MY ROUND BRITAIN TOUR BY KAYAK
I needed to go to the loo before changing into the wet-suit because once in the kayak, there was no alternative options of going. Fortunately, my peristalsis was timely and the ritual of dressing and preparation for my adventure began. It may be worth mentioning how I came to become an early morning paddler. They say the smaller the boat, the more you use it; I have owned a couple of small sailing boats over the years but they have proved to cost a lot of money maintaining, keeping, storing etc. and had little use, so I reverted to kayaking. The sitontop variety was useful to paddle out to my boat and something I could use for fishing, snorkelling and swimming. I could enter the water and board in a second.
I filled up my hydration pack, and packed my emergency items, then hurriedly scribbled a note to my friend. “Dave, I`m going to paddle around the island will probably be back before you get up. Its 4AM!”
I calmly paddled out of the little harbour at first light, through the moored boats, avoiding their mooring lines; the paddles as they entered the water seemed to make such a lot of noise, but the kayak cut cleanly, parting the water like a Norfolk plough but despite my gentle neighbourly considerations, the paddling disturbed the stillness in the harbour I owned that morning! As I left the small channel between Ballachrach and the Island, I started to turn left but looked towards Ellish; an uninhabited island only about one and a half miles away, across a deep channel, with a fairly strong tide that had slackened. I was struck by the pleasant face on the sea, inviting me to change my plans. Then to my delight a small pod of dolphins presented their arched backs and dorsal fins as they carried out their breakfast manoeuvres about a hundred yards away in shallow water around the rocks. I had only seen them here once before and hoped one day to swim with them. My initial fears that they may attack me, were soon dispelled, when reading about a pod that protected a family swimming from a great white shark; they swam in circles around them for about an hour! Unfortunately, swimming with them today was not on their list as they made off quickly towards the West and the Island of Ellish. I was pleased on this occasion I was able to film them before they left and battery died on me. Protecting another species from attack would appear a certain act of altruism if ever there was one. It could have been a case of ‘mistaken identity’. The assumption that altruistic behaviour only evolved to benefit individuals within the same species; If this was the case how can it be true altruism? If there is an expectation at some point, ‘altruistic’ acts are directed toward another species where no reciprocation is expected, there is a waste of energy/resources without any personal benefit toward the fitness of that species. This would be seen as wasteful and mistaken identity would neatly explain the dolphin’s behaviour. Given that recent research supports the notion that other species do experience grieving, funerals, embarrassment and gratitude, these emotions are not exclusively human, then maybe we should be asking, why do humans nurture and rescue ones that are not in their species?
There was a small ship heading North over towards the island painted grey. This was a surprise, the Royal Navy up early on a Sunday morning! The minesweeper disappeared behind Ellish where I was now headed, this, together with the dolphins facilitated my change of mind! After paddling for about fifteen minutes, I stopped half way between the islands to catch my breath and to take in the sun rising over the Isle of Corrasay. The sea was calm and hardly a breath of wind. It was so still, so much so I could actually hear my heart beating! Suddenly I nearly jumped out of my skin, when a loud burst from my VHF radio crashed into my reverie. It was only Stornoway Coast Guard making the routine “Whiskey Zulu,” navigational warning announcement for somewhere miles away but it gave me a shock having the volume turned up to max and the radio only inches from my head on my PBD. The panic gone, I felt alone but not lonely, drifting for a while on the tide. My eyes focussed on the compass between my legs, it started behaving strangely. Nothing dramatic but it wavered slightly in both directions a few degrees, while the kayak lay motionless. I checked the movements with some fixed points on the shore, something peculiar was happening. Maybe this was the `magnetic anomalies` that were marked on the charts? Slipping over the side for a swim was almost routine but always a wonderful experience. I wanted to be a ships diver when I was in the Royal Navy, and spending time at the bottom of Portsmouth harbour in the middle of winter in a leaky dry suit was not what I had in mind when I volunteered but forty years on, the knowledge of the deep water under me in the Gulf stream was now reassuring. I would practice re-entering the kayak in the eventuality of being tipped out, so I could with confidence be on my way again. To do this, I always removed my life jacket (PBS) first, so did not unnecessarily immerse the items kept in the pockets, which would, with repeated dunking damage them and also, it would hamper my streamlined recovery. My wet suit not only kept me warm and offer some protection from jelly fish stings; the lions main were beginning to swarm, it also gave a good measure of buoyancy anyway, especially in the legs and it was that with the slippery surface which made possible rapid re-entry to the kayak; I could literally lay horizontal and glide back into it, above all else it filled me with confidence, something I had lost once after my encounter with a dead octopus many years ago. Before entering the water, I placed the drogue over the side in case the wind appeared suddenly and separated us.
