Crossing the Humber

First we have here two photos from paddling towards Withernsea and after the landing there. Of course as usually with photos the surf looks much much smaller than what it was.

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The day we didn’t leave because the surf still looked menacing enough we went to do some sightseeing. Now Withernsea was something. Once it used to be a great and popular seaside town with many attractions. Nowadays it’s still is a seaside town, only it looked less glamorous and not very popular at all. And we had to show great effort to find decent coffee shop. On the other hand it has lighthouse which is situated right in the middle of the town.

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Of course it wasn’t always like that. When the lighthouse was built, there was no town, no houses. The lighthouse was built among dunes far away from eroding shore. But once the shore started to be strengthen the houses appeared and slowly spread all around reaching the sea.

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Right, it’s time to get to our heading for today. Ever since leaving Aberdeen we were told about it. We heard about it all the time. Crossing the Humber. Who cares we done Cape Wrath, Pentland Firth or something foolish like going over to Northern Ireland, history. Humber, that was what was getting us interest and fame.
Well now we know why. If the other crossings were hard, this one, was one of the hardest. Only ten kilometres from shore to shore, due to few launching or landing possibilities before and after the crossing, it is a considerable distance. In the end we made over 24NM without landing. The tides are strong, too and happily play with the kayaks dragging them left or right as they wish.
On the pictures our path can be seen, we held the same 150 course for the whole journey.

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And then there are the ships, big and many. We had four big ones passing us very close and few lurking in the distance. We also found a tiderace or overfall, and when we were fighting our way through them, I was only hoping that shipping lines don’t go through these. No, they didn’t. To make it more interesting our not so favourite friend, the headwind, joined in at the very beginning and kept us company at solid F4 all the way till the finish.

Fortunately the seals saved the day. They joined us in hundreds and followed us for miles, playing and showing of. Some of them also tried to splash us and succeeded with Michal getting few showers.

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We decided to land in natural harbour of river Saltfleet. At its mouth we met few members of Satlfleet boat club. They were very friendly and straight away offered us their grass for camping and toilet to use. There are very simple things that make us happy after so many months of kayaking.

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Moray Firth Adventure

We left Wick on Friday and made around the corner into Moray Firth. The next day we were facing a decision to cross or not to cross, or more precisely, where to cross. Plan for Saturday morning was to wake up at six, see what’s happening outside, pack as fast as we can and possibly decide to cross from Dunbeath towards Lossiemouth.
Well, already the first part of the plan failed. Michal couldn’t get up moving the alarm to later and later. So we were ready to launch at ten. By that time the fog settled and rain started, so not good crossing conditions. We started to follow the coast. We didn’t feel like crossing anyway.
However the fog lifted soon and we could clearly see the other side of Moray Firth. And so we started thinking, if we were to continue with our original plan, go to Helmsdale and cross from there, we would have to paddle everything back. Suddenly we felt like crossing, besides, the conditions seemed good, too.
We stopped at the next possible place. Had lunch, prepared data into GPS and left. It was just after one o’clock, estimated time for crossing was nine. Little bit late to land, but nothing we have not done before.
The wind started an hour into the crossing, little bit first, yet soon, it picked up and became strong side wind with fairly big waves. We carried on. After about four hours and 10 NM into the crossing we stopped to reaccess our situation. We slowed down, so now our estimated time went from five to eight hours. Quite late. Also the conditions were making it very tiring crossing. And for some reason my layer under dry cag was completely wet with no chance to change. So we decided not to continue. But we’re not very keen to paddle back either.
There was one more option of finding that Tarbat Point. The one we were heading to originally, but dismissed. Only we didn’t know we’re it was. Well, we knew roughly were it was on the map, but road maps are not great for open sea navigation; we couldn’t see it, and no, we didn’t have it in GPS. Sometimes it happens that you may think if something, dismiss it as very unlikely and regret it hugely afterwards. Before we left towards Lossiemouth, there wasn’t a reason to need Tarbat Point. Suddenly open the midlife of Moray Firth there was. We turned, following estimated bearing where we thought it may be, and decided to go for a hour, to see if we can see in open sea. Our speed thanks to the now tailwind increased to four knots.
Yes, we did see it and yes it was exactly where Michal estimated it to be.
So Lossiemouth had to wait.

