I set off from Clovelly harbout at 4am in the morning having slept in through a full night of rain in my goretex bivy. The building swell across Bideford bay was becoming more and more evident the further across I paddled. Baggy point presented me with no major issues, although the race was running at quite a rate and the waves were breaking heavily on some rocks just off the point.
I continued across Morte bay towards Morte Point. As I approached Morte Point I began to realise that this headland was going to be different from all those that I had previously encountered. Waves were breaking heavily on the reef out from the point as far as I could make out. It was ‘heaving’ and I began to feel very uncomfortable in committing myself to the race that would take me around this point. As I approached the rough water I felt better of it and beat a quick retreat to take my chances with the heavy surf that was breaking on Woolacombe Sands. Too big to try breaching, I knew I would end up either upside down or swimming the kayak through the break: either way I didn’t care; at least I would not have to face Morte Point in the conditions. I went in on the back of a wave and was swiftly clobbered by a larger wave that followed. I exited the boat and held on to the back before swimming it through the remaining surf before landing safely on the beach. I did lose my glasses but then I always seem to lose my glasses when exiting through heavy surf (I had previously lost my glasses on a beach on Hinchinbrook island in Australia)!
I spent the day on the beach,drying off, much to the amusement of the hordes of holidaymakers, the majority of which seemed reluctant to travel more than 100 meters from the beach access. I knew I would now be stuck here until the conditons improved as I would not attempt to round Morte point until then. The RNLI beach patrol very kindly agreed to store my kayak until conditions improved. I spent the evening watching how the sea runs off Morte Point – I would need to go very wide to stay clear of the breaking waves and overfalls.