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Land's End, the Lizard and a sea kayak

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    Land's End, the Lizard and a sea kayak

    Land's End and the Lizard April 2011

    I turned the key in my Romahome thinking what shall I do and where shall I go I said bye bye to my mother and pulled away from the driveway.

    On the roof of the camper I had my kayak and inside sufficient clothing for 6 days.

    After 45 mins I found myself heading west on the A38 or Devon Expressway as some would call it. As I was aproaching Plymouth I thought is it worth going there but I've been there many times before so carried on to Cornwall. 2 1/2 hours later I found myself at the south west end of Sennon Cove car park very near to Land's End.

    My Romahome stood still overlooking the large swell breaking over submerged rocks, the water was white with foam and I could taste the salt in the air. I'm not really that familier with these waters and I know there are tidal races that start at Land's End about a mile to the west. The time now was 3:30 pm and I was thinking about going to the Scillies the next day.

    Just behind the Romahome there was a group of people, one in fancy dress as a fisherman. I walked over and said "excuse me ere"
    I always address strangers as excuse me ere, it's polite I think? "Do you have any local knowledge of these waters?" I said to the fella in fisherman's gear. Well it seams I spoke to the right fella cos he was a real fisherman and also the navigator for the Sennon Cove Lifeboat. I explained my intention was to paddle 29 miles to the Scillies, do about 10 miles about the islands and then come back a few days later. I said I can roll if capsized, re-enter and roll if I go in the water, I had a VHF, Mobile, neoprene top, spare paddle, bouyancy aid and a waterproof copy of A matter of life and Death in case I had to wait for the lifeboat.

    His advice was to "stay well clear of the tide race on the flood that splits due west of Land's End, one heading north ish, the other heading north west up the Bristol Channel. Keep clear of the Longships Lighthouse and the rocks". "Please pop in and let one of us know your plans in detail when you go so that we'll know roughly where to find you"

    I off loaded the kayak from the Romahome and carried it on my shoulder down the very steep concrete slipway onto the sandy beach at the bottom. A harbour wall to my left sheletered me from the destructive force of the waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean just round the corner. It wasn't a windy day, by my standards, it's just that when a wave has about 2000 miles to grow in size they can get big with nothing to hit till they get to our shores.

    After collecting my various items I made the decision that I would do a "test paddle" to Land's End, out to the Longships Light about 2 miles offshore and then have a scrap with these tidal races I was warned about then come back to Sennon Cove and find a site for the night nearby. I switched on my fully charged VHF radio only to find no life in it at all. The screen was steamed up inside and there was no way I could chance a trip to the Scilies, in a way it was a relief cos I felt a little uneasy about the trip but compelled to go due to my inner quest for excitement, danger and adventure.

    I started paddling at 4pm. My first few strokes were slow and cautious knowing that at some point I had to break through a surf break and there was no one else on the water. I passed the harbour wall and to my left the Atlantic Ocean was growling at me waiting to pounce as soon as I got to the surf break and the rocks below it. In front of me I watched the waves breaking and turning the water white and airated. I paddled forwards knowing that if a wave was too vertical and likely to backflip me then I would roll over just before it hits me and the drag of my sumerged upper body would see me across the top of the wave and I'd roll back up again and paddle like hell away to the other side.

    Crash, crash and 4 more times they came in, one after the other. The next set were of lesser size and after the 3rd breaker I sprinted to the break as hard as I could. As the oncoming wave broke over my bow I was hit in the face and pushed violently backwards. You "Fu--ing C--nt" I screamed at the froth, spray and water filled air. I carried on for about 20 seconds flat out and into calmer water with smaller 5 foot waves but from different directions. The rough and rocky sea bed turns the coast into a nasty place to be when the tide flows close to the shore. I kept my thighs pushed under the braces of my cockpit, this gives me greater control of the kayak and helps my balance considerably.

