14 Aug 21 – Brett Scillitoe
It started off as just the next Safari of the year. It’s been on my list for some time and Ed, Claire and Alex had paddled bits of it before. The challenge of a Safari is we go the extra distance. Ed helped with the planning and after checking the tides Saturday 14 August was the day. A month before when we set it up we didn’t have a clue if the weather was going to be kind to us.
We shouldn’t have worried. In a summer that has be challenging weatherwise, the forecast was OK. The week before, the attendee numbers started to creep up. It was looking good.
Come the day cars were shared and we arrived at Warsash just after 9am to pump up. Three of the club members who had all-round boards were able to borrow club touring boards. It’s one of the many benefits of club membership. By the time we were all pumped up and ready for the safety briefing, there were 21 of us. It was quite a sight!
After the Safety Briefing, we were off. A short walk and we were on the water and heading up the estuary. We had the wind and tide with us. It was definitely a mix of paddling and sailing. The Hamble is home to thousands of sailing yachts, both sailing and motor. Some very expensive ones at that!
The group did well to stay together and we made quite a sight out on the water. Our first stop was at The Jolly Sailor, Old Bursledon. The staff were great and quickly served us drinks and nibbles. We really did take the place over for a while. There were groups of us all over the place.
It took a while to get back on the water and carry on under the 3 bridges that cross The Hamble. By this time the tide was in full flow and as the river is narrow here we were moving at quite a pace. We were all wearing quick release belts or attaching our leashes to our Buoyancy Aids. With so many buoys and posts to avoid, it is the safest place to attach the leash.
Once we passed the last moored boats, the river opened up and the hustle and bustle of the marina area was left behind. We were paddling through fields and woods, with lots of bird life to look at, including some small white storks.
At the top of the main estuary, the river has 2 branches. The Hamble to the West and Curbridge Creek to the East. We turned left and headed up the Hamble as we had time to kill as we needed it to be high tide to reach our lunch stop.
Soon after there was a shout from the back of the group the “The Cream Mary”, the Hamble’s very own Ice Cream Boat had made an appearance. Had they seen 21 paddlers heading upstream or knew that the YMCA watersports centre was about to open 🤷♂️
They were delicious all the same and he made a good profit.
Onwards we went, up to a waterfall that is visible when the tide is low. I paddled over it before I know it was there and promptly ran aground on the large Paving Slabs that cover the base of the river here, under the road bridge at Botley Mills.
We turned and headed downstream towards lunch. Passed the other paddlers coming upstream. In the ensuing fun of turning round in a tight stream with long touring boards, a game of Domino’s was played and poor Caroline was at the end and went for a swim 🏊♂️😳
After a speedy paddle, we arrived at the Horse and Jockey for lunch. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and the pub was very well set up for large groups. The food was tasty with large portions. Definitely a place to visit, as long as the tide is in 😁
After lunch it was just a small matter of paddling back on the outgoing tide, but with a steady head wind.
The late afternoon sky was beautiful and the scenery magical. Lots of other paddlers were out on the water having fun.
However, the fun stopped for Jane, one of our party, when here paddle blade fell off and promptly disappeared into the gloom of the deep water. She was adrift. Yes, up the creek with out a…
There was only one thing to do and that was to tow her home. She climbed onto my Red Voyager 13’2 and towed her board behind. The Voyager was brilliant and handled to extra load with ease. Once we had got going, it slipped easily over the water.
We finally reached the starting point by the foot ferry, after a proper paddle back. We were all tired but elated at such a great day out on the water.
Some went to the pub and others headed home, to return for part two – Hayling Blow 🌬
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