Training for the circumnavigation

We’ve done a lot of expedition paddling together so have the advantage of knowing each others little niggles and quirks and have developed routines which we fall into easily on expedition. When one of us is having a bad day it helps that the other can usually jolly them along and ease the situation. Perhaps the very best test of our compatibility was our 6-month long trip to New Zealand soon after getting married. We bought a Toyota Hiace van and travelled and lived in it for the duration of the trip.

We have paddled several times a week leading up to the trip. This was easier said than done considering the wintry weather we’ve had to endure. We’ve had a few surf days at Bantham – a surf spot on the South coast near Plymouth and we have used the local pool to bomb-proof our rolls and rescues. This is always good fun in a double!

Below are some photographs from some of our training activities.

SPOT satellite track of the Isle of Wight circumnavigation. The markers are at 10 minute intervals.

Our SPOT Adventure around the Isle of Wight
Saturday 2nd March 2013

We were initially simply planning a training weekend over on the Isle of Wight to coincide with Andy’s parent’s stay over there and his Dad’s Birthday. We checked tides and weather a few days before and realised that a circumnavigation was not out of the question. (We’d done this several years ago over several days but this time we both needed to be back for work on Monday morning but feared how our bodies would fair doing it in one hit with some old injury niggles lurking.) We decided when packing that we would put in the camping gear in case - it would be nice to train with a loaded boat for a change too.

Andy & Jane at the Brambles Chine chalet.
We joined Alan and Gerti in their holiday chalet at Brambles Chine, Colwell Bay (NW coast of IOW) after work on Friday with the usual exciting night crossing in good conditions from the little village of Keyhaven (nr. Lymington). This constitutes the shortest crossing distance between the mainland and the Island and puts us right into Colwell Bay – perfect! We arrived at the beach guided into the slipway by Alan and Gerti’s torchlight and the GPS about 1030pm.

The start of our trip at the Brambles Chine beach.
The alarm went at 6am and we managed to get ourselves out on the water by 7.15. It was cold but sheltered in the Bay. We began our trip in a clockwise direction (with our back to the prominent outline of The Needles) into a chilly F3/4 NE headwind once we left the bay, which is fine unless you are wearing an old drysuit which leaks when the waves hit you repeatedly. We battled into this cold wind all along the north coast of the Island on the edge of the Solent and by the time we reached Cowes Jane had had enough! We pulled in for re-fuelling with hot orange squash from the flask, well-buttered Soreen and an extra layer and were back on the water about 20 minutes later. From this point we lost our favourable tide which had been giving us a useful 1-2mph assistance. Fortunately the wind also eased and Jane was able to warm up a bit.

Andy going for it!
We paddled on hard for the following hours through to lunch, just starting to pick up the tide again and hoping for a hot lunch opportunity at Bembridge Beach Café on the eastern edge of the island. This was not to be though, as the café there was all shut up. Continuing on round to Whitecliff Bay we were rewarded at Tupenny Café – where the staff immediately drew the heater up close to us, gave us hot, sugary tea, a towel and most importantly – A BIG BREAKFAST each! We settled in there and realised after an hour we’d better get moving before we got too comfortable - it was 2pm.

The long crossing of Brighstone Bay.
Launching off the steep, almost non-existent beach was pretty interesting but we just about managed to keep the boat upright, having to do a quick ‘no-deck’ launch and pumping out afterwards, once out of the surf. We had launched into a good tide though, which cheered us up no end – refuelled and ready to go. Jane took a pain killer to keep her shoulder niggle at bay and we were off again, quickly passing Culver Cliff, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor at very good speed. The sun was even trying to show its face too. Dunnose Head gave us a fantastic ride through the tide race and the GPS confirmed this as we read 8.2mph on the screen!

Arriving back at Brambles Chine after the circumnavigation.
Speeding on across to St. Catherine’s Point we realised that the completion of the circumnavigation in one day was back on the cards and were hugely motivated and happy. By 4pm we had rounded this notorious headland staying well out, making the most of the tide between St. Catherine’s and the Needles. The 20km crossing of Brighstone Bay took us 1hr 20min, carefully paddling through the first stack and the mainland shortly after sunset and hardly noticing the final hour’s paddle bringing us back towards Brambles Chine, the chalet and a hot bath and soup! We were feeling very pleased with ourselves, having managed to complete the loop in just under 12 hours after setting off and were even able to join Alan for his special Birthday meal at the pub!

Rolling practice - click to see video

K2 training on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Training trip - Llanrhystud to Borth. Preparing for the launch.

The launch.

Going for it!


The coast ahead.

SPOT satellite track of the trip.

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