Day 1 Falmouth-Sennen Cove

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Launch day! Put in at Swanpool at 0720 and made good progress cruising on a tailwind and following sea. Hit Lizard point at 1020 then Mounts Bay. The 20NM (5hr) crossing point to point punctuated by gannets, puffins, and a monstrous gul which decided to have a go! Swiftly paddle fouled it and then we parted ways.

Then made my way around Land’s end which was mindblowing in the glorious sunshine and rolled into Sennen on the last of the pushing tide.

I know it gets harder from here so I’m packing in the food and looking forward to sleep. Big day tomorrow, making hay etc…

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Day 2 Sennen Cove-Polzeath

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Not a great picture but totally representative of the day. Lots of glassy flat water and lots of miles, 45NM by my count (thats 50 odd for landlubbers)

Started late after getting too comfy on the beach and had a relatively uneventful, but long paddle to Polzeath. Still learning lessons about the set up of my boat and which conditions are suitable for using my relief zip. Cold splash.

Rolled in to my destination at 10pm greeted by Matt of Cornish Rock Tors. What followed was a lesson in hospitality and me eating a Mackerel the size of a small whale.

Tomorrow I leave Cornwall, but not yet sure where I’ll get to. Nowhere if I don’t get my head down…

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Day 3 Polzeath-Welcombe Mouth

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Made slower progress owing to a headwind and the miles beginning to take their toll. But that didnt detract from the incredible North Cornish coastline.

Aptly enough saw puffins whilst passing Puffin Island and was mesmerized by the geology on show around Tintagel. Massive layers of slate buckled and dropping steeply into the sea.

Made camp early at Welcombe Mouth on the logic that the double crossing to Pembrokeshire wasnt on anyway. Awesome beach all to myself.

Lundy tomorrow!

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Day 4 Welcombe Mouth-Lundy Island

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Another shortish day, but now I’m here on Lundy I know it would have been criminal to miss it.

Hour and a half up to Hartland point and a quick check in with the coastguard, then 3hrs to Lundy. Headwind all the way but a quick hello from a common dolphin made up for it.

Lundy truly is a gem and I will definitely be back. Heading to the tavern now and an early bed is in order. Hoping to hit the reset switch and put down some bigger mileage in the coming days.

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Day 5 Lundy Island-Freshwater West

No pictures today, having trouble charging my phone which I’ve been using as camera. Anyway, long day…

At around 0900 and with a little help from the guys from Sea Kayaking South West, I reluctantly departed Lundy. Lots of trust involved in an open crossing like this, no sight of land for 3 or 4 hours and just trusting your compass and own workings to guide you in.

After sneaking past a sleeping seal and leaving the comfort of the shore I had incredible dolphin contact. Around 10-15, diving under my boat and breaching all over the shop. They stayed with me for about five minutes before heading off.

Back to the task at hand… kept paddling for some 11 hours and finally made land. Had to ask a stranger the eternal question “where am I?” Incredibly enough I’d hit Freshwater West, spot on! 

Soon after was met by Jes who quickly got the stove on. Amazing. 

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Day 6 Freshwater West-Fishguard

Now Cardigan Bay. I had envisaged, before starting the trip, that I might fancy taking on the 45NM crossing of the bay. Well I don’t, and I didnt.

Todays paddle involved the cautious negotiation of Jack Sound and The Bitches so required a serious amount of focus to prevent straying into the races for a play.

After an early start I stopped for a long lunch at St David’s Lifeboat station. The evening session started well as I rode a tonking spring tide around Strumble Head but this later turned to a real slog on to Fishguard.

Good day overall. 40nm and a cheeky porpoise rise on the home straight cruise into Fishguard.

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Day 7 Fishguard-New Quay

Unpleasant start having to get into cold wet kit on minimal sleep, but necessary to catch the north going tide.

Made plans to push for New Quay some 28NM along the coast and to take it from there.

Weather great, more porpoise and also passed the largest guillimot and razorbill colony I have seen.

Fought the turned tide for the last hour or two and pulled into New Quay around 1400 where I called it a day. In hindsight, very disappointed not to have pushed on but having time to recover might just save the niggle in my back from becoming anything more.

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Day 8 New Quay-Tonfanau

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Here’s where not getting back on the water yesterday has cost me a day.

Really nice paddle out from New Quay although sunglasses stayed on for about 5 minutes before they were replaced with winter cag. At one point the water went glassy flat and when I stopped to enjoy it, a big pod of porpoises called by.

Pushed on past Aberystwyth and towards Aberdovey, the deal was that if I got in to Tonfanau by 1400 and feeling strong then I’d take on the crossing to the Lleyn Peninsula.
That wasn’t to be, so just another 25 ticked off and go in to tomorrow rested.

Highlight of the day was scoring a night in an old army barracks sheltered from the crazy rain, serious thanks to Jim and the guys for hooking us up and to Jes for the Madras extravaganza that followed. Incredible!

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Day 9 Tonfanau-Abersoch

More dolphin contact, beginning to think they are coming round with me… This morning was the last of a 4 day stint of land support from my girlfriends dad, Jes. He has been a brilliant caddy. The first task at hand was a 17NM crossing from Tonfanau over to the Lleyn peninsula, visibility down and sea lumpy. Going unsupported again was a tough step to take. I’ve been a bit wobbly today, 9 days in and so much ahead of me. Made land after 5 or 6 hours battling wind and swell and a breaker in the cockpit whilst stupidly trying to take a leak in unsuitable weather. Tried to push on and round to Hell’s Mouth but thought better of it after becoming unhappy with the big conditions. So I was sat on the corner of Abersoch bay, tormenting whether I should be just going for it or retiring for the day. Cue the dolphins, they first emerged on the point and I followed them all the way into the bay. Decision made, I moped around Abersoch town eventually moping back to make camp. I knocked on a house to get water for cooking and was almost overwhelmed by the offer of supper, a shower and a bed! Now feels like a new leg of the trip. Isle of Man in sight and a refreshed outlook. People are awesome, life is good. Sincere thanks to Jes and to Vinny, Daphne & William.

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Day 10 Abersoch-Morfa Nefyn

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I missed my pushing tide whilst waiting for appalling headwinds to die down.

Good snappy getaway in the morning involving the trolley and a long haul down the low tide beach. No drama though because the hunger is back and I was right up for it! Needed to hug the coast through Hell’s Mouth, but I didn’t and the F7 north westerly being funneled through Bardsey Sound made progress almost impossible. Pulled out and took shelter in on a tiny beach where I took lunch in the company of a million flies.

When the wind had died down it was time to take on Bardsey Sound and it was cranking through there. Wind against tide creating exciting conditions but the Taran was totally capable and looked after me well.

Afternoon push against the tide all the way to Morfa Nefyn to get within reach of Anglesey. Arrived knackered but was warmly received by Stuart the landlord of Ty Coch Inn who rustled up some Cornish Pasties and a pint on the house. Stuart told me that some years ago he’d done the same for Pete Bray and Steve Macdonald, it’s great to be following in their footsteps. I’d pitched my tent on the dunes but on return to the tent…nothing, tent gone!! Frantically scrambling, I beamed my headtorch into the sea to find canvas and all floating in the dark. Very luckily I managed to retrieve everything before Stuart from the pub helped me rinse it all, tumble dry the sleeping bag. He even sorted me a bed for the night.

So thanks again to the kindness of strangers, I’ve learned another lesson without paying too heavy a price.

Need to cut out the mistakes. Stuart you are a hero.

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