Enduring each day for 14 days, errant drivers, blisters, fatigue and injury are all present considerations when I look ahead to our Dove Step 2 journey.
A journey which is now only 6 weeks away!
Of our three legs (kayak, cycle and walking) we are never as exposed or vulnerable to the power of nature as when at sea.
Whilst we originally wanted to do a true channel crossing the French authorities have forbidden it, not even allowing us into their waters. As such, we have created our own channel crossing equivalent 21 nautical miles / 25 statute miles of paddling down the Suffolk coast.
This route has the advantage of taking us past North Warren, Havergate Island, Boyton and Hollesley Marshes and Stour Estuary RSPB reserves, so if you are out bird watching on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of April be sure to keep an eye out offshore.
Mr Kurt Finch of Nomad Sea Kayaking has trained us and also planned our expedition. Here Kurt explains the potential issues of our two days at sea…
I wanted to highlight the potential challenges we may experience;
1. We will be paddling in all conditions thrown at us; up to and including Force 7 (28-33 knot) wind combined with the currents on the day could result in choppy to large conditions in deep water.
2. We will probably have to paddle against the tide for some sections, losing 1-1.5 knots of speed over the bottom.
3. We will have to make a crossing of some fast moving water and an overfall at the mouth of the River Ore, possibly resulting in multiple capsizes and exposure to very cold, fast moving water (make sure you review and practice your assisted recovery skills). Any capsizes may need to be conducted in not only cold and fast moving water but also in the path of oncoming leisure vessels entering or exiting the River Ore.
4. Again, the mouth of the Deben River is well known for its ever shifting sand banks, fast moving water and rough conditions. The same risks are prevalent here but with far more leisure traffic heading in both directions.
5. The final challenge is crossing the deep water channel at the entrance to Harwich harbour, one of the busiest commercial trading ports in the country. We will have to gain permission from Harwich VTS to cross in between entering and exiting commercial container vessels; amongst the largest in the world and sailing at 6-8 knots to maintain steerage. They wont stop for us!
And finally, do not underestimate the impact of slow onset fatigue, hypothermia and injury whilst attempting to maintain a constant speed over the bottom over an extended paddle of approximately six straight hours a day, all whilst dealing with potential swell, wind and current and challenging steep beach landings in surf. This will be two days of head down, teeth grit, ‘suck it up’ and crack on!!
This leaves me to ask; what would you do for a species you love and know is in free fall decline?
We know in the UK Turtle Doves have declined 96% from 1970 – 2012. We also know that Europe wide they have similarly crashed with a 74% decline since 1980.
This year’s journey is in equal measure intimidating and exciting. But it has to be – it is our response to those figures – 96% and 74% which are not palatable.
Big challenges need big responses. Our Dove Step campaign in support of Operation Turtle Dove
is one of those responses and we cannot wait to get going!