We've been doing a bit of surfing, but photographs are few due to the nature of the surf zone and frequent rolling practice. On 29th December the warm sunshine made a paddle irresistible so we had a wander from fort to fort around the Solent. OSB (Outer Spit Buoy) in the foreground, Spitbank Fort and Portsmouth behind.
The usual interaction with shipping; Liz starting off to paddle astern of the Mont St. Michel as it entered Portsmouth at speed.
This summer we spent 3 weeks paddling in the Outer Hebrides, the winds were mainly westerly, hence a lot of paddling on the east coasts. This leaves the west for next time.
The first week was mostly light winds and we took the chance to paddle from Loch Boisdale down and around the southern islands to Barra Head. In fact the wind was so light that midges became a major nuisance, even when cooking out on the rocks. What a relief when a breath of wind sent them scurrying back into the wild flower meadows and adder's tongue fern.
Fabulous beaches, here is the famous beach on Mingulay. Impossible to paddle there without launching into the sea shanty 'Turn her head round into the weather, Heel y'ho boys, let her go boys, Sailing homeward to Mingulay ' at every paddle stroke.
Delightful crossings of the sounds between the islands in a lazy swell.
The west coasts of the islands with their 200m bird cliffs, a large shark (Porbeagle?) came up to look at Liz's paddle blade, but quickly found it inedible.
and surprising swell for such a flat day.
The landing on Bernaray, easy enough in the gentle sea
Barra Head, the end of the world.
After the picnic at the end of the world,
and saying goodbye to our companions, we paddled around in what must have been exceptionally calm conditions.
Thereafter it was mostly more windy and less settled.
But with good drying days
The promise of sunshine
Breezy walking days
Two faces of the Sound of Harris, localised strong tides,
and a pattern of islands.
Haring along the coast with a tail wind. The sharp-eyed will have noticed that Liz has a new boat. An Anasacuta of course, but yellow over white. The old one was a very light diolen lay-up, this one is carbon-kevlar, better suited to touring wild places.
The crossing to Shiant, note the ferry angle to keep us clear of the race of the bluemen. This heading (calculated with the chart, compass and some bits of string on the beach) coupled with the 2kt NE flow took us straight across to the largest of the islands you can see. The sea was oily calm, all swell broken by the race. The bluemen sometimes appeared to be gaining on us with breaking waves on our left shoulder, but the bits of string had told the truth and they didn't catch us.
Comfort stop on the only beach available, a golden eagle soared around the cave mouth. This was a change to our usual sea eagles.
Then a day of threatening eerie calm -as it turned out our last paddling day.
The next day we found out what F9-10 looks like in a sheltered bay
and on the exposed west coast of Lewis
with its surf beaches
wild north coast
and foam covered beaches. The prolonged storms were a good end to the holiday and a valuable lesson in how the sea can change from one day to the next.
Our home port is a busy place. Paddling into Portsmouth Harbour on Sunday we had HMS Severn as well as the usual ferries and pleasure craft.
Whilst on the way out we met this large vessel. We didn't recognise it but a quick check on the internet revealed that it is standing in for one of the regular commercial ferries.
Following it out with the ebb we had to thread our way between the armada of yachts making their way home. The unusually warm bright sunshine and F4 had tempted them to a last outing of the season, for us the quiet winter seas beckon.
The ocean swell is always rolling in, with the odd big set that can catch you out. Sometimes an area which had not had a breaking wave for 30 minutes or more suddenly heaped up. An almost flat sea would suddenly transform itself into steep mountains of water and go back to flat again for another hour.
Big sky country, this storm approached and receded with rumbles of distant thunder all day long, but never reached us.
Landfall at the end of a long day...
and idyllic campsites on uninhabited islands.
Lumpy corners on otherwise smooth seas.
The cleanliness of Ireland and of the beaches in particular was incredible compared to Scotland, Wales or England. This was the only beach that had attracted any flotsam. Amongst it a seal skeleton cast up by winter storms. Scary teeth!
Vistas of sea and shore above our campsite from Doon Hill, WW II observer station '53'.
Memories are always of a sparkling sea and warm sunshine, but truth to tell, it can be grey and misty in Ireland.
The sea paddling ended for me when a companion fell unconscious on the sea. Suffice to say that all those practice sessions of rescues and tows are well worthwhile. This was the beach, a mile or so from the incident, we were forced on to. Once the ambulance had departed for hospital it was a case of sorting out our possessions from the recovered boats and lazing in the sunshine. This sort of incident is more tiring than a long long day out. But what a spot! Hard not to optimistic about the outcome and I can report that the companion is alive and well and back in his boat.