    I cleared some nasty waters in 10 minutes of moderate paddling and could take a moment to look to my left and towards the shore. I'm now just a couple hundred yards from the most westerly point and beyond there the Scillies, death or America 2500 miles further on.
    I could see the wreck of a ship, the stern section mainly, covered in rust. I thought to myself how much I could get scrap value, maybe £20,000 but then it would cost me £30,000 in salvage expenses so that's why it's still there.

    Land's End is now 100 yards to my side but ahead of me I see a worrying sight I was warned about by the fisherman. I knew what it was and didn't really want to go there. One hundred yards ahead was the tide race running against a mild northerly wind. The waves were steep but no higher that 5 - 6 feet. The good news was that they were consistant and reguler. I paddled a little harder pushing my right foot down on my rudder pedal, my bow tuning into the wind but the kayak sideways onto the waves.

    When paddling a fairly narrow sea going kayak your balance comes from using the paddle with forward momentum to brace on the surface of the water, a bit like a water skier but much slower. These are called "low braces" but it's also possible to rotate the blade forwards or backwards during a stroke to pull the kayak over or to push the kayak up making low braces less necessary. My rudder keeps me going in the direction I want to go.

    As I entered the race I started going up and down, some waves breaking on my side but I was loving it. Ahead of me was the Longships Light and the treacherous rocks around it. I could see breaking waves of 10 feet high crashing over the rocks. I thought that the best thing would be to go towards the rocks but keep clear of the breakers. Five minutes through the race and the water calmed a little, enough for me to look back to the white washed complex of buildings just under a mile behind me. I wanted to take a photo with my phone camera but it was still a bit too choppy to let go of the paddle so I carried on towards the light.

    Just a couple of minutes later I was confronted with the next race, this one going more northerly and directly into the wind. I had to commit myself and against all earlier advice. If I turned back now then I'd regret it later, I might regret it anyway if I continued. I wasn't too disturbed about the constant walls of water coming at me from the right, it was the spray coming off the wave tops that were a pain. Salt water getting in my eyes and dripping down my neck. Dripping down my neck "****" I thought to myself, " I haven't sealed the collar of my paddling top, even my cuffs wee undone. I managed the neck seals first with one hand whilst low bracing my paddle on the water surface then my cuffs were sealed and I was now ready for submersion in case I missed a stroke or was hit by a freak wave.

    I got through the second race and approached the rocks of the lighthouse 2 miles from shore. It was still too rough to stop paddling and take a photo. I also thought I should turn back becuase someone looking out to sea may just call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Before that I looked at the light and took in all that I saw. There it was standing about 100 ish feet high and a helicopter landing platform on top. Waves were breaking around its base and I was just 200 feet from it in a 17 ft kayak. The occasional helicopter and plane heading west to the Scillies would pass overhead reaching the Scillies in 15 minutes that I think would take me 5 1'2 hours.


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    I paddled away from the Lighthouse thinking if this was the closest I'll ever get to the Scillies. What is likely to happen in the future that can change the course of my life and send me elsewhere. Portland was on the agenda and possibly the Isle of Man from Burrow Head in Scotland. When I was a fisherman in the 80s and early 90s our trawler would sometimes go into Douglas on the Isle of Man. I had memories and a desire to return there one day,. I also wanted to take the Romahome through Europe with the kayak on top. I have sufficient money from my father's will to keep me going for months. I want a speedboat too, a new 1400cc motorcycle, I want to walk naked into a French supermarket and buy a bottle of vin blanc and a french stick. I want a flying inflatable boat, a fast car, big house with a jacuzzi and 20 year old house maid with blonde hair firm boobs and long legs.

    In a sea kayak with few distractions my mind wonders, I'm closer to dying every day I wake up and the half way point of my life has gone. If I'm showing the first signs of paranoia then I like it, it makes me do things that I remember.

    Crash " Fu--king C--t" I screamed as I was hit on the side of my head by a breaker waking me from my lovely daydream. The waves were steeped a little too much for my liking but I carried on and through the first race closer to shore.