There was never a feeling of sudden change going in; the sea was not that cold anyway but the smallest of cold trickles entering the suit at the base of the zip, was never welcome, but only lasted a second or two. I kept close to the kayak at first, swimming on my back with fins on my feet, but gradually created distance between me and my boat, something I loved to do; It created a sense of controlled isolation. In reality, I stood more chance of being mowed down by a horse drawn tram out there than anything bad happening, that notion of being suspended in the sea with countless fathoms under me was the nearest thing to a spacewalk I`ll ever encounter; it was all controlled. I felt safe and one in that environment. There was a gentle swell lifting me as I drifted a little further away, just lying and floating. Closing one eye, I held out my arm, raising my thumb out of the water, the end of which completely covered the kayak and the Island of Ellish; just like Buzz Aldrin had done on the moon looking back at the Earth. His famous gesture had profound reverberations around the world. That precious blue world of ours looked so fragile rising over the moon. My mind now emptied of all worries and I began wondering what my parents would have made of all this, lying there regularly checking my mothership every two minutes…
It was very unnerving; just a strange sensation at first as if there was someone next to me, I felt something touch me. But then It felt like a giant hand being placed all over one side of my body, feeling sudden pressure and a vibration and noise pass right through me. The neoprene of my suit dampened the effect but I then looked around in a panic, and started to crawl and thrashed my way back to the kayak in the same moment remembering that encounter off Billiton and the dead octopus. There was another vibrating pulse and a loud palpable squeal that shook me while I was swimming and I just froze but carried on forwards with the momentum. Only about five more swimming strokes and I would be there. I sprung out of the water in less than a second but not before I felt it again on the lower part of my body. I looked over myself for any visible signs of what had touched me but there were only patches of wet neoprene due to the rapid dispersal of water. There were no visible injuries. I was panting with dread and a vulnerability that was not anticipated. I reached behind me to grab the life jacket putting it on immediately. There was that sound again. The warship had disappeared behind the shadow of the island, so could not be the source of the sound. The sea was still calm but every twenty seconds there was a shrill-shriek, now amplified through the hull of my kayak. Every pulse resonated with the compass mount between my legs, shaking it visibly. In all, these phenomena only lasted for about forty-five seconds, less than a minute, I could guess what it was but I never went back in the water again.
There was nothing to see, only that sense I knew something was out there below me. Maybe watching. I paddled on towards the Northern end of the island glancing through the glare of the sun on the wavelets, in a futile attempt to look under me to a hidden world. I paddled on where I hoped to get ashore, but there was a dangerous swell sloshing in and out of the landing place; it proved impossible to land. Scanning the seas for any sign of anything but to no avail, It, had gone, then I headed back across the channel like a crab, sideways, the tide was flowing fast on the ebb and by the time I entered the harbour, the sun had been up for an hour or more but not the islanders who were probably still in bed including Dave who was still asleep.
THAT WAS A PIECE FROM MY BOOK THAT WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. IT IS MUCHADO ABOUT KAYAKING. Anyone interested in reading it can contact me via FB. message.
I have begun a kayak adventure, my ROUND BRITAIN TOUR (but taking my time). I will be setting off both paddling and swimming my way, exploring the entire coast and all its inlets. I will be visiting some of the nearer Hebredian Islands first this year (WEATHER PERMITTING!). I have hit 60 years and am blessed with good health although the child rearing years coming late in life had their effects.
Sit-on-tops, or SOTs for short, are quickly gaining in popularity. This style, allows the paddler to sit on top of the kayak deck. There is not an “inside” that can be inhabited by the paddler. The only access, if any, to the inside of the kayak will be through storage hatch openings. Everything from the footwells to the seat back will be rigged on to the actual deck of the kayak. It is much harder to stay dry paddling a SOT. With each wave, riffle or splash the paddler gets increasingly more wet so a good wet suit would seem an obvious piece of kit needed. There is no cockpit or deck area to stop water from splashing up onto the paddler’s body. Because of this, SOTs are extremely popular in warm weather and tropical areas. Another reason these kayaks are great for warm weather is because it is easy to slide into the water for a quick swim and climb back into the kayak. Unlike a sit-inside kayak, you can re-enter your SOT from the water. It won’t be graceful, but you can pull yourself back up onto the deck of your SOT and reposition yourself for paddling. For a slightly drier ride, you can get scupper plugs. Scupper plugs will cover the self-bailing drain holes found on SOT kayaks. The purpose of the scupper hole is to allow water that splashes on to the deck to drain back out and not pool underneath the paddler. Blocking these holes will keep tiny splashes from coming up from underwater through the holes but it will keep any water that makes its way onto the deck from draining back out.
