Ahead of the storm

Day 18 – Worthing to Eastbourne – 7th June – 30.1 nm

The forecast is good, but the conditions are better.

It’s 06:00 out of bed again. The crowds, clamour and ice-cream van of yesterday are long gone and it’s peaceful and sunny as we get ready to go. There is a last minute faff as the toilets are still locked, and I hunt around for an alternative – it’s all glamour in this game.

Over the top of the shingle bank and... who’s taken the water? The beach is not quite as steep at low water it seems, in fact nowhere near as steep - the water’s edge can’t be seen, it’s hidden by the curvature of the earth.

Not only is the beach flat, it’s also stony, something that wasn't obvious at high water yesterday either - it wouldn't be under 3 or 4 m of water I suppose. A long and rocky drag with the trolley finally gets us to the water. I'm glad that it’s not rough, that would make for a tricky launch.

On the water and away, the conditions are perfect, but I'm feeling a bit rough – typical. The forecast is not good for the upcoming days so we really need to get some miles today. I dial in the waypoint to Beachy Head and my heart sinks, there are 26 nm to the first waypoint.

26 nm later there aren't.

It takes a while but finally I reach the impressive cliffs of Beachy Head. In 2012 I had to hide behind the lighthouse to shelter from the wind, in 2015 the only problems are a set of knackered shoulders and too much sunshine – you just can’t please some people.

It’s a slog against the eddy up to Eastbourne, scratching along the cliffs and then the gravel beaches, but every cloud has a silver lining, the sun has lifted the bikini to beach ratio nicely.

I meet a ski paddler in nothing but his shorts, while I am geared up the eyeballs. He ignores my Hello, glances rather condescendingly in my direction and smugly ponces off without saying a word, making a big play of paddling hard. Oh yes, a big day out to the pier and back - Mummy's little soldier.

Pascale finally finds a parking slot, only for me to change my mind and scratch a little further up the beach. She gets her revenge by choosing a landing slot on the steepest shingle beach, right beneath the balcony of the Eastbourne Angling Club. Oh yes, as popular as a fart in a Volkswagen now.

I scramble up the shingle, the glare of eyeballs on my back, still feeling rough and wishing for more miles. But there are no more today.