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Securitas Irish Sea Crossing Caught In Stormy Weather

Once they had packed all their kit, carried out safety and weather checks, Andrew Hill and Vincent Haywood, from Wooden Spoon corporate partner Securitas, started their voyage at 6:00am on 3 October 2019 from Portpatrick Harbour, Scotland to cross the Irish Sea by kayak.

They had no worries about the sea when they started; it was calm. If it stayed that way, they were confident they would be able to achieve the mission. The first signs of light broke over the mountains just as they set off. The outgoing tide helped them along and they found themselves rocketing along at a good six or seven kmh.

As the sun came up, the reality of the sea’s state was becoming more obvious. By now waves were at shoulder height, but they were making good progress and paddled on.

Andrew Hill before he set off to attempt crossing the Irish Sea by kayak

Saying goodbye to the safety of Scotland’s coastal waters, it changed to an abrupt hello to the back end of Hurricane Lorenzo and Northern Ireland’s yellow storm warning.

Andrew Hill, said: “Waves by now were reaching well over our head and breaking on the tops. We couldn’t see beyond the walls of water around us as we were pitched up 20ft only to be abruptly dumped 20ft lower into a deep trough of sea water just seconds later.”

Things were getting serious now.

After a little deliberation they decided to turn the kayak around and head back to Scotland. As they were performing this miraculous feat of naval maneuvering, a huge wave hit and propelled them forward at great speed, and turned them over.

Andrew added: “We pulled our spray decks off and swam out from underneath the kayak. We surfaced, looked at each other and laughed. Well this was a challenge.”

Andrew and Vincent managed to get the kayak the right way up, whilst being attacked from waves. After fighting to get back into it, the waves got stronger and it became much more difficult.

It was decided that they had to contact the coastguard via the marine radios. Vincent gave their location to the coastguard who immediately dispatched the Portpatrick lifeboat.

“We sat there for around half an hour being lashed by what we now know is Sea State 5 waves. We had to launch a flare, and as we were lifted up again by a wave some 20ft high, we saw the Trent class lifeboat powering towards us and I raised my paddle. They turned and headed our way.

“The lifeboat was being tossed around like a kids bath toy so they dispatched a rib off of the back of it. They picked Vincent up then lashed a line to the kayak and I jumped in and swam to the returning rib. The lifeboat towed the kayak and a chastened Vinnie and I were welcomed aboard the boat by the RNLI coxswain.

“They made us a nice hot brew, were generally amazing and we arrived back in the safety of Portpatrick Harbour where we were met by the Coastguard, who thanked us for planning so well.”

Andrew and Vincent were rescued from the back end of Hurricane Lorenzo

Future plans

Andrew and Vincent are adamant that they have not been put off by this experience. At no point were they scared, and had confidence in their abilities, the kayak and the emergency services including the Coastguard and the RNLI.

Andrew said: “We now know not to push it. If the gut feeling says don’t go, no matter what the internal turmoil is, just don’t go!

“We will train harder, plan better and we will do this in summer next year. We will get local knowledge and support and we will achieve it. To that end, I will keep the charity page open and keep updating accordingly. Thanks again for all your fantastic support. We have raised over £2,000 for Wooden Spoon.”

We would like to thank Andrew and Vincent for their amazing attempt at this challenge, and you can still donate here.

They are still planning on completing the challenge next summer, when the weather might be more in their favour.