As you may, or may not have noticed, having bought the "Carrot" (An Orange Tiderace Pace 17 Tour) at the end of August, I did not take her to Anglesey for my paddles with Si, Wenders and Tom. I guess I wanted to check her out first, without rushing. Besides paddling in the Pace Tour would hardly have been fair on the others. As it transpired, Wenders (rightly) told me off for paddling too fast in my Etain!
30th August 2021
My first paddle (after the demo) was actually on the River Soar. I use the River Soar a lot for <ahem> training (and dog walking), usually timing myself, paddling from the Zouch road bridge, up to the Railway viaduct at Stanford on Soar, and back again. It's a round trip of 5.1 nm, and up to now, it usually takes around about one hour 20 minutes. It does vary a fair bit, especially if it has been raining in Leicester and there is a fair current coming down the Soar. Also this stretch is fairly open and can be quite affected by the wind.
Anyway, Monday 30th August wasn't particularly windy and the river current was running lightly, but it wasn't the sunniest of days. Having switched on the GPS, I set off, only to be stopped by Pete Montandon for a chat, who was out walking his dog. Having chatted for a bit, (6 minutes looking at my gps log) I set off again. Everything was fine after this apart from there being a tree down across the river (backwater section), which I had to slow down for. I can't say I was exactly paddling very hard, just taking it easy, with the odd going flat out bit, every now and then. Taking off the six minutes chatting time, I made it to the Stanford railway viaduct in 33 minutes, ie. about 4.7kts average. Coming back, again not exactly trying very hard my average was just over 5 kts! I think I can easily manage under the hour for this paddle now. I guess that is something to aim for.
10th September 2021
My first "sea paddle" in the "Carrot", was at Brixham, right at the end of the breakwater. In Brixham, there is a very handily placed car park right next to the beach, err Breakwater Beach, so boat handling and launching are a cinch. I was given a time limit of two hours by Mrs T though. Fair enough, its Mrs T's much needed holiday too! It was high tide which made the carry even shorter. Paddling out passed the outdoor "sea" swimming pool, it was completely flooded by the tide. But even so there one or two people swimming in it. I continued to meander around Berry Head. I did a little fishing, but caught nothing (as per usual). In the end I made it as far down as Southdown Cliff, before realising it was time to set off back again. On the return trip I tried fishing again, but once again without any luck. I was just winding in the spool of line when Mrs T. ("Shoreside trout") pipped up on the VHF, saying she was on Berry Head walking the dog and looking out to sea she could see dolphins. By the time I paddled over to Berry Head, there were a lot of people looking at the Dolphins. I had a couple pop up near me, but as soon as I started paddle towards them they disappeared. OK, so best left well alone, and let them come to me. They didn't. I arrived back at the breakwater beach about five minutes before Mrs T. Just enough time to practice my rolls. Having had my two hours in the morning, Mrs T had her two, stand up paddle boarding. A fab day!
10th September 2021
11th September 2021
My second paddle, was once again in Brixham and was pretty much a repeat of the day before. Although, this time I was determined to paddle down to a little White House I could see in the distance at Man Sands. This meant no fishing and no messing about. It was also a bit windier than the previous days outing. Having just set off and nearing Berry Head, I saw a group of kayakers in front of me and went over to say hello. They were hand railing the coastline and were exploring the many caves. I declined the invite to join them as I didn't have my helmet on, besides Man Sands was my target. The little White House turned out to be a small cottage in what can only be described as a stunning location. I only saw a couple of people there, who had obviously taken the trouble to walk, to get there. On the way back, I once again saw Dolphins around Berry head. As I neared the Breakwater beach I bumped into a couple of kayakers just heading out, so told them to look out for the Dolphins. I saw them later on, and yes, they had seen the Dolphins too. Once again Mrs T paddle boarded in the afternoon, but it wasn't as good as the previous day due to the wind.
After a few days at Brixham we moved on, down the coast to Bolberry, near the Hopes (Inner and Outer) by the Bolt Tail. Between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head lie, five miles of the most treacherous coastline anywhere on the South Devon coast. It has been the scene of many ship wrecks; so many that often the wreckage of one wreck is often jumbled up on the sea bed with other wrecks. To see this of course it helps if you are a scuba diver. However on the surface occasionally ships boilers and other debris is often thrown up under the cliffs. As an ex diver (part of the reason I started kayaking was I couldn't dive any more), I still find the history and tales of ship wrecks fascinating.
11th September 2021
14th September 2021
I've kayak surfed a few times in the past at Bantham, but with it being high pressure weather system above us, I was not really expecting there to be any waves at Bantham. In fact checking the surf forecast for Magic Sea Weed, it reckoned there would be no surf. Imagine my surprise when we crossed over the dunes from the car park to see some excellent waves coming in. OK, they weren't the biggest, but they'd do nicely. So now I got to find out how the Pace 17 Tour would handle surf. I was not disappointed. Having use of the rudder really helped stay on the wave and I had one run that took me from a good distance off the beach all the way up and into the River Avon estuary.
16th September 2021
My next paddle (and last paddle in Devon 2021) in the "Carrot", was at Thurlestone Beach. To be honest I wasn't feeling too great and wasn't at all sure if I'd bother going out. Mrs T. had already been out paddle boarding. Later on in the afternoon I decided I felt well enough to give it a try. I paddled through the Thurlestone Arch and then headed across to the Bolt Tail. At the Bolt Tail, there was a bit of a race heading offshore and what with the wind being against it, it was pretty rough going. So much so, having made it around the Bolt Tail, I had serious thoughts about how I was going to get back again! It was not so much the conditions that perturbed me, more the fact that I was paddling solo and if thing did go wrong, I'd be ever so slightly in the S**t! The conditions were right up to max on my comfort scale for when paddling alone. I paddled around to Greystone Ledge, where a cruise liner, the Jebba, which I'd been reading about, ran aground in 1907.
The Jebba, was homeward bound from Sierra Leone, carrying a cargo of rubber, ivory and fresh fruit, along with 155 passengers and crew, when she ran aground in dense fog. Luckily, with the aid of a rocket apparatus and the extraordinary bravery of two local men, all passengers and crew were rescued. See The wrecking of the Jebba , Jebba and especially The Wreck of SS Jebba for a highly detailed account.
The best bit for me now though, was having seen photographs taken at the time of the sinking in 1907, I was now able to see exactly the spot under the cliffs at Greystone Ledge, and picture the ship in my mind was she was in 1907. However the thought of getting back around the Bolt Tail was still fresh in my mind and I decided to turn around and make my way back. Perhaps too many shipwrecks for one day.
As I approached the Bolt Tail, the sea became very rough and as I was about to launch into the maelstrom, I saw a channel running just inside the Bolt Tail and decided to give it a try. The trouble with doing so was that waves were crashing through this channel every now and again and timing was crucial. As I entered the channel I was being surged forwards, only for half way through, for the sea to suddenly recede behind me, I paddled like fury, expecting a wave to get me at any moment from behind, but with luck I was shot out of the channel into the bay. Phew! That got the adrenaline flowing! I was feeling so much better when I got back. 🙂
From here it was back across the bay to the arch again before heading back to the beach.
16th September 2021
I rather like my Pace 17 Tour. Apart from adjusting the foot pegs that you can do from within the cockpit, I've not had to do anything else to the outfitting. She is comfortable to sit in, my legs don't go numb like with some boats, and I am slowly learning how to use the rudder. I cannot wait to get back out on the sea again.