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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Coastal navigation

Yesterday morning was hard. I think our bodies are feeling a bit weary after so many days out and about. We were actually thinking about rest day. Suddenly the getting the boats far to the sea, getting all the stuff there, pack it all in and then drag the heavy boats again to the water just felt too much.
But things happen, and then there were four surfers with no waves who kindly donated their muscles and carried both our fully loaded boats to the shore.

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It was absolutely great and we got so much energy from that that we then just paddled and paddled till evening.
Before saying where, I have to mention that we met with Portland Club, and then set of on our paddle.
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We chose the distant headland and went for it. During the journey we were wandering where we were. Michal said it felt like being on the plane guessing which town was which. We we heading to Bostcastle and Crackling Haven. But kind of thought we passed Bute, just didn’t dare to share this idea together in case we haven’t. And so when we landed and asked people on the shore where we were, we were greatly surprised to be in Duckpool.
Nice place this Duckpool, and good people, too. The four young fishermen helped us to carry our boats up on the shore. In the morning when we were struggling with them back down the bouldery beach another man came to help. Which was great since my knees decided to hurt like hell today. And once we finished packing another person came, had a chat and helped to carry our now heavy loaded boats to the water.

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All this was absolutely amazing, I was very worried before the trip how we will manage that. Sometimes it’s ok, but sometimes the energy is just not there. Although we got stronger and can now move heavy loaded boat 10 metres at a time instead of 5. So all good.

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The paddle so far today was fine, I enjoyed the rouged coast to Hartley Quay. We are now thinking about Lundy, we can see it very nicely and are waiting for the tide to run the way Michal wants.

” … and we will find you…”

We received a message from Barbara and Ian:”We have your dry suits, John is bringing you bag of goodies, we will find you during the weekend.”
This is something that made me realise how important it is knowing that there are people who are looking out for us, who think about us and support us. Doing this trip without having family in the country and hence not reliable support can be hard at times. But people like Barbara and Ian, John, Howard, Jason, Mark and Sherril, Alastair, Jean-Pierre , Andy – Midlife are supplying this. They don’t ask what we need or want, they don’t wait, they are there, thinking about us and doing stuff we realised we needed once it was done. Thank you.
There are also many people who there and now send us messages of support via the blog or text message or email, this also makes us feel that we are not alone. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy being here, doing what we do, we already know that we would do it again, but I am glad we have such great people around.
I will send some donation to the young people at Shadwell and Josh saying that there will always be someone who will believe in and support what you’re doing, you may just be a bit surprised who it is.

As for events of the day today. We went through our first tide race in our Tideraces around Dinas Head. And we were also reunited with our long lost companion, the headwind, so our progress slowed down again.

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We were met by a photographer on a beach this morning, so famous we are!

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And once again, we now both have one new and one repaired dry suit, so dry happy days, see how long for.

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To end the day, we met a man with a four by four, who reminded me of a game keeper from Roal Dahl, who made us move from his side of the beach to his neighbour’s side of the beach.

Piece of Cornwall gone missing

We made it past the third corner, three more to go, but they are very far apart. We enjoyed our morning paddle past Land’s End, this time we stayed on the outside, gave a miss to all caves and tunnels as not to cheat and really make it AROUND the mainland. Fortunately it was low water and most of them were inaccessible anyway so I wasn’t too disappointed.

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Here, it was the first place we did not feel comfortable to leave our stuff and go to the pub to charge our IT equipment. Dog walkers tried to walk over our boats while we were moving them up the beach, sit on top guys walking close by us pretended not to see us, we were moved from our original camping spot and so on. But the night was dry and that’s after two very humid ones is a bonus.

Around the most southerly Point

Last two days were very exciting and lots of stuff happened. Firstly we left the warm welcome of Andy Midlife’s house to camp on a wet field in force 8, we couldn’t do anything else than to survive, and so we did.
Finally the day came and we could leave. That day we reliazed that starting to paddle late during the day is not our cup of tea. It doesn’t matter what time we leave, I get tired by 3pm and everything after that is a bother, so starting at noon doesn’t give us lot of pleasant time. Needing to use the lavatory (love this word) we stopped at surf beach and not really paying attention I could show to present group of kayakers how to swim around Britain. They were fine about it, fished me out, and we reliazed that their leader was Martin, a former member of Tower Hamlets Canoe Club, who moved to Falmouth a while ago. It is a small world.

We did not stop at St Andrew’s lighthouse to regroup with other circumnavigators and continued at our pace. The conditions in the bay were a bit choppy and I found them hard and tiring and everything was wrong. Fortunately this changed later and we had great evening paddle to Cadwith.

There we camped on the only available spot, by the look out bench. Now this village has very sophisticated pub where they sell take away pints in take away containers, so dinner had extra ingredient. Bliss.

Next day we agreed that morning paddles are our cup of tea and got up early to leave at 7 am, failing to achieve that, due to our slowness and fishermen launching their boats, we left at 8. Lizzard Point, the most southerly point, was quiet, little bit choppy, some swell but all together a piece of cake.

We arrived at Mullion and met many many people. Let me list. We met the MK circumnavigators who were waiting for their film crew. You are reading it right, a film crew. So after inviting ourselves into their house, nearly gate crashing their leaving party, we managed to get our five minutes of fame and their cameras pointing at us, too.
We also met a local historian called Bob Felce who told us mainly about the first sail from Boston to Lizard at the end of 19th. century.
We also had a chat with owner of local cafe, the pasties we ate were made by a Frenchman, he said.

