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A Day Trip to Blackpool by Tim Haines

A body of water with a large building in the distance Description automatically generated

A Day Trip to Blackpool

Southerly Fifteen-knot-plus winds and a neap-ish high tide of under 7m restricted the possibility for a local paddle from West Kirby on Sunday. The one potentially viable option was to launch at high tide at 0600, and go North with the wind. 

I offered up the possibility of a day trip to Blackpool to various friends, but there were no takers as everyone had pre-existing commitments. I decided to go ahead anyway, pre-placed my car in Blackpool on Saturday night and caught the train home, getting in shortly before midnight.  

I was a little late getting on the water, but the tide was still far enough in at 0630 to avoid a long slog over the sludge for which West Kirby slipway is well known. Conditions looked good, with the wind significantly lower than forecast. The paddle out and around Hilbre Island was smooth and calm in the morning half-light.  

Hilbre in the half-light 

Turning right at the end of Hilbre, I gave the huge sandbanks off Holyake a wide berth, and when I was roughly opposite Moreton, I put in a VHF call to the port authority to let them know that I was in the bay, transiting south to north. They advised me to keep listening on Chanel 12 for the duration of the crossing, and to be aware of shipping. I did both. 

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4 thoughts on “A Day Trip to Blackpool by Tim Haines”

    1. Thanks Paul,

      I think the photos make the sea-state look worse that it actually was – it was actually pretty gentle. Strange how often the photos completely fail to capture what conditions are really like! Tim.

  1. Well done Tim! it looks like a very challenging adventure. All the newbies here at home are curious about how long it takes and how difficult it is, not that they are preparing for it, just nosy 😉

    1. Hi Angelo,

      I was on the water for almost eight hours – but this was paddling at a fairly gentle pace, and quite a lot of time spent ‘messing around’ – trying to fly a kite, etc. etc.

      With regard to difficulty I think that there are a few things to take into consideration when looking at a trip like this:

      1. The conditions: What’s the weather like / what are the sea conditions like? Are you happy paddling in these conditions? is really useful for this.

      2. Distance / Time in the boat: You should be confident that you can cover the distance, or you have an ‘escape route’ to get off the water if you are struggling. Sometimes, it’s not possible to get out of the kayak to stretch your legs, so you need to be prepared for this (best way to do this is join one of the club distance paddles – really good preparation for longer paddles)

      3. Navigation: Be sure you are confident in your navigation skills. On the one hand a trip like this is fairly easy (‘Keep the coastline on your right hand side!’) but it’s worth knowing how tide and wind will effect your position, and being ready to navigate ‘blind’ if fog / bad visibility happens.

      4. Communications: If paddling in Liverpool bay, you need to be able to communicate with the port authority, which means having a VHF radio and knowing how to use it. More generally, wherever you are, you should be able to contact the coastguard (mobile phone and VHF) if required.

      5. Equipment: What you carry, and where you carry it (in your PFD / in your day hatch / on your front deck) is important. Not just your ‘safety’ kit, but more mundane things like food, water, warm hat / sun hat, etc. etc…

      The good news is that this is ALL stuff that you can learn / practice by going on club trips! There are lots and lots of very experienced (and qualified!) sea paddlers in the club, so all you really need is to get stuck in to it!

      Good luck – I hope to see you on the water! Tim.