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Archive for March, 2012

Geoff and I recently had our NDK Explorer kayaks smartened up by Andy Willcocks of ASW Boatbuilders.

Our kayaks are around three years old and whilst still in great structural condition, the gel coat was beginning to show the signs of wear and tear – hundreds of launches and landings on sand and rocks and more than a few misjudged ‘rock hopping’ manoeuvres.  We wanted to make sure that the kayaks are in great condition before we set off.

Repairing the gelcoat

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One of the questions I have been asked is what I think the most difficult aspect will be.  Of course paddling for 8-10 hours a day for 100 days will be physically tough, but as a friend of Geoff’s put it – it’ll be the top 2 inches that will be the difference between success and failure.
Paddling on a sunny day in calm seas with perhaps a light wind behind you is one thing, slogging against a Force 5 or 6 for hours or maybe days on end can be soul destroying.

The passenger

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As is so often the case with challenges like this, it all started over a beer.
Geoff and I had just spent a challenging day out on the water paddling between Slapton Sands and Dartmouth.  We had set out that morning with the benefits of all the elements – wind (Force 6), tide and swell.  It was exciting to say the least as we averaged 8 knots into Dartmouth.
Of course with some Ying you also get some Yang.  We could have called the return trip off and got a taxi back to pick up the cars, but we decided to slog it out against the strengthening winds.  It took us 45 minutes to get to Dartmouth, but 2.5 hours to get back!  We both landed almost vertical in our kayaks as the dumping surf got the better of us.  It was one of those days that you don’t enjoy at the time, but as soon as you land, you are filled with a mix of emotions – relief you survived but thrilled that you learnt so much in doing so.

Wish these these things were lighter...

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One the GB360 Team gets married this afternoon. Mike and Caroline are finally tying the knot at St Mawes Castle.  As Tanya hunted through her wardrobe this morning trying on several outfits asking for my expert advice on each, I made a clumsy remark about never finding a man struggling with what colour to wear or what shoes to go for.  Tanya gently reminded me just how many hours I spent looking at the Kokatat catalogue and just how many phone calls and emails there were between me, Mike and Geoff before we could finally settle on our expedition kit.  Ok, good point.  I may not worry so much about my shore clothes but when it comes to looking the part on the water and feeling safe and warm – well that’s another matter altogether.

Our yummy Kokatat gear has arrived and this week Geoff and I got together for a couple of days paddling to get some miles in and test the new gear.

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A post with a bit of a serious theme this one.  When we talk about the trip to friends and family, after the initial “you are joking right?”, the conversation quickly turns to how we plan to keep safe through out 2,500 mile paddle.  We have prepared a full risk assessment and will be talking this through with the Coastguard before we leave – below is an extract from it.

Safety kit carried by each paddler in their PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or within easy reach - cockpit or day hatch

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