    I could see people on the headland of Land's End, a commercial enterprise first and a land mark second. You have to pay for the car park there too. When Sylvia and I went there in the Romahome we deprived them of out our tea money and made our own inside. Two sugars for me please and two for Sylvy.

    I headed south for 300yards then turned north north west and back towards Sennon Cove this time passing the shipwreck a little closer on my right. Waves crashing to my side onto a closer shore than my outbound trip.

    I paddled with caution towards the shore break and surfed one wave for about 150 feet and away from danger. As I turned right to go inside the harbour wall I looked back one final time from the kayak and wondered if I'd ever be here again having so much fun, fear, excitement and those daydreams.

    Once back to my little diesel home I took a few pics of the lifeboat practising their Thursday evening manouvres.

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    It's good to know there's someone to come to my aid after I drown. I walked over to the fisherman still working on his boat and wondered why he wasn't on the lifeboat. I told him I'd done everything he said don't do. I told him about the two tidal races and the fun and anger they bought to me. I'm not an angry fella but it helps power me through and out of dodgy seas.

    I spent my first night at a camp site above Sennon Cove on a working farm. My first thing to do was put the kettle on and have a few cuppas. I cooked something else I bought from Lidls, chicken korma curry and tuna. The showers washed away the salt from my skin and made me feal refreshed. A lone lady camper in a Bongo came over and asked where I'd been. This gave me an excuse to remember and re-tell my story.

    As the night came down I stood outside my Romahome and looked to the west at the flashing white light of the Longships Lighthouse. I though maybe in the morning I could drive into Newlyn and buy another VHF radio and go for the Scillies. I lay down in my bed and drifted off into a deep sleep keeping my faithful Castrol GTX bottle to my side, just in case.
    Last edited by RRH; 22-04-2011, 21:53. Reason: add pic of sennon lifeboat OK!


      Bring it on!

      This is brilliant and vivid stuff, please keep writing and uploading the photos... I've been at work all day in Southall, West London and got home to Brighton shortly before sunset.
      What I've just read is an antidote to all of that, please keep it up!...
      Best wishes (and safe voyages)


        There's more to come and pics from my phone cam.


          Fantastic writing, Nigel. I could feel the wind and spray myself.

          I wonder where you've headed off to, today. I hope you have fun and let us share your journey later. Fingers crossed the weather stays fine and sunny and that you're able to replace your VHF radio. Perhaps you're already heading out towards the ScilliesLooking forward to any further journies you choose to share with us.



            Yes - please keep sharing your adventures!


              Next day

              I awoke from a restless night, it was very deep for the first few hours but a poorly synchronised cockeral decided to target me. Maybe the cows were agitated by it too becuase they were mooing and just a few feet from my Romahome. The time now was 07:30 and Saturday 2nd April. I must have drank more than I needed as my GTX bottle was heavier.

              After my breakfast I had to be sure of my plan for today, would I go to the Scillies? in which case I need to buy another VHF or shall I go to St Michaels Mount and the Castle Sylvia and I tried to see but found it closed.

              I reset the bed into seats, raised the rear legs and started my trusty diesel engine. I drove slowly out of the site £6.50 less in my pocket and sped up along the A30 heading east to Newlyn.

              It wasn't long before I turned right and found myself in the small fishing community I had been to many times before as a fisherman. I was familiar with the place and its 10 years behind the rest of the country image that I always perceive of it.

              I parked the camper and asked some locals were I could buy a hand held VHF. Four fishermen type fellas gave me directions to a couple of retailers but they were all more expensive than I wanted to pay. I had to ask myself if my life was worth £126 + VAT and I decided after thinking for a few minutes it was but the radio wasn't. Another store I walked into had no one in the shop at all and I called out and whistled but it remained empty of any sales staff. On my right 2 shelves up was a box, the wording on the side was ICOM HH VHF. It was a VHF and waterproof, I was on my own and as far as I could see there were no CCTV cameras anywhere. There were many other electrical devices, mini radars, plotters, GPS s and a half eaten bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk.

