Thursday, 30 December 2010

I want to go somewhere interesting!

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!

IMGP0257 Riding the swell into the Gloup

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.      

IMGP0261 Lunchtime

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!

 IMGP0266 Hmm, it was more impressive in real life!

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.

IMGP0262Check out my new Nookie drysuit says Nick!

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.  :-(


  1. Aaaaw! Glad you had a good one!
    Nice pic of Nick!

  2. Agreed, flat water is dull, go for the rough stuff. Sounds like a good start.