Days 12 to 17
Tue 15 to Tue 22 May
Distance covered: 192km
So it's an early start on Tuesday - I stumble out and the first order of the day is a radio interview with Howard on the BBC Hereford & Worcester Breakfast Show. Not what you need at 07:30 that's for sure!
With that completed I can get on with the biggest challenge of the day - crossing the river Thames, my first big 15-kilometer crossing and major shipping route no less! Tides are at midday so I've got a while to prepare and drink tea at the Southend Marine Activity Centre. While I'm there I'm told of the USS Montgomery wreck on the far side - she was an American WW2 cargo ship that sank with a full load of unexploded bombs. Though the fuses and bombs are kept in separate parts of the ship many still wash up onshore and need to be dealt with. Worringly they say that if the ship ever goes bang it will send water 3km into the air - goodbye Southend!
At 12:00 it's time to start the crossing. A headwind's picking up and it looks a bit challenging, but I'm told by weathermen that it will calm down at 14:00 so off I set. It's knackering with big breaking waves and constant wind - my speed is only 4km/h and if I stop paddling I start going backwards! Reaching the middle of the channel I come to what I think is a marker buoy for the shipping lane and see a large cargo shio bearing straight at me - a brief panic and I realise it will just miss me! In the event a Stena Tiger passes 250m to my front: I need to change my underwear!