IOPCC Trip Report

Portland Bill
Sunday 20th November 2011


Paddlers: Jim Lloyd, Jon Massey, Ian Hackworthy, Barbara Browning, Jill Franks, Tony Sandry, David Cotgrove, Toby Willcocks, Kim Foster, Clive Joyner, Cate Bargh, John Christmas.

All week we had been checking the weather to see if this committing paddle could go ahead, and the closer Sunday came, the better it looked. The strong winds of the preceding week settled down giving us F3-4 winds and importantly they would be from the SE, meaning that our planned launch from Chesil Cove was likely to be OK. Considering that it was late November the turnout of 12 paddlers was excellent.

Once the 12 person faff was over we all decided to seal launch down the rounded pebbles. To the gut wrenching sound of scoured gel coat we all launched successfully to the amazement of the bemused divers watching. The paddle up the west side of Portland should have been a pleasant, carefree and simple matter. But, we had Cate with us. Within 300 metres Cate had taken her rock hopping past the enjoyable ‘isn’t this fun’ stage, past the critical ‘this is a bit scary’ stage and all the way to the desperate ‘crash-bang upside down on the rocks’ stage. Jon M and I sniggered our way to her rescue. We were trying to get Cate back in her boat very tight to the rocky shore so decided to try and pull her and her now rather battered Romany into deeper water. I made a bit of a hash of that and Jon ended up in the water too. However Cate was soon reinserted in her boat none the worse for wear and paddled out to the waiting group whilst Jim and I sorted Jon out. As I said…all within the first 300 metres!

So, giving the rocks a very wide berth, we all set off again and paddled our way towards the Bill. At this stage the sea although not quite smooth was pretty easy going with just some swells moving through.

We soon came to the recognisable shape of Pulpit Rock and turned the corner to paddle down to the Bill itself. As we turned the corner the sea changed to a tricky confused chop. The further we progressed around the Bill and towards the eastern side of the island the bigger and choppier the sea became.

New member Kim in a borrowed Dagger Charleston, on her first club paddle, looked annoyingly competent and relaxed despite what really were quite testing conditions. Don’t you just hate it when beginners look relaxed when you, with all your flash gear, are struggling to stay upright? I did consider going over and knocking her in.

The trip timing meant that it was now time for a lunch stop so we headed towards Church Ope, the usual stopping place on a Bill trip. However when we got there it was apparent that landing there would be another gel coat trial. Equally when we reached Little Beach a few hundred metres further on, the surf meant that we would have to look elsewhere. Finally John C spotted a small rocky beach which faced SW, meaning that we were able to land without drama. Lunch was consumed, bladders were eased and tales were told. Thanks to Barbara for the unattractive but delicious biscuits.

On the Eastern side of the island the chop was much smaller and the Grove Point race was snoozing so after lunch it was just a matter of paddling our way across to the Portland Harbour entrance and bimble our way to our take out at Portland Castle.

A splendid trip.


Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page.

Jim seal launching at
Chesil Cove
Tobes & Kim
Cate needs a hand The western side of Portland
Approaching the Bill Pulpit Rock looms
David at Pulpit Rock Portland lighthouse
Cate disappearing in
the chop
Big lumps of water
Church Ope Cove Portland South Ship Channel
Between the Mulberries Portland Castle
Lunch time stop


Back to the Trip Report Index

Report: Ian Hackworthy
Pictures: Barbara Browning



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast