Swanage – Lulworth Kayak Trip – 4th/5th June 2011

Kelly’s Heroes

Brendan “Kelly” Kelly – Expedition leader – http://bkkayaking.co.uk/

Debs Heldon – 2IC

Nancy “Glamping” Lee

Dinis “Teach” Costa

Graham “Q” Bills

Sonia “Chef” Miller

John “Tidal Racer” Logie

Steve “Poke Through” Hayward

Hats off to the logistical team (Debs and Graham) who headed down ahead of the pack on the Friday night to drop of cars and made sure that everything was set up for a quick getaway on Saturday morning. We headed out into the mixed water of Swanage Bay for 10.45 on the Saturday morning, fresh from sausage sandwiches (which even the vendor thought were unlikely to contain any meat). Despite the sun, a fresh north easterly was blowing in the bay, giving everyone a coating of weed as we headed out round the choppy water of the peninsula to calmer water.

Our first stop was the boat houses on the east side of Chapman’s Pool at around 1pm. This was a welcome break after covering some 12km in a fresh breeze and choppy seas but with a rising following tide. After an extended debate on who would actually make the tea, Kelly gave a clear demonstration on how to use an MSR Liquid fuel stove. If we hadn’t been quite so relaxed by the warm sun, we would have probably run and watched the flames from a safer distance!

With the spring tide rising we headed back to St. Albans Head to ‘play’ in the tidal race.  The water darkened as we closed in on the ominous standing waves on the horizon. When we had got there, we knew about it. Lots and lots of water being pressured round the peninsular and paddling into it was like stepping onto a big, wavy, express travelator. Speed picked up considerably as we paddled up the back of the waves and surfed down the front. The tide seemed to being doing a better of job of playing with us. Kayaks appeared and vanished as we cut through the crests or headed to the bottom of the troughs. After 15mins we were through and into calmer seas, everyone was smiling their best “got away with it” smile. John particularly loved this and he would have headed back for more, if we hadn’t had to push on.

Soon we all needed another stop and out of necessity rather than aesthetics we pulled in at Kimermeridge Bay. The eponymous ‘stinky stop’ was a short lived fuelling up exercise, although Debs, Nancy and Sonja found some time to collect fossils from the prehistoric smelling shale. A well deserved bag of Jelly Babies had us on our way with Sonia especially enjoying the e-numbers, powering out to lead us round the next headland. Fishing lines were cast and Kelly provided us with enough mackerel for the team to get a taste of the sea.

After 2 hours further paddling we arrived at our campsite for the night at around 6pm. Kit was sorted and dinner was quickly on the go, with Debs, Nancy and Sonia giving a masterclass in outdoor cooking (marred only by there being no parmesan for the pasta, but there was a good grated cheddar, so this forgivable). Firewood was collected from the beach and the MOD fence, tents set up and an evening by the camp fire followed. Culinary expertise was again demonstrated; choccy bananas with rum made for a tasty dessert. Happily the ‘beach bar’ had a nautical theme that evening with a selection of mixed vintage wines, rum and brandy.

9am Breakfast set us up for the day with the mackerel getting the chilli and wasabi treatment. Fuelled up and ready to go we left the beach at 10.15 and headed out towards Lulworth.

Graham must have had too much chilli on his fish and proved to be the man everyone else had to keep up with. It was a cooler day with less sun, but this made for better paddling conditions, but the wind was higher.  As we had a range of boats this was a good opportunity to check out the various handling characteristics with Dinis showing how easy it is to do a deep a deep water boat swap. This was a good exercise in rafting up in a swell. After a long paddle we arrived there at just before 12. Tea and Cornish pasties at the cove were a welcome addition to the energy reserve.

After refreshments it was back out into the bay for Kelly to give us a skills and strokes master class. We paddled maintaining an edge, doing edge turns, J and C stokes, and played follow the leader. All of these would be put to the test, rock hopping our way round to Durdle Door. All of the team handled this well with only Steve waiting to use the biggest wave of the day to get a close-up look at the local rock.

After checking out the climbers, we headed round to Durdle Door to frighten the tourists and for an opportunistic photo shoot. Then it was back along the coast to Lulworth Cove for some rolling and rescue practise in the bay.

As the drivers headed off to collect the cars the land team sorted out the kit and ensured that everything was ready for their return. Boats were emptied, kit made ready, and though the drizzle had started, it wasn’t long before we were all working out the logistics of getting 8 boats on 3 cars – but in a series of manoeuvres that the Royal Artillery gun team would have been proud of in 10mins this was all done and we were set to go. Dinner was bought from the local scallop divers and we were on our way, smiling, happy and tired.

Steve Hayward

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