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By Erik Rasmussen
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Snowy the Dog Takes Up Kayaking – Poole March 2019

Snowy the Dog Takes Up Kayaking

Well, we say kayaking but he was doing more navigating than paddling, and still enjoying himself nonetheless.

While Snowy was channelling his inner Montmorency from Three Men in a Boat, the rest of the CKC team were on a weekend trip to Poole Harbour in late March 2019. The team was neatly divided into two groups: those with limited experience on the sea and those with some experience, plus two dogs: Snowy and Lola (of varying abilities).

Using the CKC kayaks, paddles and equipment brought down from Kew Bridge, the ‘novice group’ spent two days practicing basic paddle strokes and techniques as well as performing their first assisted and self rescues.

Based on the south side of Poole Harbour for the weekend, it really was the perfect calm and safe environment for taking the first steps beyond beginner paddles on the Thames. Initially, beach based coaching was conducted by CKC sea leader Paul, assisted by William from the Cardiff Whitewater Centre. Before moving on to the sea to practice paddle strokes and manoeuvring.

Meanwhile the more experienced group headed through the Poole Harbour entrance and then South across Studland Bay over to Old Harry’s Rock. Although the sky was grey the temperature was 11C with a north easterly wind of F2. With the tide high we were able to paddle through arches in the Handfast headland:

Although sometimes it looked a bit too narrow to be possible, we were still able to get through without difficulty:

Further South we visit the Little Pinnacle and Pinnacle (chalk stacks), although the Little Pinnacle might just have been far away, as they were certainly big enough when we got close:

We backed our boats into several sea caves to hear the loud reverberations of the pebbles being rattled by the waves.

We head further south towards Ballard Point at the north end of Swanage Bay, before turning back to visit Old Harry’s Rock before the ebb gains full momentum which causes tidal races off Handfast Point. As expected, the water level had dropped so it was not possible to go back through arches, so we pass between the mainland with Old Harry and Old Harry’s Wife on our right, with waves pushing us through the gap.

Back in the cottage for the evening, we see the enormous Brittany Ferries ship pass silently out of the harbour, lit up. We plan the next day’s trip, and cap off the day with a shot of Jura whisky in front of fire.

On Sunday, the grey skies were gone leaving a total blue sky. Which just seemed the right time to across Poole Harbour to the River Frome estuary and follow the river to Wareham for lunch, which got everyone excited:

Initially there was a head wind (F2-3) for the first hour which meant some focused paddling was needed to get us around the Arne Peninsular. After that the estuary closed in and slowed down, with long brown reeds lining the river all the way to Wareham.

An enjoyable weekend was had by all, but the main thing was that Snowy agreed.

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