Blog #37 – it’s summertime!

So we’ve paddled right through another winter – and actually, that one really wasn’t so bad, eh? Ahead of the clocks going forward, this last couple of weeks have been beautifully springlike, allowing of us plenty of opportunity to get out onto the water – we’ve had a big down-tide / downwinder Saturday SUPplement, a Sunday Service into Old Leigh, plus a few of us checked out Burnham-on-Crouch last weekend. And coming up, this Wednesday sees our first SUP Club of the 2019 season, plus SUP School reopens next weekend!

Rewind to the weekend before last when we organised a social double-header to mark the end of our winter paddling season… On the Saturday, with a moderate north-easterly wind forecast and a springy late afternoon high tide, we spotted the opportunity for a big down-tide / downwinder that we hadn’t tried before: all the way from Shoebury / Thorpe Bay to Benfleet for a c. 15k ride with the wind and tide! In order to ensure we had enough water to get around the top of Two Tree Island, we left it a little later in the tide than we usually would – which unsurprisingly resulted in a little more movement in the water than you’d call comfortable! Hence the first half of our voyage was pretty full-on, especially from Southend seafront approaching the pier to Chalkwell as the chop was bouncing back off the sea-wall for a pretty confused sea state demanding quite a balancing act. Life started to calm down on the approach to Old Leigh, until we were rewarded with glassy-flat joy around the top of Two Tree and on to Benfleet. At our destination, Dunc stayed with the kit whilst everyone else jumped onto the train back to Shoebury Station to collect vehicles, before a few of us celebrated our journey with a couple of beers aboard Barge Gladys. The next day, Sunday’s forecast looked a little easier so we called a Sunday Service from Chalkwell. With a wider range of paddler speeds and strengths, and a stronger north-westerly than initially forecast, we had to stop short of the full Two Tree Superlap to instead bounce back for an 8k paddle via Old Leigh both ways – and home via a swift drink at the Mayflower! (Find more pix via @SUPsect on Facebook…)

Then last weekend, following a week of beautiful weather (when a fair few of us had managed to get out individually or paired up for training and recreational paddles in beautiful conditions) the forecast was promising one last day of glorious weather on Saturday before temperatures returned back to ‘normal’ for this week. Our Kev has recently moved to Burnham-on-Crouch so a few of us resolved to take up his offer to visit and check out his new venue on the River Crouch with a view to seeing how it might work for a SUP Club later this season. Friday had produced a fair sea breeze, so in glorious spring sunshine we were ready for a little more than the 1-2 knot forecast might suggest – and true to form, there was a solid easterly sea breeze. Yet we had a fantastic paddle, a full 12k round trip past Wallasea Island all the way to the confluence of the Rivers Crouch and Roach off Foulness Island before turning for a downwinder home. Well, via a quick pub stop at The Anchor in Burnham – we couldn’t resist! (More pix via @SUPsect on Facebook…)

Looking forward – and we’ve really been looking forward to this week, as now we’re into British Summer Time again our regular midweek SUP Club‘s back on Wednesday evenings! SUP Club 2019 #1 is this Wednesday 3rd April – naturally after all that fine weather, it’s chilled off and broken down a bit this week. Yet although the forecast has been all over the place, frightening at times, the latest incarnation offers hope that we might well be able to get out at low tide from Two Tree. Failing that we’re up on the river, probably from Paper Mill Lock. Either way, we’re pretty confident of two things: it’s looking chillier, and with a 7.30pm sunset we’ll need to start pretty early – c. 6pm. Stay tuned for updates here, and on our social media pages @SUPsect on Facebook and @SUPsectUK on Instagram…

And then, this coming Sunday sees our first group teaching session of the summer season as we’re taking a private improver lesson for some friends that have taught themselves to paddle over the winter but want a technique check and performance boost before taking on the leisure fleet at the Head of the Dart in a couple of weeks’ time… Next on our teaching schedule, both of our beginner sessions on Good Friday are now fully booked! We’re half full on Sunday 28th, and May sessions are starting to sell too. Please do recommend us to any friends or family that want to learn to paddleboard – we teach everything they’ll need to know for £50 including all kit and instruction on our 2-hour+ course – plus we offer a unique money-back stand-up guarantee! Our current BSUPA Ready to Ride schedule is as follows (more scheduled dates to come soon – or you can request a date to suit via the booking system…)

11am Good Friday 19th April (fully booked!)  /  2.30pm Good Friday 19th April (fully booked!)
11am Sunday 28th April (3 spaces)  / 2.30pm Sunday 28th April
(3 spaces)
11am Saturday 11th May  / 2.30pm Saturday 11th May
11am Sunday 12th May  / 2.30pm Sunday 12th May