New waters they asked for, so off we went to the Isle of Sheppey. During my research on maps, charts and good old Google earth for appropriate car parks and launch sites I came across the words “Grain Tower” on my OS map. A Youtube search later I decided that this will be part of our trip.
The large free car park at Barton’s Point became our chosen launch and landing beach. With the need to cross the Medway shipping channel I decided to go North, out to the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery so we could have a clear line of sight for any on-coming shipping. Being a Sunday there wasn’t much traffic apart from the pilot boat no 4 passing us twice and a small freighter but being to the north of the channel they weren’t too much of a worry for us. Grain tower was now in our sights about a mile away, with the flood tide it took us no time at all. With a rising tide, getting out of the boats and onto the tower was a slight challenge the only option we had was to tye the boats off. The main tower is a Martello tower 1855 with additions from WW1 and WW2 as a defensive position on the Thames and Medway. Being that the youngest parts of the structure are over 70 years old its evident that the elements and vandalism have taken their toll, Enter at your own risk!
Getting back into the boats was even more of a challenge with the tide now 1mtr higher and flowing much faster through our get-in point. Good practice though, it can’t be easy for them all the time but we managed. After finding the lost paddle down the tide, we continued our journey into the Medway. Passing Deadmans island we landed on an old gun emplacement on Burntwick island for a late lunch at High water. The return journey was much quicker with a fast running ebb tide past Sheerness docks.
As we approached our get-out a Coastguard pick-up arrived. Coastguard: Q “did you guys call it in”? Us “what”? Coastguard “That big log” pointing at a 4mtr jetty post 100mtrs out. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do without a boat. Thinking let’s help them out “we might need there help one day” Mark and I went out and towed the huge heavy lump in (and the log) and helped them drag it up the beach, sorry no photos I was too busy. I did manage to get a picture of Mark’s failed roll and swim though, sorry Mark sticker on its way. Roughly 22km paddled with tidal assistance most of the way, “makes a change”.
Fantastic weather, great company, thanks for my breakfast and lunch-breakfast rolls Andy. Experiences gained. 4 out and 4 back safe and smiling. Thanks for your company guys. This trip will be revisited I’m sure.
Paddlers: Andy E, Mike D, Mark B and Me Barry I. 18/02/18
Submitted by Barry I Events Officer 18/02/018