Nordkapp Meet Update

As mentioned previously, the Jersey Canoe Club is running a Nordkapp sea kayaking weekend in August.  Starting the evening of Friday 24th August, followed by 3 days of paddles in the waters around Jersey.
There will be paddles at a variety of levels with hopefully the opportunity to visit some of the offshore reefs which surround Jersey, including the Ecrehous and the Paternosters.  Over the course of the weekend the tides increase in size, on the Monday evening we have a spring tide of 10.63 metres, meaning that a number of the tide races which develop around Jersey will be working, offering great entertainment for kayakers of all levels.
The weekend is free to members of the Jersey Canoe Club or £25 for non members of the Club.  This is the cost of 12 months overseas membership of the Club and it ensures that everybody has insurance cover over the weekend.  All in all an absolute bargain.
The Saturday evening talk is by the legendary Sam Cook, who was on the original sea kayaking expedition to Nordkapp in 1975.  This was a truly ground breaking expedition for British sea kayakers and was a route that was largely followed by a group of paddlers from the Jersey Canoe Club in 1986.
This is not going to be a huge event, we will be really pleased if we get 30 people on the water in a variety of different Nordkapps.  As well as people from Jersey we have had enquiries from the UK, Switzerland, France and Guernsey.

This picture was taken in 1979, just to the south of Gorey, when it seemed that you could have almost any colour of Nordkapp HM, as long as it was orange.  I think that the one red one is being held by Franco Ferrero from Pesda Press.

Nordkapp
The summer of 1986 and a young Mr and Mrs Mansell just about to go around Nordkapp in their Nordkapp HM’s.  This was on the Jersey Canoe Club trip of that summer.
If you would like, more information on what is going to be a relaxed but enjoyable weekend of kayaking, in all varieties of Nordkapp sea kayaks, please complete the form below.

Contact

Sea Kayaking Books

One of the things I have at the moment is time (ruptured achilles) so I am able to consider complete a few projects.  Something that I have been thinking about  is sea kayaking books.  Mainly, which ones have been influential over the years both in terms of coaching and the general evolution of the sport.

A substantial body of paddling literature has evolved over the last 170 years, with a wide range of books covering broad spectrum of topics. The last 40 years has seen a proliferation of sea kayaking books, offering both advice on skills and coaching, plus those describing journeys, many of which, provide inspiration.  I think that the selection of books below are all worth seeking out, giving an insight into how our sport has developed over the years.
Some of the key writers in the U.K. included Alan Byde and Derek Hutchinson. I remember seeing “Living Canoeing” by Alan Byde for the first time.  Published in 1969 there is the classic photograph of Mike Ramsay vertical at Hambledon Weir, I sat there staring at it as a 13 year old wondering how on earth the paddler got into that position. This is a book which provided inspiration to a generation of paddlers, both sea kayakers and white water paddlers.

Sea kayaking books

For me the next big development was the publication of Derek Hutchinson’s book “Sea Canoeing”. I had seen it advertised in Canoeing in Britain, the BCU magazine of the time and couldn’t wait for mine to arrive in the post. There was no way that the local bookshops were going to stock such a specialist title in 1976.  My copy was signed some years later by Derek and I feel fortunate that I got to know him.  For me one of the most significant aspects of the book were the photographs, they showed just where it was possible to take sea kayaks and they encouraged us to start to explore further afield.

Sea Canoeing

“The Book of Canoeing” by Alex Ellis, first published in 1935 has 7 pages devoted to sea kayaking.  He states:

“Paddle technique could be described in detail, but it is doubtful if a theoretical description would be of any great value.  It has to be acquired gradually by actual practice.”

Although this is 80 years old it remains very sensible advice. There are no real shortcuts to competence with a paddle and a kayak.  The author mentions two paddles, which he thinks are suitable for sea canoeing.
1.) Fort William to Largs
2.) South West Ireland
Paddles which 80 years on would still be seen as significant achievements.

