IOPCC Trip Report

Sandbanks to Ballard Point via Old Harry's Rocks.
Sunday 17th January 2010.

After the extremely cold, frosty, snowy, windy weather Dorset has had so far this year Sunday 17th January was a beautiful day. The Isle of Portland Canoe Club took advantage of the excellent weather forecast and 15 members met at Sandbanks, Poole. There was a blue sky, sunshine, a light breeze and a calm sea. It wasn’t warm but everyone had appropriate gear for January paddling. We could see our main objective Old Harry Rocks, 5km in the distance.

We set off from Sandbanks across the entrance of Poole harbour towards Studland Bay. There was very little traffic on the water and we were able to cross the main channel easily. In the summer this area can be very busy but on this occasion we had it to ourselves and crossed easily into Studland Bay which was beautiful and calm. As we paddled across we met three more Club Members who had launched at Knoll Beach. This made a total of 18 paddlers on the water – an IOPCC Club record.

From the calm of Studland Bay we could see the ominous white of breaking waves around Handfast Point – Old Harry’s Rocks. The stacks point out from Handfast Point towards the Needles on the Isle of Wight, 28km across Bournemouth Bay. ‘ Old Harry’ is an archaic name for Satan, and describes the stack at the seaward end. A tide race forms off the outer edge of the rocks and on this occasion with a big spring tide and residual swell it was working well! For most people this was good fun and everyone bounced round this spectacular Headland into the relative calm of the cliffs towards Ballard Point where we paddled inshore to be close to the spectacular chalk spires, pinnacles and caves that form off the white cliffs.

At Ballard Point we turned and paddled back through the stacks and pinnacles to Old Harry’s. The tide race had developed further and we had the combination of following waves and tide against us. For those who chose to give Old Harry a wide berth the tide was stronger and those paddlers who cut in close had large breaking waves. Too large for Hugh who capsized, failed to roll and swam. Ken skilfully reached him and carried out an efficient rescue so Hugh, clad in a dry suit, was unscathed and quickly back in his boat. The other 17 paddlers eventually battled their way against the tide back into the calm of Studland Bay and we then paddled across to Joe’s Café for a well-earned lunch break. Some keener Club members took advantage of the calm safe water and practiced their rolling skills before lunch. Most people decided to stay relatively dry.

After lunch we paddled inshore along Studland Beach and played in the small surf waves. This was very good fun. Cate got a bit carried away and capsized. She was quite close to the beach and was safely washed up. We dropped three people off at Knoll beach and made our way back to the training wall and the main channel out of Poole Harbour. The tide was running out of the Harbour very quickly and we had to work quite hard to get across the Channel. There were waves off the Sandbanks in the bay to add a bit of interest to the last kilometre before we all safely reached the beach at Sandbanks. All landed without incident apart from Clive who decided to swim the last 10 metres – smiling and swimming – now that’s a neat trick in January!


Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page.

John Miller passing one of the can buoys off Sandbanks Barbara 'posing' by one of the Sandbanks buoys.
John landing on Studland Beach. Craig in rough water off Old Harry's Rocks
Hilary at Old Harry's Rocks. Ian surfing at Studland
Clive W taking a swim whilst landing back at Sandbanks. Cate very pleased that Clive took a swim too!!
The Group at Studland
GPS trace of the paddle courtesy of Clive West.

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Report and pictures by: Barbara Browning



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