What started with a confession over warm beer will turn into 2,500 miles of cold paddling. On Tuesday, May 1, British paddlers Andy Mullins, Geoff Cater and Mike Greenslade set out from Portscatho on the Cornish South Coast, beginning their attempt to circumnavigate Britain by sea kayak.
To their knowledge, only 16 other expeditions (23 paddlers) have successfully completed the circle around England, Wales and Scotland.
The team estimates they’ll need around 100 days for the clockwise tour with the help of some good weather and a little smattering of luck. They hope to cover 30-35 miles a day to account for the days they can't paddle. It's been a challenging season so far paddling off the British coast. Two other expeditions that left earlier with the same goal have faced relentless force 4 and 5 headwinds, according to Mullins.
Gale force winds were forecasted for the trio's scheduled departure date, April 29. They waited two days and left May 1, with a crowd of well-wishes waving them off.
Midlife Kayak is the expedition name, suggested by Mullins' wife as a nod to the group's average age of 45. What causes middle aged men to embark on a three-month paddling expedition? The three met one year ago during a sea kayaking course on the Isles of Scilly and after a day of paddling and loosening up over some real ale (think a dark brew at room temperature), Mullins let slip his guilty-pleasure dream of a large kayak expedition. Paddling around Britain, with beautiful, differing coastline and being close to home, seemed like the logical trip.
"Let's turn this into something of a challenge," said Mullins last week as he wrapped up final details. "As all these things do, they just developed over beer. It started with 'let's do a week on west coast of Scotland, and after the second beer it's let's do all of Scotland and then after that 4th beer it's what the hell, let's do all of Britain!'"
They haven't put a cork in jobs; the three plan to resume work when they finish. Greenslade will only be with the group for seven weeks before having to returning to the time clock.
Months of acquiring gear, training and honing skills has almost led them to the froth of Tatums Beach, Portscatho, near the confluence of the Celtic Sea and the English Channel where they will start - and intend to complete - their round trip.
This isn't just a paddling trip; all three hope that their effort will encourage support for some worthy causes. They have listed five of their favorite charities to receive donations from supporters with all money raised being divided between the 5 organizations. The fellas have covered the actual expedition costs themselves.
Check back with C&K regularly for updates from the Midlife Kayak paddlers. It might just take on the feel of a pub tour where picking up a Wi-Fi signal, a break from the midges and the chance for a wee dram of whiskey likely await.
See their website at www.midlifekayak.co.uk where you can also find a link to their charitable organizations.