Whether you choose a sit-inside or a sit-on-top kayak, you are sure to enjoy paddling. Both style kayaks are equally safe. Stability will depend on other design factors such as hull design and size. The best way to decide if you should get a sit-inside or a sit-on-top is to figure out what water and weather conditions you will be paddling in and also, which style you feel more comfortable in. As I paddle mostly on my own and generally in fair weather I am able to and am very confident at self rescue with ease and consider being in the sea just an extension of the experience of being in/on the water. For me the transition between in an on is not an issue and this mind shift will baffle most `
serious`sit inside sea-kayakers who will usually paddle in company anyway.
So I`m likely to spend as much time in the water as being afloat. Basically I WILL get wet…very wet! It is important to dress not only for the weather but also the water temperature as well. Some of the best experiences I have ever had was jumping off a ship in mid ocean or slipping off a boat as we stopped briefly to cool our selves. The sit on kayaks that are virtually indestuctable and unsinkable are perfect for combining these activities. I have already been doing just that and frequently. I only live 20- 25 minutes from being in or on the sea but as a number of folks said to me after I emerged from the sea at Walcot recently, ” Is`nt it cold?” I had been standing on the pavement next to my car, with towel in hand, having jumped over the sea wall after a brief investigative dip. The elderly couple were bemused, that I was uneffected by the cold, unruffled by total emersion in the North sea. I then gave them the run down on how a wet suit worked, it transpired the man was 4 years younger than me and had been and was seriously ill. A number of others were drawn to the only person on the beach that day to speak to me. I concluded they were all prematurely aging and I now had the bit between my teeth again and was running with it….you only have one life!
To be efficient and keep you warm, the suit has to fit snug in order to trap a tiny layer of water between the insulating effects of the neoprene and your body; in my case it is now over 60 so it may well reveal a few contours that were not there in my youth but at least I`m never cold anymore. In order to prevent the flushing effect that cheaper wet suits allow, the openings in the suit need to be tight enough not to allow water to flush through. When it is colder I have an over jacket/rash vest, neoprene based and wear gloves. You continually get splashed while kayaking but this water is prevented from entering the suit. It is only when the body is fully immersed in the water, that water can sneak in slowly and get trapped. If you can trap a layer of water and slow the flushing effect of cold water getting in quickly, you stay warm….simples. If it is hot I simply roll down the top or wear a wet tea shirt using evaporation to cool and or jump in the water. Ialso have a sleeveless suit that is best for hot weather. Open water/ triathalon swimming suits are designed carefully to facilitate maximum movement and comfort and minimise on stitched seams, AND most important they also provide a degree of buoancy which for someone like me with near negative bouancy gives me a lot more confidence! Wearing a good wet suit has changed my life in respect of this fact, as I had needlessly avoided swimming in the sea for many years apart from the very rare hot summer day and even then I was very reluctant to brave the initial shock of the cold and the boubts of shivering when ever leaving the water!
Wet suit / windproof/neoprene top/neoprene socks and water slip on shoes, sun hat or hood if cold.
Paddle and leesh.
Rope bag(going afar)
Waterproof Handheld VHF radio and mobile phone. (fully charged)
Hand held GPS
Portable fish finder/depth sounder.
wind paddle(going afair)
Small grapnel and line
First aid kit
Dry set of clothes(T shirt & jeans & crocs
Goggles and fins swimming cap
Waterproof grab bag/
(The above list is not necessary for surf.
A very cold but sunny December paddle at Sea Palling. Met a lifeguard offshore on surf board (Beccy) but I did not need saving but we had a chat. Also had a swim with seals present but no close encounters.
– The latest experiment inland.
KAYAK ADVENTURES….The beginning….
My Pulse 95 surfing Kayak and cruising Kayaks Tootega Sector 110 and 135
I can now freely access the sea on a more regular basis and this should have positive effects upon my health. Over the last few years I have started to suffer from some minor ailments that have come and gone but have served as notice that I should be more active. So far this year I have paddled and swam more than at any time in my life and I already feel the benefits. RSI injury gone! Shoulder injury almost gone. One of the kayaks is best suited for playing in the surf the other is for the coastal stuff – sea kayaking; I have a liking for both!
