Stupid Enough

Day 42 – Arbroath – 1st July – 5.1 nm

Last night was a late finish, it was nearly 10:30 as I got off the water. The day following a late finish is never a good one, motivation is lacking and thinking is clouded.

Van-Life is strained in this early morning, the split-shifts mean that the days are long not just on the water but for the Team Manager too - long days of driving, admin and wasting time. It’s stressful from the viewpoints of both on and off the water. I get the impression that Team Manager would rather be somewhere else at the moment – it’s crossed my mind a couple of times recently too.

We arrive back on the prom at Arbroath, there’s a bit of a swell running but it doesn't look too bad. The wind is ok. I take a quick jog up onto the cliffs to take a look at conditions around the corner, it doesn't look brilliant it must be said; the swell is running from the E/NE and is much more pronounced along the cliffs. Something nags, the instincts aren't happy, but I'm tired and I'm not listening.

The sun is out and I get another impression, this time that I should be getting on with things, my sleepy-start-faff doesn't help matters. As I put things together a man appears and starts to chat. I'm not very sociable, I don’t need any distractions at the moment.

He’s a paddler and is interested in what we are up to – Busted 3. More vague answers once again. He asks about the Taran, mentions a past in Wildwater Racing, of the Coastguard volunteers watching us land last night and he tells me of what to expect around the corner. I mention that I'm not convinced of the conditions and the tide but he thinks all will be ok along the cliffs. I break the 'local knowledge rule' and listen, it’s enough to clinch the deal.

I get on and paddle across the town, the swell is quite chunky off the harbour mouth but I sneak through the gaps in the sunshine.

Along the cliffs things are confused and bigger than I expected.  The tide is against me too, at this rate it will be 1 ½ hours before I get to the end of the cliffs. I am not happy out here, I'm on the edge now. 

No, it’s not going to happen, it’s too far - I turn and head back.

It’s lumpy once again as the rebound comes out from the harbour walls to meet me, this time I cross town 2 kts faster. I make a hurried call to the Team Manager to break the news before she heads off along the coast. As I get to the south end of town and head in to the beach things settle and I have an embarrassingly easy landing – oh great, that’s going to make me look a real hero now - wuss-ville.

Have I made the right call? Am I actually just a big-wuss? As the boat rocks on the edge of the sand, I have a think. I wasn't happy, I thought it was getting too dodgy for the distance along the cliffs - that’s a good enough reason to turn back – listen to the instincts. They are there for a reason.

We quietly head up to the cliffs, I don’t say anything, I want Team Manager to to give me her opinion. We look over the edge and she tells me it looks pretty nasty. That will do, what I needed to hear.

We sit around hoping for better conditions later in the day, but it doesn't happen. The Boss takes a another walk along the cliffs as I snooze in the comfort of the van – she returns in a soggily hurried fashion as a thunderstorm hits. 

I check the tide figures in the Almanac and on the charts, today the tide was running against before the figures from both sources – more notes are appended.

We watch life go by for a while in the glistening Victoria Park, there are worse places to be. The day ends as we head back to the campsite to launder a bio-hazard bag of canoe kit, and to get some sleep - while we hope for better for tomorrow.

I am annoyed at today, I made the wrong decision.
I let little things distract me, to pressure me, and to cloud my judgement. I am happy that I made the right call to turn around, to have the balls to make that call. But I made the wrong decision to go in the first place. Again, clever enough to get out of trouble, but stupid enough to get there in the first place.