Sea kayaking books

“Kayak to Cape Wrath” by J. Lewis Henderson.  I am not sure to the exact date of publication buy my copy has a dedication in the front, dated Christmas 1953.  A journey from Fort William to Cape Wrath along the west coast and then a crossing of northern Scotland, via a line of lochs, to finish on the east coast at Lairg.  A significant journey undertaken over several summers.  It is a journey, which, an self respecting sea kayaker would be pleased to complete today.  Joe Reid was clearly an accomplished paddler in several areas as he was in the K2 1000m event at the 1948 Olympics.

Sea kayaking books

“The Canoeing Manual” by Noel McNaught.  First published in 1956, includes a whole chapter on crossing the English Channel, something which some paddlers still aspire towards but is actually discouraged because of the shipping hazards.

Sea kayaking books

“Vikings, Scots and Scraelings” by Myrtle Simpson, published in 1977 was the first book I read about kayaking in Greenland and it fired my imagination, encouraging me to consider heading north in pursuit of sea kayaking heaven.

Sea kayaking books

“Paddling my Own Canoe” by Audrey Sutherland from 1978.  Her initial paddling was in a nine foot inflatable canoe but she started her explorations by swimming the coast of north east Molokai.  She went on to paddle in several areas of the world providing inspiration to, particularly, a more elderly generation of paddlers.

Sea kayaking books

“Scottish Sea Kayaking” by Doug Cooper and George Reid published in 2005. In many ways this was the first of a new generation of sea kayaking guides, in full colour and full of useful information about a whole range of topics. Pesda Press have gone on to publish a whole range of sea kayaking guides, covering most of the British Isles

Sea kayaking books

So that’s my personal selection of sea kayaking books, which are worth seeking out.  There is no doubt in my mind that if was to write this piece in a couple of weeks time some of the titles would have changed.

Lightning

As I sat on the beach this afternoon at St Brelade’s I watched the build up of cumulo-nimbus towards the French coast both to the south and the east. The concerns about the possibility of lightning were confirmed with the occasional rumbles of thunder.  A check on the phone on the live lightning website indicated that storms were nearby.
Lightning is a major hazard for all sea paddlers and at the first hint of a storm it is important to get off the water, if at all possible. Seek shelter in a building and if that is not possible seek an area of dry ground. Avoid high ground as lightning normally joins the cloud with the closest point of land, ie. the highest part. For the same reason avoid sitting directly underneath a tree. Don’t sit under boulders or in bunkers, these are particularly dangerous areas unless there is at least 5 metres of head room.  Several years ago a sea kayaker in Maine was killed whilst sheltering in a bunker during a lightening storm.
The fickle nature of lightning was frighteningly illustrated to me whilst paddling in the French Alps about 20 years ago. We were preparing to launch and without any warning of an impending storm, there was a huge flash and a strange tingling sensation running through our bodies. Looking up we could see that all the windsurfers on the lake had been blown off their boards. It was with horror that we look around and saw that the two people who had been standing closest to us had been struck by lightning, one had died immediately and the other person died later. We managed to shelter in a building for the remainder of the storm and gather our thoughts as to how close our escape had been.
So what are the key points that we need to be aware of?   Firstly check the weather forecast. If thunder is forecast keep close to land and look out for the build up of cumulo-nimbus.
 Be prepared to get off the water quickly and try to find a building in which to shelter.
 If you are on the water make sure that you are wearing your buoyancy aid, if you are struck by lightning and go unconscious there is no chance of being saved if you sink.
 If you are on land and there are no buildings try to get into an open space, crouch on the balls of your feet and cover your ears with your forearms by grasping your hands together behind your head.
With the development of Apps and smart phones its so much easier to monitor the position of any approaching storms.  Live Lightning is a great website for up to the minute information about the location of lightning strikes.  Whilst paddling in the United States we used the Storm App from Weather Underground, which proved to be great for keeping us up to date about approaching severe weather.  I also like looking at some aviation weather sites, so for example this afternoon as I saw the clouds building I looked at the Jersey Met Aviation pages, which showed that the largest clouds could reach up to 30,000 feet.  That is a pretty big cloud!
It is important to keep up to date with your First Aid practice. A lightning strike does not necessarily mean death, but be prepared to resuscitate quickly and effectively.  In addition when it appears that the storm has passed you are potentially still at risk so wait at least 30 minutes after lightning ceases before starting paddling again.
Knowledge and up to date weather information will help ensure your safety but remember to treat and potential storm with the utmost respect.

Lightning
A storm approaching the Canadian Gulf Islands. We were stuck in camp for most of the day.
Lightning
The safest position to adopt if you are caught out in the open with a storm raging.
Lightning
An early evening storm over Jersey.
Lightning
This beautiful afternoon on the Greek island of Atokos, an uninhabited island to the east of Ithaca, Greece. Little did we know that we were going to be exposed to a lightning storm of such terrifying proportions the following day we just paddled to the shelter of a flat for a couple of days respite.

Site Updates

Those of you who read my previous post will know that I damaged my Achilles heal, last week, whilst kayaking on Gozo.  So here are a few ideas about possible site updates.
The following few days was a time of new experiences for me. I had never been put in plaster before, I had never been put in one of those lorries where the cab extends vertically alongside and aircraft, so unscathed you can be wheel chaired onto the plane. I had never traveled through an airport on one of those beeping trucks and I have never had to undergo a course of daily injections last nearly six weeks.
Having arrived back in Jersey I have had time to reflect on the experiences of the last few days. Firstly the medical attention that I have received both in Gozo and Jersey has been excellent. On both islands I was seen promptly by medical staff, including orthopaedic consultants.
Secondly whilst traveling, everything was smooth and timely at Malta, Gatwick and Jersey Airports plus on the British Airways flights. Care and attention from staff in all locations was great and fully appreciated.
I have started to develop a greater understanding of the challenges facing people living with a physical disability. I had to wait in a toilet in Malta as it was too difficult to open the door whilst on crutches. Many thanks to the anonymous Good Samaritan who came to my assistance.
In terms of missed opportunities I am disappointed that I won’t be able attend the French Sea Kayak Symposium, which starts on the 21st April. In addition I won’t be able to assist at the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium, starting on the 25th May. Although it is far enough away that I will hopefully be able to travel to Scotland for the weekend and experience some of what is sure to be a superb event. I have been involved with the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium since the early 1990’s and it would be disappointing not to be able to attend the last one. Even if it is the role of honorary coffee drinker as opposed to active paddler.
In 1983, on my way to a sea kayaking trip in Svalbard, I flew over a spectacular archipelago, which I promised myself to visit one day. After 35 years of waiting this summer was the year I was going to finally get to paddle in the Lofoten’s. Sadly a destination that will have to wait for another year.
All disappointing but it is important to maintain some perspective, it is only an injury, I will get better and other opportunities will come my way.  So facing several months of inactivity it is an opportunity for some new challenges.
I will be able to make sure the Jersey Canoe Club mega SUP racing in conjunction with Absolute Adventures is organised and runs smoothly, although no active participation for me this year.
Later on in the year I will have time to complete my Greenland Paddle.  At the moment I can’t put any weight on my leg and I haven’t learnt “woodwork for sitting down” so that will have to wait until my leg strengthens as the summer progresses.  It should be complete for the autumn so that I can then work on my Greenland rolling.
One of the things that I have planned are a number of site updates, including completing a number of the Sea Kayaking Guides, which I have started including the one on Jersey.  So plenty to do but the main aim for the next few weeks is to keep my plaster dry!

Site updates
Mega SUP racing at St Brelade’s with the Jersey Canoe Club and Absolute Adventures.
Site updates
The view from the Gaelic College at the 2007 Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium.
Site Updates
Paddling into towards Loch Coruisk on one of those perfect Scottish days.
Site Updates
One of the many French Lighthouses, which are close to the base of the French Sea Kayak Symposium.
Site Updates
An on going project, my evolving Greenland paddle.

