Saturday, 3 June 2017

Humber by Open Canoe

I'd had my mind on this journey for quite a while, I had completed it many of times  in a sea kayak but never in a canoe. The forecast came good, light to moderate westerly winds and a small ebbing tide.

Even with all my sea experience and knowledge anxiety was fairly high, worst case scenarios where considered and solutions worked through accordingly.

Launching at the village of Paull at high water allowed me a clean launch, to take advantage of the full ebb tide and would allow me to miss the boat traffic around Hull docks.

The ebb was slow to start and the first couple of hours where numb and laborious.

As I reached the main shipping channels the tide really started to push me along, the wind freshened and I started to make good progress, raising the sail and moving my position in the canoe really had me flying along with not too much effort.

Out near the Sunk Dredged Channel closest landfall was over 5 km away and with such a fetch the waves where getting quite big with the occasional one breaking over the boat. This would be no place to capsize, I was watching every wave and when a larger one came along I would try and turn to surf down it rather than to take it beam on. The Silverbirch Broadland 15 was stable and inspired confidence throughout.

Out of interest I thought I would try a radio check with both Humber VTS and Humber Coastguard -  no response from either was forthcoming on my 5w VHF. The distance was just too great and my low position on the water did not help.  I checked my phone and this did have a signal - Grimsby was visible in the distance.

I was very pleased to eventually get to Spurn for a quick leg stretch. Landing on the headland is not allowed by the YWT but I sneaked a five minute stop. This also gave me a moment to talk with Humber VTS to inform them of my intentions.

Expecting a lot more lifting water around the point it all came as a bit of a relief to find it fast moving but totally flat, I hugged the beach around the corner regardless. The last few kilometres up the coast where hard work but with wind and tide in my favour it all came good.

With a total distance of over 50 km I had only just made it with enough ebbing tide, landing on Kilnsea beach at low water meant a long drag up on a C Tug trolley to the awaiting car.

A rewarding but anxious journey, I've done this many a time solo in a sea kayak but solo in a canoe raises many more safety issues. The lack of VHF coverage in a moderate to advanced water environment like this means if things where to go wrong it could be a very serious situation indeed. 

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