Early indications of the cold conditions manifested themselves in iced up puddles on the slipway. I layered up well and broke out my thick Yak fleece hat and Lomo gloves before launching of the beach by Calshot Castle to avoid the icy slipway.
With the tide at it’s lowest point I was glad of the glassy conditions as I crept out around the shingle bank and made a beeline for the Power Station outfall – a concrete tower that sits several hundred metres of the coast. From here, the clear conditions and bright starlight allowed me to fix a bearing on Stansmore Point and dig in for a quick paddle to keep warm. The sea remained flat calm and mist hung on the surface of the water creating an eerie glow from the LED lights on my deck.I stayed a reasonable distance off shore give the calm conditions and passed the glow of a couple of headtorches from fisherman on the shore. I aroma of what smelt like parafin hung in the air, I presume from some sort of heater the fishermen were using.
Pulling up on the beach at Stansmore Point I was thankfully downed a steaming cup of coffee before breaking out the camera for a quick photo session. As I was packing up my kit, the two headtorches bobbed into view and the fishermen appeared on the walk back out to Lepe Beach. They stopped briefly to see what I was up to saying they had watched me paddle past stating to each other ‘he must be bloody mad’! Coming from folk who are happy to sit in freezing conditions watching a thin line disappearing into the dark I wasn’t sure who were the mad ones in this scenario!Once back on the water I put my head down and went for a quick return journey, assisted by the lack of wind and waves. The Cetus had a thin film of ice on the deck which glistened in the deck lights whilst my fingers let me know that they were returning to a normal temperature in a most painful way!
As I reached Calshot the mist rolled in heavily and within minutes all but the nearest of buildings was hidden by thick fog. The ships horns started to boom down Southampton Water as I loaded up and worked hard to clear the car which was enveloped in thick ice.
All in all a great paddle despite the cold!