              I consider myself to be fairly honest but my heart beat increased knowing I could have something for nothing, on one would know and I would have saved money. However, I also felt guilty that I even thought like this. My decision was that I could not disgrace myself by eating a chunk of the chocolate bar.

              "Excuse me ere" I shouted politely through a door. "hello" came a reply " I just emptied your shop" I said as fella came from the back store room. At my request he showed me the Icom hand held VHF but he wanted £176+VAT. I said my own cobra 125VHF had stopped working and I would return that to the shop it came from a month ago.

              As I walked away from the shop my mind wandered back to the days when I was a fisherman. When we came into Newlyn it would be to land a large catch of Megrims, no other reason. After tidying up the 30 metre beam trawler I was enginner on the crew would go to the pub but I would go to a gym and sauna. I remembered myself meeting a lady called Elizabeth Stevenson in the sauna. Her family were major business and property owners in Newlyn but I didn't care about that my concern was getting the right glimpse of her pale skin in her one size too small swimsuit. Her size 10 figure and a size 8 swimsuit gave her my full attention. I can't remember what we were talking about but we seamed to get on. In those days I was in my 20s, tall, lean and a bodybuilder even taking my weight to sea. Elizabeth lay down on the sauna top seat but I was overheating too much to do anything about it? Those were the days I thought and one of many that bring pleasant memories.

              I walked along the harbour wall looking at some of the fishing boats moored along side. Some were old wooden boats owned by Stevenson, others were just moored up to be repaired. Across the other side of the harbuor I saw a Brixham beam trawler my brother wasted 18 years of his life on. BM 2000 was the reg number but renamed from Lady T Emiel or something else I can't remember. Something cought my eye to my left that I was familier with. A Citroen C15 d on a 04 reg, I looked around it and on one else was nearby. "Now what do I need" I thought but I turned back and headed towards the car park and my own C15. I needed to get going and Marazion would be my next stop and nothing else, no distractions.

              Within a few minutes I saw something else that cought my attention, initialy through my nose. A bakery with genuine synthetic cream donuts, I went in, 50p later I came out. As I walked to the car park I had some odd looks from a few people. I thought it was my broad shoulders and my Elvis style haircut and then forgot about it.

              Marazion was just a 15 minute drive away along the sunsoaked stretch of coast road. I parked the camper for an all day £3 in the seafront car park. The kayak was taken down from the roof and carried to the shoreline. Ahead of me was St Michael's Mount cut off by the tide but accessible by boat. The amazing castle at the top and wonderful gardens all around.

              The plan for today.

              Launch kayak, paddle round St Michaels Mount, land there see everything, paddle 13 1/2 miles to Land's End and back then do some wild camping for the night.

              I took my first few strokes and in no rush to get anywhere. Just ahead were a few rocks I went as close as possible. Turning east I paddled in front of the harbour entrance and towards the submerged causeway ahead of me. The tide was going out and I wondered if I was going to ground going over it. The causeway is the road going to the island but it's under water half the day as it was now.

              Bang, bang, bang my stainless rudder hit the causeway slicing anything living with its razor sharp edge. I was paddling clockwise around the island rather slowly, perhaps 3 miles per hour or 2 1/2 knots. I looked to the right and up to the castle. The gardens were of pristine condition as if they'd been managed 24hrs a day. The castle over looked everything and me, "Oh I could live there" I thought. I felt like I was in northern Italy or Hampton Court Palace Gardens that had I kayaked to when I went to Chertsey
              for a few days. There were trees, plants, flowers that I normally miss but not today.

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              To be continued after I get back from the beach


                You really should save all these pages & send them to a publisher, they are great. Cant wait for the next installment.


                  I'm at the local swingers club now so will add on sunday morning, not really!
                  Last edited by RRH; 24-04-2011, 11:00. Reason: to be honest



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                    I finished my tour of St Michael's Mount and returned to the kayak via the cafe. The tide was further out so I carried it 50 feet to the waterline. Once I was in the kayak I checked I was OK for bottles of Lucozade and a few small items of food. I was without a VHF but I had a phone in case there was a problem. I pulled away from the beach and paddled past the harbour wall turning left towards Penzance and then heading across Mounts Bay toward Mousehole. I paddled fairly hard gooing at about 5.5 mph and never loked back till about a miles across the bay. The castle behind looking so majestic and dominant and the sun shining down. My heading was Mousehole and my compass bearing SSW. The tide was with me and I had no certain idea as to how far I'd go, I was just having a nice day.

                    Mounts Bay is about 3 1/2 miles across and it took me thirty five minutes to get to a point just outside Mousehole Harbour. Around me there were small fishing boats and a couple of pleasure boat, about 5-6 in all. I kept paddling towards some rocks outside the harbour and thought I'd take a detour through the middle. The rocks looked as though there had been some kind of building work on them, maybe for fireworks display or a celebration of some kind. Nothing large just some blockwork and ironwork on show but it must be there for a reason. I continued paddling fairly brisky and taking the odd sip of my Lidls multipack Lucozade.

                    When I was in the castle of St Michaels Mount I had picked up a brochure of the local area with adverts for this attraction and advrts for that attraction. It also had a cartoonied map of west Cornwall and names of variuos towns and villages. This was useful to know that the few buildings set in a valley just ahead must me Lamorna, a litle earlier than I expected but it was on the map.

                    Two hours after I left St Michaels Mount I was now at a spot below an open air theatre. Stonework built onto the rock face and a seating area too. There was small shed size buildings and a little rail track coming down from the cliff top I assume was to bring down the props and various items they needed for a play. I stopped paddling and took a photo on my phonecam and then contiued paddling.

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                    I passed St Leven fairly quick and ahead I could see a headland, this was Gwennap Head. The water was slightly choppy here and I realised the tide was starting to change and coming against me. I could see from the fisherman's orange marker floats that they were being pushed by the currant towards the east.

                    My Lucozade supplies took another assault by my thirsty mouth and I was down to just one small 500ml bottle. In the back of my head I wanted to go within sight of the Land's End buildings and then turn back to Marazion 13 miles behind me and my saviour in the form of my Romahome. Do I continue or do I and risk dehydration on the return leg? I paddled on to Land's End and the wind slightly increasing to about 10 mph. I was sweating and breathing quickly and feeling a bit thirsty within a few minutes but I left the last bottle. The odd small wavelet would break over my side as I turned north passing Porthcurno and the Atlantic on my left. About 2 miles or less ahead was a large whitewashed building on the headland. There were people walking along the coast path and I thought "that will do me"
                    I took a few pictures

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                    and then continued paddling pressing my left rudder pedal forwards. The Ecobezhig kayak turned into the wind first west the south west and eventually south east. As I passed Gwennap Head, now on my left my thoughts were to just get back to the campervan waiting at Marazion. I was thirsty and with the breeze behind me I was now heating up even more than when paddling into it.

                    The Minack Theatre I passed by after 30 minutes and I only slowed for a moment when passing a nudy beach so I could sip some Lucozade. Cribba head I passed fairly quick and I was now being aided by the currant and occasionally I could surf a few waves and stop paddling without loosing speed for a few precious seconds. I took another sip of Lucozade but then it felt so good I just drank the lot down and would worry about the consequences later, or sooner rather than later as politiciens always say.


                      Lamorna went past and Mousehole was ahead but I was in trouble through dehydration. My butt was killing me too as it often does in a kayak after hours of sitting. Ahead of me and 1hr 45mins of my return trip I saw those small fishing boats. "They must have water on board" I thought, I could ask perhaps? I past the first one then the second two or three more ahead I past too. I could have gone into Mousehole and bought something to drink there but I didn't. My Romahome was now 3 1/2 miles ahead waiting for me with its supply of Diet Coke, Lucozade, chocolate and water to wash the salt from my face. Oh yes the salt on my face, and my arms too. When out on the sea in a kayak it's not the sea salt that dries onto you it's the salt from the perpiration that stays while the water just evaporates.

