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Archive for August, 2012

Well, a little later than advertised (2.30pm) on Thursday, Geoff and I paddled into Portscatho Harbour, let off a couple of smoke flares, jumped out the boats and gave each other a big hug. But the biggest hugs and kisses were for Sue and Tanya.

2,318 miles, 115 days, 92 paddling days, around 2 million paddle strokes (no we didn’t count). Job done, expedition over.

We had paddled to Portloe on Wednesday night and caught a glimpse of Portscatho in the distance between Gull Rock and Nare Head. Just for a moment we discussed just pushing on and landing to surprise everyone but that was just for a moment. We were looking forward to a couple of beers on our last night in the knowledge that we only had 5 miles to go and of course seeing all our families and friends.

That night we washed, changed and slept on two benches pretty much in full view of the village. Sorry about that Portloe but we were demob happy and didn’t care! The next morning after breakie and a chat with a few residents and holiday makers we launched. To our surprise we got 3 cheers from them as we left. We were both in tears as we paddled out of the harbour.

We had plenty of time so we paddled round Gull Rock and waited for some friends who said they would meet us to paddle in the last few miles. Mike Greenslade, who was so much part of the expedition early on, Simon Osborne, from Sea Kayaking Cornwall who coached both of Geoff and I to get ready for this expedition, and his fiancé  Roz Leahy. To our surprise John Shaw, Zoe and Pete Shepherd also paddled out to meet us. A couple of motor boats (sorry no names) joined too. So that was our amazing little flotilla as we made the last few miles.

As we got close to the harbour we could see the crowd that had gathered. I think we were more nervous than we had been all trip. Such an amazing welcome. Better than we had ever imagined.

Thank you all so much!!

Sorry we couldn’t get round and say hello and thanks to all of you!

It may take us both a little while to adjust and certainly a few days to clean and repair all the kit. I may just write a couple more reflective blogs as we get used to life back on land. But in the meantime thanks for following our journey. It’s great to be home!

Andy

(Photos courtesy of Mary Alice Pollard http://www.justnicephotos.co.uk/ and Simon Osborne Sea Kayaking Cornwall)

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E.T.A update

Well, 6.30am and about to set off to get ourselves within a few miles of Portscatho.

We have been talking about this 24 hour for the last year I think.

We have had an absolutely amazing experience, made all the better by the incredible support we have had from friends, family and people we have never even met. Will take some time to thank people properly after we finish but for now, if you have sponsored us, made donations, wished us well on the blog or FB or just followed and enjoyed the journey. Thank you so much. You will never quite know how much it has meant to us.

Special thanks and love of course to Tanya and Sue. There were surely four of us paddling out there these last three months.

Portscatho Harbour 2pm Thursday.

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Tonight we are in the bivi bags on top of what I think must be a sewerage pumping station. Mmm lovely.

So 140 miles in the last 4 days since Lulworth Cove and only 35 remaining till Portscatho Harbour.

We thought at this stage we might just be paddling in gentle seas and reminiscing about the trip. Unfortunately we’ve been slogging it out against some stiff winds and cursing rather a lot.

Yesterday will go down as one of our little expeditions epics. Slog against wind and tide from Oddicombe Bay to Brixham. Great stream then to Start point and the tidal races but then we lose the stream for the remaining 4 hour paddle to Hope Cove. 12 miles of clapotis and slow speed = soul destroying. But just to keep us alert we encountered out largest set of overfalls so far in this trip. Will spare our mothers the scary details but it was an experience right up there with getting round Cape Wrath.

Today we’re back in Cornwall. Hoorah! Another slog of a day and tomorrow is going to be the same. At least though the wildlife is returning. Seals are making more frequent appearances again and we’ve seen our first sun fish too. In fact several of them.

Today was also a first for me. Lunch on board a yacht. Paul and Anita – a couple of friends of Geoff were sailing in the area and invited us on board. Such a lovely couple and an amazing boat too.

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What a great day!

Today Geoff and I had seven visitors who all popped down to say hello and wish us well for the final few days. It was lovely to see them all and there was much hilarity.

Geoff’s sister, Jane and Mum, Audrey had driven down from Avoncliffe

My brother Mike, his daughter, Hannah and her friend Frankie had dropped in on their way back from a holiday down in Cornwall.

