The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo passed across the uk the day before. Producing some 3 to 4m waves as it did so. The wind had kept blowing for most of the night. So Richard and myself were quietly optimistic that there would be a chance of a surf over the high water at camber.
We got to Camber about half an hour before high water and got on the water at about high. The swell though had nearly all but died. There was just the odd waist to chest high sets left. They were however few and far between, We were about to call it a day when Rupert from the kitesurf centre came afloat for a sup. o we thought we had better keep him company for a while. To be honest as the water dropped from high water a bit the waves did get a bit better. Not good enough if you were on a surfboard but good enough for our stand up paddleboards and Richard,s waveski.
So all in all no epic wave riding to be had. However the weather was good the wind light and offshore and some fun little sets coming through. So again well worth getting the sup out and having a paddle with friends.
Monday the 20th of October. No work to mid afternoon, Checked the weather on xcweather and windguru and once checked the grenwich wave buoy which was showing 4.5 feet. It was time to give richard a shout, Load up the van with the starboard POD wave sup and head down to Camber sands. High water was 9.30 am so it meant a paddle at the grassy car park. Being well in to October this means that you can park by the gates as the car park is closed.
Well it was not an epic full on day. What we did have though for about 1 and a half hours was some small but great fun waist to maximum chest high waves. You could not get a great deal of speed on the waves there was though enough to get a half decent bottom turn. With the help of the paddle you could just about get a top turn in without stalling.
So for a sunny warm morning in the middle of October Richard and myself were more than happy to take full advantage of the conditions that we had at hand. The good thing though about stand up paddle surfing and the use of a waveski is that you dont have to have perfect waves to have fun. Even mushy waist high waves can still be great fun.
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.
This is the first post on my site. I thought i would start with a brief post about our local break (Camber Sands). I know this is not the first place that springs to mind when you are thinking about a decent beach break for surfing and suping. Camber is very popular for kite and windsurfing as it is quite often windy at Camber when other spots are struggling to get any wind. When you live though on the south east corner of the UK good breaks of any sort are in short supply for both surfing and stand up paddlesurfing.
Long range swell that has crossed the atlantic has very little chance of getting through to camber. So we look out for a specific weather pattern that is most common in the autumn and winter months. So the use of a summer wetsuit has very limited use at camber sands for surfing. So the weather pattern that we look for is a low pressure that tracks across the southern part of the UK. Which will hopefully develop some ground swell that will push all the way up the channel. Why this is happening the wind is nearly always predominantly from a south westerly direction. Which unfortunately with camber beach facing near due south, south westerly wind is to onshore to produce any sort of a clean wave.
So this is the important bit to look out for and which we look out for everytime a low pressure tracks up the channel or southern england and that is what the wind does as the low goes off in to the north sea. Ideally you will get a cold front on the back edge of the low pressure. Which will swing the wind in to a north westerly direction. This usually leaves you in a colder but sunny day. More importantly though north west wind is cross off shore and produces the cleanest waves. Camber can also be surfed if the wind only go around to due west which is cross shore. This really limits you to surfing up by the harbour arm at the entrance to the river rother. This is not all bad though as this is often the the spot that you get the longest rides at camber. With rides often long enough to get 3 or 4 bottom turns going both left and right. Dymchurch rich loves this spot.
The best time to surf camber sands or stand up paddlesurf for that fact is from high water to about 4 hours after high. I know a lot of breaks around the country get their best waves on the pushing tide. At camber though the best waves and often an extra foot to boot is after high water as the ebb tide comes through and pushes up against the swell coming up the english channel from the west. Other good places to surf at camber apart from up by the harbour arm are opposite the houses and from Broomhill sands car park. Again the best state of tide for an extra foot is after high water these spots though can all be surfed from half tide up to half tide down. You can surf over the low water although the wave height drops off significantly. If you do have to surf over the low tide then the best spot is often by the wreck of an old trawler which is easily visable at low tide and has some good sand bars around it.