Sit-insides, or SIS for short, are the more traditional looking kayak . These have an open cockpit where the paddler climbs in and actually sits inside the hull of the kayak with his legs under the deck. Depending on the kayak’s design, this style allows you to brace your knees off the inside walls of the hull to help with strong and more efficient paddle strokes. Many sit-insides are also able to take a skirt. Skirts are designed to close or cover the cockpit opening in a sit-inside kayak. The paddler wears the skirt around his or her waist. There is a cloth piece with a tightening mechanism that allows the paddler to sit down in the kayak and stretch the skirt material around the cock pit rim, closing off the inside of the hull. This is great for cold weather paddling or for an area that has chilly water. It will keep water from splashing into the kayak and onto the paddler ‘s legs. For this reason, sit-insides are more popular in cold water areas, or areas that have a shorter summer season. In general, you will get less wet in a sit-inside than on a sit-on-top, barring that you don’t flip your kayak over. If you do flip your kayak over, you will have to swim (or submerged paddle) your kayak to shore to drain it out or obtain help from others in company with you.
THE NEXT ADVENTURE………Starts tomorrow!!!!!
HOW TO DO IT?
Launching from a beach.
Walk down the beach, study the waves and decide the best place. To get afloat, do a seal launch. Position your kayak at the water’s edge, pointing out to sea and get on and use your arms to slide into the water. Keep your kayak pointing straight into the waves. If you are not 90 degrees to the waves they grab the front of your kayak and turn you sideways shoving you back up the beach.
It is easy to paddle over a green wave. The water moves up and down, but it does not go towards the beach. You just go up and over the top. However all the waves near the beach are breaking. A breaking wave consists of a large amount of water rushing towards the beach. When a big one hits you in the chest and face, it will stop you and push you some distance backwards. It may reverse loop a short kayak.
Punching out through even quite small waves takes some strength and determination. Try this. Just as a wave hits you, lean forward as far as you can, with your forehead close to the foredeck. Reach forwards and plunge your paddle almost vertically down deep into the wave. And hold on, so that the paddle anchors you in position while the wave roars past. Then paddle as fast as you can, to get out into the open sea before the next breaking crest hits you.
Getting back to the beach
It is not generally a good idea to plan a sea kayak trip which finishes on a surf beach. By the time you get there, you may find big waves breaking all the way along. Even a keen kayak-surfer may have a rough ride.
But there you are, in your kayak at sea, looking towards the beach, and in between is the back of a surf line that you don’t want to get involved with. You can see muscular wave backs shouldering up, leaning forward and falling with long streaks of foam and rumbling clouds of spray. Stay well back from the surf line because occasional bigger waves will break 20 or 30 metres further to seaward.
You have several options. First, look for a quiet part of the beach. Even if surf is breaking all the way along the beach, probably the waves are smaller at one end. There may be a wave shadow in the lee of a headland where waves lose power, slow down and hit the beach more gently. If a river enters the sea at that beach, there may be a wave-free zone in the river channel
At beaches where there is no river, there is very often a wave-free zone at a rip current. A breaking wave consists of a lot of water rushing up the beach, and that water has to get back out to sea somehow. On many beaches it moves sideways along the beach at walking pace until it can go no further, and then it flows back out to sea in a narrow, intense current like a river. Waves there are usually smaller and often don’t break at all.
If there is no quiet place on the beach, look for a quiet time. If you watch for ten minutes you will start to notice a pattern. Usually, a set of three or four big waves comes in every five minutes or so. The sea may be quite quiet between sets.
It may be easier to go to a different location to get out of your kayaks. There is probably another beach just round the headland which faces the waves less directly and so has much less surf. There may be a harbour nearby.
If you really, really don’t like the look of the surf and you have no other choice, you could try waiting a few hours. Big surf seldom lasts more than a few hours. The most common thing for one surfer to say to another is “you should have been here earlier”. Either the swell dies away or the rising or falling tide changes the profile of the beach so that waves break more gently.
You have to start somewhere. With sea kayaking, it’s best to pick up fundamental skills before dipping your paddle in the big drink. I think it’s important that beginners take a lesson, If you don’t have the skills—like going from paddling strokes to maneuvering capabilities, for instance—then you will run into trouble.” I personally have limited experience and if I am honest I know I face a steep learning curve but hopefully not as steep as the first breaking surf that got me last week….it hurt!
