As friends will certify, I'm not often speechless, but we were all gobsmacked to see 70 colourful kayaks heading for the causeway on Sunday - it wasn't that we weren't expecting them, but there was more than twice as many as initially predicted!
Our first Wild Coast Paddle proved a runaway, or should that be paddle away, success.  Watersport enthusiasts from all over the country travelled to the Crouch valley to pit themselves against the Essex elements and circumnavigate Wallasea Island, in response to a challenge thrown down by the Wild Coast Project team and Canoe England. It was quite a spectacle for anyone in the area at the time.
Traffic came to a halt while staff and volunteers helped the paddlers carry the vessels across the causeway on foot, as the high tide was not high enough to cover the road on the day. Once afloat again they headed off into the River Roach in search of seals and other wildlife.  By the time they reached the North East corner of Wallasea, most were more than ready for the warming cup of RSPB tea or coffee on offer, before the final frontier - the battle up the Crouch back to Burnham against the wind and tide.
Certificates are on their way to those who survived, but in the meantime, those needing proof for disbelieving friends and relatives should take a look at our brand new Flickr account - opened especially in honour of this event.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rspb_wallasea_island_wild_coast_project/collections/


My kayak theme  then continued this week with a visit from the Essex Islands Challenger, Hugh Turner.  Wallasea was the last island Hugh set foot on in his RNLI fundraising voyage round all 35 islands in Essex.
Essex has more islands off its coast than any other English county. Some are large and populated, like Canvey, Wallasea and Mersea, some are inhabited but private such as Horsey and Osea, others may be little more than marshy hummocks rising above the tideline, but all are shown as definite islands on the charts. The nearest is but 30 miles from the heart of London, and the furthest just under 100 miles, though many are in wild, remote locations that feel a long way from anywhere, and have evocative names like Fobbing Horse, Packing Shed Island, Sunken Island and Honey Island.
I met Hugh on his way back from Bridgemarsh Island,to fortify him with a quick chat,a cup of coffee and a rather large and yummy chocolate cookie, before he paddled on down to a  reception at the RNLI in Burnham-on-Crouch.  If you would like to find out more and donate to Hugh's fund, take a look at http://www.justgiving.com/hugh-turner. His picture is on our Flickr pages too. We hope to see Hugh back on Wallasea for a proper tour of our project soon - if not, I may have to kayak north to find him!   

Anonymous