Clearly I am not the best paddler ever, but sometimes I want to do more than a flat water trip. As good as being out on the water is, fast, flat water paddling is….well….. boring. I would much rather get out and explore my ‘adventure zone’ as Gordon Brown put it. I don’t do this enough. Next year, I intend to get in some pant wetting experiences and extend my comfort zone that little bit further. I want to take on tide races, rockhop in big swell and generally challenge myself. I don’t necessarily want to paddle very far, I just want to do something interesting!
Today I may not have left my comfort zone, but at least our paddle fell into the ‘interesting’ category. We knew there was a bit of easterly swell on so we headed to the east side of the island because I wanted to play! I love that bit of coast and had some rockhopping in mind.
When we arrived at Sandside, all looked calm but as we headed out of the bay, there was a definite swell on. We kept quite wide to avoid the breaking waves. I wanted to go through but thought I better not do this on my own. Heading up the coast, there was a significant swell off the cliffs but we hung a left and headed for the Gloup. For some reason, even with a fair swell, it is still usually possible to get into the Gloup. There was a fair bit of lift once we were inside but this was no problem. Coming out again, the sea felt really flat!
Next up was a rocky outcrop near the Brough of Deerness. There are 3 ways round – near the cliff, through the middle or round the outside. We opted for the inner passage which, with a bit of timing was manageable and fun. On to Mull Head. We rounded the corner into what wind there was and headed to a geo for lunch. I went in the special entrance passage but couldn’t get all the way though because the tide was too low.
After lunch the wind seemed to have picked up a little and it seemed choppier towards the head. However, once we rounded the corner again, the swell seemed to have died down a bit which meant we could get closer to the rocks and cliffs.
First we went through the middle passage at the Brough of Deerness. We watched for a while then made a break for it when the waves subsided. My eyes started scanning for the next rock! My instinct is always to head for the soup but I am mindful of being wiped out and having to be rescued. I have to behave myself!
Back at the point, the waves were still breaking on the shelving rocks but we dodged our way though and avoided a thumping. I then spied a gap between breaking wave and rock and headed round the point. To finish off, I headed down a gap in the rocks towards the bay.
I know the conditions weren’t massive, but they were big enough to offer some challenges and to get oneself thinking about timing and sensible paddling lines. I like taking risks but don’t want to cause an incident by doing so. Today I felt happy to have the Hairyaker and Blowfield safety boats on hand! I felt more than happy that they could have sorted me out if rescue was required. Above all, I really enjoyed myself and I haven’t said that about paddling for a long time. The only thing missing was Mackayak. :-(