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS…….
A little piece I wrote last year on my first leg paddling around the Norfolk coastline.
Woke up at 3.45 AM, the sun still below the horizon. I had anchored my little boat 50 yards from the shore near to the Cley channel the night before and had transported the kayak 200 metres accross the shingle to the beach leaving it there over night. I swam back to the boat but it was
nt far. After boiling the kettle for some quick oats, I got ready but this time I had to waddle through thick mud to the shore. The wind had picked up in the night. I was a little concerned the sea might be breaking on the steep shingle beach, making it difficult to launch. As it turned out things were not so bad and I slid effortlessly into the water and headed West with a great big red sun over my right shoulder.
A seal surfaced and escorted me for a minute or two before dissappearing beneath the waves. I had not had a poo first thing which concerned me, as escape from my state of dress might prove to be a damned inconvenience to say the least but thanks to divine powers, my peri stalsis behaved itself. Ahead of me, I could see the sea breaking on the bar off Blakeney Point on the North Norfolk coast, and the beacon marking the wreck of the Hajordis that was winking at me against the leaden clouds. Its funny, but despite having a boat at Blakeney for many years, I had never ventured over the bar. I had sailed to it and turned back a few times but never stayed at sea. This was mainly due to a fear the tide racing over it at alarming speed that once had me going backwards and helpless. This time I was a just a spec on the sea and in the dim light, I was trying to make out the way in.
The tide had only been flooding for about 2 hours, so the bar was boiling in places. I headed further out to sea for another perspective. During the winter the geography had changed. The channel now went right through the wreck! Fortunately I could float on the morning dew; not that there was any this morning; there was a dry freshening breeze now dead ahead of me and I smashed through the steepening waves, waves that were moving now against the flood tide. It was here I caught the train! The tide that had me going backwards a few years ago was now carring me at a speed I could not run at for long. I passed an old sailing smack anchored in the fairway and headed toward the point where a large group of seals appeared to panic and head into the water. In less than a minute, I was surrounded by about 50 seals, all curious but keeping their distance. I pulled ashore and got out and waded in for a swim with them if they would let me. I remember thinking, “what if one of them comes right up to me in the water?” This was not to be, so after this brief heavenly dip and a couple of choclate biscuits I carried on. I was now heading East again as I rounded the point where the water was behaving strangely; hardly the Corrivecken Whirlpool but it churned none the less and amongst this, the seals occaisionally leapt from it and splashed back into the swirls that were now in shadow from the early morning sun behind the point.
I was paddling gently now; no longer did I need to dig the paddles deep and drive along. The tide was my free ride and then he surfaced next to me. One of the bravest of the fellows. Not a big bull seal but a medium sized one. He flexed his nostrils and looked at me. He was not frightened. I wanted him to come closer but he kept a kayak distance away went under briefly a number of times but just stayed with me. He was not alone but he was the closest. The water became more shallow but ran just as quick. I spun round next to a buoy and struggled to keep abreast of it but reassured myself that if ever I did need to go against this current in a kayak, I could but Swimming!….forget it!
By now I could see my boat about half a mile away and by the angle of her mast she was still aground, so slipped over the side of the kayak with flippers on and with minimal effort and rather a large buoy in tow swam the rest. By the time I reached my boat, the water was lapping around her sides. I did a few house keeping duties before moving the boat back to her mooring with the kayak in tow. My first trip along the coast went well. I only did about 8 kilometers but it was a start.
On the way back home. I thought I would check out a number of potential beach launching sites for the future. The tide was probably running about right and this was the perfect opportunity to do it. This required me parking up and walking into the sea much to the bewilderment of the anglers camped out there. Who must of thought,why come all this way just for a 1 minute swim!
Then shortly after….500 miles away!
PADDLING OUT OF ELLENBIECH HARBOUR
Kayak adventures continued….I hoped to Kayak around the Island of Easdale but the wind and waves had other ideas. I`m not stupid so I had to content myself with a paddle for an hour in the sound but did sneak past the rocks for some rock and roll in the North Atlantic albeit briefly knowing I could get back easily. Some wild swimming was had and on the way home I launched on Loch Lomond that was behaving more like the Atlantic but the shore was never so far away.On the way home the trailer decided to part company with the wheels but fortunately for me, my boot and braces lashing held the trailer and kayak together thus avoiding disaster. My son lent me his go pro but I was useless at using it I hoped to get some more footage of the mountains and waves breaking but pressed the wrong button. Tonight the adventure continues…..Mundsley to Happisburgh!
