Summer seems a long way off but there’s no need to wait for the sun to warm up to enjoy getting back out on the water. An early February row invitation was put out on our sparkly new website and, with a confirmed berth and near perfect conditions, we were on! The only thing between me and the North Sea was the necessary 15-minute wriggle into the wetsuit with husband on-hand to zip me in and, suitably garbed, we raced off to Alnmouth.
Two crews were gathering to prepare Enflaeda and Pride of Aln for our afternoon row. The necessary safety checks completed, and equipment stowed, we undertook the first physical challenge; pushing the skiffs down to the sea-edge. Think scrummaging over sand, one way to get warmed up (that, and the wetsuit contorting)!
We were so lucky; ‘blue-bird’ skies with silvery light channelling across gentle waves to invite us in. The skiffs were launched, and we headed out of Alnmouth Bay with Coquet Island ahead. A little competitive banter between the two crews and the predictable response was an uptick in speed in both boats as we headed north across Seaton Bay with Boulmer in our sights.
Winter sea birds such as Eider ducks floated by and then Jenny pointed to an inquisitive ‘dog’ seal which had popped up to investigate us and monitored our progress for a while. A crew swap around onboard allowed Jim to work on his cox skills, Alan took up Stroke and Rhoda added her impetus to Two. After around two miles we turned the Skiffs south and, for the rowers who had their backs to it before, Dunstanburgh Castle came into view, perched on its Whin Sill headland and dominating the skyline as we rowed back towards Alnmouth.
Another position-change as Alan took over cox and Ken and Jim returned to Bow and Stroke to row us in – an impressive shift in power was noted with Race Day planned for later this month! Dave’s crew of Roger, Jane, Dave C and Jenny were also making strong headway ahead of us.
It was just great to get into that rowing rhythm and breathe in magical North Sea air – with just a hint of Norway in it today – the very tiniest of breezes on our return row.
The sea state couldn’t have been calmer and the mystical winter colours and light were spectacular, creating amazing views across the water and inland over the bays. The final cherry-on-the-cake, Alison spotted two porpoises as they crested, and we really couldn’t have asked for more!
What to wear for a winter row:
- A winter-grade wetsuit – there is plenty of choice out there on websites and in specialist sports shops.
- Protect your extremities with neoprene socks & water boots, appropriate gloves and don’t forget a beanie or woolly hat
- Layer up with loose outer wear such as fleeces, sweatshirt and a waterproof – they can be discarded as you warm up
- Life jacket – you can’t row without one – members can use the club life jackets
Top tip: Give yourself 15 minutes to contort your way into your wetsuit ideally with a partner on hand to zip you up if needed!
More information is available in the Members Area