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West Kirby to Hilbre 03/04/2022 by Catriona Hare

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We all arrived promptly and wondered why we were getting ready to go on the water in chilly rain with a bit more wind than expected, some complaints were made to the organiser.

After a quick briefing and being split into 2 manageable-sized groups (sort of). There were far too many people called Ian or Martin for me to remember which group I was in. However, by now the wind had calmed down and the sun had come out, so it was good to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen for a while.

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We paddled west away from the shore to avoid the sandbanks before heading north towards Hilbre in mildly choppy conditions with a bit of a headwind. The group started to get a bit spread out, and Roger was sent to the front to control the pace of the leaders. As we approached the outside of Middle Eye, we could see that the water was getting rougher over the shallow area ahead and that we were now in a quartering sea. We paddled some distance out from Middle Eye to avoid disturbing the winter roosting birds.

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However, the change in sea conditions proved a bit of a surprise for one paddler and we had our first capsize of the afternoon. Whilst Ian, Martin, and Roger carried out a rescue, Nikki guided the rest of us onto the shore of Hilbre Island. The four remaining paddlers arrived tired from effecting a rafted tow. I am still wondering if Ian sabotaged his tow rope, so he couldn’t help with the towing.

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After, a short stop for lunch and absolutely no desire to paddle around Hilbre, we set off on the calmer inside of Little Eye, in the following sea. Another capsize and rescue followed, and the group again became a bit spread out. The leaders distributed themselves through the group, Roger in front again, trying to slow down the lead paddlers, not an easy task in the following sea, and Martin providing support at the back. Ian ensured the rest of us buddied up and kept an eye out for each other. We then headed to the outer side of Little Eye, where we experienced rough water again as we crossed a sandbank, and another capsize.

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Following a small amount of surfing past the southern end of Little Eye, we took the inside channel back to West Kirby, with no further misadventures.

After a bit of discussion, we decided to go for tea and cake. Martin commented that compared to sorting out the group on the trip, Ian was very indecisive about where we should go for tea and cake. That was a relief, I am not sure that anyone needs to provide a command-and-control approach to tea shops.

We got thrown out of Morrisons at 4:00. Roger reminisced about being thrown out of nightclubs and how things had changed.

A big thank you to Ian for organising the trip and to Roger, Martin, and Nikki for helping everyone get back safely.