Saturday, July 08, 2006

Stormbound Mariners - in July!!

The forecast was ‘iffy’ for this years ‘Dorset Coast Camp’ – but 5 of us needed the sea air. Paul, Richard, Elliott, Tim and I set off from Swanage in sunshine that Saturday. The intention was to paddle to Lulworth, stopping overnight somewhere on route, and using the morning tidal assistance. Despite an early rise, hiccups in navigation and the long shuttle that the plan involved meant that we were not on the water until 11:30.

We elected to paddle close in shore which gave us some shelter from a stiffening headwind and afforded us views of the cliffs and wildlife (including Puffins) but also meant that we spent the whole day paddling against wind and tide. We didn’t get to Kimmeridge until 16:30.

Divers at Kimmeridge informed us that the forecast had deteriorated, with the arrival of a F8 gale expected within the next 6 hours. We battled on against growing seas and wind, finally seeking shelter in the bay to the lee of Warbarrow Tout.

Sure enough, the gale hit us overnight – and rising from our wet pits early Sunday morning (woken by the crashing surf) the sea was none too friendly.

Sheltering from the rain and enjoying one of Richards brews we discussed options. It was still blowing F5/6, - we could hang around until the afternoon in the hope that conditions would improve sufficiently to allow our onward journey, or we could attempt an ‘evacuation’. We plumped for the latter and Richard and I set off for the 5 ½ mile walk to Lulworth to retrieve his vehicle. Leaving the others (still in their pits) to pack up.

All went well, and we even managed to persuade a range warden to open the gate at Tyneham to allow us to drive down to the boats.

Good fun