Finally crossed the Thames !

fferry_sset

Felixstowe Ferry.

It was a good weekend as the easterly wind finally dropped on Saturday, and I was able to cover some miles.  The tide was going to be against me for much of the day, but I wanted to get as far as possible on Saturday so I could pass the Foulness/Shoeburyness range on Sunday.

chevauxdefrise

Lunch stop at Chevaux de Frise Point

The conditions on Saturday were calm except for a short section passing The Naze.    I stopped for lunch on the beach near Chevaux de Frise Point (Thanks Tim for the tip).   Here I found a spot out of the wind behind the sea wall and with the sun out, actually felt warm on the beach for the first time this year.

The heaviest frost at Holliwell Point.

The heaviest frost yet at Holliwell Point.

I was aiming for Holliwell point at the mouth of the River Crouch, but a few miles before arriving I realised that I was paddling up the wrong channel (looking at the view more than the GPS) when I hit a sand bank on the Dengie Flats.  Fortunately as the tide had started to come in by then, so I only had to wait for half an hour before it lifted me over the sand.   By the time I was in my tent at Holliwell Point, it was getting dark, and I was pretty tired after covering about 30 NM.

Frost on the foreshore.

Frost on the foreshore.

It was a very cold night with sub-zero temperatures inside the tent and heaviest frost yet outside.   There was even frost on the foreshore.  Initially visibility was down to about 20m, and I couldn’t see any boats entering and leaving the river mouth, although I could hear them and see their wake hit the shore.  It was all a bit too surreal to really feel the cold.

Once it was just about clear enough to see across the river, I launched, keen to cut across Foulness sands while the tide was in.  The conditions were flat calm, and some seals swam past with the surface tension making a smooth bump in the water over their bodies.  I didn’t get the camera out in time!

The Red Sands Sea Forts.

The Red Sands Sea Forts.

It quickly became much clearer, and I could see the Red Sands sea forts from about 6NM away.  Definitely the strangest place I’ve been on this trip so far.   I felt pretty tired by now, but still had about another 10 NM to get to Reculver.   (I’d paddled out to Red Sands fort once last year from the Isle of Sheppey but wanted to avoid the low tide mud this time.)

As soon as I turned at Red Sands, I saw the wind turbines to the west start turning, and shortly afterwards the easterly wind returned, opposing the tide making rather choppy conditions for the last few miles. Turns out there is a sea wall at Reculver, (it just looked like a path on the aerial photos!), making it difficult to get from the beach to the patch of grass I wanted to camp on.   Never mind.

Conditions are marginal today, and would have meant paddling into a headwind all way to North Foreland, so I’m taking a day off to recover. It is hard to get fitter when I’m spending so much time off the water!

Windy winter weather …

image

Not much has changed with the weather – it’s still cold, snowy and very windy - with gusts strong enough to blow a bench over today (twice). So far, I’ve only paddled on 11 days, but spent 22 days off the water.

Fortunately, the current weather pattern is forecast to change at the weekend, so I’m hoping to get moving again on Saturday.

(Looks like some impressive long range forecasting by Andy and Jane Morton who plan to set off this weekend – good luck!).

British Summer Time begins …

image

Yesterday, the wind dropped enough for me to leave the beach between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh and paddle a little bit further south to Felixstowe Ferry.

It was snowing when I launched and was a bit choppy for the first few miles with a couple of very cold waves breaking over the boat. After Orford Ness, it became much smoother, the sun came out, and a porpoise led the way for a bit.

image

Felixstowe Ferry seems like a lovely place, and I’ve been made feel very welcome here by the Harbour Master and the sailing club (and have enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower).

I could be here for a while, as the strong easterly wind is back today and the forecast doesn’t look good. I knew it was going to be a gamble with the conditions setting off in March and in terms of distance covered, it really hasn’t paid off, although I have been able to see a lot of different weather.

Another tent pole had broken, this time I’ve made a temporary repair using some tape and bit of old fizzy drink bottle. Not sure how long that is going to last!