Good and bad

Thursday was certainly a day of contrasts, both good and bad.  It all started so well, we were at Hondoq early, for our kayaking trip along the south coast of Gozo.  It was rather a grey morning but there was the promise of so much more.
As a small group the kayaks were quickly packed and we were heading east along the south coast towards the main harbour. The small cliffs, punctuated by a number of caves provided interest, whilst up above the clouds were moving away to the south east, to be replaced by warm sunshine.
It was the morning rush hour in the Gozo Channel, all 3 ferries were moving so we ensured that our crossing of the narrow harbour entrance coincided with a lull in the activity. To the west of the harbour the steep coast continued, rising up to Fort Chambray.  The Fort was built in the mid 18th Century, whilst during the Crimean War it was used as a hospital, which treated hundreds of injured British soldiers.
This wasn’t the only sign of military activity along the coast, we could clearly see the blue railings, which surrounded a Fougassee.  It was a weapon to protect the coast from landings, effectively a rudimentary form of mortar, excavated into the rock.  Effectively an upside down cone, which was filled with stones and gun powder.  When the powder was ignited it was supposed to throw the stones onto the enemy.  It all sounds rather haphazard and potentially not that effective.
We carried on to the cliffs at Ta Cenc, which are pretty spectacular and home to a number of breeding birds although we didn’t see too many on this particular.  All to soon it was time to retrace part of the journey, our stomachs were telling us that it was lunch time.
Lunch was at Mgarr Ix Xini, a delightful location but one which requires cars at times as the boat ramp is as slippy as any one I have ever experienced. After lunch, Michael, our enthusiastic guide from Gozo Adventures, offered to help some of the people in the group with their rolling. The enthusiasm of youth. I was more than happy to sit and enjoy some warm, early season sunshine.
In fact it was so warm I was tempted to have a swim, an activity which I don’t really see as that risky. The water was reasonably warm so Rachel and myself swam out to the steps, which have been so thoughtfully provided on the eastern side of the bay. We climbed onto the rocks, before deciding to jump back into water, swim back to the kayaks and start the journey back to Hondoq.
It is at this point, if I had the gift of time travel I would use it. My jump into the water, from just over 1 metre in height was accompanied by a rather large crack and as I surfaced I realised that I had a very floppy left foot. Now I am no doctor, but I can recognise the symptoms of a damaged achilles. I explained in a rather calm voice to Rachel, that I was in a bit of difficult situation and might at some point require some assistance.
I was able to swim, using arms only, back to Michael, our faithful rolling coach and explaining I didn’t want to cause a fuss but we had a rather tricky situation. There were a lot of people down the bay that day, the restaurant was busy, there were groups of French hikers etc. The last thing we needed was a spectacle and a lot of onlookers.
I continued swimming into shallow water and was able to sit on the age of the slip. At this point the shakes commenced, it might have been the result of the cold or some shock from the injury. Whatever the cause I received excellent support and care from Tracey, Rachel and Yvonne. Michael by this time was on the phone and calling the cavalry.
Cornil, the cavalry, from Gozo Adventures was on the slipway with a car within 20 minutes and I was on my way to Gozo Hospital, without anybody on the beach being aware that there had been a problem. On reflection it was a group of experienced paddlers, working together to resolve an incident, in an efficient and timely fashion. Exactly why we practice a range of scenarios on our training courses, it could be called incident management but in reality it is an appropriate and proportional response, to a situation, which ensures the comfort and safety of the casualty, whilst not forgetting the needs of the rest of the group.
The treatment I received at the Gozo Hospital was prompt, effective and delivered with such good humour. The staff seemed to have time to give the patients the care and attention they needed, without appearing rushed or stressed. I write this as British Airways flies me north from the Mediterranean sunshine, towards some inevitable further treatment but I feel pretty relieved. I was with a group of paddlers who tended to my immediate needs, I had access to prompt help from the company we were with and ended up in an efficient medical care system.  It was certainly a day of both good and bad.
So next time somebody proposes some training and looking at scenarios grasp the opportunity with both hands. Don’t assume that because there is somebody with greater experience in the group that you won’t have to become involved or even manage the situation. We are all potentially as vulnerable and just as likely to need care and support from our fellow paddlers.
Thanks, in no particular order to Michael, Tracey, Rachel, Yvonne, Geoff and Cornil. Hopefully we will be able to paddle together again before the summer is out.

