Mon 14 May
Distance covered: 30km
Weather: wind 4,5-6 sw
Another early start. The Crouch looks rough but I'm determined not to get stuck again.
Cross Crouch - lots of white horses and chop but quieter on south side. Today's route takes me right down past Foulness Island, army firing ranges with danger areas marked up to 6km offshore over extensive mudflats that show at low tide.
I hug the island to keep out of the wind and 3km in I'm called to the side by a MoD plod (military civil policeman) who doesn't look happy. He tells me I shouldn't be here but that so long as I don't land I can go on. I'm being watched by CCTV though - bloody big brother.
As I paddle southwest I can see the two old Thames anti-aircraft forts out to sea. Built during WW2 to protect London from German bombers, nobody is quite sure what to do with them now. The government sold them back in the '60s and they're abandoned now. I can also see the start of what appears to be a huge wind farm and a lot of big, big ships - a far cry from yesterdays
Hard work moving into the wind and I tire fast! Heavy rain comes in and as I reach the end of the island I can barely see 500m. BBC Hereford & Worcester then ring to arrange a morning interview. Timing!
I round Shoebury Ness fighting both wind and the ebbing tide: knackering. Reaching Southend I see a cluster of dinghies on the beach which turns out to be the council-run Southend Watersports Centre. Here I'm kindly given tea and a place to leave the boat overnight. Then I'm off to find a B&B: £45 a night for the pleasure of sleeping in a bed. The shower makes it worth it though :)
Now I'm out to see what Southend has to offer. Tomorrow is the Thames crossing...