety boat company, who - after a couple of hours deliberation - said we were "go".

Our collective stomachs dropped. This was really very definately happening now. Action stations.

Stu booked a hotel in New Romney, not far from Dungeness. Jon organised to leave work early. I called my boss and said I was done for the day and headed into Southampton to buy a few bits and pieces.... a bilge pump for one, which I thought we ought to have.

I took a trip to Tescos aswell, to get some water, food etc and other bits we would need en-route.

I was buzzing and I'm sure Jon and Stu were too. I couldn't quite believe this was actually happening.

Stu picked me up at 3.15 and we headed over to Jon's to put all three kayaks on Stu's car roof. This proved problematic and we hadn't practiced in advance, but we got there in the end. Miche, Becky, Kate and the kids were there too to wave us off.

And we were off. We headed along the south coast, in a direct challenge to the authority of the Sat Nav, who got very annoyed about it. But there was no way we were going to head up the M25 at 5pm on a Friday night.

Photo: The kayaks and kit is loaded, the adventure begins!
Fired up and ready to go. Pretending to be excited and happy.
We got to our hotel in New Romsey - The Captain Howey Hotel - in really good time but it was getting dark. We were keen to head down to our launch point at Dungeness and so, once we announced ourselves to the hotel owner, we got back in the car. To say that Dungeness is bleak is an understatement. It's a big wide spit of land sticking out into The English Channel. It has some dwellings on it which, for the most part, can be best described as shacks, and a massive massive nuclear power station. We looked at the beach and the waves were crashing in onto the shingle. It didn't look like it would be possible to launch from here in those conditions, and we wondered why Will at Full Throttle Boat Charters had suggested it.

Slightly concerned, we headed back to our hotel via Co-op to pick up some extra supplies, then had dinner with a couple of mineral waters. In the restaurant we were in a state of stunned disbelief that, in 24 hours, we will probably have paddled across the Channel. We were asking ourselves how we ever let it get to this point....why did Stu and I say "yes" to Jon, and why did he lay down the gauntlet in the first place? It is fair to say we were nervous.

We headed off for an early night - I didn't fancy my chances of getting to sleep.

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