This is Justine Curgenven. She is one of the best known British sea kayakers and is achieving some spectacular things in her spare time, not least recently paddling around New Zealand’s South Island. To my shame, I can’t recall if I’ve met Justine in the past; however the magazine cutting above is from a Chinese sports magazine that coincidentally (and bizarrely) featured articles and photos from both of us two Brits in the same issue. So either way, we’ve definitely ‘sort of’ met.
Anyway, Justine was kind enough to send me a copy of her latest film, ‘This is the Sea 4′ (no prizes for guessing what the previous films were called). It’s very strongly recommended, including several inspiring and engaging expedition films, as well as the usual short pieces featuring quirky individuals from every weird and wonderful niche of sea kayaking.
I’ve reviewed it in more depth here, but if life is too short, skip straight to buying a copy here. Well done Justine!
This morning we headed down early to Swanage, undoubtedly Dorset’s premier east-facing seaside resort*. We were intending to paddle, but for reasons I’ve already forgotten, never actually got on the water. Instead we ended up walking around sightseeing and scrounging breakfast at friends’ houses.
Above pic by John Gilmour, trying out my new wide-angle lens. He is depicted in the following picture, returning unimpressively empty-handed from a dawn lobster hunt.
*Apart from Weymouth.
St Albans Head. It’s a headland, located a few miles south of my house. I like it.
Believe it or not, this is Graham’s good side.
Today (in fog and then burning sunshine) we paddled our local waters, the Purbeck coast … again. I suppose that I should be getting bored of it by now …
Last weekend the heavy autumn rains came, and so we gave up on sea kayaking for another winter; the white water season began! This weekend we assumed that we’d be off to the River Dart again, but the weather Gods are being rather capricious. Confusingly, they’ve now given us a bit more of the fantastic settled sunny weather that aided our recent unseasonable passage to Lundy. Today I communed with fairies and goblins in and around our village*, and tomorrow we’re off sea kayaking … again! I nipped out and took the moon photo twenty minutes ago, it was more fun than checking the almanac as a form of tidal planning. What could go wrong?
*We Dorset folk don’t get out much.
A contribution from Mrs Rainsley …
Weeks and weeks ago I promised Mark that I would do some guest posts. I have failed miserably at getting round to it. But it is Friday night, the sun has gone down and it is good to look back on the summer.
Long anticipated and finally viewed for real from the deck of a pitching boat, the cliffs of Boreray, Stac an Armin and Stac Lee seemed unreal and ghostly. Or, perhaps I was simply drowsy from the travel tablets. Watching the gannets wheel and plummet, I stood –or rather rolled from foot to foot- as the boat came around and headed into the bay of St Kilda.
All that remained on Sunday morning, was the paddle back to the mainland. The sea and weather conditions were ‘manageable’, with the only obstacles being the occasional porpoise.
Over a weekend that was simply perfect in every way, we broke the Curse. We’ll be back.
Saturday evening, out in the Atlantic. To begin our Lundy Island circumnavigation, we paddled north to the island’s northern point, which we were going to round against the tide. This wasn’t a problem as a series of smooth-walled tunnels offer a short-cut right under the North Light lighthouse to the west coast!
Lundy’s west coast is something utterly unique – I have paddled the UK’s entire Atlantic coast and I can think of nowhere vaguely like it. The smooth granite slabs are famous among climbers, and as we paddled south, the slabs gradually turned to a dark shade of amber as the sun melted into the west.
The unusual geology means that numerous tall and narrow tunnels dissect the headlands, quite exciting with even the slight swell that we encountered! There are also dozens of deep caves, but we avoided these as we could hear the newly born seal pubs wailing inside. We encountered one pup clinging to rocks out in the open, happily unflustered by the groundswell occasionally submerging him. All the girls went “Aaaah”.
The sun finally set as we rounded the southern tip; we had paddled at sunrise and sunset that day! Landing back at the island quay, we changed quickly and raced up the hill to catch last food orders at the Marisco Tavern …
So there we were, 20 miles offshore, emptying our kayaks onto a 5km long lump of granite and slate sticking up out of the sea; Lundy Island.
We managed to blag our gear into the back of a ranger’s Land Rover heading for the island campsite, meaning that we made the 400 foot climb to the island’s plateau unencumbered. We caught up with our gear, pitched our tents and headed for a very late breakfast (it was early afternoon and we’d been going since 5 am!) in the ineffable Marisco Tavern. Servings of Lundy Lamb broth were just the thing we needed …
Then it was a time for a siesta in the afternoon heat. Was this really autumn? Everyone zoned out for a few hours, knowing that we’d need a rest before we headed out to sea again in the evening …