Finally! Weather and circumstances combined to let me get outside. It certainly has been a while.
Discussions during the week suggested a trip to the east coast of South Ronaldsay, in the hope that a nice swell might be running. This is my favourite bit of coastline in Orkney and I love it there whatever the conditions. Having found some money in the house and having been given a fiver for boat transportation, I was able to fuel up Phyllis and off we went to the Sooth Parish.
There was indeed a bit of a swell running when we arrived at the kirk, although the bathymetry of the bay meant that the waves had lost all their oomph by the time they reached the beach. Having clambered over the (apparently) smelly seaweed and launched in to some noisy, splashy but utterly harmless surf, off we set across the bay to what I think is one of the best 3km of coastline anywhere.
Keen eyed observers will note that this photo has been taken very far away from the cliff (and therefore the whitewater). This was because my companion is not a danger monkey and had no wish to crash into rocks. As she was not coming to rescue me, I was duly banned from playing! The smudges on the camera lens are my tears…..
Despite there being no danger of death, rockhopping, cliff crashing or boat flipping, this is still a beautiful bit of coastline to look at. At times the swell was pretty sizable, up to 2m in places, but with no wind, it was lovely to be in. There was enough clapotis around to make you stay alert, giving us a great paddle down to Windwick.
Given that I had found enough food in my house to cobble together a packed lunch (peanut butter and lettuce pieces!), there was no way I wasn’t eating it. The surf was breaking on the Windwick beach and, because the tide was so far in, only the steepest portion was visible. We picked our spot and then I landed before catching my companion. All was fine until the water went over her wellies (eugh!). As we ate lunch some sizable sets came through but as high tide neared, the waves began to drop away. The beach was covered in heaps of manky seaweed which meant a fun seal-launch over it and down the beach. Seal launching a fibreglass boat is probably not the best plan but it leaks already….
There was noticeably less swell on the return journey but the wind was now in our faces. As we neared the beach and crossed the underlying skerries, the swell really picked up again but was harmless enough.
Once we were close into shore, it was time for some wet practice. I wanted to try everything I have been doing the pool while wearing 10 times more clothes. I rolled, re-entered and rolled and self-rescued. Then I was cold.
Although we didn’t paddle far at all, we had a lovely few hours out and it was a suitably fine first proper paddle of the year.