CSCC Reports 2010: Chichester - July 2010
Almost half the club's members, including several sea kayaking novices, made it to all or part of the south coast trip on 24-25 July. Chris, Stephen, Anne, Rob, Karen, Jackie, John, Eleanor, Cath and I drove down together on the Friday night and after pitching our tents (of greatly varying sizes) at Loveders Farm campsite in Nutbourne, we went in search of dinner. Being Londoners, we had left it rather late and our intended stroll to the nearest pub turned into a great trek to the curry house in Emsworth. The food turned out to be worth the walk though and on our way back Chris and I also spotted an eel sploshing around in the mill pond on the outskirts of the town.
On Saturday we set off for Bosham where we were launching. Beth and John joined us there. Bosham is a very pretty little town. While the shuttle was in progress, we helped rescue a Lotus Elise which was close to being swamped by the rising tide (it makes a change from sheep).
Our preparations took a while, for example, we had left John's left handed paddle back in the boatshed and Chris had to improvise with gaffer tape. We finally set off in our boats shortly before noon, close to high tide. It was a gloriously sunny day and we made steady progress south down Bosham channel and then towards Thorney Island. Suddenly two boats came into view - the paddlers looked familiar - Alex and Luis had made it down on the train with their folding boats. They joined us for the rest of the day.
We had lunch on the sheltered side of West Wittering (East Head)and then made our way out of the harbour. This is where things got interesting. There were conditions approaching a tidal race at The Winner. Both those new to sea kayaking and the more experienced paddlers found the conditions fairly challenging, causing the group to scatter, but we made it as far as the shallow waters off East Wittering before opting to call it a day, rather than battle the surf for any longer.
After belatedly remembering that we had left Karen in the car park, we dined at an excellent pub, The Sussex, on the edge of Emsworth. I recommend the local sausages in particular.
On the Sunday we drove west to Lepe country club and split into two groups. By now Beth, John, Alex, Luis and Anne had left, but Gordon, Bridget and (another) Chris had joined us. One group paddled up the Beaulieu river, but I went with the other group over from Lepe to the Isle of Wight.
Gordon had done the crossing to Cowes before and led us out past the Lepe Spit South Cardinal buoy towards Gurnard before the South West going tidal stream had started in earnest. Having made the crossing (in about 40 minutes) we paddled along the coast to Cowes harbour mouth where we dodged and sprinted our way through an endless stream of fast moving yacht traffic coming in and out of the harbour. We went a little further, past Old Castle Point and landed below Norris Castle in a tiny cove eroded behind a breach in the sea wall for a long lunch break.
Gordon's dramatic backwards launching after lunch caused the biggest laugh of the day. I didn't tell him that half a dozen of the biggest waves of the weekend were heading his way and we were able to savour some varied facial expressions as Gordon's new Explorer filled up with water. Sorry, Gordon! In an attempt to salve my conscience I lent Gordon my 'bilgemaster' afterwards.
We retraced our steps past Cowes Harbour and, after a short icecream stop on the beach at West Cowes, returned to Lepe on a heading of 330 degrees, aiming initially towards the NE Gurnard Port Hand (red) buoy. Total distance paddled was about 9.5 statute miles.
We finished the weekend with a visit to the Waterloo Arms in Lyndhurst. This involved a scenic drive through the New Forest where we encountered lots of ponies and high speed cattle.