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White Cliffs and Sea Shanties – Dorset, September 2021 « Chelsea Kayak Membership

Ten paddlers huddled on Ringstead Seashore for a security briefing because the rain fell and cloud thickened; day certainly one of CKC’s Jurassic Coast journey was underway. The weekend was designed for newer members to realize sea expertise alongside seasoned kayakers, supported by Alex, our sea chief.

Dave’s route plan took us previous dramatic cliffs, together with the 60-metre arch at Durdle Door. Putting surroundings, rock hopping alternatives, wave motion close to cliffs, and a weak tidal stream promised a mixture of fascinating options in comparatively protected situations.

We deliberate to launch by 10am to profit from the tide eastward to Lulworth Cove and arrive because it turned. We made it, although some drivers spent an anxious hour attempting to find diesel, foraging as anxiously as any fossilized plesiosaur buried within the Jurassic cliffs ever had.

We launched eastwards in direction of White Nothe headland in reasonable winds. Our three newbies (together with me) quickly settled, with many beneficial suggestions from extra skilled kayakers – Fiona, Liza, Dave, Olwen, and Alex. Happily, the rain subsided as we handed vertically folded chalk headlands and geometrically-weathered rock platforms.

Rock-hopping was the spotlight of the day. “I’m so glad you made me try this!” yelled Nick, displaying the marine equal of summit fever as he shot by means of two linked arches joined by a rocky channel. My favorite was a rock reef with a single gap-toothed opening that pressured the surge excessive, making for an excellent trip.

Our first arch was Bat’s Gap, then the mighty Durdle Door. There, the principle hazard was different individuals. A robust Rib loaded with sightseers stood off to at least one aspect, whereas paddle boarders, divers and swimmers crowded the archway. We went by means of cautiously, in single file. Between Durdle Door and our lunch cease at Lulworth Cove, we discovered many rocky spots to swish by means of gaps and observe catching the swell.

Getting into Lulworth Cove, we gave the rock ledge a large berth. Divers have been one other hazard, seen as orange floats dotting the water however liable to floor wherever.

Throughout our fast lunch break, the tide turned. Alex shot out into the bay blasting sea shanties from a cockpit-mounted stereo. As Dave had named the WhatsApp group “Say no to sea shanties,” grudge-match banter over these songs was a characteristic of the journey. I turned a light convert.

The wind dropped, giving us a placid return run with misty gentle and muted colors. Again at Ringstead, we tried capsize and rescue drills, earlier than carrying the boats again up the steep observe to the carpark.

Over a sturdy pub meal on Saturday night time, Fiona and Dave checked on the newer paddlers’ vitality ranges and urge for food for threat (each excessive). A number of Plan Bs have been mooted because the wind was on account of rise by means of Sunday. Essentially the most cautious possibility was a river paddle, up the Wareham River “and down the Piddle” (positively Plan D-minus). Ultimately, we caught to our route into Poole Harbour from Swanage, however as a one-way journey with a automobile shuttle relatively than doubling the gap. 

We pushed off from Swanage in a light-weight chop; the forecast was for a most swell of 0.4 metres. Extra of a hazard was a crusing race and pleasure boats. Quickly we reached the leeward aspect of the towering chalk cliffs, the place the wind dropped. Fiona led us right into a collection of wide-mouthed caves.

We approached Previous Harry rocks, the spectacular chalk stacks on the headland, in calm, sunlit water, capable of chill out and benefit from the view.

The tide was only a bit too low to play in lots of the tempting arches and gaps on the headland – rocks have been sticking up on the far aspect. Lastly, we discovered one which regarded promising, and everybody shot by means of into Studland Bay, a dramatically totally different view of a large, low-lying inlet stretching previous Poole.

For the subsequent ten minutes, we did gleeful circuits of Previous Harry’s Spouse, who has been crumbling recently and will not be round for much longer. 

We made for Studland seaside, passing a Border Pressure vessel seemingly near shore. Thirty minutes later, once we beached on blond sand, it was a misty shadow behind us. After fast snack break to stretch our legs and wee within the gorse, we received again on the water. Jan, our Greenland stick paddler, loaned me his paddle at this level, and it was a revelation – gentle, straightforward and pure in addition to pleasingly atavistic.

Timings have been vital, as we wanted to get into Poole Harbour round 1pm, an hour earlier than slack water, to profit from incoming tide, whereas avoiding robust tidal flows that might throw up tough water within the slender channel. Further hazards included ferries and the chain hyperlink shuttle.

As we turned in direction of the harbour mouth, a brand new tune, quieter, sober, extra reflective, poured from Alex’s stereo, singing of crossing the bar.  

It’s about demise, he yelled into the wind. 

Are you OK to hold on for a bit, Fiona requested? 

Sure, I stated, ignorantly bemused. If I had identified in regards to the onerous pull throughout Poole Harbour that lay forward, I might need been extra cautious. However we have been in, throughout the bar, and turned onerous left into the hardest paddling of the journey. The wind blasted our faces, I attempted wash driving and located it didn’t work in such heavy chop. Instantly, it was enjoyable – bracing and good.

We rested on a small sand bar, sheltered by low gorse then set out once more for the subsequent peninsular the place our vehicles have been parked. Poole Harbour was larger than anticipated and had appeared a tame possibility, nevertheless it was an exciting trip straight into the wind.

Subsequent morning, a gale got here up the channel and Swanage was battered by rain and excessive winds.

As Tudor stated, “We received fortunate with the climate and the extra planning we did, the luckier we received.”

Many due to Dave for journey planning, to Jan, who was our total organiser, to sea chief Alex for shepherding us on the water, and to everybody who made it so satisfying.



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