Friday, 11 May 2012

Finally managed to finish it.

Continuation of 40 000 paddle strokes later.

Perhaps the slowness of my paddling is reflected in the amount of time it has taken me to finish writing up this account.

With the lights of Bangor now behind me, and Beaumaris off to my left I battled on. Conditions were flat calm, perfect but pitch black. I was disorientated by the lights on land masking the presence of navigational marks on the water, and those I could see seemed to be miles offshore. It felt safer to be able to see the shore so I hugged the Anglesey coastline and paid for it by running into shallow water periodically.

Having cruised through the swellies in the dark and reached quiet water beyond, I think I had mentally finished the journey. The end was so near (in my head) and yet so far (for real). This cruel mismatch made the last ten kilometres pure purgatory.

Finally after several false hopes I recognised the red light of the perch rock beacon at Puffin Sound. My mood lifted, and so did my boat speed as I made a last effort to reach my start point. Between me and my objective was one final obstacle, the race at Puffin was flowing strongly against me. I crept along close inshore where I though an eddy would be if I could see anything and was rewarded with crunches onto rocks. It was pitch black, I was cold and paddling as hard as I could and going precisely nowhere. It took a sustained effort to overcome the top wave of the small tide race and round the corner into the shelter of the pebbly bay from where I had launched.

As the bow of my boat scrunched into the pebbles I took a look at my watch and cried. All that effort only to complete the circumnavigation slower than my previous attempt. As I dragged my weary body from the boat I added a dunking to my misery. After thirteen and a half hours my legs didn't function very well and gave way to leave me sitting in waist deep water. The realisation that I was very alone hit me now as I struggled to lift my boat onto it's trolley.

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