……..Alas shortly after launching and only 200 yards into my short trip, a menacing storm out to sea suddenly paid me a visit in the form of a squall. It looked as though it was moving away from land but…..About turn! I now paddled against the now breaking waves and wind……bloody typical! The right decision though as the tide was up high and without any beach to land on only boiling and confused sea beneath solid steel or concrete. Not a place to be when your being blown against it! The wind was in completely the opposite direction than forcast so I did a perfect landing riding a breaking wave onto the slipway and quickly baled out before the next one hit. Then it was over land to Happpisburgh. I took advantage of an evening calm to launch off the beach and this morning a brilliant day where I played offshore in full sunshine some of which my friend filmed……I await to view the results!
This morning I did a lovely rag doll in a tumble dryer impression in the surf at Walcot. I totally lost it in a big breaking wave.
An early morning at Blakeney. I Took the Pulse (surf kayak) out to my boat to fit the boarding ladder then don fins and swam back to Blakeney nearly one mile. On my way I was asked if I was alright as towing a perfectly good kayak with paddle must have looked a bit odd!
I`ve hit a wall so to speak. I basically have a logistical problem not so much paddling from A to B, but its the getting back again! I`m either going to have to use a bike or find someone else to share the experience with and use 2 cars. I would probably prefer the later although a bit of cycling aswel may not be such a bad idea. I have put a couple of postings out there we`ll just have to wait and see………
………..Oh well it looks like a bike then. Went to Halfords and collect one today. I have fitted a bike carrier to the back of the car so I`m now set! Will be on the Island of Easdale again the next couple of days, so will attempt to paddle around the island again but the wind strength is forcast to be a little strong we`ll wait and see…..Yep it was too strong but I did manage an early morning paddle round the Western tip of the island of Seil round into a rocky bay…awsome!
LEG 2 OF THE NORFOLK COASTAL ADVENTURE COMPLETE! (sort of)
This morning I crept out trying not to wake anybody…I had forgotten to put the bike on the carrier so took the little fold up one instead. Big mistake! I dropped the kayak off at Cart Gap before driving back up the coast but as soon as I jumped on the machine to cycle back to the kayak, I discovered the tyres were flat. So I walked and jogged along a lovely cliff top path that runs South, that I would not have discovered were it not for the flat tyres….a true delight; with a ripe barley field daancing in the breeze on my right and a sunrise to my left over a friendly sea and just me and the lone woman out walking her dog to greet with a “Lovely morning!”
I launched next to two early morning anglers and made the distance so quickly that I had plenty of time to spare for my amphibian antics. I have discovered I can swim very fast. OK, I admit I cheat and always wear fins. For me it is a no brainer. 5 people died along this part of the coast over the last couple of days. There is no way a rip tide will get me! Speaking of which while lolling about offshore, I noticed some strange movements in the sea. I edged closer to discover water flowing in the opposite direction as the tide. This was apparent by the short steep wavelets breaking as they moved against the wind. I let it play with my boat for a while before taking the plunge into it but being very careful not to let go of my little ship. From there I swam with the kayak back to shore without any trouble, proving that lumps of plastic and rubber on your feet can truly save your life if ever you are likely to get caught in a riptide.
I headed for the shore and recovered my kayak and reluctantly headed for work. At least I had spent a couple of hours doing something worthwhile, even if I did not use a bike in this leg of my kayak/cycle/swim around the Norfolk coast.
The next day……
I have now cycled and kayaked and swam Cart Gap to Happisburgh….OK not a great distance but I have tested the system and it is a hassel but doable. I will study the coastal paths as they are far more preferable to the roads. The longer distances, and if facilities available, I will change into the wet suit just prior to kayaking bit, otherwise I`ll have to stay kitted up but as long as it is early I wont cook.
I`m all set fot the weekend. Weather promising and camping will give me some options.