                      I carried on regardless of butt pain and heavy thirst across Mounts Bay in a North North East direction. I could see St Michael's Mount and the castle on top and I would look a little further on to the left to try see my camper but It was too small. I was halfway across the bay by 5:40 pm, the sun now to my left and the wind had dropped. The tidal currant was non-existant and I had just a mile or so to go. I was seeing thing that I wanted to see and some things I didn't want to see. My face would grimace at the effort I was putting into each stroke knowing that if I did ease off my adrenaline would do the same and I would be left more fatigued and in pain than ever.

                      To my left a helicopter came in from the west and landed at the Penzance Heliport. It's so noisy I thought and carbon possitive. I'm not too sure if I was carbon neutral or possitive. All this heavy breathing pushes out carbon after the oxygen has been through my lungs, the lucozade cost carbon to make and as a consumer I had bought it, drank it, digestid it and all that take energy and make more carbon. I was going off my head, I thought. I splashed some sea water onto my face for the last time as I approached the beach at Marazion and my Romahome now visible.

                      When I landed on te beach I released my spraydeck and jumped out then fell down again onto the sand. I looked around as I got up making sure no one saw me fall. "It's OK" just a small whale being walked by her dog, or something.

                      I grabbed the kayak and carried it to the top of the slipway at the beach head. There was just 50 yards to my camper but I had to put my 27kg boat down and just walk the last bit to my Romahome rear door. I was panting, in pain and very dehydrated. Salt burned my face and eyes as I unlocked the door.
                      I put my mouth around the small plastic tap over my sink and just switched it on. I breathed through my nose for thirty seconds or more at this one free pleasure.

                      I stripped off all my clothing, inside that is, and returned to the kayak. I could not relax yet as I'd never get the kayak up onto the roof carrier if my adrenaline and sense of urgency stopped. Up it went and I used my small aluminium step ladder to strap it down. I sat in the drivers seat and started my engine, I had now been ashore for about 6 - 7 minutes. I decided I would drive to the car park in Marazion and just park there for the night overlooking the sea and St Michael's Mount.

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                      It should be OK and I doubt anyone would notice a 17 1/2 ft long bright red sea kayak on the roof let alone thinking I would be inside sleeping. I made a few cuppas and cooked Tuna fried noodles and mixed veg. Tomorrow I'll do the most southerly point of the British Isles, The Lizard just 15 mile east of me now.


                        Awaiting this evening's instalment when you return from your day's paddling.

                        It's good to see how the kayak fits onto your van roof (something we've been looking into to transport 3 smaller kayaks on a Kangoo). Would be good to also see a pic of you paddling too...

                        Have a good day - and take plenty fluids this time!!


                          :so happy:



                            That evening I stayed near the camper just watching anything worthy of my gaze. There were people still suning themselves on the beach others just walking and chatting amongst each other. At the edge of the sea wall a couple were setting up a camera to catch a picture perfect moment of St Michael's Mount.

                            My Tuna fried noodles and mixed veg were being processed in my belly and the rumblings of my indigestion echoed across Mount's May. In the Romahome I had set the bed up for the night and I would sleep with my body tilting up. This way I could be sure my gastronomic creation of Frankenstein science would go only down hill to the depths of my metabolic processor, stomach to eveyone else. I read some of my other book, the Small Boat owner's Guide so I could understand certain things about tidal flows that Id forgotten as a fisherman. After a while and a non-stop clock I started to drift off into a half sleep half aware of the outside noise. The time was 8 ish but really too early for sleeping plus I was in too much pain for lying on my back. I got up and opened the rear door to a darkness and newly parked cars.

