6.30 h to 14.40 h
N 52.13503 W 07.20173
Back to the starting beach!
My last day around Ireland! I conveniently got up when the light came up, and launched into an almost dead calm wind day, temperatures close to 20 degrees, some sun. What does a weather-proven paddler around Ireland want more as a final day? I had to round one mayor point, Hook Head, cross two bays and I would be finished with this “training run” 🙂!
Hook Head were just flat rocks which looked like piled up pancakes, slow favorite current, and had an impressive lighthouse with a sightseeing platform. A long line of motorhomes was parked up to the lighthouse, have I really been once one of those?? I took it slow, enjoyed the calm day, ate a mango and was wondering if there would be anyone at the beach when I would be arriving? Any reasonable paddler should be somewhere out on such a beautiful day himself! Mick was out with a group and not available until 2 pm, he said…
But he changed his mind, and decided to take his group of 10 paddlers heading into my direction, and we calculated a meeting hour around 1.45 pm. It worked out perfectly, as I had the current amazingly with me and could save some time to dive into the last piece of beautiful coast line with some caves and arches at Swinhead between Waterford Bay and Tramore Bay. There had been already a huge deep cave at the southern end of Baginburn Head, and I guessed now I am to close the loop at the south coast! Unfortunately, my strong torch light was down and this cave was really dark and feeling deep, with eerie howling sounds indicating seals.
But when I thought this was it, it got even topped by the very last two kilometers, starting right at Oyen Rock at the 3-towers headland behind Tramor Bay! Ireland’s coast at it’s finest, in low swell, calm seas, sunshine and nice temperatures! What a final! Despite my meeting date with Mick’s group, I paddled into and through any rocky hole or gap, and absolutely enjoyed this last stretch of my circumnavigation! Take any new paddler here, and he or she must get hooked with sea kayaking.
I met Mick’s group just with 15 min delay, thanks for the lovely reception, guys! They have started their paddle another 2 km down from “my” beach, and I decided to honor the reception party, the beautiful day and the lovely island and “over paddled” my round trip by another 2 km with again many arches and nice rocks, before I turned around and landed where my car was parked.
I was a bit hot now in my dry suit, and after loading everything up on my car, I jumped in the water for a swim. Dressed with my thermals though, too many beach visitors here…
I was welcome at Mick’s house the afternoon, but had to wait for the family being back from a birthday party of one of the daughters in the cinema, while I was having perfect time to clean and organize my gear and myself. I stayed for the night, and surely Mick and I had many things to chat! Thanks for hosting me and for looking after my car, Mick!
Thanks also the many helpers on my way who brought me food to my beaches, shared company on paddling stretches, and offered me a place to stay though it was not matching to take many up for their offer. Thanks to Karel Vissel sending me the weather! Thanks to Lettmann providing me the Speedliner and the wing blade for this trip. They proved to be true high quality “racing gear”, although I was definitively not racing 🙂 !
I also used on this trip already well proven gear, but given any time before for other trips my worthy Kokatat Expedition dry suit and Ronin PFD, my loved Hilleberg Allak tent with their solid large sand pegs, my best Snapdragon spray deck and back rest, from Cascade Design: Thermarest sleeping pad, SealLine Nimbus dry bags and MSR Dromedary water bags, a variation of Aquapacs (covered in self-sewn neoprene sleeves) to keep all my electronics safe and dry, an ACR ResQLink PLB as the “last resort”, North Water under deck bags, cockpit bags and paddle leash, a Skwoosh gel seat, Teva sandals, Blue Bandoo visors and YAK open palm mitts and a variation of clothing from my past-sponsor Haglöfs.
Not sponsored, but well worth mentioning as proven gear: My “Freshette” female urinating device (only this brand works well and with comfort while solo seated in a kayak and through the male dry suit zipper! Forget all those soft, pointy, sharp edged or too small other devices…), a self-sewn fluffy sleeping bag liner from those cheap everywhere-available blankets – it is so cozy inside your bag and you don’t have the usual cool feeling slippery surface inside!, thin long neoprene socks from Camaro which cover my Gore tex booties of the dry suit before putting on the sandals.
Ireland is one piece of a gem to paddle around, doable for low to moderate skill level – if you use your brain and watch the weather. It has not any surf landing (well, at least I did not find any, only dead calm landings), and an absolute stunning scenery and few stretches you may call somehow “boring” – but only in comparison to the stunning parts. If you can, start in Belfast or Dublin, to have something to top after the not that exciting east coast. Or – like I did by chance – finish with some highlight stretch which you may make you come back!