Surfing Cetus

To save me making a round driving trip to Derby, Liz at P&H had arranged for Chris Easterbrook to bring with him a loan Cetus. He was coming to Cardiff to give a talk at the Cardiff White Water Centre about his recent expedition to Papua Indonesia. Big thanks to him. 

I was looking forward to getting out on the water for a paddle in the composite boat, so gave Chris a call on the weekend to see if he fancied a short paddle trip along the coast. After paddling out past the surf Chris decided to stay on the shore and take photos while I had a little bit of a play in the soup. A trip would have to wait, for now I’d have to put up with a little bit of fun.

getting wet

First Date

Sussing each other out over a few phone calls, Paul and I decided on meeting up for an over night paddle trip. With the SW Canoe show around the corner I suggested meeting up there before moving on to the south coast for a small trip.

I gathered together a few paddling ideas and ended up suggesting a small trip around the coast from Thurlstone Sands up the Salcombe estuary to Kingsbridge. Have a read about it on that link, it really is a great little trip.

While at the show we took the opportunity to have a chat with some of the seakayak product suppliers and manufacturers that had supported me on the Bristol Channel Crossing challenge back in 2006/7. Given the amount of kit that we were likely to need to do the circumnavigation unsupported, I had to look at getting a bigger boat than the plastic Cappella I was used to paddling. It has ben commented in the past that she looks “very low in the water” when carrying me and all my camping gear.

I was keen to try and use as much British equipment as possible on the trip and given my previous experience with P and H Sea Kayaks I had chat with Liz Forshaw about the expedition. She showed an enthusiastic interest in our proposal and gave us a big thumbs up for their support. A Cetus HV was on the cards as the boat of choice.

While the expedition boat was being made for me Liz was happy to provide a demo version of the original Cetus to use in the interim. At least I could start to get out on the water and begin familiarising myself with the larger composite boat. How’s that for support!

One major hurdle overcome – I now had transport!

Loading up at Thurlstone

Camp spot at Soar Mill Cove

Great little overnight spot at Soar Mill Cove

Boat packing in the morning

Packing to leave Soar Mill Cove after our overnight stop

Paul out on the water in his quest

Quest at Dawn

Paddling in the early dawn

Cracking morning paddle!

Big boys breakfast at Kingsbridge

A satisfying end to a great little trip

Great weather brought out the crowds

The colourful canoe carnival in Exeter at the SW Canoe Show

Liz Forshaw from P and H is happy to sponsor us

Liz Forshaw from P&H Sea Kayaks was pleased to provide us with boat support for the trip

Paul insists Eurion will fit in the boat

"Trust me fella, you'll fit in it!"


Well it’s got to start someplace. On a subconscious level it undoubtedly began well before seeing the advert below, posted by Paul on UKSKGB, but for now, at least, it will do nicely as a starting point.

I looked at the ad for some time, and did nothing. I then mentioned it to my wife.

She turned to me and said, “You should do it”. The last time she uttered this sentence was the precursor to upping sticks for a year and a half of working and travelling around the antipodes followed by a marriage proposal and four fantastic children.

In most folks eyes the biggest obstacle of this expedition had just been overcome – (the question mind you, still beggars to be asked, is if she wanted to just get shot of me for some peace and quiet) – so I sent Paul a tentative note to ask him if he was still looking for a partner to do the trip with. As far as I knew he may well have found someone to join him. But he hadn’t.

It wasn’t long before I was tucked into devouring Bill Taylor’s book about his exploits some 25 years previous.

Questions were beginning to accumulate. I had no doubt that I was physically capable of achieving the circumnavigation. One of the biggest questions was whether it was a good idea to embark on an expedition such as this with a person who, at this time, was a total stranger to me. I reasoned that many folk embark upon trips, journeys, businesses or whatever, as the best of friends and end up falling out in dramatic ways, due to pressure; strain; cold; tiredness; pain; hunger; divergent objectives; the list goes on. I concluded that it wasn’t such a big deal that we didn’t know each other it was more a question of whether we could get on and overcome the challenges that we would both inevitably face – that was part of the adventure.

After a few phone calls talking over concerns and objectives and e-mails that resembled some kind of bizarre kayak dating site, we decided to progress to the next base.

I was committed at the very least to meet up in the flesh and go for a paddle together and see if we at least could get on before the start. The ball had started to roll.