Despite bright blue skies March
7th was yet another freezing cold day. The promised F5-6
north-easterly wind had produced a choppy sea and what
promised to be a tricky launch from Bowleaze Cove. Not what
would have been chosen for what was meant to be a beginner’s
paddle. Nevertheless Clive and Ian decided that the paddle
should go ahead and Clive W. proceeded with his customarily
humorous pre-launch instructions, delivered to 12 shivering
paddlers, 2 dogs and a few bemused onlookers.
Each having chosen what they considered to be the prime
launching point and with a few false starts everyone managed
to blast out through the surf and set off towards a promised
coffee and comfort break at Osmington.
Paddling into the strengthening easterly wind, progress was
somewhat slow and judging by the increasingly grim
expressions not the enjoyable dibble along the pretty coast
that we had all been looking forward to. There were some
appreciable breaking waves visible off Redcliff Point so we
gave that area a very wide berth.
Once past Redcliff the seas really began to pick up and
the possibility of landing at Osmington began to look
dubious. After a quick flurry of snatched VHF messages the
trip leaders decided that the worsening conditions were
unsuitable for the group to continue and the best option was
to turn around.
From where we were it appeared that putting into the beach
just to the east of Redcliff was a good option to allow
everyone to catch their breath and have a quick cuppa before
returning to Bowleaze. The group set off in that direction,
with a nasty following sea, with Jackie J. leading the way.
All seemed fine until Jackie was upended in the surf, a fate
soon to be repeated by 2 other paddlers on their way in to
the beach. John C. capsized amongst the rocks causing damage
to his boat and more importantly suffering some painful
injuries to his shoulder and ribs. Those at the rear of the
group saw the carnage and rapidly reversed away from the
danger, a manoeuvre that produced much discomfort to several
paddlers not used to large following seas.
With the group now effectively split and with some of the
paddlers who were still afloat feeling very uncomfortable,
it was decided to leave the beached group where they were
and return the others to Bowleaze. This worked OK apart from
one capsize and rescue along the way. 2 paddlers then
returned to Redcliff to assist in getting this second group
re-launched and back to Bowleaze. Luckily Barbara, who was
not paddling due to a skiing injury, had walked along the
cliffs watching the unfolding drama and had had the
foresight to bring her VHF and so was able to act as a
spotter, directing operations.
Once launched the now damp paddlers made their way around
the worst of the breaking waves and paddled their way back
to Bowleaze. Reunited we all sat in the sun at Bowleaze
drinking tea and eating cake, as if nothing had happened!
But lessons were learned…