…successfully completed my 3rd leg along the coast although it had to be shortened due to a change in wind direction. Perfect weather the only thing to mar what was a most enjoyable paddle was on my launch. I managed to cover and fill the kayak with yucky sea weed that was hogging the shore surf in massed profusion, having dived into the first breaking wave containing 90% biomass! I camped on the cliffs at Happisburgh with the family and friends and had a great evening. The next day I must have entered the sea at least six times throughout the day and this morning I tried out two items of new kit; The first is a pair of webed gloves that are simply brilliant. They really make a difference not only to swimming but also it is possible to paddle the kayak with them and offer an amazing form of exercise. At the lifeboat fete there was a stall offering gym membership somewhere…I pointed over their heads towards the sea and stated, “theres my gym, and its free!” The other bit of kit is a peaked hood in neoprene for when the weather gets colder however I tried it in the water and it is a definate advantage both to bouancy and it allows me to keep straighter in the water and swim faster and also float better. So I really am becoming an amphibian it seems! All in all I feel I have arrived at a state where I am very comfortable and confident in the sea in a way that I have never experienced before albeit reliant in achieving this through the use of modern technology. I weighed myself today and am back to 10 and a half stone in old money….thats 1 stone gone around the beerbelly then! The next kayak trip will be another attempt to go right around the Island of Easdale if weather and tides allow and that will be in the next few days.
I HAVE SPENT MY FIRST NIGHT ABOARD THE LITTLE SHIP ON WINTERTON BEACH and have now completed a decent stretch of coast (Caister to Woolcott). In a bid to avoid scaring the seal colony at Horsea I paddled out to sea but blow me they `scrambled` off the beach and followed me all the way; playing peek-a-boo and splashing me when they crash dived whenever they came too close. As I passed the hippy camp at Waxham, I half expected to see a number of them (hippies) `worshipping ` the rising sun but not a soul in sight…..maybe they were still stoned.
I should complete the first third of the total distance around the coast tomorrow. The bite sized chunks of coastline are proving to take a lot longer than I had hoped but bearing in mind I am also back tracking either in the kayak or cycling back its no wonder! So Overstrand to Mundesley then cycle back and all before breakfast.
Overstrand to Mundesley….Done!
Today was one of those lovely occasions when a plan goes according to plan (almost)and the weather smiles. I left home while it was still dark and decided to paddle from Weyborne instead of West Runton where I had ended my last little trip along the coast a few days ago. This time I would not use the bike to get back to my car for the return trip but hop on the local bus instead. The steep shingle beach at Weyborne was all but deserted except for a twitcher and an angler. I made good progress along the coast with the tide and the seas face an oily calm with a negligible head wind. The weather forecast predicted a heat wave so my early start made good use of the early morning cool mist. Even when the sun rose above this I was still very comfortable paddling along. I arrived at Sheringham and noticed a swimmer taking a few snaps of me in the shallows so I decided to make contact with him and asked if he minded taking a few pics and sending them on to me which he kindly agreed to do. We both agreed that the rest of the world, who no doubt were still sleeping, were mad, and it was we who were sane and should stick together.
Now as I approached West Runton, I started to feel the suns effects, so I stopped a couple of times for a brief cooling dip, and during one of these escapades, I dropped my watch overboard! I tried in vain to recover it as my wet suit is designed to keep me afloat and so could not leave the surface even though I could see the damn thing!
So after dragging the kayak to the top of the cliffs, I asked a lady where and when the bus departs. She said there should be one any minute, so instead of changing in the public loos that were next to me, I decided (foolishly) to put a cycle hi vis top over the top of my wet suit and run along. According to the time table it was only a fifteen minute journey.
I managed to get the last seat before the aisle filled right up. I have not travelled on a bus for a long time and I have never travelled on a crowded bus, in a wet suit in 31 degrees of heat! When we pulled into Sheringham there was a dispute over those going to work and a party of French school children also trying to get on. I have been to India and I swear there were more people on this bus than any other I have ever been on. I held my life jacket and thanked God that I had nearly a litre of water in the hydration pack to drink, because by the cringe I was sweating that out. At last an olive branch was given (or someone was chucked off) and we carried on.
At last, I debussed and walked along the beach road to where I set out, but instead of getting into my car, I walked over the shingle to where I had launched and launched my self into that beautiful cool North Sea that felt like heaven if such a place exists.
Its back up to the Western Isles at the weekend but before then I will try to paddle Gorleston to Corton and back before going into work. Hoping the weather will be kind.
Off Insh Island October 2016 – My first Island visit but unable to land due to swell against the rocks.
ONTO GREAT YARMOUTH…….
The narrow beach path at Corton, overgrown now with fern, shrub and trees were indiscernible in that period before first light and sunrise. I cautiously made my way down the steep slope towards the shingle beach and todays launching site, half expecting a naked person to come into view because I had read the beach is still frequented by naturists!