And what a surprise. A friend of Tanya’s from South Africa, Helen, who now lives in Dorset and her friend Bruce, dropped by to say hi and wish us well. Tanya and Helen haven’t seen each other since Tanya was 13 (and that was some time ago!)

Thank you all so much guys it was a lovely day and now that we’re on our way again tomorrow you’ve set us up nicely for the final few days!!

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No doubt you’ll have notice the rather unseasonable winds that the South West is experiencing at the moment. That and the fact that we have to negotiate Portland Bill races next have meant we’re off the water till probably Saturday morning. We had hoped to be home by Sunday but it is now looking like our arrival will be delayed till Wednesday or Thursday next week.

In the meantime guess what we’re up to….

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Six days since we rounded the corner at Dover and only 160 miles left to do. We had been making cracking progress knocking out more than 30 miles a day and then our old friend, the wind, decided to put in another unseasonable appearance.

We navigated along the coast from Dover to Bexhill in thick fog banks, Force 5 and 6 easterlies blew us round Selsey Bill and up the beach at Hayling Island.

We picked our way through literally 1000s of sailing boats, kite and wind surfers and the odd ferry and tanker in the Solent whilst slogging against a Force 4 gusting 5. Indeed at one point we had to hold station by a channel marker buoy whilst ferries passed either side of us.

We were stunned by how beautiful Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters are from the sea.

We pushed into Bournemouth still with stiff headwinds. The sun was out so we thought it would be a good opportunity to dry kit out in the sunshine and shop for provisions. Of course when we got into town the heavens opened and soaked all our kit. We felt sorry for ourselves, and I questioned what Geoff must have done in a previous life to bring this luck upon us!

Pulling on wet kit we paddled to Swanage past the amazing Old Harry Rocks. We had a chat with the Sailing Club there who kindly let us sleep in their boat yard. We rigged up the most sophisticated tarp system yet to keep the rain off.

It was a tough few days but at least the miles kept tumbling.

Yesterday morning we arrived in Lulworth Cove (along with about a million other people). We could see HMS Bullmark patrolling the Olympic sailing area. A reminder that we need to plot our course carefully over to Portland Bill, around a 12 mile crossing, or we could find ourselves in a spot of bother.

Because of the serious tidal conditions around Portland Bill we have to get the timings right – around a two hour window during the ebb tide. Unfortunately the winds are not playing fair and have pinned us down in Lulworth.

So for only the fourth time on this expedition we have given in to the elements and booked into a B&B. We have both had showers for the first time since north of Newcastle (whether we needed them or not!) and I’m sure the residents of this pretty Dorset Village are grateful.

Slightly disappointed to be held up yet again, but excited by the prospect of paddling into Portscatho Harbour next Tuesday (hopefully!)

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Day 103 Hayling Island

Looking back in these blogs, I realise I often start by saying “lying here in my tent…”. So as not to spoil a tradition….

Lying here in my bivi bag I can see the lights of Cowes. I can also hear Geoff starting to snore. Better pop my ear plugs in.

In the last three days we have covered 109 miles. Feels great to be making such good progress. If we carry on at the same rate and the weather is kind we could just be home a week on Sunday.

In fact that’s what we are now gunning for as Geoff’s wife, Sue, his two daughters and his mum can make it down to the finish if we do by then. And of course i also get to see Tanya and my family sooner too. So long as we paddle at least 35 miles a day it’s possible – but we also know a bad wind day (the weather type) will scupper plans.

Today was a great paddle from South Lansing. We had F4/5/6 Easterlies all day that blew us along the coast. This was effortless paddling and lots of surfing down the wind waves. We made 4knts all day. It was a little lumpy around Selsey Bill and we had to dodge a number of kite and wind surfers all day who were having a ball in the conditions – but other than that we felt like the miles flew by.

To top a great day off – a visit from Ginny and Nigel, some friends of mine. So good of them to drive down to see us and a real boost for the morale as we head into the final week. Thanks guys!

Geoff is still snoring so I am throwing small bits of gravel at his bivi bag. If that doesn’t work, my paddle is within reach! I’ll let you know if it escalates further.

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