                            I walked around for some time and then I sat at the sea wall overlooking the water and a newly flooding tide. To my right there were some people walking along and further out in the water I could see a couple of Swans paddling in my direction. I could see they were dipping their heads below the water's surface probably looking for some food. I had an idea, I went back to the camper and picked out several slices of brown bread and went back to the sea wall. One, two, three I span the bread slices frisbee style out to the swans. They came in closer and ate the bread, I went back to the camper again and grabbed the suacepan with the remains of my creation. That too I chucked out to them. They came in close and pecked at the Tuna fried noodles and mixed veg then turned quickly and paddled away rather quickly. I wasn't sure what had happened to them and why they turned away so quickly, couldn't have been my culinary experimentation surely.

                            Thirty minutes later around 8:30 ish I returned to the C15 Romahome and retired for the night. My GTX bottle in place and a box of Rennies.


                              Sunday morning 7am or was it 7:30

                              I woke early knowing I had to move from my parking spot. If the attendant arrived he'd want to charge me £5 for my overnight stay, plus it's illegal to wild camp in England and Wales. In fact it's a very serious crime according to those robots called plod and the idiots that make the law in the first place.

                              I started the engine and drove a short distance along the sea front towards Penzance. It was about 1 mile from where I'd started that I then stopped again with the intention of having a cuppa and some cereals for breakfast. There were other motorhomes along the same stretch of road that had been there over night. This place was quieter but was along the main road into Marazion and the traffic going by. I parked with my left window as close as possible to a sea wall and then I could open the window fully to see out over the beach and on to the Mount. As I ate my cereal I took a look at the bus sized camper behind me. I would like one myself but where would I park it and do I want to spend so much on diesel? I took a picture then the owner came along and chatted for a while on the benefits of a large motorhome, parking difficulties and what better to do with £30,000.

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                              I stayed for 45 mins and then stuck my satnav onto the screen and typed in Church Cove, Lizard on the recommendation of the motorhome driver. I just needed a launching spot for a quick paddle around the Lizard and back.

                              Twenty minutes later I was driving past RNAS Culdrose at Helston. Coming towards me from the opposite way was a C15 Romahome, I waved but not sure if the lady driver waved back. It wasn't too long when I got to the bottom of a steep lane and stopped at Church Cove. I was concerned that my kayak was too long to launch from the 45 degree concrete slipway. I knew something was wrong when I saw the name of the house at the top of the slip, The Winch House. I could not launch here it was too steep and the seas were rough due to an increasing swell and wind. If I had got into the Ecobezhig at the bottom of the slip I would not have been able to fasten the spraydeck that covers the cockpit in time before I hit the water. We would have shot down and the bow gone straight under with the stern up the slip and me in fresh air in between. I turned back and applied plan B. Twenty minutes north of Church Cove is Kennack Sands. A sandy 1/4 mile stretch of coast with a carpark, and a few kiosks at the bottom. I paid the small fee to park and off loaded the kayak then carried it to the beach. The wind had picked up even more and the seas were a bit disturbed with no real directions to the waves. This is becuase if the waves come in from the sea and hit a hard rocky surface then they just bounce out and go back out from whence they came. These type of waves are called "clapotis" or something and make conditions tricky when paddling a narrow kayak like mine.

                              I was ready to start paddling, kitted up for rough water paddling, kiosk lady informed of my trip and time of return and my spare paddle on my foredeck. The surf was fast and steep but not too big so I pushed myself forwards so the kayak was bouyant and then I paddled hard to get through the surf. A wave broke over my bow and came up over my foredeck within a hundred feet I turned south and paddled briskly to the headland ahead of me a mile or so away. Two miles later I saw a new lifeboat station being built and a steep concrete slip descending into the sea below. There were people above the station doing things and apart from that I kept going quickly and on to the Lizard.

                              Four miles from my start I could see the Lizard Light, I also saw the state of the seas around it too. Tide against wind and headlands stirring things up even more. I had to keep going and prepered myself for trouble by chucking water over me and reducing the possible shock I may get if I get knocked over or make a stroke into fresh air with my weight behind the paddle. The seas were agitated and waves up to 6 feet high made it a struggle but I always keep on top of my worries my getting agressive knowing the quicker I go the greater the stability and control I get. My thighs were now pushed under the thigh braces and I could use the rudder for direction. Smash, smash they hit me from my left as the easterly wind did it's best to couse trouble. After clearing Bass point the water settled and the Lizard was 300yards ahead. There were walkers lined up on the shore either looking at a lone kayaker in rough water or at something else pointed put by their guide. I made it past the Lizard and as I'd turned more west I could surf some waves giving me a few precious seconds rest from paddling.

