|Time on Water||13:30 – 16:30 Hours|
|Launch Location||Marconi Sailing Club, Steeple, Essex|
|Weather Conditions||Overcast with Intermittent Rain Showers|
|Approx. Water Temperature||2°C|
|Wind Speed||Force 5, Gusting at Force 7|
|Wind Direction||W NW|
|Osea Island Tide Times:|
|High Water||03:28 (5.10m)|
|Low Water||09:04 (0.50m)|
|High Water||15:48 (4.90m)|
|Low Water||21:11 (0.90m)|
Having joined Bramston Canoe Club in September last year, I had been attending regular Monday night pool sessions, patiently waiting for my first trip out in the wild. As it happened, this turned out to be the post AGM sea paddle last Sunday.
I had been planning for this trip for the past few weeks, and steadily building up paddling kit since the start of the New Year.
The weather was not ideal for my first ever paddle, let alone sea paddle, and was cloudy, windy, wet and cold. I had been watching the weather, and the wind was blowing from the W NW, force 5, gusting to force 7. I had a feeling that this was not going to be a ‘walk-in-the-park’ or indeed a ‘paddle-on-a-pond’!
So at 09:00 hours, I set off from my home in Chelmsford, to the Marconi Sailing Club in Steeple, which was the chosen venue for my inaugural BCC Annual General Meeting, and later on, first ever paddle. I arrived at 09:45, on time for the start of the meeting at 10:00 hours.
The meeting was well attended, and after a productive few hours putting the World, or rather ‘BCC Business’ to rights, the time had come for me to finally earn my kayaking ‘dolphins’.
I returned to my car to collect my plethora of newly acquired kayaking kit, which I lugged back to the club house to get changed (whilst thinking ‘I must find a better system for carrying all this gear!’). After climbing into my giant thermal Babygro, getting into my clearly brand new drysuit and donning my buoyancy aid and spray deck, I was ready to go kayaking!
I was greeted at the launching point by Barry, Kevin, John, Andy E, Steve, James W, Mike D, Andy B and Liz who were all looking excited and raring to go.
After a quick safety briefing, Barry and Kevin explained what would be happening and where we would be going. The plan was for a crossing from the Sailing Club to the South shore of Osea Island, followed by a circumnavigation, a quick cuppa stop, and then a passage back to the Sailing Club and dry land.
As I got into my boat, and Kevin helped me to secure my spray deck, I could feel my excitement, and anxiety building. I was about to embark on my first ever sea kayaking trip! Barry pushed me carefully into the rising tide, and I was away. The prevailing wind was making the conditions rather ‘lumpy’ and it took me a while to relax and start breathing properly. Barry was talking to me the whole time, and before I realised it, we were halfway through the initial crossing to Osea Island. After adjusting to the rising and falling motion of the waves, I was now starting to rather enjoy the feeling of bobbing up and down.
We were soon approaching the South shore of Osea, and I was informed by Barry that we would be ‘hand-railing’ around the shoreline. As I looked back into the distance, towards where we had launched, I felt rather chuffed with myself that I’d managed to get all the way across and had remained ‘right-way-up’.
As we made our way along the coastline, everyone was giving me useful advice, and making sure I was okay. As I had already come to know, the friendship and camaraderie of BCC was second-to-none!
Before long we approached the West end of Osea Island and it was here that I was about to learn why a ‘drysuit’ was called a drysuit! As I tried to turn my boat to continue around the island, the wind caught me, and over I went!
My weeks of pool training paid off, and whilst capsized I followed the drill and banged loudly on the bottom of my boat three times, proceeded to run both my hands either side of the boat waiting for my rescuer’s boat to brush my hands for a ‘T’ rescue. After I could hold my breath no longer, I realised that I was on my own and promptly pulled my deck, rolled forward and exited the boat.
Seconds later I bobbed up to the surface to be greeted by a smiling Kevin who had come to my rescue. He had been trying his best to get to me, but the wind had unfortunately hindered his progress.
After Kevin had bailed out my boat, and I had a couple of attempts at trying to re-enter my boat, I was back in, and soon continuing on my way. I had to get wet sometime, and it really wasn’t that bad. The drysuit and buoyancy aid did their jobs admirably, as did the ‘wet exits’ I had practiced many times in the pool training sessions.
We continued around the North shore of the island and were joined for a short period by a friendly seal who had come to check out the beginner kayaker, and see what all the commotion was about.
By this point we had been paddling for what must have been a couple of hours, and I was informed that we would soon be making a brief ‘tea’ stop at ‘East Point’ before our final approach back to Marconi Sailing Club. This was very welcome as my arms and legs were now starting to tire.
Tea & Ponchos
I trained my kayak close to the shoreline, and Liz who had already landed on the point, pulled me up onto the gravel bar and beached me. As I got out of my boat I grabbed my poncho, bread rolls and flask of tea from the rear hatch of my boat. It was so windy at this point that my poncho was flapping about like a Superhero’s cape (Kayak Man sprung to mind!), and James W came to assist me with securing the arm holes.
After enjoying my tea and rolls, we witnessed what must have been a few hundred geese flying over the mainland before packing away our ponchos and getting back into our boats for the final leg of our voyage.
I was now feeling refreshed, and ready to continue on my journey. The wind had dropped, and the waves calmed dramatically. By this point, the grey sky was starting to ‘blue-up’ and the sun just had time to make a brief appearance before starting to say goodbye for the day.
Back To Reality
As I paddled back across the channel to re-join the reality of a cold February Sunday afternoon, I reflected on what a thoroughly enjoyable, and inspiring day it had been. Great company, great scenery, great paddling and an experience that I will never forget!
Thank you to all the members of BCC that accompanied me on this trip, and for your help and advice. Special thanks go to Barry for the loan of his sea boat, his guidance and patience, and Kevin for rescuing me after my encounter with the river Blackwater’s finest!
Here’s to the next BCC paddle; I can’t wait!
Watch this space for my next expedition…
Submitted by Paul_C on 13/02/19