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Today we left to cross towards Bourg Head. The crossing was uneventful from paddling point of view, but eventful otherwise. My mind just wasn’t up to it. And so the tempers flared and emotions were very high. I decided that that was it, and in Hopeman, the place we were actually approaching I am done. Finish. No more paddling. I was going home ( where ever that may be at he moment) and leaving for greener pastures.
We landed in Hopeman and while having coffee we checked comments on our blog. And there was this one from Ann:

“I’m not sure my husband and I would look such a happy couple if we’d kayaked half way round Britain so fantastic, You look a picture of harmony. I’m sure it’s not always thus!!”

Well, what can I say. What a coincidence. We finished coffee, got back into boats and saw this sign:

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I was so upset that someone dares to call my maximum speed Dead Slow, that I forgot about finishing today. We continued all the way to Portgordon. Which ended to be nice, calm, almost harmonious paddle.

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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ISLANDS HOPPING

Northern Ireland

This wasn’t even mentioned during our brief discussions about where and how we would go. We didn’t know ourselves till about Thursday that we would come here.

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But when considering our options, going up north irish coast and cross north west of Mull of Kyntaire seemed the best.
On the evening before crossing we could see Ireland distant hills.

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On the morning of the crossing we couldn’t see Ireland at all and didn’t until about seven hours into our eleven hours crossing. But once we landed the isle of Man was nicely visible.
The crossing itself was very quiet, some following sea to start with and some wind form side for the last part, but that was it. And we probably saw a whale, don’t know what kind, but it was much bigger than dolphins are.

We plan to paddle along the north coast till we can cross back to the mainland again. Not planning to come here, we didn’t bring a map, and so can’t give you any geographical names. We just have to keep the land on our left for a change.

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What’s more, it’s pretty here. And the locals are friendly, one dog walker just took our empty water bag away and brought it back full.

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OUR CROSSING TO ISLE OF MAN

MICHAL:
I don’t know if it is because we are from a country without sea, but the idea of crossing to different islands has always appealed to me. When we started to plan our journey there was always one island standing up while I looked on the map, the Isle of Man. In false confidence I wanted to paddle there but Natalie was clear from the beginning, we were not even to talk about it, every time I have mentioned it. So it was a big surprise when she said that she was thinking about it while we were making our progress through Cardigan Bay.
We were not too hopeful, we knew we needed perfect conditions and they were five days too early. We did not expect the good weather to last but just in case, we tried to get to Anglesey as soon as possible. It always looked like we were one day too late so we went for Menai Strait as not to waste time doing the whole Anglesey and knew that we would have an opportunity to make up our minds once in Beaumaris.
The morning we woke up at Gallows Point next to Beaumaris was one of the hardest in decision making so far. Should we go right or left? We had almost perfect forecast. Almost, as there were no wind, no waves for two days but fog, which nearly made us to turn right towards Liverpool. We could see hundred and fifty metres at most and it was not going to get better any time soon.
We pondered through maps, charts and various forecasts all morning considering our options. In the end I have decided that fog is going to lift and we went for Bull Bay.
Once we have arrived there and could see limited camping options, basically no spare place for tent, it was obvious it would be pub diner and pitching tent after dark. We went to Bull Bay Hotel, which was just next to the wall on which we were drying our stuff, and had huge sign of welcoming non residents.
This time we changed our routine, the restaurant looked very empty, and asked if they were serving food that night, and then followed with our normal question if they had WiFi. We were given bizarre answer that WiFi was just for residents as they have all business accounts on it. Even plugs we could only use if eating, which they mentioned about three times. We politely left and went to search for something else. At Trescastell Hotel they had the right approach and pointed us to a table with most plugs and provided password for connection.

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Once on line we found email with invitation from Marcus Demouth, but sadly him being in the next bay and us not wanting to go in kayaks again, we stayed in our illegally pitched tent. We were calmer, now, having a backup plan of where to crash if not going.
I have to admit that for the first time I felt little bit nervous all night, being worried about my calculations and forecasted fog patches and fog banks. Fortunately early morning sunshine cleared all worries and we set of towards Isle of Man shortly after six.

