Archive for January 28, 2013

Sea kayak trip_1 Blackwater Estuary Sunday 27th January 2013

Sea kayak trip_1 Blackwater Estuary Sunday 27th January 2013

Note: This is a copy of the original blog .Categories background has been removed

Well the forecast was for high winds and high winds is what we got.

Barry, Gary and I decided to paddle from Stansgate (Marconi Sailing Club (MSC)) to Lawling Creek to hopefully see the seals, and then circumnavigate Osea Island, about a 4 hour paddle. We had wind over tide with a constant F4 gusting 6.  The maiximum gust registered at MSC was F7!

We set off from the beach at MSC into a head wind about 2 hours before high tide. Edging out into the tidal race we started to make good ground and headed for the sandbank at the mouth of the Maylandsea creek. The wind was very stong and made for hard paddling.  I needed a much earned break from the constant battle with my kaykak which was trying to broach all the time so briefly beached on the sandbank. This was my first sea kayak trip and I was struggling to adapt my paddling style to the conditions.

Sandbank opposite Maylandsea Creek

After my short interlude we headed up Lawling creek toward Maylandsea sailing club. Using the skeg wansn’t helping so I retracted it fully and made much better progress. The wind was blowing hards so we used the lee of the land on the south shore to make headway before cutting over to the north shore heading dead into wind. On the north shore we hugged the mud banks to the esturary end. Barry, not happy with just seeing it, insisted on paddling until we ran out of water. Two large rusting barges were all that separated us from the land, next stop Mundon. The journey back to the sandbank was very fast. Surfing on the waves with the ever present wind on our backs made it easy. We stopped on the sandbank for a welcome break, taking shelter from the bitter wind behind some shrubs. Gary and I got out flasks, Barry got out a gas burner! We now had about 20 minutes before hight tide.

Sheltering from the bitter wind.

Launching from the sandbank we headed into the tidal race between Osea and the mainland, the wind very much dictating our direction. The waves were getting bigger with 2 foot troughs the norm and plenty of 3 footers to deal with. The wind had definately increased. (see photo at begining of blog!) I was much happier with my kayak now that I had got to grips with using the skeg and handled the bigger waves with a lot more confidence.

The three of us grouped together on the far western end of Osea some way off the shore bobbing up and down in the swell, gathering our strength, before heading north across the estuary. A yellow racing buoy and a whithey were our markers of when to turn east. I had cut my transit a bit tight and had to paddle hard in order to avoid colliding with the buoy. Heading down wind was a welcome respite from the constant paddling. The tide had changed too so we were scooting along with little or no effort riding the waves. There was an abundance of bird life (according to my birds of Britain book none of the ones we saw exist) with flocks rising and falling over the mud flats making all sorts of shapes in the air. We cut close to the island grounding out in places before beaching on the shingle beach on the far eastern shore.

Gary on the shingle beach

We had another break and whilst sitting  enjoying a cuppa and a biscuit our tranquillity was broken by the presecne of a group of walkers who came from no where. (Looking on the internet Osea Island is now open for business). Re launching again we headed west along the the south side of the island in order to make the transit to the mainland. The tidal race along this stretch is very stong so we had to make sure we had cleared the Marconi buoy before turning and running with the tide. A carcking paddle and sitting in the bar afterwards made it even better. Thanks to Barry and Gary for their company and to Barry for oganising the trip.

Recovering the kayaks at MSC

Note:I was unable to take photos of the big waves because I couldn’tuse my camera and stay on course at the same time. Shame really as it was quite impressive. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

regards

John H

Hoe Mill Lock to Rushes Weir 2013

Hoe Mill Lock to Rushes Weir 200113

Note: This is a copied blog from original site. Catergory background and jpeg ref have been removed

I thought I’d be the first to write a blog for 2013, even though I know several paddling trips have taken place this year. I arrived early(for a change) at Hoe Mill and wondered whether I’d missed a text or email to say the day had been cancelled. Hole Mill Lock was frozen over however the lower part of the canal was running clear. A few fishermen were huddled up under the bridge trying to keep warm. Nothing appeared to be happening either on or off the water apart from it was snowing – quite heavily.

Andy turned up about ten minutes later with news that the others were all having a lay in! (Eh?) I think he actually said they were running late. Paul turned up next sporting open backed sandals, an unusual choice of footwear given the artic conditions, but he was full of beans and raring to go. The three of us walked along the canal to see how far up the ice had conquered the river. After finding a launch point we returned to the road just as Caz, Jill and Kevin arrived. A quick change into paddling gear complete with scarves and woolley hats, our motley crew of six stomped along the path through the snow to the put in point, just above Hoe Mill weir. Kevins new kayak hadn’t arrived so he was in an open boat and I was trying out Kevins old Pyranah one zone. We seal launched into the icy water and then paddled up to Rushes weir passing white fields and bare trees.A bleak landscape but if you looked closely it was full of life with robins and finches playing amongst the sugar coated branches. The blade of your paddle felt sluggish as you pulled it through the water. We paddled past an over excited dog which threatened to jump in and join us. Good for him that he didn’t, the water was cold! It snowed quite heavily at times and made for a different but not unpleasant experience. Arriving at Rushes we were met with near perfect water conditions, nice flow of water coming over the lip of the weir and a friendly stopper to practice in, almost running the whole width of the weir. Andy led the way into the stopper and some of us practiced paddling the length of the of the stopper getting in and out of it, with varying levels of success. Kevin calmly giving instructions to the panic stricken amongst us in the stopper trying to look cool. They say scare yourself at least once a day so that you know you’re alive. Well I think we managed that.

Also, new to me, a rescue technique on how to tow someone out of a stopper. Our lucky victim was Andy who was supposed to be towed out by Jill joined to me joined to Paul and Caz. Andy gave up in the end and paddled out himself. We did it again rescuing Jill with more success after an impromtu capsize by her and quick T bone rescue by Andy. Paul also tested the water temperature and was rescued by Andy, and then later, obviously not happy with Andys heroic deed was rescued by Caz after another attempt at breaking out . We were begining to get good at getting people out of stoppers and quick rescues! After a bit more messing around Andy, Caz, Jill and Paul decided to shoot the wier. Kevin and I stayed in the lower pool to take photos. We paddled back to Hoe Mill and did some ice breaking, trying to paddle onto the ice only to have it crack under your boat.

Back on dry land and after a quick cuppa, it was time to load up and go home…and the snow kept falling. Thanks to Kevin for organising the trip and for the loan of his boat, and thanks to our intrepid paddlers Andy, Paul, Caz and Jill. For those of you who stayed in bed – you missed out.

Regards John H