05 June 2012

Lonely Days

It was a day of gunmetal grey, the only colour in view was the bow of the boat. The boat pitched and wallowed in the stop-start ocean of unpleasant accelerations. Meanwhile the horizon was wet, misty and close. There was nothing to see but the odd piece of geography poking randomly through the mist.
It would be a lonely day.
It was pants.
The conditions at West Bay didn't have the edge that I expected from the forecast 20mph winds, but Weather Girl warned me that the swell would come in after 1500.
A timing error through the dump saw a soggy launch and then off westwards once again. The rain became heavy and stayed that way and the vis dropped to around a misty mile or so, with the cloudbase below the tops of the cliffs too. The cliffs were impressive once again, with the heavy vegetation and shrouded in mist they looked more like rainforest than the south coast of England.
Initially I thought I would take a steady day along the cliffs, but as I progressed further along the coast the sea picked up and things got increasingly lumpy. I couldn't see much of the cliffs anyway, so time to just get on with it.
But it was a crappy weather day for everyone; once again I was the only one afloat, the beaches were empty and the dogs must have had corks inserted as even the dog walkers toasted their feet by the fire. I was in full winter kit again (though sans pogies) and it was just over 2 weeks to the longest day!
By the time I closed on Sidmouth things were getting unpleasant, the swell was arriving and things had built to 5-6ft with a good few breaking - it was just after 1500. I was using too many braces for my liking.
Time to consider the options and Budleigh Salterton came out top. If all went to plan I could sneak into the mouth of the river to avoid the dump.
It was a bit chunky at Danger Point - a great name for a fallback option I thought. As I rounded the headland my heart sank as I saw the dump fading away into the mist, but figuring there may be a bit of shelter behind the rocks of Otterton Ledges I sneaked in as close as I dared to be rewarded with a narrow but steady landing - phew. I never even saw the river until I got out, it was 30m away.
Thanks to Fat Wendy from Pomeroy - I owe you one.
Luckily Mission Control is still around so she whisked me off to dry out. A fairly short day in both hours and mileage, but that was all I had in me for the conditions.
The weather looks worse towards the weekend.
Apologies to Mark R for not linking up in Swanage - Mark's South West Sea Kayaking book has been very useful for the planning along this stretch. (Likewise Jim Krawiecki's Northern England book was when I passed through there)
Hello to Rob P - good to hear from you and hope all is well. How's this for a serious interval sess then?
And Bob P - I think the fat balding guy you saw on Youtube was actually just a reflection on the screen.

Sent from my phone


Bob Perry said...

Those sessions at Ironbridge and Brewood were a long time ago. I'm probably even slower now but the scenery in Southern New Zealand is a bit better than Shropshire. If it's any consolation I'm paddling with pogies on. Hope the summer sorts itself out for you. Looking forward to the next blog.

Anonymous said...

No apologies necessary - I just looked for you in Swanage to see if I could help with anything. I know (from my own more modest trips) how little energy and time there is at the end of the day for being sociable on demand...

The SW just gets better and better from where you are. Enjoy!

Mark R

Anonymous said...

Very important: John, please call Jimmy, the campsite manager at Swanage Seaside Camping where you camped two days ago ASAP!!! Jimmy insists you MUST return to Swanage (by kayak, of course) to retrieve the tent peg you forgot/lost there, thank you!


(This is not an attempt to add un-necessary paddling days to the trip, and to prevent John from breaking the 80 day record, which would be bad sportsmanship, and is naturally something I was never associated with).

Summit to Sea said...

I've spoken to Jimmy, he's happy for me to collect the tent peg on Johns behalf, provided I wear a ridiculous Sou-Wester and paint the car I arrive in to look like a lighthouse. I'm delivering boats to Southampton tomorrow night, so Swanage is only a minor detour. I must also pay £21.00 to park the car for the duration of the retrieval.

Needless to say this Herculean effort on my part will absolve you of any feelings of guilt at your "sportsmanship".

Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...


a very kind offer of yours, but it may be important to look at the BCU handbook, page 541, line 34, first, before retrieving John's tent peg:

"Any logistical aid such as collecting tent pegs for the circumnavigator, provided by moving lighthouses, or people or objects pretend to be such, or people dressed, or people who regularly dress in chicken suits, will be punished with an extra loop around the Isle of Wight to be paddled both by the circumnavigator and the lighthouse and/or chicken, with the time added to the attempt."

While I am not a huge fan of the BCU, this rule seems completely reasonable to me, Pete!


Summit to Sea said...

Fortunately, I live in Wales and am fighting for independence from my oppressive neighbours. I can therefore disregard this rule and take a patriotic stance. It's nearly as bad as the EU and all their silly rules about kilos, litres and the angle of bananas.

Jimmy only charged me £20 to park when I collected the peg last night, as I paid in cash.

Cymru am Byth!