Then we left straight for Lamorna. Crossing was almost uneventful. Only the navy helicopter kept flying quite low above our heads and we had a close encounter with a fisherman. He was obviously heading home, letting the boat lead the way, a bit like cowboys used to do with their horses when returning from a bar. Obviously he wasn’t looking, minding his own business, fish, but kept approaching fast from behind. You can’t compete with an engine, Michal started whistling and I was waiting for the crash. He saw us in last minute and jumped to steer the boat away, it was very close. I then needed about half hour to reach normal heart beat again.
Then we reached Lamorna, but decided to go as far as Portgwarra since we like it there better.

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THE STORY OF SOCIAL PADDLE CONTINUES

The weather is non-paddling again, for two days at least. Knowing that we decided it was time to leave Devon and move to Cornwall, anyway Michal wanted to be there last week already and I wanted to there by 29th at least. But you have seen our progress in the last two weeks and it didn’t look like it.

Till this two day window appeared. We took a chance; being only able to paddle for half a day on Friday, we decided on long day for the next day. We got up at 4 in the morning and left just after 6 am, yes we can do 2 hours if we don’t unpack fully and cook something quick for breakfast. I like this early morning paddles, everything was clam and passing Plymouth was uneventful. After short stop we crossed the White Sands Bay, when we were crossing the St Austell Bay the predicted wind picked up already and we had good following sea.

At Dodman Point we were thinking of stopping in Veyran Bay, but the lack of amenities there and the idea of going to cheer Midlifekayak on their leaving next day (we didn’t know at that time that they postponed) made us to stretch it to Portscatho. Ok it was our 14th hour and the last one was the hardest one, we realised how cold we were, when the water started to feel warm. But we made it and I even enjoyed the landing in the little surf wave.

We pitched by the BBQ. It’s only in the early morning when the wind and rain really picked up, we started to make enquiries about the weather and Midlifekayak whereabouts. Both JP and Barbara send messages to their website and just when we were ready to leave for the village, Andy came to see us.

And so the story of social paddle around UK continues, we just had great breakfast and were offered a bed for the night.

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PRESENT MEETS FUTURE

On Friday we were leaving Hallsands, we couldn’t start to paddle till 1pm as we had to wait till the tide turns the right way for us. While we were enjoying the sunand the leisury packing we saw a kayaker going towards Beesand. Quite unusual sight as we have not seen many so far. We saw him agawhence afloat, but he was paddling backfrom Beesands and disappearing fast in the distance.

However later, just past Start Point by Lanacombe Bay we met him again and exchanged few words, and although he said he would paddle with us for and chat. Nice idea but he had Rockpool Taran, yellow and green, very nice), wing paddles and great paddling style so he disappeared again in no time. No chat then. Fortunately he waited again after Prowley Point and suggested where to meet for lunch.

And so we did. During lunch we exchanged formalities and paddling plans and found out that he was Nick Arding from Around Britain 4 Britain, and planning to do it next year.

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YOUTH COMMENTS ON SHADWELL BASIN

Today we should be afloat again as soon as the tide at Start Point turns. We had a great time here on Hallsands Beach, met and talked to lots of lovely people, even had a shower at Seagull cottage.
While we’re paddling we’re posting a story by DIMA from Shadwell Basin. This is to remind us all the different reasons for which people go paddling.

I’ve been coming to the Shadwell Basin since I was nine, I’m 17 now already a UKCC level one coach and have done my UKCC level 2 training. I’m a three star paddler in both sea and white-water and 4 Star white-water trained. I’ve gained many national governing body qualifications met loads of new people and helped lead youth fundraising projects. Shadwell is like my second home if I would not be able to paddle I would be very stressed and agitated. If I didn’t come here I would probably be on the street with no qualifications and no motivation for life. This centre is like no other youth organisation I have ever been to and I also get this special feeling when I’m here I always feel safe always having fun and would recommend it to anyone.

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Never ending Lyme Bay

Our progress is slow due to the strong headwinds which have been keeping us company for the last two weeks. On the other hand we have time to explore new and live through lots of little stories. Here is one from Oddicombe Beach.
We were aware that the spot for pitching out tent there wasn’t brilliant but needs  must be and since it was a horrible cold windy day we thought no one would mind. No one did except the council. As reported by the kind people from Oddicombe Cable Car they were around our tent a few times (we left for a walk and shopping), and were not very happy.
When we came back this time we found a note in our tent. The note is below. There was nothing we could do, we had to disobey and stay till the morning when we could leave. Fortunately, Torbay council was good to us and no one came to remove us that night.

That day we had a nice paddle along the coast exploring the cliffs and enjoying the sea, till after lunch. Once we set off to cross the Start Bay the wind picked up and started to push us towards the open sea. We crossed all right but all our plans to go around the Start Point vanished. By the time we got to Hallsands it was almost too late with the tide turning. And so we stayed.

We pitched our tent high on the beach. Once we settled down we could see the locals moving their boats higher up, we were wondering what does it mean. We got a signal walking up the hill and found out about the gale 8 or 9 coming. We decided that till high tide we should be fine.
The storm came during the night and considering Michal hates rain he very bravely went out to fix the tent better. It was blowing easterly right on us. We survived but got up early to move before the sea comes to knock on our door. Sure it came a bit later.

Once settled down again, after breakfast and tea we went to see the Start Point. We discovered the old village of Hallsands at the bottom of the cliffs. One day in January 1917 during a storm the whole village but two houses were taken by the sea. This all due to dredging of the shingle bank which was located offshore from Hallsands to build new port in Plymouth. Although the villagers were protesting against the dredging it was carried out till 1902.
On our walk to Start Point we discovered a forest and had a peak at the sea, it was rough around there and the wind strong, we were right to stay.

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