KAYAKER Joe Leach arrived in Port St Mary at 9.15pm last Wednesday night at the end of a long and gruelling paddle from Anglesey, North Wales.
Joe is hoping to circumnavigate Britain by kayak in under 80 days (the current record). He was raised in the port and his friends and family were there to greet him as he paddled into the outer harbour.
His mother Karen, who lives in Colby, said: ‘It was really emotional ... I am so proud of him. He was really tired. He said that after having a break for three days [he waited in Anglesey for the weather to improve] he thought he would be in the mood for it, but he found it really hard-going. It was mentally exhausting.’
It took Joe 12 hours and 45 minutes to paddle to the Isle of Man from Anglesey.
On his blog he wrote: ‘Although psychologically hungry for paddling, three days off seems to have sapped me physically. I was extra slow and extra faffy getting launched. It should have been straightforward, given the size of the incentive to get home to the Isle of Man, but every stroke was a conscious effort and I was lethargic.
‘Making slow and pretty boring but definite progress towards shadowy outlines of Mann, the monotony was broken by the low, fast surfacing of a Minke Whale. That had been high on the wish list. I pushed on, with the island now firmly in sight, and stepped up the pace. I knew there were bound to be a few folk waiting at Port St Mary, but I was blown away to see so many close friends turn out for me. After a few interviews with press, it was quick pint, crucial lasagne, deep soak and bed.’
At 6am on Thursday morning he was up again. After a full breakfast, at 8.30am he left the island and, 11 hours later, he arrived in Northern Ireland. ‘In a couple of days, the weather is going to turn again, he needs to make progress,’ said Karen.
Joe, a 24-year-old former Castle Rushen High School student who is now a kayak instructor based in Cornwall, set out from Falmouth on May 2 on his circumnavigation. He travels light and carries everything in his kayak, including camping gear and dehydrated food.
He admitted he does get lonely doing the whole trip alone but said: ‘There is a big trade-off in the safety of being in a group ... at the same time, I do not have to look after anyone else, I will put no one else in danger, I can paddle until I’m exhausted.’
The upside to his solitariness has added to some remarkable encounters, particularly with dolphins. He said: ‘The dolphin moments are more magical when you are on your own, then they go away – you think did that really happen?’
He’s also cleaning up the sea as he goes and collecting any marine litter he spots and hopes to raise £1,000 for the charity Surfers Against Sewage. To follow Joe’s progress, see www.joeroundbritain.wordpress.com.