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As for crossing there is nothing much to write about, we paddled and paddled and occasionally stopped to pee, wee, drink, have a snack, take jackets off, watch water, one porpoise, some birds, a big boat and one yacht, a motor boat and two fishing boats, and then there was Port St Mary.

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NATALIE:
Some time before we started the trip and Michal had the rare occasions when he was thinking about planning, he there and now mentioned the crossings. I didn’t want to hear about them, we were not to talk about it. And so we didn’t, even when we set of on the journey. I did not feel confident, strong and mentally ready to undertake such challenge. But as we slowly set off and with each bay we crossed and the longer we sat in the boats, I began to give them a thought.
I started to think about Lundy crossing once we left from Cadwith before the Lizzard. Still the second part of it, the Bristol Channel crossing, wasn’t to be mentioned. But even that slowly changed and by Newquay we started to talk about them. You have read about both.
The Isle of Man crossing was still off bound. No way. Well, till Cardigan Bay, then it changed and I started to feel a bit confident that we may give it a go. The last crossing of Cardigan Bay was slow and tiring and a little preview of sitting in a boat with no end, but I felt ready. I only told Michal about it when we left Aberystwyth. I was even getting nervous that we would not be able to do it, as each day of good weather far away from Anglesey I despaired, that we won’t make it there on time.
The paddle through Menai Strait was great and I am glad we gave ourselves the time to make decision. The morning at Gallows Point was difficult, sea state and wind great, fog not so. Looking at OS maps showing mud and sand were putting me of North west coast of England, on the other hand it is part of the coast line. But also I like islands and Isle of Man and wanted to go there. Left, right, left, right. But really it was Michal’s decision as he would have to plan it and make sure we get there, if we dare. Well you know by now which decision was made and yes we are at IOM.

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We were lucky to have great conditions, it was long crossing, 15 hours. I found it fairly entertaining, but it’s all about the state of mind. There are few things I was thinking about during it.

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My journey to Isle of Man really started in London. When we left I wasn’t fit paddling too long or too far (I haven’t paddle for months before departure), but slowly the stamina and endurance built up. This is what we want to show to young people at Shadwell Basin Centre, it doesn’t matter where and how you start, but if you persevere you would achieve. And the sense of achievement is great, we all know about that.
The second thing which was on my mind during crossing was how similar it was to Joshua’s life. It took many paddle strokes to get from land to land, again and again and again. We couldn’t see land for hours and after the first glimpse we knew we still had hours to go. But we got there eventually. And so it is for Josh, for him to learn and achieve it would take many tries and great many repetitions. Both Josh and all people around him will give enormous effort and show great patience but they will see progress in the end. Josh is clever boy, that’s clear already, and would be able to learn great lot in order to make the most of his abilities.
So if you read this far and appreciate the big effort that is behind above mentioned achievements, please, show us all support and go to our donate page and spare few coins. In the end it all will come together and make our target. Thank you.

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IOM

Yesterday at 21.20 we landed at Port St Mary at IOM. Unlike Joe ( joearoundbritain) we don’t know anyone here, so no welcoming commitee, no hot soak, no beer and lasagne, although we had the last two previous night at Trescastle hotel in Bull Bay.
While we are recovering and discovering all aches and pains from yesterday, you can still support our fundraising and aknowledge our achievement by donating £1 for each hour we were paddling (15hours) or 10 p per kilometre (80km), or £1 for each hour of not seeing land (6hours). You can support us as one team, or each member or any combination of above. Thank you, it will be much appreciated.

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Today Natalie & Michal are crossing to the Isle of Man

They have just started the crossing from Amlwch in Wales to the Isle of Man, around 80 km an estimated 14 hours paddling. Please donate 10 p per km or £ 1 per hour to cheer them up on this very demanding crossing. To follow their progress click on ” our position ” button or follow the link below

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0bvhipbO42Yq4SZfBPWmIZvz8mBtvF057