02 June 2012

Look left, look right, look up

In the aftermath of the day from Eastbourne I forgot to mention the cliffs at Beachy Head. From the water the cliffs there (and continuing westward) were impressive. The most impressive of the trip so far I thought.
Anyway, to today:
Sleep on the most expensive campsite was fleeting: the Geordie drunk in the early hours having a phone row with someone 400 miles away, the full blown caravan domestic ('Get out and stay out!'), headlights on the tent, the early morning doves cooing, 'Mr Good Morning' at 05:45 (You sir, are an idiot), campsite caravan music before 06:00 - just shows that price and quality of sleep are not necessarily directly related.
Off the beach and into the Solent; well where else would you paddle on the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend?
The Isle of Wight stayed stubbornly hidden in the mist and the 16mph E wind made for a quick but choppy ride. It also made the choice between through the gap or around the back (of The Island) a fairly easy one.
Dodging hovercraft and fast ferries saw me get by Portsmouth, and head on towards Southhampton. Here we had to press the downwind burn button (and hold it) in order to clear the restricted turning area before the arrival of the 'California Highway'. That is a boat that is not going to lose any game of 'Solent Chicken' - take a look on AIS. I was quite warm after that one. The addition of the Cowes fast ferry at the crucial moment added a little spice too.
Onwards and westwards with more ferries off Yarmouth, but they were much better mannered. And then as I continued towards Hurst Point the mist lifted and I caught my first glimpse of the Needles - they looked tempting. The wind and tide helped me speedily out of the Solent into sunshine and calm conditions.
Decision time; the long slog (and gamble) of Swanage won out and I now had a good few more hours of work in an increasing chop.
Just the normal paddling routine until, short of Swanage, I spied a fast cat ferry to the N just powering up - now where did he come from? It didn't really matter I suppose, where was he going was the more significant question that I would like answered. It was just getting tense (and I was reaching for the radio) when he hung a bit of a louie to pass not too far behind. An impressive wash rolled by, I wouldn't like to be on Swanage beach watching Grandma dip her toes in the water when that one arrived! There could be a few soggy surgical stockings at least.
Pretty pleased with mileages over the last week or so, but the wind gods are looking to rejoin the game over the coming days.
And the campsite mosquitoes have left me with over 25 bites from last night - itchy.

Sent from my phone


angleseykayaker said...

Playing Solent Chicken with the California Highway is probably best left for the bigger boys. I was hoping to catch up with you on your passage through North Cornwall, btu I fear you'll have already gone through by the time I get there in two weeks. An amazing effort John, keep at it and we'll see you when you get back, which I don't think will be long now...

For interested parties: http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?MMSI=352732000

Anonymous said...

now that's a big mother of a ship! Ant chance you might be able to go round again - enjoying the write ups, it has become part of my daily routine.