Saturday, 17 September 2016

Stage 12 - Barry to Cardiff

There's nothing like a welcoming party. But before we could get to ours, the Coastguard had sent their own to Barry in the form of a helicopter to pick up to powerboaters who had decided their boat looked better upside down. After they'd been plucked from the water, we carried on at a cracking pace 'Bay-ward.




Having just left our new friends at Barry Yacht Club, we set course for more friends, family and barley pop at the Lookout Cafe, flanked by the Cardiff Sea Safaris RIB.

We were excited to come into Cardiff. It was the last stretch of what had been at times a gruelling, grinding and generally event-filled fortnight sea. Perhaps one thing we were looking forward to most was not having to put wet wetsuits on the next day. Dry pants also have certain charm.  

Nevertheless, we knew we were going to miss it. The sun rises, sun sets and everything in between. The wildlife and wild - sometimes downright scary - rides. And of course, the incredible group of paddlers, sailors and other boaters from all along the coast who had given their time to support us on each of the stages.

And this was the final stage. We had done it, nearly 400 miles around our coast. 
After all the musings about how we'd feel coming home, it was just a bit surreal. Having been waved off by ITV who had come to report from the start of the final stage at Barry, we began to realise the magnitude of the journey and just what it symbolised.


It was about focusing on abilities which we all possess, setting goals and absolutely going for it! This wasn't about comparison with what others had done. Instead, it was realisation. This was enablement in action. We'd paddled around Wales to prove what can be done when you focus on individual ability over disability. 


Barrage-style bubble bath
And then we got to the outside of the barrage and realised something else. There was a regatta on. Sailing boats were coming at us from all directions. Luckily Jack and Sean aboard the RIB where on hand and we tethered to the side of their boat as we approached the lock. 


Jack and Tom
The final few hundred meters awaited. First though there was just time to shove a flagpole - complete with Welsh flag - into Tom's buoyancy aid and prepare Gary the (salty) dragon, our faithful mascot, for the big entrance.

We paddled around the perimeter of the barrage and finally the end point came into view. What seemed like hundreds of our supporters were standing on the waterfront... mind you I wasn't wearing my glasses. This was epic!

It's hard to find the words to explain the feeling. Most of all we were thankful. Thankful to have so many friends, family and supporters. Thankful we had made it. Thankful to be home. Thankful to achieved what we'd set out to do, despite the odd typhoon along the way.

From sea to ITV - full report

So, to summarise... Thank you. To everyone along the journey who made this possible! You know who you are.

A special thank you again to Gus and the team at Escape Watersports for believing in us and for supplying the incredible steed - our Wilderness Systems Polaris 180T, along with all the other equipment since training started two years ago. 

In a couple of months we'll be totting up the fundraising. In the meantime, we will be busy enjoying not having saltwater in the eye and the undervalued benefits of the aforementioned dry pants.

Cheers!
Ben and Tom




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