Friday was the culmination of a bad week at work and I needed to just get away. I asked my good lady if she needed the car, she didn’t. The V6 was loaded onto the roof rack and headed for a beach. I decid
on Sandbanks as this would give me some options as to which way I could go. Kit sorted and after having carried the boat to the water, which was like a mill pond, I stood and looked out. I never really had a plan as such. It would be a case of paddle out and decide on route.
I opted for a straight out route. I put the ipod on and just paddled. The GPS was left at home – guess it was forgotten in my haste to get out. Time and distance flew by. It only seemed like a very short time after launching, Old Harry rocks was at my 4 o clock. I turned and drank in the view. It was amazing with the sun setting over the cliffs and the turns diving. I knew what I was going to do tomorrow.
When I got home, I put a message out to our paddle group. No one was up for a paddle, so Billy no mates decided on a trip round Old Harry and then west until I got bored. Conditions were very similar to the previous evening; flat calm. I launched at 9am from East Dorset sailing club and headed out of the harbour. I had to stick close to the training bank as even at that time of the morning, there were still a few boats around. Again, the V6 munched the miles with ease. Within the hour, this was the breath taking view.
I continued along the cliffs some 200 yds out. A few boats were scattered along the bream marks. I had to swing out as I neared Ballard. The divers were finishing up on the wreck. It was at this point that I realised that I was starving. I made my way to monkey beach and into the beach café for coffee and a bacon roll.
Refreshed, I continued on my way around the pier and along the overfalls at peveril. As I approached the far end, I decided to have a go through It was approaching the middle of the ebbing tide, which is when it is running its hardest. Turning right into it, I put the hammer down. The acceleration through there was incredible. Up until this point, I had plodding along at a steady 8km/h but as soon as I entered this turmoil, my speed went up to 14km/h or so. Not withstanding the fact that I had to brace etc too which obviously slows you down. This roller coaster continued for literally a couple of minutes. Upon exiting the boiling cauldron, I turned. The coastguard watch tower was way behind me and I was about halfway between the Durlston castle and the watch tower.
I carried on around the headland a short way. I had to stop as I needed a comfort break but along this stretch is all cliffs and besides, the wind had really picked up. Looking at my GPS, I had covered about 15 km, this was enough as I wanted to save some energy for my mad plan.
Sitting on a rock, eating chocolate and drinking in the view, it is no wonder we love this place. I jumped back in the boat and had a slow paddle back along the beach edge. In places it was incredibly deep but gin clear. You could see the bottom and in places there were clusters of spider crabs wandering over the kelp. Turning east, I eyed up the overfalls. They had calmed some what, but were still crashing through. This was the last hour of the ebb so I thought I would have a go. If I failed, it would only be a short wait until the tide turned and I would definitely get through. I had to take every opportunity to up my skills and this would either make me or break me. There were no photos of this as I had enough of a job staying in the boat.
As I got into the thick of it, I had slowed to a crawl. The GPS was saying 2km/h over the ground and I was paddling like mad. Every stroke was a trailing brace. I felt like I was riding a bucking bronco. It took me a full half an hour to travel the 300 – 400m. The guys in the watch tower must have had a great view of me struggling to get through – but I made it. The bailer was fully open as the amount of water entering the boat was unbelievable. I am sure Richi will elaborate on this particular stretch of water for the dis believers amongst you.
I got into the bay, the wind had really picked up and it was becoming very lumpy. I headed over to the cliffs to gain some respite from the wind. Having crossed the point at ballard down, the sea flattened off in the lea of it. I continued along the cliffs to Old Harry.
The water level was low in the gap but I thought I could get through. It was probably only a foot deep as my rudder was bouncing back up into its housing.
Having rounded the rocks, you would assume that the effects of the wind would be zero – wrong. It was howling through there. The sea was typical Poole harbour; short steep chop. This is not really a problem but it can catch you unawares. It is just uncomfortable.
By now, the water should be flooding back into the harbour. I definitely wasn’t because as I approached, the GPS dropped to a measly 4km/h. The harbour mouth was a maelstrom and was a real issue just getting in there ahead of the chain ferry.
I was shattered after the days exertions but decided to continue further up to baiter. This was because I know there is a burger van there which was spot on for a cup of tea whilst waiting for my wife.