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Mike Gorby and Me paddle from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight

So, Mike Gorby from the Isle of Wight wanted an Otium Sea kayak. I have never been to the Isle of Wight.  Just before I left to take him his kayak, I was wondering how far is the Isle of Wight is from the mainland.

Wikipedia said the closest point is 2-3 miles. It can’t be that difficult to kayak to it.  Right? So I phone Mike and asked him if he wanted to kayak with me to the Isle of Wight –instead of taking it on the ferry. Mike said – why not? That’s a great idea. I was pleased to have someone with me that know the Solent – as the channel between the Isle of Wight and the mainland is called - .

After I pick Mike up from the Ferry terminal, we drive to a parking area right on the beach. I pay for parking – for the whole day as I am not sure how long it will take me to get back. Mike and me carry – to the amazement of all the sun lovers on the beach-  the kayaks into the sea. We adjust the foot peddles, get the spray decks on and set off. We first head up a mile of so and cross the path of the hovercraft.  Then we start crossing and follow the buoys which is spaced quite far apart and difficult to see from one to the next as they are spaced about a mile or more from each other. The trip in one direction was more than 5 miles according to Google maps and I remember only seeing about 4 buoys across the Solent.

The current was flowing nicely with us and from time to time we would get the surfing feeling as a big swell – created by the ferries  - or cargo ships – takes on a high and propels us forward. The Otium Sea Captain handled really well and I was amazed even in big swells how stable it handled it self.

kayaking to the isle of wight from PortsmouthAs I was totally unfit and have not done any proper paddling this summer, I must admit I was fairly tired and kind of run out of energy but I ignored it and just carried on.

Eventually after about 2 and a half hours and 5 and half miles (as the crow flies, so it is probably more) we arrived in Ryde. We found a small stretch of beach and pulled the kayaks up as far as we can. We set of and walked along the harbour front. Sitting down at a really nice coffee shop had a nice bottle of water, a latte and a burger!

When we arrived back at the boats we discovered that the sea had swollen higher than expected and must taken the boats into the sea! Luckily some passerby saw it and pulled them even higher up, but as we where standing there one of the boats where sucked in again. To my amazement, I realise the sea only have to touch a fraction of the back end of the boat to get hold of it, and suck it in! I had to walk waist deep into the sea in order to retrieve it.

So Mike went on his way to Fishbourne and I started paddling back to Portsmouth. I stayed close to the buoys and was trying to avoid getting in the way of the hovercraft, ferries and cargo ships. I followed the buoys as close as I could. I am not sure if the Ferries and Hovercraft changes routes at certain times of the day. But at some point I was aware that the Ferries was passing at my left from Portsmouth to Isle of Wight and returning to Portsmouth on my right. I didn’t want to be caught by a Ferry of a Hovercraft so I decided to head for the closest mainland I can find and then hug the coast to where we started off. I beached at the Gosport side, very tired as the current around the ‘head’ on the Gosport side was very strong and against me.


After resting for awhile I head back into the sea then carried on to our original starting point. All in all I paddle probably more than 12 miles, 6 hours in the water. When I got out in Portsmouth I was nauseous with exhaustion. I quick coke cured that. I phoned my wife and she said ‘Come home! the kids are driving me crazy. You are having fun while I have to do all the hard work’

HERE is Mike's comments:

It was an awesome day, and for a
first outing in the new boat, pretty successful! Ive had my boat for
around a month now and my experiences in it just keep getting better and
better! Im becoming quite comfortable with the second level of stability
and have been surfing with it in Compton bay and in the currents around
the corners of the island where the tide rips over the ledge - awesome
stuff. Planning a few trips to Devon / Cornwall this summer, cant wait -
loving the boat!"

I figured out what was letting water in the front hatch, the seal on the
deck-hatch was letting a bit in when it was wavy or I was practising my
rolling - got that shit down now :) I re sealed the front and aft
hatches and can go surfing for a whole day and roll around in it loads
in the surf and it stays dry as a bone so that’s snorted. I also greased
up the area where the skeg pin goes into the boat hull, that area can
potentially corrode at lot.

Good news on the island trip, Ill be moving down there towards the end
of July so keep me posted, would be cool to hook up again. I got charged
by Cows in my boat last trip i made.... was pretty hilarious.


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