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By Erik Rasmussen

Margate to Broadstairs and back

05.40 Alarm goes.

05.41 Alarm stops.

05.47 Finally accept that paddling requires body in kayak not in bed and get up.

07.00 Arrive at BBA.

And so started Saturday 25 April 2015 as four of us planned a trip from Margate. The group consisted of me, Miranda and Sally led by Rob Horton.

Miranda and I drove down to meet up with Rob and Sally in the centre of Margate. Where’s the centre of a town? The High Street, of course! So the satnav was duly programmed with “High Street, Margate” and off we went.

About 5 miles outside Margate on the main road in, the satnav decided to take us down a country side road. Interesting, we thought. It obviously knows a short cut. After much perambulation through back roads, the satnav proudly announced “you have arrived at your destination”. We were in a distinctly non-urban street, surrounded by fields. Turns out there is a “High Street” in the Margate area, it’s just not in Margate!

Luckily the satnav mishap caused very little delay and we met up with Rob and Sally at Angela’s Cafe. The postcode is CT9 1EX. I mention this as if you just Google “Angela’s cafe” you could end up in the one in Boston USA. Bacon rolls, tea and nautical maps followed.

Point of trivia (or maybe not after the general election): we were in the constituency that Nigel Farage is/was standing for. This is an apolitical blog and no further comment will be offered on this subject …

The tidal flows do interesting things around that north-east corner of Kent. There’s a split in the westerly flow as some goes up the Thames estuary and some heads south down the English Channel. So at the same state of the tide, if you are paddling along the coast and cross the split, the flow can reverse even though the tide hasn’t changed. If you see what I mean. It really needs a diagram. Anyway, Rob was on top of the options and the timings, ably assisted by Miranda’s big yellow book of UK tide maps.

We parked for free on the front just east past the Turner Contemporary gallery. The tide was out. Even by dropping off the kayaks at the top of the ramp down to the beach, there was still a bit of a hike to get to the water. The tide being out does that.

As we moved the kayaks down to the beach, a large group in fancy dress appeared. We don’t know for sure who they were but my guess was Rotary or Round Table. They proceeded to pick up rubbish on the beach for 15 minutes or so, and then partake in beer and games. No more eccentric than sea kayaking, I suppose.

A very shallow entry. No surf. Unbroken high cloud, dry. We headed east. The wind was offshore or parallel to the shore, probably F4.

Throughout the day, although the wind was strong, the sea was fairly flat. We had gentle following seas to start with and a following wind. At low tide a lot of rocky ledges were exposed. Despite our efforts, they weren’t suitable for rock hopping. Too much of a ledge formation rather than broken rock.

During the day our paths crossed with a larger group of sea kayakers. Turns out they were from Tower Hamlets and appeared to be mainly beginners.

We headed for Joss Bay but in the end paddled past and pressed on to a beach near Broadstairs. The beach had a long row of beach huts and we perched ourselves in front of them and had our lunch. This beach like all the others was very quiet, maybe one or two groups of people or none at all.

On the return trip, the rocky ledges had been almost covered by the incoming tide. There was a very slight bit of turbulence offshore as the tide moved around the point and over the ledges, but it was easy to skirt around it. The wind was against us on the way back, maybe gusting to F5 at times but still the sea was fairly gentle.

We returned to our start point to find that the rocks and sand had all disappeared. The sea now went up to the sea wall. The water was lapping up the ramp with some clapotic wave action as the waves bounced off the wall. Technically, this was probably the most challenging part of the day. Group score: 75%.

The clouds cleared up in the afternoon to the extent that when we had a final repast in another caff on the front, we were in danger of overheating.

Overall, it was a great trip along a coastline I hadn’t experienced before, not too far from London and with plenty of easy exits onto quiet beaches. A big thanks to Rob for organising it and to Miranda for doing the driving.

Tudor Grashoff

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