I saw that the high pressure was lurking for a few days and phoned Barry to tell him that I had made my mind up to attempt to paddle round the Isle of Wight in one go on the Saturday. The next morning I had a phone call from Ian to say that he was up for it too and that we would be leaving on the Friday to give us some degree of protection from unexpected weather.
After about 3 hours sleep I got up around 3am to load the kayaks and set off to Keyhaven to catch the last of the ebb to get past the Needles and start our journey. It was absolutely flat calm when we set off and the sun rose. We soon rounded the Needles and briefly landed in Scratchell’s Bay for a kit check before the long trip to the next waypoint of St Catherine’s. We made very good progress cruising along at about 6mph on the GPS. Once we got to St. Cat’s we hit some turbulent water as expected. After stopping for a quick refuel we carried on past the postcard picture towns of Ventnor, Shanklin, and Sandown. Having had another quick stop we were conscious that we had to really put our heads down and get to Bembridge in time to avoid paddling against the tide. We got there just in time and another quick refuel was in order. The sun was beating down and we had to keep dumping water down our necks to stop overheating. Setting off again we went past the beautiful town of Seaview and Ryde, dodged the Portsmouth to Ryde fastcat, Portsmouth to Fishbourne Ferries and towards Cowes. By now we all had blisters and were sore and tired so decided to stop by Osbourne House before setting off across the confused sea at the entrance to Cowes Harbour.
As we went through the wind picked up a lot and like the rest of thew day it changed direction to be in our face, hitting about a force 4 gusting 5 at times. A rhib was buzzing around in circles here too and due to the large swells created 6 foot waves which very nearly had me in a few times….just what we didn’t need. The last section down towards Yarmouth area was a massive hard slog, with multi direction waves meaning we had to constantly brace all the time. We we forced to pull into a sheltered bit by Newtown Creek to plan how were actually going to cross the very tides and snotty sea back to Keyhaven! We had a few plans including actually going through “the trap” near slack and even going over the shingle bank! In the end we tentatively set off towards Yarmouth, and after then we made a decision to cross towards Hurst Castle. Oh my god it was crazy! I was being thrown around all over the place with waves swamping me from all directions. You tried to get moving but the paddle would slip when you were up on a wave. The worst bit was when I saw a 10 foot wave cresting towards me. It hit me full pelt slamming into my chest up to my neck and burying the kayak deep inside, fully submersing me!!!! Lurching to the left I braced and just about managed to stay on. Phew. I carried on, quickly looking over my shoulder to see Ian and Barry struggling too but making progress. Once we’d got through the worst bit we were relieved to get back to Keyhaven. 60 miles under our belts.
I am definately ready now to tackle the Alderney trip head on now knowing I can paddle 60 miles in some testing conditions. I know that I have the right equipment, the right food, the right amount of training. More importantly I know I definitely have the right team to do it with. Bring…..it…..on.