Today I paddled from Norfolks Southern border to Yarmouth Harbour and back and all before going into work. The sea was kind and gentle with me. I must have been photographed a hundred times since I started this little adventure; it seems `early morning paddler against the rising sun` is a popular theme with East Anglians. As I approached the harbour my VHF radio traffic was busy reflecting all before me. Four ships, A tug with barge in tow. Pilot boats going to and fro and other smaller craft leaving harbour and then there was me. I paddled out towards them for no other reason than I could. I had a right to be there amongst them…a little upstart. I then made for the beach and a group of open water swimmers who panicked as I approached them. I Stopped on the beach for a quick drink but discovered my hydration pack had ran dry…I still had my return trip! Anyway made it back in time for work albeit arriving unconventionaly dressed…..Next trip (in Norfolk) Great Yarmouth Harbour to Caister where I headed off a couple of weeks back. That will be quite a stretch of coast done and I really believe I can do all of it before winter now.
ROUGH SEAS THIS WEEK.
Maybe I spoke too soon as the weather now has most definately closed in. The breakers are unforgiving and an Easterly wind persists so I dropped the plastic boat in the Norfolk Broads and have been paddling mostly in the rain but I`m designed to be wet so paddled on regardless.
An un planned ¾ of a mile swim recreational swim yesterday!
This followed my unsuccessful attempt to bring my boat back into the Harbour. I was going to walk out to her before the tide rushed in but last minute decided to drag Blankney’s resident kayak as well just in case I was unable to start engine. This kind of proved to be the case as there was not enough petrol and it started blowing at gale force. Never mind though I had the kayak….whoops forgot the paddle! So using the kayak as a swimming buoy I swam into the breaking waves but carried also with the fast running tide….sea temperature 14 degrees!
No chance of getting on the sea all week as Easterly winds blowing hard and cold. I did paddle out to my boat though and tried out some new gloves that were very good; Ineeded to get my hands in the water to unshackle my boat from the buoy. This task took about 3 minutes requiring my hands to be partly submerged for most of the time but they were never cold. So far my kit has proven excellent and adaptable in the weather thrown at me so far. I paddled out in horrendous weather and still needed to stop to take off my top as I was heating up! I have decided to look into getting some smoke/flare pyrotechnics mainly for offshore in Scotland.
After launching my boat with the help of my sons and friend, we chugged off Blakeney point and anchored, giving me a chance for much paddling and swimming and a test out of the new tent…verdict…it is excellent BUT the sleeping mattress was not intended for sleeping on. At least I had an early start being unable to sleep
We slipped out unnoticed from the party. A good time no doubt had by all. I was driving but would need a drink or two to continue and also having over indulged the previous night and with work in the morning……I was being pounded by the loudspeaker, wincing with pain also dodging the blows from my wife and others who sparred with me that I was an old fart for not liking the volume so high! I had always avoided this even in my adolescence when I would venture to those places where I was supposed to be at that age if I was normal and wanted to find a mate or even worse…have a good time!
Earlier in the day someone had posted a vid of a woman with Parkinson’s disease temporarily cured and now able to draw a straight line. This had been achieved by a vibrating device strapped to her wrist that interrupted the tremors, allowing the body to work/resonate at the correct frequency to function properly. I think very loud music and lights interrupt my correct frequency and clearly this is a state most people strive for and accept and dare I say it….enjoy. As for being an old fart for also liking a power nap as well…..maybe If the cap fits I really should wear it?
I slipped out unnoticed into the river two days ago. I paddled out onto a water world completely deserted of people. Still. Calm. Where the thin cold veils of cloud parted just for me to behold to reveal a winter sun. I paddled for over an hour in that sun, heart pumping, lungs puffing and then stopped and drifted with the stream. All that was heard was a far off distant rumble of traffic on the Acle bridge. I felt privileged and wanted to stay there bathing in the warmth of a December sun and for the second time that week!
I had slipped out unnoticed from that disco 44 years ago. I had attempted to bathe in the flashing lights and loud music and alcohol to enjoy myself. I was 17 years old in the Navy and on Cinderella Liberty. I ran down the stairs to get away from her. As the lights came on and the music was turned off, I had a sudden reality check. She was not pretty after all! At an age when fixed ideas of what an attractive girl should look like are dashed in a moment I sobered up. I ran down the stairs away from them horrible teeth, I ran down the next flight of stairs where I had the second flashback of acne. I reached the bottom and found the fire exit had been chained and locked….I was now trapped. I sneaked back up the stairwell and she found me but I ran past her.
I got back to the barracks a minute before I turned into a toad and hit my bed. I awoke from that nightmare twice in the night….The acne and rotten teeth still haunt me!