Good and bad
Michael launching at Hondoq.
Good and bad
Almost everybody is afloat. Behind lies Comino, which is the destination for Friday’s paddle. Sadly I will be otherwise engaged.
Good and bad
One of the ferries, which the connection between Gozo and Malta.
Good and bad
Rachel passing under the steep slopes close to Fort Chambary
Good and bad
The Fougassee, taken whilst walking along this stretch of coast in November last year, but its location was clearly visible from the sea.
Just in front of the Mgarr ix Xini tower. Completed in 1661 it is one of the 4 surviving towers on Gozo.  One of the last photographs of me with two working legs for a few months>
Good and bad
Cliffs just to the west of Mgarr ix Xini are truly spectacular. This was about as far as we went before returning east for lunch and the somewhat inconvenient incident.
Good and Bad
I managed to swim towards Michael, who was conducting a rolling session. I received superb assistance from the other people in the group.

Duncan Winning

On Thursday morning we received a telephone call from Gordon Brown with the very sad news of the passing of Duncan Winning.  Duncan was an immensely influential figure in the  world of sea kayaking but more importantly he was an incredibly generous individual and thoroughly decent person.
I first met Duncan in May 1992, when he attended the first Jersey Sea Kayaking Symposium, and was one of only two people from off the island who attended every one.  Always willing to give his time and energy to ensuring that the event was a success.
Douglas Wilcox has written eloquently about Duncan and some of their shared experiences on his blog and I would recommend that you read his post.
There is very little that I could add except to mention two things, firstly Duncan did achieve some form of local fame in 1999, when he was able to paddle through the centre of his home town of Largs, due to flooding.  Secondly in 1998 at the Jersey Symposium he built a junior sea kayak from wood, the Jersey Junior, over the course of 3 days.  A beautiful kayak, which is still treasured by my family.
I last saw Duncan in January when Nicky and myself called in to see Duncan and went out for lunch at the local restaurant.  Although he was quite at times the passion that he had for kayaking still shone through with that glint in his eye.
After lunch we sat looking across to Cumbrae, talking about the great times we had on the island in the 1990’s at the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposiums.  Duncan said that he wouldn’t be able to attend the event this year but we did make tentative arrangements to call in and see whilst traveling to the event from Jersey, sadly that is not to be.
I feel fortunate to have known Duncan Winning for over 25 years, spending many happy days on the water with him both in Jersey and Scotland.  He will be sadly missed, not just by his family but by the wider kayaking community.

Duncan Winning
Duncan paddling away from Loch Coruisk, Skye in perfect conditions. June 2009, just after the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium.
Duncan Winning
Lisa in her Jersey Junior at Archirondel, in the week following the 1998 Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium
Duncan Winning
Duncan relaxing after lunch in Loch Coruisk, underneath the inevitable umbrella.

Welcome home

Going away on a kayaking trip is always enjoyable but there is always something satisfying about coming home. Perhaps it is because most times I return home it is on an aircraft, so it is a very direct transition from holiday to home.
Landing on Tuesday evening I had received my first invite to go paddling before we had arrived at the gate, the welcome vibration of a WhatsApp on the phone.  In complete contrast to the weather before I had been away and whilst I was away, the forecast for Wednesday was pretty good.  No “beast from the east” this week.
Wednesday morning dawned with light winds and cloudless skies, we were leaving from St Catherine’s, the home of the Jersey Canoe Club, and heading south towards Seymour Tower.  This isn’t a section of coast, which screams of dramatic scenery.  It is rather more gentle, with a fascinating historical background and then a unique coastal environment, which is exposed as the tide drops, particularly off the south east corner.
We headed towards Seymour Tower, which was built in 1782 in response to the invasion of Jersey by French troops in January 1781.  It is now a unique place to spend an evening, with a qualified guide from Jersey Heritage.  Lunch was a rather hurried affair as the tidal range was 9.5 metres.  Not a particularly large spring tide but we were in the third hour after high water so the water was dropping at nearly 4cm a minute.  Resulting in a potentially long walk!
Returning to St Catherine’s we meandered through the reefs towards Karame Beacon before returning north to our starting point.   It was one of those days which hints of summer, light winds, blue skies and water of a surprising clarity.
A perfect return to my Island home.

