The weather looks bad for the coming days, so the brief today was to grab as many miles as possible - it was going to be a long day.
Once again a return to Swanage, only to find the roads closed as the Rotarians set up for a bit of a street party. On the upside the toilets were free ('For today only' said the sign!) - yeehaa! Never one to miss a bargain I had to go back for another go.
As we were sorting kit on the roadside The Boss even got roped into minding a stall briefly! I thought I'd better get on quick before I found myself as a stand-in Morris Dancer or suchlike.
The plan was to get on before the tide and use the eddies to get to St Albans for slack water. The wind was mid-high teens N but forecast to drop, the cliffs sheltered me nicely as I made my way along the old stone workings in the cliffs which caught my interest. St Albans passed by straightforwardly, what a difference a day makes and then it was on to Portland.
I was disappointed to miss out on this stretch of coastline with Durdle Door, Lulworth and Kimmeridge but with a day lost yesterday and the poor forecast I really wanted to get beyond Portland Bill. Even to the W of Portland I figured my short term options would be limited, to the E of Portland the options were nil.
The good vis played games and Portland looked so much closer than the magic box showed, I even had to double check the figures.
The plan as I closed was to get in close and work down inside of the race. I gave it plenty of room but even so it took a pretty serious ferry to skirt above, when I was no longer holding ground/stillwater speed then I turned down. I got inside of the race where I gladly traded speed for a peaceful ride; looking up above the rock ledges I could see the place was swarming.
It reminded me of the chimp enclosure at Chester Zoo - some were sat around scratching their arses, the fat ones were dangling bits of string in the water and the energetic ones were climbing the rock pillar - but many were just gazing out to the horizon, looking for a chance to escape it seemed to me. Amongst it all stood a lone blue Rockpool jacket waving towards me like a mad loon.
Around the corner things seemed ok, I was expecting a bit of confused water where the eddy and flow met but it was a bit more than that - big waves and plenty of spikey water. It took a bit of discipline to hold the bearing to cross this stretch, the natural tendency being to tend towards the coast.
And then finally clear, and heading off westwards with the implausibly long Chesil Beach for a backdrop. It made me think it was time for a blog competition:
A shiny new sea kayak for the winner (terms and conditions apply)
Question: How many pebbles on Chesil Beach?
(T+C's - prize awarded to answer within +/- 500 pebbles of the true figure. Organisers decision is final and completely arbitrary. In the event of a tie the prize will be split equally. No correspondence will be entered into, other than to string Marcus along for a while - answers on a postcard to Nigel Dennis Kayaks, Holyhead, please.)
Anyway after dodging a dodgy rib (idiot) and a bit of dumpy stuff it was time for another gypsy tea on the prom at West Bay. As we ate we watched two lads doing some very impressive moves on their bikes along the sea wall and rocks of the groynes - this doesn't really convey the level of skill that Bo (Beau?) and Nick displayed - good stuff guys.
I get the feeling the coming days will be frustrating and hard work - just scratching any miles.
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