A friend of mine Danger John lives on his canal boat near the lock at East Farleigh on the river Medway. He loves doing long sup paddles and after looking at the wind and weather conditions on the 16th October thought it would be perfect conditions for the longest sup paddle yet. A paddle from where his boat is at East Farleigh all the way down the river Medway. Out in to the Thames estuary and round the corner to Minster.
I will admit i did have a bit of a feeling that John was pushing his luck if he thought that we could stand up paddle all that way down the medway in one tide and get round the corner at Sheerness before the tide turned and became a hinderance and not a help. We were going on a neap tide anyway so the ebb running in our favour was not going to be that strong anyway. We got our paddleboards ready the night before along with the kit that we were going to take with us. we did this because high water at Allington lock in the morning was 7am. we wanted to be there for then but had a 4,5m sup to get there. So we got up at 5.30am had a quick coffee and we were on the water by 6.
The start was dark and raining quite hard. The rain was supposed to of cleared by midnight. This was not the start we had hoed for. By the time we had suped to Allington Lock though dawn had broken and the rain had stopped. So things were starting to go in our favour.
we left Allington Lock just after high water. This being the start of the tidal part of the river Medway meant we started on the high water slack tide. We now had 24.5m of the Medway to Paddle to get to Sheerness.
We supped for about 2 hours and then decided it was time to stop for some food and drink. So when we saw a pontoon with not to many boats tied to it decided it was the perfect place to have a breakj. There had been very little ebb tide to help us to this point. However why we were sitting on the pontoon we could see the tide starting to pull away which would now give us an extra knot of speed over the ground.
After paddling for about another hour we got to the m2 motorway bridge. This was a good feeling as we new we were well on our way to rochester and chatham. Which is roughly half way down the tidal part of the Medway.
After about another hour our long distance sup took us to Rochester castle. we had the full flow of the ebb tide with us by now and were picking up speed with the ride helping us. Supping past Rochester castle was a real joy as the views were great and the sun had come out and turned it in to a glorious day.
You cant sup past the russian submarine without giving it a pass by. Once we had paddled past the submarine we made another stop for food and drink on the last pontoon we could find near Chatham and then paddled off towards our exit point of the Medway at Sheerness.
It took us another couple of Hours to paddle down near sheerness where we stopped and sat on our boards for our last fuel stop. We were both getting tired by now and decided to push on to our destination at Minster before the flood tide came through and slow us down.
We arrived at Minster at 1.50pm which was 7 hours 50 minutes after we left East Farleigh. We covered 31 miles and that is the longest stand up paddle i have done to date. 30 miles is probably about the limit i would do in a day. We could of paddled further but there would of been no enjoyment in doing so.In my eyes that means there is no point in doing it. Johns sup is a 12.6 raceboard and mine is a 12.6 starboard astro touring inflatable sup. There was a great sense of achievement of arriving at Minster and the great thing about doing a car drop is that you have to get to your car to be able to get back home again WAHOO.