I was contacted at the end of March by Glenn Eldridge, he asked me if I was keen to pair up with Tarryn Brown and paddle across the Celtic Sea. We were to paddle from St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly to Sennen Cove, the cove next to Land’s End. I didn’t hesitate – I said yes straight away.
So I really couldn’t believe it when we arrived on Friday 16th May and met up with Tarryn to realise that this was all coming together and happening. Friday evening was going to be our first time in the boat together, so we needed to set it up and get it all ready. After that we were going to have a final meeting and briefing. That is when it all got real.
Saturday Tarryn and I met up at Costa Coffee, well it would’ve been rude not to, Dan Latham was also there. Dan was to be our first responder for the crossing. After a large coffee, which I didn’t realise Costa are not kidding when they say large!! We headed down to Carbis Bay Beach to go back out on the water for a final paddle before our boat left for the Scilly Isles. Tarryn and I felt good in the boat so we were happy and all set. Lewis Kirton, Vincent Naert and Mark Slater left on Saturday afternoon with our boats and spent the night on the Scilly’s.
Sunday morning I got picked up from my hotel and off we went to Falmouth to get on to a beautiful Sunseeker, thank you Carbis Bay Hotel for the use of your Skipper and your boat. This boat was going to go off first and follow the SUP (Mark Slater) and the paddler boarder (Tom Butler). But first it was going to take us to The Scilly Isles. The journey over was quite bumpy and there was a light breeze in the perfect direction, excitement was in the air.
We had a lot to do once we got onto the Scilly’s and bit more prep work before we could set off. The time slipped away very quickly and before I knew it Mark and Tom were about to leave and we would be leaving about an hour later.
The time was here, and off we went. We were being supported by Jonny Stevenson, an experienced sailor, great navigator and all round good guy! So we had to head out of St Mary’s and paddle around the Island to the front before we could head towards Sennen Cove. Well not as simple as that, the tides and currents are very strong so we had to count that in and then the approaching shipping lane – which is the busiest shipping lane in the UK. I had sat down with Glenn and Jonny and plotted my course, so I was happy. Once you get about an hour away from the Scilly’s and start to lose sight of land it’s not easy to stay on course without a compass or GPS. I had my faithful Garmin and our support boat had a compass, that was pretty much it. I strayed off course a couple of times, but Jonny soon reminded me which direction I should be heading in. Tarryn and I we were combining so well in the boat, everything was great…..we were on the same “page” so to speak. We passed Mark and Tom (SUP/Paddle Boarder) after about one and a half hours, they were a bit further east than us, so we didn’t see them well enough to ask how they were feeling.
Then came our 2 hour mark, the time where you cannot see any land anywhere. Its the most surreal feeling, just open ocean – actually so beautiful words cannot describe the sight of nothing but open ocean. We stopped for a moment, took a picture (of course) but really just needed to take in the beauty and feeling of being out there. I think that was my high point, besides stepping on dry land that is!! Once we could see land there was a point to aim for, with about an hour or so to go we could actually see the Lighthouse at the end of Land’s End and finally had fixed landmark to aim for. We had a left a bit later than we should from the Scilly’s, so the tides had changed slightly to how I had viewed them on the charts, we could not longer “scoot” inside of the lighthouse but rather aim left of it. This was the hard part…..once we were in line with the lighthouse we hit the current which now had turned against us. Thank you Tarryn for pushing me through this part and keeping my concentration high. I just remember saying “I don’t know where the harbour is”, Tarryn just said aim for the cliffs, “go closer to the cliffs”, “use the runs”, it wasn’t easy but then suddenly I saw the harbour wall, once you see it from sea its easy but it blends in so well with the land that I just couldn’t make it out…..it was also overcast and almost 8pm by that stage!
WE DID IT!!! We actually made the crossing. A dream of Glenn’s had turned into reality, actually it turned into the most fun and challenging adventure I have ever done. The feeling when we had finished was sheer enjoyment. I had a great time out on the water, thank you Tarryn for asking me to complete this with you, I really enjoyed the challenge. We completed the 52.7km crossing in 4hrs20min32secs, the first ever all female crew to cross this stretch of water on a human powered craft. World record set – BOOM!!
Next in was Lewis and Vincent, also in a double Surfski, they had a great paddle completing it in 3hrs55min, (another World Record?? Yet to be finalised) Glenn, who started with Lweis and Vincent, came in 6min later (World Record Number 3?). What an awesome paddle by everyone.
Mark Slater (SUP) broke his paddle with about 5km (I think, it could be more) to go and his spare was too far away now, so he just lay down and soldiered on. Great respect for him, its so easy to make an excuse and just give up, but not Mark – Well Done (World Record Number4?)
Tom Bulter (Paddle Boarder), allround crazy for taking this challenge on a paddle board…….what a champion(World Record Number 5?)!! Huge respect that was tough.
The picture below sums up all our emotions, Glenn and Tom the backbone of this operation – thank you guys :)
A massive thank you must go out for all guys who supported us during this great challenge.
Carbis Bay Hotel – getting us to the Scilly Isles and supporting us on the way back!
St Ives Boats – Taking our Surfski’s over the Scilly’s and also supporting us all the way back!
Urban Beach UK – Keeping us warm with gear for off the water, great warm kit. Thanks
Robie Robes – Great, these towelling robes are just plain awesome!!
Please visit the crowdfunder page Crowdfunder and pledge something towards our fund raising for two charities The Wave Project and The Joe Way Paddle for Life, every little helps and there are some great things to purchase.