CSCC Reports 2009: Sea Paddling in Chichester - 23rd August 2009

Sunday's paddle in glorious sunshine near Chichester had a sting in its tail.  

Having recovered from the shock of the £7 parking charge, Stephen, Chris, Dan H. and Dan J. launched from the lovely sandy beach at West Wittering and coasted lazily with the tide past Thorney Island towards Prinsted.  Little paddling was required in the morning, except to avoid some floating gin palaces and yachts and in about an hour we were in shallower (and therefore quieter) water and nearing our lunch destination.  Thorney island is owned by the MoD and has an interesting channel across it called the Great Deep.  Unfortunately you aren't allowed to paddle on it; according to Stephen it features a whirlpool!  

Sadly the Scouts had thought of better things to do on one of the hottest days of the summer than to man their hut on the shore at Prinsted, so Chris had to go without his cup of tea.  Dan H. and Stephen waded slowly into the sea and swam for a few seconds while Dan J. listened on his radio for news of victory in the Ashes.  Prinsted had attracted a rather different crowd from West Wittering.  Dan H. wondered if we had landed in the 1930's.

After a generous lunch hour and at exactly high tide we set off again.  We learned the odd, but useless, fact that Thorney Island is "the home of Army sailing".  Stephen decided that we ought to make the long drive down to Sussex worthwhile by lengthening the return journey.  It took over an hour to ferry glide over to Hayling Island.  This was quite a slog for most of us, although it was improved by watching dozens of little sea birds (of a type we didn't recognise) darting around near the surface of the water.  Several ancient looking bi-planes also flew over, rather higher up.  Eventually we made it to Hayling Island and rested on a salt marsh.  

We then turned south and headed towards the mouth of the harbour.  Once more we were racing along with the tide.  This was a busy area and as we crossed from the south of Hayling Island we had to watch out for yachts and power boats, but we were impressed by one guy who must have had the impression of flying as his "Moth" class sailing boat planed and he was suspended about ten feet in the air.  

As we neared West Wittering Beach we realised that there were now thousands of people frying themselves on it in the afternoon sunshine.  More worryingly, we also spotted a massive line of surf.  Dan J. and Chris paddled furiously away from the waves, ferry gliding at an ever more acute angle to escape.  Stephen and Dan H. were made of sterner stuff and enjoyed some thrills and spills before paddling back to the beach.  

Chris calculated that our paddle was 13 miles long, which was good going on such a hot day.  On the drive home we stopped for dinner at a pub overlooking another pretty part of Chichester Harbour, Dell Quay.

Our thanks go to Stephen for organising an excellent trip.

Chris's pictures