Bottom Drag

Day 19 – Eastbourne to Hastings – 8th June – 12.8 nm

Nearly 3 weeks in and we had been dodging one low pressure system after another, the odd day of good weather interspersed with days of more complicated planning and stressful conditions.  It hadn't been too bad, but it was starting to get tiring. I was desperate for a high pressure system, some days of stable weather to crack in some good miles of stress free paddling. Oh yes please.
Today our prayers were answered and we got our first high pressure system. But it’s never that easy of course. The high was centred over to the west, somewhere over Ireland or the Irish Sea it seemed. This meant we were going to have stable weather; but it was going to be stable in the form of constant 20+mph winds from the E / NE. Bugger.

The forecast today was for a start with high teen winds, but then quickly strengthening as the day progressed. It didn't look to be too bad to start with, but if the forecast was true then I figured it was going to get scruffy out there. I chose to paddle against the tide, something that really goes against the grain for me, but it would mean that I didn't have to fight against wind over tide too. It would limit the speed and hence the miles, but the alternative with wind over tide was going to get too nasty I reckoned. (I didn't realise at the time, but as the trip progressed this would become an all too necessary but frustrating strategy.)

It was an easier launch than expected in Eastbourne, and then off across Pevensey Bay. But an hour and half later I had only covered 5nm, an average of 3.3kts. Not good.

By Bexhill it was time to head in and start scratching along the beach, looking for any shelter there was. So close in that it was bottom drag all the way. The average did sneak up a bit, but only to the 3.6 kts mark – it looked like it was going to be a long day.

It wasn't.

The wind was strong now. I sneaked a timid glimpse around the dumpy breakwater at Hastings, it was white and lumpy on the other side. Ahead lay 4 nm along the cliffs, with no landing until Cliff End (funny that) – at least an hour in these conditions without really knowing what was out there or what was going to be out there in another hour, and I was already into super-glue grip mode. On-the-water admin was out of the window too.

Game over.

The beach was steep shingle once again; I made the best attempt I could to set the boat up for a landing and then headed in. It was a text book ‘how-to-make-a-tit-of-yourself’ soggy landing. There was nothing more to do than shrug to the watching faces, drag the boat up the beach and pick up the self-induced flotsam.

3 hrs 45 mins and 12.8 nm done, stressed, knackered, and all for only half the average distance for a day.

Tomorrow didn't look better.

Day 18
Day 19