6.20 h to 19.20 h
N 54.24620 W 05.68668
Tom and his wife came down this morning to bring my overnight charged power brick, two refilled water bags and a zip lock bag of fruit salad! Absolutely delicious, thanks! Those local helpers make life so much easier, especially being by yourself and somehow immobile from the camp.
My paddling partner for today, Peter, was ready to launch around 6am. He brought me after the yummy food yesterday today also some fresh laundry. Thanks very much!
We had an easy paddle with the tide the whole morning. I was watching carefully my GPS besides “reading” the water to learn where the best current was running. We speeded along with 7-10 km/h, very pleasant! This magic run including some nicely pushing wind lasted until Portavogie, and was suddenly finished. No favorite, no counter current anymore! The nicely pushing wind turned into a full on side wind, and from about 11 am paddling was a bit slow. I felt my heavy loaded boat with the long waterline in choppy waters despite rudder slowing me worse down than Peter’s with his light loaded skeg boat with more rocker. In following winds, following waves or calm waters, my boat has his advantages, but – how else can it be paddling together with a strong, well-rested new male paddling partner in a light weight boat, the whole day I was paddling over my regular speed, stressing my body too much. It must be me…I’m just not used to paddle behind some one for longer. The result is a new blister on my already sore middle finger of the right hand and an allover sore body and elbows.
The crossing of Strangford Louhgh came up, and Peter, having crossed it about six times before in different conditions, was warning me about huge standing waves, sucking whirlpools and strong side current. Well…see how it is looking today!
Thank goodness, around slack high tide, to me it looked dead calm, and I decided to cross those mere 2,5 km just straight from headland to headland. Watching carefully my GPS, despite the 15 knots offshore wind, I got drifted in a slight dogleg into the sound as the tide was still running slightly up. It didn’t feel like it, rather as if the fresh wind would blow the kayak out, but turning around, you could watch the headland we came from shifting, even without GPS. My paddling partner obviously did watch neither of them and decided rather to follow a line pointing his bow into the sound, thinking probably he would otherwise get blown and washed out like to his viewpoint I already got blown and washed out close to the Isle of Man…well, his dogleg was a bit more bent to the inside…we met again at a nice small sandy beach at Killard point for a lunch break on the beach at the point.
It was only 3 pm when we started over again, and now it was rather following the shoreline with some quite nice cliffs. We made a brief stop on Guns island, as I forgot to download my tracks from my GPS and the memory was full. This place would have already been a perfect campsite! But I liked to paddle a bit more, using the nice sunny evening and hoping to find a remote natural campsite close to St. Johns Point.
We left the safe, but ugly harbor of Ardglass and the small bay of Killough aside, I was aiming for a small cove I had checked only on my chart and topo map, but not on the satellite pics. And it was now lowest tide…so the actually nice rocky beach in the lovely remote cove was on low tide unfortunately inaccessible.
So pushing on to St. John’s Point! Still early enough…my GPS showed a “boat harbor” just around the corner! It took a while paddling now into the strong headwind until we saw what was meant on lowest tide – a narrow slipway between inaccessible rocks covered with sea weed on lowest tide. This would be possible to land! But it was not “remote” enough for me, as a large house was just at the end…I was envisioning a nice sandy yellow beach with some dunes inside Dundrum Bay, like drawn on my topo map…so another half an hour paddling into the strong headwind, some sandy rock fee spot at the beginning of the beach area was already lurking well in sight.
But it was lowest tide…and I forgot it may be a very shallow sandy beach…making it a loooooong shallow sandy wet beach on lowest tide…people walking their dogs on some unexpected places off the beach should have been a warning…turning around to the slipway with the wind might have been quicker than stubbornly unloading and dragging and carrying all gear together to some really ugly rocky beach end, the lovely sand would not stay dry on high tide here anyway. Thank goodness this night I had my paddling partner helping me dragging and carrying the stuff, as Peter planned to paddle back home tomorrow, no lift was picking him up.
We eventually made camp on some meadow with high soft grass, not too bad actually, besides the ever-present dog poop smell. But it was already late 9 pm when I was eventually dry and warm inside my tent after long paddling and hard beaching work, so sorry to my paddling partner the social part of the evening came a bit short! It was a pleasant different paddling day anyway, thanks for joining me today, Peter!