Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Monday 13 October 2014

Hebridean Summer

 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
 exposed lighthouse
 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.

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