IOPCC Trip Report

Portland Bill West to East
Saturday 14th April 2012

Saturday 14th April was a scheduled trip around the Isle of Portland. I had been watching the weather all week and by Thursday I had 90% decided that it would be too windy. The wind was from the NE which would mean that wind over tide conditions on the East side of the Island would make the sea quite lumpy.

Late on Friday afternoon I gathered all the weather information together and decided that we would go ahead with the scheduled trip. By this time we knew we had at least 14 paddlers so I enlisted the capable hands of Jon Massey to lead one of the groups.

Saturday morning was bright and sunny with light winds. It wasn’t until crossing the causeway that there was any indication that it would be windy. There were white caps on Portland Harbour.

We actually had 16 paddlers most of whom were experienced and capable and the less experienced were split between the 2 groups so if there were any problems they should be swiftly sorted out.

Jon set off with his group 10 minutes ahead and the 2 groups did not meet on the water. Once we rounded Portland Bill and were into a brisk NE wind it was consistently rough all the way down to Grove Point. The second group did benefit from the assistance of the other group in landing when we got to Church Ope for lunch.

This was a very successful outing for the Club. We had 5 new members who hadn’t paddled with us before and 3 guests - with 14 BCU sea kayaking stars between them!

Barbara Hackworthy (Chairman)


The morning was definitely a bit colder and more blowy than the previous days, planning organising and coordinating had already gone in place to make this possible.

I was due to do my part in leading 7 men around Portland in a force 4. We were a group of 16 split into two groups with Barbara leading the other group, and calling us good to go on Friday night. I had also been studying weather and tide and to be honest a slightly unsettled night of ppt (pre paddle tension!), thinking it's going to be lumpy round the East side. Checking the weather in the morning again only confirmed my thoughts. We grouped up on Chesil beach which was looking deceivingly calm. After Barbara had given the main briefing my group set off first.

The day before had been a big guinea pig session at the WOEC and after hearing of the paddle we had 3 guests Gary, Clive and Pete and members me Jon, Stew, Dan, Lee and Jeff all had experience but I being local probably knew Portland more than most.

I informed everybody that my only slight concern was it's going to be a lot windier and choppy round the other side and especially as we rounded the Bill we would feel the gusts funnelling down and over the tide.

The banter flowed, as we neared Pulpit Rock I observed the others rock hopping but was saving myself for the main event, through Pulpit Rock a last shout to gather the troops keep it tight, and there it was lumps ! loads of them!!! My concern about the guests ability were alleviated at this point as Clive slid up alongside me with a smile and beckoned "this is more like it eh"!

I saw club member Toby on the cliff near the light house I shouted over "where's  your camera" but communication was muffled in the wind I don't think he heard me!

I led on thinking if everyone followed my line we would be alright. We all powered through the lumpy stuff just big enough to hide behind at times, we kept a close group and ploughed on through to Church Ope cove where we all landed safely, Lee went for the cooling off landing wet style. I borrowed a vhf and checked in on the other group who were all fine and we were ready to assist with landings. I soon spotted Barbara's group with my monocular coming round the nearest headland we converged as one briefly, shared a biscuit and admired Dan's flattering cape!

The wind was due to ease apparently after 13:00 I stared at the sea during lunch and convinced myself that was so. Lee went for the cooling off launch wet style! but after a little pump out and a little tug away from the rocks we pottered back having fun with a slightly less exciting sea through the Hood entrance keeping clear of the occasional boat heading our way to land safely at Portland Castle, where some of the group had a quick swap and try of each others boats until we soon saw Barbara s group returning safely. Was a good day 10:30ish on the water off and ready to go about 14:30
Cheers to all that helped make it happen .

Jon Massey

Stew after a seal launch Rob emulating a seal
Michael Jane loving the rocks
At the Bill Lunch at Church Ope
The IOPCC fashionistas Jon and Dan
Ninja LeeT Portland Castle

Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page


Group 2

Having started paddling with my husband Michael last July and kept going through the winter with various river and some sea trips, I still feel very much a novice, a somewhat timid two star as I confessed to Barbara before we set off. However having been talked into the trip by Michael and with the weather looking reasonable, I had only a few misgivings when we set off from Chesil Cove in very promising conditions – very little wind and no perceivable swell.

The trip up the West side, was uneventful and gave every opportunity for admiring the scenery and the sea birds (guillemots?) perched up high and flying down over the water in front of us.

The first obstacle was Pulpit Rock, which as Barbara said was optional I chickened out of and paddled round the side, watching most of the others make their way through. It looked wider from the other side!

Things then began to get a bit more lively as the swell increased and fellow kayakers began disappearing between the troughs and peaks. However with shouted encouragement from behind to keep paddling, and put some power into it I continued on further into the melee and surprisingly keeping upright and concentrating hard, began to enjoy the experience. I have to say that at this point all thoughts of enjoying the scenery had disappeared and I cannot even remember noticing the famous lighthouse.

Lunch was a welcome stop and the help landing the boat and having it carried up the beach by two willing helpers was much appreciated.

Being told that the seas we had been through were considered to be quite challenging gave a considerable boost to my confidence and therefore although there was still a bit of rough water to cover before reaching the harbour I set off feeling ready to meet the challenge.

Again all was safely crossed and we reached the get out by Portland Castle I can say that having started out as a timid two star, I can now upgrade that to “cautiously optimistic”.

Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement and help with the boats. I hope to be able to participate in future paddles. At least you know what to expect from both Michael and me now.!

Sarah Axler

Back to the Trip Report Index

Reports: John Massey, Sarah Axler
Pics: Barbara Hackworthy, Rob Matthews



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