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.