On Sunday 12th June 2015, myself and the Yangtze Explorer Scout group were to kayak along the Hadleigh Ray from the edge of Two Tree Island. We had to wait until after midday for the tide to go out. It seemed that I was the only one in my group that hadn’t kayaked before, so naturally I was a bit apprehensive as to what was going to happen. Once we had manually hauled all the kayaks and equipment to the water’s edge, it was time to set off.
After a good 5 minutes of minimal progress and paddling in circles, I managed to move in a moderately straight line out towards the Ray. It was very windy and whilst some of the more experienced members of the group were powering on ahead, the rest of us were desperately trying to avoid the mud banks and anchored boats. After a while we stopped at a bank to empty the newly made lakes that seemed to have accumulated in some of the kayaks. By now, I was already coming to terms with how awfully weak my arms were, as I was already beginning to get tired; but before long we set off again to kayak a little further up the ray before setting up a barbecue on the mud flats.
After disembarking, we messed around kicking up mud and getting absolutely drenched in gritty mud and attempted to have a game of mud football. We then ate food (which ended up getting awfully gritty from all the mud) and did some raft racing. When it came to coming back, the wind had picked up a lot and was blowing in the opposite direction to which we needed to paddle. I climbed back into my kayak and was determined to paddle all the way back up the Ray, but it became apparent that I was in fact moving backwards no matter how hard I paddled, and so I gave up and began the trek back up along the mudflats with the other less experienced kayakers. After what seemed like hours of dragging kayaks and falling over in the mud, salvation came along in the form of a speed boat and got us back up to the slipway at Two Tree Island.
Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I can’t wait until next year’s Ray Day!
Matilda, Yangtze ESU
[Editor’s note: Ray Day was organised by Southend Estuary District Scouts, for which many thanks from the Explorers of Southend West]