Gorey Castle
Heading south past Mont Orgueil or Gorey Castle. It is one of the finest castles to be found anywhere, occupying a dominant position on the east coast of the Island.
Seymour Tower
Less than an hour before we had paddled across these rocks. The tide drops with amazing speed in the third hour of a 35 feet high tide. I wrote about walking in this area in an earlier post.
Karame Beacon
We headed south towards Karame, easily recognized by its top mark. On the large spring tides a fast group is able to walk out to this navigation mark.
Reef paddling
Heading north through the reefs in conditions which have been incredibly rare this year. Sunshine, no wind and surprisingly good water clarity.
Heading north
Gorey Castle is visible directly in front of the kayakers whilst in the distance the long this line of St Catherine’s breakwater, our final destination, is discernable.

Moderate Becoming Good Later

A few years ago one of our nephews and a niece weren’t sure what to do at Christmas so we invited them to join us in Jersey. On Christmas Eve we have been to the Corbiere Phare for lunch for years.  The views from the restaurant across to Corbiere Lighthouse are truly spectacular although they are virtually a daily view for us. For people used to living in London and Barcelona, they are something quite out of the ordinary.
Perhaps inspired by the view or the exciting talk of potential activities in Jersey, we were off to St Brelade’s straight after the meal to go and jump off the pier. We did wear wet suits, that afternoon, to participate in this traditional Jersey activity.
Christmas Day has, for over 40 years, been marked by the Jersey Canoe Club, with an 11.00 o’clock swim in the sea, wet suits not allowed.  Toby and Katie joined the throng of members who jumped in the sea at St Catherine’s on Christmas morning.   Boxing Day has for years seen the Club members meet at Ouaisne, for a short paddle, a couple of hours at the most before retiring for festive drinks.
After the excitement of the previous 2 days Toby was encouraged to join us for a paddle and in reality he did pretty well.  It just so happened that the Club had a close relationship with the Tower Hamlets Canoe Club, based at Shadwell Basin, in the east of London, and quite conveniently Toby lived just up the road. The rest as they say is history.
Since that day kayaking has been a large part of Toby’s life, he has paddled all over the UK, has been to Greenland with us and this summer is returning to lead his own group in Disko Bay. The really great news though is that last Friday it was announced that he has received a Winston Churchill Fellowship for his project “Moderate Becoming Good Later.”
Over the years Toby has faced his own personal challenges, which he has met with a positive approach to life. This summer he embarks on the challenge to kayak in all the Shipping Forecast areas, which are on the forecast read out on the BBC Radio 4. For many people in Britain the Shipping Forecast forms part of our lives, even if we are not out on the high seas. Despite all of the advances in how we can access up to date and accurate weather information the BBC still broadcast 4 times a day the Shipping Forecast.
How many of us have lay in our tents, as the fabric flapped and the rain beat down, whilst we turned the dial to LW, in the hope of a positive Forecast allowing us the opportunity to paddle in the morning?
Toby has launched his blog “Moderate Becoming Good Later“, I am sure most of you are aware of why he selected that title but if not then tune into Radio 4 and all will be revealed.

Toby Carr
Toby and his Aunty Nicky sitting on the famous Ecrehous bench, on a foggy March day

Belize

What had been flat calm water, with not a ripple in sight, the night before was a bit different when we woke up. After 10 days of constant north easterly or easterly winds we woke to a light north westerly breeze. Not enough to put us off the paddle to Dangriga, just an inconvenience.
The tent was dropped and the rest of the equipment packed away, just after 06.00. There were some big clouds around, which normally introduce significant increases in wind speed when they pass by overhead. We monitored their direction of travel and decided that they were probably going to miss us.
At 06.50 we pushed away from the shore and settled into a steady rhythm, despite the headwind, according to the GPS, our speed over the ground was in the region of 3.5 knots, which we were pretty pleased with. Within 15 minutes though the speed had dropped to 2.5 knots and frequently less and it was to remain like that for the next 3 hours.
Although we were on spring tides, the tidal range on the day was only 0.7 feet, not that great. We actually felt that the movement of water was probably an ocean current, driven by the frequent north easterly trade winds. Whatever the cause it was a bit of inconvenience for us, as we had an 8 mile crossing to complete. As soon as we stopped paddling the track on the GPS showed that we were being pushed south at nearly 1.5 knots, rather frustrating when we were heading north.
In addition we had to continually keep an eye on the weather, there were some large cells around but all missed us by quite some distance, so at least that was something we didn’t need to worry unnecessarily about.
Gradually the buildings in Dangriga started to take shape, the sports hall to the south of the town , was the first which was clearly identified. The radio towers were perfect for leading the way back to the town.
After 3 hours 15 minutes the bows of the kayaks ran up onto the beach in front of the Islands Expedition building in Dangriga. The conclusion of some really enjoyable sea kayaking through an eco system we have rarely been exposed to. This was not wilderness kayaking, it requires planning and the willingness to camp in specific locations but for those paddlers who are interested in bird life and snorkelling Belize is a destination well worth considering.

