Wednesday, 21 March 2012

IOW Needles Paddle

Here's the data from my paddle round the Needles yesterday (21/03/2012), the trip was organised by Andy and we were also joined by Leonie (a freelance sea kayak coach). For now I'll just do a short write up. I will follow with a video at some stage, but I have 6 hours of footage to try and condense into 5 minutes of something remotely watchable. I'm not looking forward to it!

Unfortunately I don't have any normal photos as I left my other waterproof camera at home! But I'm hoping I can lift some from the HD videos.

Anyway, here's a trace of the journey taken from my GPS (yellow is way out, red back home):

Map overview (yellow, out / red, return)
Distance: 18.17 miles / 29.24km
Time: just over 5 hours on the water.
Top speed: 7.9mph,
Average speed:  3.7mph

We followed Plan A from the Solent post below pretty much, getting on the water at 12:45. The weather conditions were pretty calm with a westerly wind at 7mph (So top end of force 2). Swell was only at 1 foot every 3 seconds (also westerly).

We left Keyhaven watching out for larger boats and then got out into the Solent past Hurst Castle to paddle into the Force 2. Wind at that speed isn't difficult to paddle into anyway, but as we were with the tide (5mph ebb) it was hardly noticeable at all, giving us a nice gentle warm up.

Shortly after getting out past Hurst Castle we nipped quickly across the shipping lane then made straight for the needles. We reached them after about an hour and fifteen (GPS Speed plot below).

GPS speed - way out
We then headed east keeping close to the cliffs (Too close in Andy's case where a rock dislodged by a bird bounced off his rear hatch), did a spot of rock hopping (the gentle swell not posing too many risks) and then proceeded to Freshwater Bay on the south side of the IOW.

Southern cliffs (yellow, out / red, return)

A quick half an hour lunch and a (unsuccessful) look for a coach local to the IOW then back on the water for the return journey. This time we were paddling into wind and tide so it was sapping our speed down to 2mph for about and hour and fifteen minutes (visible at the beginning of the graph below - like running on a treadmill).

GPS speed - return journey.
The quick spike you see is where we nipped through some small overfalls through the Needles (increased speed tends to mean increased stability). Our speed then picks up further as we begin to benefit from the tide rather than fighting it.

Needles (yellow, out / red, return)

Unfortunately due to time constraints we had to miss out the Shingles, but there were still several areas of confused water on the way back towards Hurst Castle. I almost fell in right at the end but my video camera had ran out by that point, a shame as I had done one or two good braces before the water almost got the better of me!

We finally landed back in Keyhaven around half 6 against a stunning sunset. Packed up the boats with achy and tired muscles and then set off for home.

A great paddle. Despite the calm conditions using MAGs this trip still worked out as a grade 3-4 (out of a maximum of 6). The danger being added from cold water temperatures, no get outs on the south side and the way the tidal streams push you into shipping lanes were you too fall in on the north side.

Not aching at all today (other than some mild tenosynovitis in my left hand), a little surprising judging by how I felt yesterday, but I bet it's one of those sneaky aches that let you off the day after only to cripple you the next.

Video to follow... sometime!



  1. Can't wait to watch that video, what an adventure!