The year started with a failed attempted to circumnavigate the Isle of sheppy over the weekend of 6th &7th of March. In company with John and Simon in their own sailing canoes and with Jack as crew in my Solway-Dory Shearwater.
The plan was to launch at Queenborough sail into the Swale out onto the Outer Thames Estuary and down to Whitstable for Lunch and then enter the Eastern Swale to our overnight camping spot at the Ferry House Inn
However on Saturday while the wind was blowing a useful reaching Northerly it was initially blowing force 5 gusting 6. we decided that given the strength of wind and the fetch on the estuary it would be wiser to take the more sheltered Swale route on Saturday , with the hope the wind would mellow allowing a easier passage on the open sea route.
That turned out not to be....
GPS tracking and notes courtesy of Simon Knight.
We set off up (or is it down ) the Swale. The tide splits on the Swale and moves down to the east.I was keen to keep on the right side of split on a falling tide so we got on the water and made to the first point, the bridge, which necessitated stepping masts and paddling under.
Once through we re masted and kept heading south east. soon we reached the wider part of the swale. even with the isle of Sheppy to our lee the water was pretty bouncy and the day continued dreary and cold. Thoughts quickly focused on getting to the pub...
The landing at the pub was a bit of a nightmare. The old slipway was badly eroded in places with missing bits and potholes big enough to swallow a canoe trolley. we had to unload the our camping gear, walk it the 100 meters to the shore and then carry each canoe up the slip which is only five feet wide with deep thick mud each side of it
The pub let us use their field so after only 1 lunchtime pint to recover, we put up our tents and had a spot of lunch before returning to the pub for the rest of the day/night.
The next morning we packed up and launched off the slip, made slightly easier by the level of the ebb tide , which helped us as we headed down the mouth of the Swale.
However by tje time we had reached Shellness point , the wind had backed around to the North west and seemed to be continually backing to the East so that as we came out of the Swale channel and started to head along the northern side of the Island we had to beat into sharp, choppy waves and had the ebb tide running against us.It was cold ,wet, grey and miserable and we made little progress. I could see Jack eyeing up the possibilities of getting off the boat at Leysdown-on-sea each time our tack took us close inshore, which, if you've ever been there, you would know would be an act of a desperate man. But thats how unpleasant it was getting.
Thankfully someone else in the group cracked first and the suggestion over the VHF that maybe we weren't going to get back to Queenborough for many, many hours and perhaps we should head back to the pub and abandon the circumnavigation was met with unanimity and a very swift gybe from me, running back to Shellness point and back down the Swale channel to sanctuary.
We weren't quite safe from peril however, Next to the Pub was a clay pigeon shooting range situated on the marshes which overlooking the Swale, next to the slipway. When we returned it was in use, the strong northerly wind helped to carry some of the shot further then might be expected: Simon's sails were hit, thankfully without enough force to carry through the sailcloth or Simon. The shot merely rolled down the sail onto him , but noone likes being shot at, even canoe sailors.
Some words were exchanged with the proprietor after we landed...
It was then a case of booking a taxi to retrieve our cars at Queenborough and drive back to the Ferry Inn to pack up the boats & head home, by that time the sun had come out and it turned quite pleasant .Oh well.
Spring day on the Dart to the Ferry boat Inn
The old favourite trip. launching on the Dart estuary at mill creek in Stoke Gabreil and sailing a few miles down to the Ferry Boat Inn at Dittisham and sinking a few pints whilst waiting for the tide to turn for the return trip.
Mari was the passenger on the outward leg.
We landed on route for a brew up
Arrival at the pub to meet the other land-based members of the family...
|Mari and Mum|
For the return trip Mari decided to take the car home , my brother Greg was over from Norway, and was up for the return leg, I decided to lend him my dry suit as it was likely to get a bit bouncy/wet as the wind would be over the tide
A start of the season OCSG meet on Coniston lake. large numbers of sailing canoes and fine weather. On the first day we sailed up to the famous Peel Island and stopped nearby on the beach for lunch.
The second day started off calm but the winds picked up during the day. i sailed to the somewhat mythical 3rd cafe on the Lake, which is opposite the Blue Bird Cafe.
SalcombeEstuary: Bank holiday weekend
This was a beautiful August bank holiday Sunday down on the Kingsbridge & Salcombe Estuary. I purchased a legitimate permit to be on the Estuary for once as this was combined with the ability to use the all tide slip in Salcombe and have a parking spot for my car.
After launching at the slip at the head of Baston Creek we made our way down the estuary and crossed the bar and out to sea. There was very light winds but we sailed a mile or so up the coast looking for a beach to land on There was still a bit of a swell around and as we neared gara Rock beach i began to doubt a safe landing could be made. this coupled with increasing hunger as lunchtime neared and the oversight of coming with provision meant we decided to head back to the estuary and look for food!
we landed first on South Sands and rolled the canoe up the beach before heading to the South Sands hotel terrace.
They call Salcombe "Mayfair-on-Sea" and the £15 price of a fish finger sandwich seemed to prove the point, Still it was a lovely day and the chance of a pint was worth the price .
After lunch we took to the boat again and landed across the estuary on Sunny Cove Beach. we landed on a beach again and rolled the canoe out of the water .taking out the camping chairs, beach rug and newspapers from the locker we settled down to a few hours of chilling out before making our way back to the Slip and heading home .it was a perfect day for chilling out.
Into winter at Windemere
The end of season OCSG meet in October at the south end of Windermere. This was my first time to visit the lake. I t was also the first time to use my new GPS plotter.
|From the campsite at the YMCa outdoor centre at the south of the lake|
|Running downwind , shortly after this I saw 10 knots on the GPS .pretty hairy stuff!|
|Shortly after this my hat was swept off by the boom and sank to the murky depths|