.Belize
Nicky launching from our isolated island. Ahead lies an 8 nautical mile open crossing
Belize
Although the crossing was underway we need to keep quite an acute eye on the weather. There were some big weather cells around but fortunately they missed us.
Belize
Although the rain missed us we did have good views of the rainbow.
Belize
This blue building had been visible for quite some time, it was only when we were nearly there that we realised it was next to where we needed to land.
Belize
Nicky and myself at the finish of the trip, just after landing on the beach in Dangriga

Discreet Camping

We needed to be back in Dangriga on Sunday morning, with the shortest crossing being approximately 8 nautical miles. It appears that there used to be a number of campgrounds in the area but these have closed as the luxury resorts have spread.  These closures can prove to be a challenge as the closest Caye with any form of formal camping is probably Hangman’s Caye, which is in the northern part of the Blue Ground Range. Paddling from there into Dangriga would add quite a bit to the crossing. We were going to need to indulge in some discreet camping, not something we were certain was going to be that easy.
So when we left Billy Hawk Caye, we had no idea where we going to spend the night. We savoured our last paddle north, though the Blue Ground Range before crossing to Ragged Caye and then further north. As luck would have it we came across a delightful sandy beach, with shade provided by some trees, on an island with nobody else there.
As the day had progressed the north easterly wind picked up, proving to be quite lively at times. We passed a couple of hours reading and writing log books before the attraction of the water became to much to ignore.  Launching, we paddled around a couple of islands as well as heading out to Man of War Caye, a bird reserve.
The dominant species is the Magnificent Frigate Bird, with significant numbers soaring overhead as well as those perched in the trees. We were also hoping to see the Brown Bobbies, and were fortunate enough to see a couple as we sat there admiring the avian spectacle.
All birded out, we returned to commence our discreet camping. Whilst cooking the evening meal we spent sometime chatting about paddlesports and camping with a person on a SUP who just happened to be passing by.  He was the only other person we spoke to all day.
After yet another memorable sunset and rapid onset of darkness we quickly put up the tent, fairly confident that we were going to have an undisturbed night. There are so many patches of shallow water, posing significant navigational hazards there is almost no boat traffic after dark, so nobody was going to turn up and surprise us.  It was an early night as we needed to be up by 05.30 the following morning ready for our crossing to Dangriga.
One item of equipment which had proved to be completely surplus on this trip, apart from my fleece, was our lightweight sleeping bags. Not once had they come out of their dry bag. I did unpack the silk liner every night but so far it hadn’t seen any use.  In the middle of the night though, I did need to climb into the silk bag, not because of a drop in temperature but due to the fact that the wind had changed direction and was blowing into the tent. The first 10 days we had been in Belize the wind had been a constant north easterly, the direction we needed for the Sunday morning crossing, but by midnight, we definitely had a north westerly, a head wind. The next 12 hours could prove interesting.

Blue Ground Range
Our final paddle through the Blue Ground Range as we start our paddle north.
Discreet camping
What a place to pass a few hours.
Frigate Birds
Some of the Magnificent Frigate Birds which call Man of War Caye home. We paddled there in the afternoon as well as circumnavigating a couple of other islands.
Discreet camping
Our island home offered some shelter from the sun as well as having great views in 3 directions
Nicky watching the sunset. 12 hours later we would be paddling in that direction, aiming for somewhere we couldn’t quite see.