Talks – update

Here is an update for our talks at Shadwell and Burnham.

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Talks, talks…

We are back home and trying too adjust to the normal life. Although I am not sure what is actually normal. To make transition easier we are trying to fit in as much paddling as possible. There is more about it on our SIXKNOTS blog.

But more importantly we are trying to organise few talks about our journey. We had our first talk  at CK/MER symposium in France several weeks ago.

Next talks are planed for first weekend in October in Burnham on Crouch and second weekend in October we are going to symposium in Falmouth.

We are also trying to do talk in Shadwell in near future and once the date will be set we will post more details here.

In the meantime you can watch our short video to know what to expect on our talk.

NUMBERS

We don’t know the exact distance of how many kilometres of miles, nautical or statute, we done. This wasn’t important to us. The track and goal were clear, to make a full circle, but if it is 200km more or less, really who cares. We had GPS, but only used it for crossings and in fog, it was switched on every hour or two, depending on our need.

We know that the full circle has taken us 119 from Gravesend to Gravesend.
The whole journey lasted for 122 days, exactly four months as we planned, from 1.04. to 31.07. 2012.

But there are few other interesting numbers and facts which I would like to share with everybody.

We had 94 paddling days.
We had 28 non paddling days, of which 26 were due to weather, 1 a mental rest (after our Lundy landing) and 1 in Gravesend as we were back too early.

We pitched tent and camped for most of the nights of which 7 were spent in 2 payed campsites.
We slept 28 nights under the roof:
2 in bothys
6 in hostel (Rubha Reid, Thurso, Cullen)
3 in B&B (Wick and Robin Hood’s Bay)
3 in Gravesend Sailing Club

14 at nice people houses:
3 at Howard & Gill’s in Brighton
1 at Mark and Sherril’s close to Portsmouth
4 at Barbara & Ian at Burton Bradstock
1 at Tanya & Andy’s (MidlifeKayak) in
1 at Steve’s at Aberporth
1 at Stuart and Kate’s at Easdale
2 at Finley and Linda’s at Aberdeen
1 at Tim’s close to Harwich

This trip was very liberating and brought us back to nature. We develop a need for one clear luxury, a fresh towel, so only took a shower if offered together with fresh towel.

All together we had showers on 16 different places around Britain.

We had a little competition here. Not between us, no. But it was showers against whisky bottles.

Sadly I have to say that the whiskey lost 14:16 for showers.
It may be due to us leaving unprepared and not having one till Brighton. On the other hand we had some very special stuff prepared by Zdislaw Dubinsky and carefully packed by his daughter Ania in handy containers of a size of double shot. We had one to two a day all the way till Brighton. Also the last bottle of whisky is not counted since it was bought in Walton-on-Ness as the very small bottle they make.

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Where food is concerned, the statistic is very simple. This trip wasn’t about cooking. So altogether we used only few ingredients.
For cooking it was salt, pasta, quick rice – Egg fried rice was very popular, kidney beans in chilli sauce, pesto, tomato sauce, coconut milk and green Thai paste, odd carrot or courgette and leek, chorizo.

For snacks we had wraps, cream cheese, various salamis and cheeses, ketchup, mustard and mayo and occasionally a cucumber or pepper.

30 packets of Czech soups, various flavours (all time favourite a Goulash soup).

We used 480 tea bags of Roibosh and 1,5 kilo of sugar.

Favourite power bars were: Mars, Chunky KitKat, Wagon Wheels, Can’t-remember-name- ones, and a selection of Czech favourite ones especially imported for this trip.

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Other nutrition was taken from local resources. But we discovered that mostly we ate steaks or sea food and vegetable.

And mustn’t forget the cakes and coffees.

I think these are the most important facts and statistics arising from this journey.

(written by Natalie)

GET CLOSE AND GET OUT

The wind swung from headwind to tailwind over night. The sea during our morning departure was nice and calm due to being sheltered by Flamborough Head. Soon after passing Bridlington the following sea started but even with the tide agains us, we were quite pleased with progress we were making.
As we progressed south it became more obvious how much shelter there was in the morning. At Hornesea the sea was bigger and messier than what we would like for nice and dry landing to have lunch. Instead we decided to continue towards Withernsea and finish there for the day. Well from the roadmap we knew this stretch of coast was pretty exposed but now we could finally see what it means to follow exposed coastline. With moderate sea, there are no landing options.
We hoped for some surf landing on a beach in Withernsea. Unfortunately at high tide there is no beach, we had to continue. Now we were looking for any gap between muddy cliffs. Soon there was a place, where cliffs were low enough to drag the boats up. More importantly there was a strip of sand in front of it. And surf with huge dumping wave.
While we were getting closer, it became obvious that this would be a swimming landing. I knew there was no chance to stay upright and there was no point to attempt rolling. It was much better to be dumped on the beach out of the kayak than having it dumped on the head. We both knew that it was all about getting as close as possible and getting out fast. We put our helmets on and went for it.
In the end we managed to find all the bits and pieces of the kit, mainly the shewee and our water bag, on the beach. A bonus came in a really nice place to pitch our tent.

