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The Trans-Exe Canoeing Drink

Kangy, June '88

My experience of the BEC is that it is peopled by people who use impeccable logic.  Like 'I need a drink with whatsistoddy where's the nearest'.

If you are at Dawlish and you have to sort out great things with your mate at Exmouth then a round trip of about 40 miles awaits you and the return trip ought to be made sober. However, just think, it's only a mile across the Estuary.  And the return trip needn't be restricted.

Jonathan and I had dined and wined well with his landlord at Dawlish and thought about seeing Gareth who was running an outdoor pursuits centre indoors at Exmouth and needed to get out.  Jonathan said "We could take the double" and I smiled about all sorts of things.  Wine, sons, alternative points of view, the pleasure of sea canoeing, being afloat at night.

We launched off the beach at Dawlish Warren at 9.30.  It was dark but there were plenty of shore lights to aim for.  We paddled parallel to the coast until we worked out what the tide was doing and then really punched the canoe along until we were warm and happy.  Almost there (it seemed to me) we grounded on a sand bank.  Jonathan towed the canoe and I became concerned about water creeping into my welly-boot.  The shore loomed ahead as a shadowy lighter grey band, the house line was black and lights twinkled.  The water was ankle deep and so I sprinted for shore leaving Jonathan to it.  As I dived into the fast flowing deeper bit, tripped by the bottom falling away, I heard delighted laughter which stopped as I submerged.  I'd failed to realise that the main channel cut us off from the shore and now I had to fight the tide as it gripped, trying to sweep me away.  My embarrassment was made worse by Jonathan's grin but I was lucky, stayed on my feet and swayed forward pushing against the tug of swift water until I could grab the safety of the canoe.  The distance remaining to the shore became obvious as we paddled hard to counter the rip.  Suddenly it was all over and we dragged the canoe up the beach and hid it by a fence.

We made our rendezvous with Gareth at The Deer Leap pub.  (Sitting outside in our wet gear, little skirt-like spray decks about our waists and peering over our buoyancy aids I had an insight about posers, - they wouldn't look at us.)  Had a good drink.  Went back to the beach, launched, said cheerio to Gareth, and two paddle strokes later lost sight of him in the shadow of the shore.

The tide must have been out. We marched over sandbank after sandbank. Fell about pissed.  Launched and re-launched.  Found a lead which we could follow home, enjoyed a flat out burst of speed, sang, and then the lights went out.  Well, we were near enough to make out the outline of the necessary seawall so that was all right and so were we.