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                              There was a settled patch of water where I was able to take a pic on my phonecam of the Lizard and the building at the top. I continued paddling west then did a full clockwise turn towards the rocks and then back in an easterly direction to Bass point again. Now I had the wind against me and the waves. Below the lighthouse of Bass point there was a man standing and in a uniform looking down on me through some binoculars. I did not wave in case he mistook the signal for something of a distress call. My mind wondered as it bought back memories of the time I swam through the tidal race at Start Point in south Devon in 2003. That day there were people looking down at a lone swimmer fighting through the fierce waves. I saw them wave but I never waved back in case they too called the CoastGuards.

                              Anyway I continued on my way passing Basspoint and coming close to the headland I had to get around. I had plenty of fluids to drink but I was loosing fluid too from my efforts. I could feel the salt drying on my face just like the day before I had one more bay to cross and then I'd be within a mile of Kennack sands from where I'd started. Twenty minutes after passing the new Lizard Lifeboat station I came a little closer to the shore and a beach to my left. I could see some ladies on the beach and my intention was to just pass and wave to them. Things did not go to plan as I thought they might. I knew I was just outside the surf break but felt OK until "bang" Iv'e gone over.

                              I am now upside down after being hit on the side of my head and stunned for a second. I failed to brace in time cos my stroke had been on the same side of the kayak as the wave and out of the water, plus I was distracted by the ladies on the beach. "yes it's their fault!" I thought as I held my breathe. From my upside down position I had to prepare myself for a left handed eskimo roll. I could feel the boat and me going up and down, up and down. The next time I go down I would perform one strong "sweep stroke" and flip the kayak up with my left thigh. So down we went between waves and "pow" I rolled up. "******* thing" I shouted to myself, I knew I should never have gone over in the first place. I was now closer into the beach with the surf breaking on my right side. The next wave hit me and I was ready this time. I dug my right paddle blade into the wave and surfed sideways for about 20 ish feet. When that wave cleared I was now in white frothy water so I had to paddle as hard as possible with my rudder hard over to seaward. A few more wave knocked me sideways but I got into deeper water and away from the surf. That had been the first time I'd capsized on the sea for 4 years. The last was five miles off the North Kent coast at Herne Bay at a wind farm. That day I,d paddled out in a Valley Rapier 20 sea race kayak and missed a stroke in rough seas. I rolled up in a few seconds then but I never had a bouyancy aid on at the time.

                              Kennack Sands just lay around the corner and yet more surf to get through. I was soaking and there was water in the kayak. I don't like water in my kayaks and even a drip gets soaked up by a face flannel, except mine was missing from my foredeck, my bottle of drink was gone, my cap had gone off my head, my half eaten Mars Bar was gone too. I pointed the kayak and started paddling between waves with the one behind picking up my stern and pushing me up the beach were I jumped out ASAP.

                              I looked around me feeling a bit stupid after my soaking also rather sad that I should have been knocked over by the wave five minutes earlier. I would keep this my little secret and try to learn from my mistake of being distracted.

                              I carried the kayak past the kiosk and once again loaded it up onto my Romahome before I could relax.
                              As I drove away from the beach I had a feeling a acheivement in that Id done the most westerly and the most southerly points in the UK. On the other hand I failed to get to the Scillies and deep down inside me I know I'll probably never get there in my life with new attractions and challenges ahead.

                              Driving along the A 38 and towards home I played my George Michael cassette and the track Faith roared out. My 3 days in Cornwall were behind me and thoughts of doing Portland ahead. These trips were partly due to the fact I could stop somewhere in my 1989 Citroen Romahome.

                              The End


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