FINALLY SCOTLAND

So we are back on the mainland.

Yesterday we had a short day on the water. We paddled from Glenarm to Cushendun to reach the best place for crossing to Mull of Kintyre. Tides were running in our favour early in the morning or late in the afternoon, it was also quite foggy, so we could not consider crossing the same day although I could have been tempted otherwise.

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At Cushendun we have found an interesting house on a secluded beach having a system of caves as a driveway, it looked wicked.

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Today we left at half past seven towards Scotland. Crossing was OK, it was an important crossing, since it brought us back to mainland. It wasn’t as hard as we expected but it still felt longer than what it actually took us.

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There was an unusual number of Puffins flying around, more than we’ve ever seen on this trip before. We landed half past two, and I have to say, it is great to finish early sometimes, especially when it’s sunny. We managed to let all of our wet kit to have some sunbathing.

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And as a treat we had Haggis Nachos, what a great first day in Scotland.

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Celebrate International Day of Children with is

Today is International Day of Children which is celebrated in many countries. You can celebrated it in two ways. First buy an ice cream to a child you know. Secondly treat the children for which we are raising money and donate amount of three scoops of ice cream.
Thank you, bear in mind that this post was written during our crossing from Ireland.
Natalie & Michal

BRAVE, SAFE, SOFT OR STUPID?

This morning we woke up at 4 am ready to check the weather for one more time, have a quick breakfast, pack our tent, go to the harbour and paddle north. So we switched our phones on and were waving them above our heads for a good 15 minutes to get both, Metoffice and XCWeather forecast. Then we started to think again. It was not very good but it was not too bad either.
What shall we do? They predicted some wind F4,5,6, some rain and some fog. Nothing too bad if taken one at the time, but it was a combination we did not like. Also forecast for the next two days was even worst. So should we be brave it and go otis it stupid to go? Or is it better to be safe and stay or are we just too soft? Are we risking to loose a grip with our circumnavigation deciding to stay, risking being stuck here or are we risking to get to trouble with the same consequences by deciding to go?
We knew we should have gone yesterday but since we are only human, we really needed the day off.
So in the end we decided to ignore forecast for the next day or two as it would not make today’s paddle any easier and made up our minds.

We are going nowhere today.

Are we brave to decide to stay safe? Or just too soft? Or stupid to loose so many days?
That’s something we may never find out.

Decision is made, now it’s time to wait and look forward for next weather window.

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LUNDY

After failing with coastal navigation the previous day we decided to practice some open water navigation and cross to Lundy. We have heard so much about it that we just could not resist and miss it during our trip. When doing our numbers at Hartland Quay we could see conditions are not perfect but we felt confident about the crossing. Although Natalie was asking whether doing it late in the afternoon and evening was wise. I thought it was.

It was spring tide and tidal window was quite late. We planned to leave just before 6pm and arrive there shortly after the tide turns, after 9pm. As soon as we left some heavy showers came and both the island and land disappeared from view. Maybe we should have taken it as warning. Natalie was also pointing out that the waves were slightly bigger but I reassured her it was due to being close to shore. Well they got smaller further from the land, but only in some extend. Never mind we paddled keeping our bearing and all looked fine, even the island appeared in sight again.

This lasted till we reached Lundy with about 1 mile left. Then the dark came, and waves became bigger. In a minute or two it became clear we are in the middle of tide race. Not something Natalie likes, especially when going with the waves. Mind you, it was spring tide and looked like it, too. Now I understand why our friend from club, Nick, doesn’t want to make the crossing during spring tide. We were surfing towards Lundy for as long as possible, but once it became too much, we had to turn against the waves and go with the flow to get out of it. Now we were risking missing the island and paddling back to mainland but still better than swimming that direction.

Fortunately soon we were out of it and could make it to the island in an eddy. We had to squeeze between rocks in complete darkness and in the end push the boats across very shallow bit into the landing bay. I have to say we learned a lot. Next time I will allow more time for daylight. Also I underestimated the tide race, I did not expect it to build within half hour after turning of the flow. The rest of the lesson I am happy to share with people over a pint. Natalie learnt that she can handle bigger condition than she previously thought. And she needs to carry more safety equipment on her (not on a boat) which she always resists and now she understands why I want her to be attached to the boat when conditions are too windy or too big. As for the photos they were taken every time by Natalie while I needed pee. But we may not be able to upload them just now due to weak connection. Today we have an expensive rest day on Lundy, landing fee, campsite, you even have to hire a towel, can’t charge stuff in the pub, and so on, very strict.

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10NM

This morning we did not cook breakfast in attempt to be on the water early as wind seems to be weaker in early hours. First half hour it worked then wind picked up and we were fighting to cross Exmouth bay. I think today we had strongest headwind so far, probably solid 6 at times. It took us over four hours to get to Teignmouth. So now we are laying on concrete in Babbacombe Bay and looking forward to tomorrow winds.