A Birthday Faff

Day 22 – Dungeness to St Mary’s Bay - 11th June – 6.7 nm

Another early start to catch the start of the tide, the wind had dropped a little but it was still a windy no-go. Back to the campsite for a snooze; except the man wanted to mow the grass, even the bit under the van it seemed. Eventually we took the hint and left.

The day sluggishly drifted by, I was tired, ratty and still a little shaken by the range day, and the chance of getting around on tonight’s tide hung like a shadow. Relaxation wasn't forthcoming.
We headed back in the afternoon; I sat and watched the water, intrigued by the large boil caused by the sub-surface outflow from the power station. I watched it wander and change with the tide – intriguing.

But things still didn't look right to me. No go.

It was time for a good hesitant faff, time to listen to the instincts. Things were not ready yet, but conditions were slowly changing I felt. At the same time the clock was ticking; Team Manager, try as she might, was getting a little impatient at my indecision, and day light was not going to last forever either. But still things didn't feel right – still no go to me. I had learnt to trust in my instincts, I couldn't say what time things would be good to go – I would just know when it was.

And then a route started to form on the corner, there was a gap. The wind was easing, and backing N a little. It was dropping to mid to high 20's now, except for the corner it didn't look too bad out there.

I watched. It felt right now, I suddenly felt good to go. I took a quick walk to memorise the line and then, let’s go, now - quick.

A nervous slide down the shingle, dodge the angler’s lines, looking for the markers in the waves, into the gap, nasty dump on the side, into the tide race, heading nervously out to keep the waves square on, the lifeboat station draws level, and then things start to ease – phew. Happy Birthday Fatboy.

I continued north with an eye on the breakers; it was busy along the coast as the kite-surfers were making the most of the sunshine and on-shore winds.  Suddenly they had all gone: Tea time? Beamed up by aliens? The lifeboat man had warned me that there wouldn't be much beach later in the tide, I realised they had got off before the sand to shingle ratios had dropped to potential embarrassing incident level.

Too late now, might as well go a little further. St Mary’s Bay was the destination; I looked for a gap in the nasty dump with no luck. Eventually it was a case of just get on with it you big girl. Helmet on, tensed for a soggy, shingly get-out, I surfed in to find the massive dump was... a foot high – much to the bemusement of Team Manager. Mummy’s Little Hero.

It was a long day to scrounge only 6 nm, but I was around Dungeness, and that would do for a 48th birthday present. 

You can only take so much shingle in one lifetime.