The skinny middle aged runner we encountered in the carpark of The Ship pub was the first to speak.
“Ah someone more mad than me,” he said, having spent 90 minutes jogging in sub zero icy and snowy conditions.
He was vacillating between sheer admiration of our chutzpah to circumnavigate Hayling Island and the ludicrousness of doing so in such extreme weather. Such thinking was of course, not lost on Andy, Jay, Kate, Miranda and me. Surely snuggling up and enjoying a Sunday morning sleep in was preferable to de-icing the skegs and foot rests while fingers were painfully cold?
Well, at the time maybe, but once we started out, the microclimate in the kayaks ensured a comfy paddle, especially so with the wind initially behind our backs and we were riding a fast tide. We had a relatively calm sea and a bit of fun riding small waves at the bar on the South East corner of Hayling. And early in the paddle we encountered some some friends Richard and Steve heading in the opposite direction.
The next observers were some yachties cleaning their boats while we sheltered from the constant snow under the verandah of the club for a fuel stop. (The planned lunch spot in the protected bowels of the club was closed). “Didn’t you check the weather forecast?”was the incredulous question.
We had of course, and were well prepared. Jay’s hot chocolate, Miranda’s spare fleece and some bacon sandwiches made from breakfast leftovers helped keep the shivering to a minimum. But there wasn’t any luxuriating. It was back on the water, enjoying the sea with a couple of spectacular MOTHS and an old fashioned rowing boat as quickly as possible.The rowers, surprisingly, given they were out in the same conditions, were heard to loudly mutter “are they f….king kidding?”
The wind was still blowing, but this time in our faces, the snow still falling, this time landing on cheeks and eyelashes, and the tide that was meant to be giving us a nice sleigh ride home was non existent. Still, Kate amused us with a planned roll, executed perfectly and Jay had given us some paddling technique tips to work on. By the time of our mid afternoon return to the pub the boats were hoisted on roof racks in record time and we adjourned, with enormous enthusiasm to the roaring log fire and warming coffee (ok, a couple of us had a beer).
I suspect that while many people had done little on this particular Sunday, we had a memorable and most enjoyable time and have notched up a rare experience: paddling around Hayling in the snow.