IOPCC Trip Report

Sandsfoot to Grove Point
Saturday 10th September 2011

Paddlers: John Christmas, Ian Hackworthy, Barbara Browning, Hugh de Iongh, Jon Massey, Clive Joyner, David Cotgrove, Jim Lloyd, Stew Burdis

The planned paddle for this date was from Kimmeridge to Lulworth and return. It became increasingly obvious in the days leading up to Saturday that it would be too windy and rough, as the remnants of tropical storm Lee battered the UK.
It has been a very windy year so rather than abandon paddling we went to the relative safety and shelter of Portland Harbour. The Harbour is well protected from the south and south westerly winds, as it shelters behind the Isle of Portland and Chesil Beach. Portland Harbour has been a strategic military location since the time of King Henry VIII in the 16th Century. Construction of the modern harbour began in 1849 when the Royal Navy created a breakwater to the south of the anchorage, made of blocks from local quarries on the Isle of Portland. This was completed in 1872 and provides protection from south-easterly winds.
Nine paddlers launched off Sandsfoot beach at 10.30am. The windspeed when we launched increased to 23 knots and it rained heavily. This didn’t stop Hugh enthusiastically doing a quick roll as we got underway. We headed into the wind towards the causeway and then as the squall went through, the wind eased a little and it stopped raining. The weather settled down as we reached the Mulberry section to a mean speed of 21 knots with gusts of up to 31 knots.
As we approached the South Ship Channel it was obviously quite rough outside with plenty of breaking waves. Once we had cleared the channel and the associated tidal flow the sea settled down again. However it was a bit of a slog into the wind as we headed up to Grove Point. The tide race off Grove Point was working well with wind over tide conditions. Large breaking waves were evident and most opted to stay close to shore and avoid the big stuff. We battled on towards Church Ope and although we had the tide going our way it wasn’t much fun battling into the wind so we turned tail and surfed down the waves back to Little Beach near Grove Point and stopped for lunch.
It was much easier going with the wind and waves behind as we made our way back to the South Ship Channel. There was much whooping and hollering (mainly Jon Massey) as waves were successfully caught and surfed. Once back in the harbour David was given an opportunity to demonstrate a rescue when Ian conveniently staged a capsize. (NOT a swim).
Although the water around Portland Harbour is familiar to most of us this was quite a worthwhile outing in conditions that we wouldn’t usually choose to paddle in. It gave the group good practice of paddling into a strong headwind. The rough water off Grove Point gave us relatively safe experience of wind against a couple of knots of tide. Most importantly, there were 2 types of cake at lunch time. The paddle home was good practice of a following sea.
In conclusion, we would have much preferred to be off the wonderful coast between Kimmeridge and Lulworth but in the conditions we had, it was good to be out. pictures in this report. Barbara forgot her camera...DOH!!!


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Report: Barbara Browning



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast