We made it!!
After 35 days and 8 hours at sea, Danny and I landed safely back in Howth harbour! To be greeted by a large group of family and friends on a beautiful sunny day.We swiftly moved onto the Findlater to catch up over a few pints of the black stuff!
..the support group..
The journey around Ireland was definitly the biggest challenge that Danny or myself have ever taken on. Especially as neither of us really come from a sea kayaking background(before the trip the longest sea kayak expedition either of us were on was 2 nights!). However it was also the most rewarding! The highlights for me were 3 things: the incredible scenery experienced along the way, the huge amounts of wildlife that we got up close experiences with and the extremely friendly people we met along the way. Even with the recession in Ireland we discovered that the generosity the Irish people our famous for is still strong today! Naturally when people saw the salty state of ourselves many conversations were struck up, the results including; several free dinners, fish off fisherman, houses to stay in, plenty of cash for our charity and even a hotel room to stay in! During the trip the wildlife we experienced also brought uplifting moments to nearly every day. From paddling in massive flocks of seabirds to surfing with dolphins we also got to see whales, basking sharks, otters, dolphins and porpoises and many types of birds.
The trip was challenging mentally and physically for the both of us as we soon realised that our optimistic aim of 30nautical miles a day(60k)in the windy, lumpy weather of the west coast would be quite a challenge! A few days after departing Howth and heading south the strain we were putting on our bodies began to take effect. On the days that we had reasonable weather we paddled for between 8-10 hours during which we were burning 5000+calories. So for the first week or so the muscles in our shoulders ached. After this however we rarely experienced muscular pain, we just felt an endless hunger for food and sleep!
Total days lost due to windy weather: 2 in wexford(we made about 10 miles of progress each day in a force 7 with a reasonable breaking swell). + 2 days in Cork waiting at the Mizen for a gale to die down. Here we tried paddling on the second day only to have to retreat back to Crookhaven. The strength of the wind was incredible!Putting every bit of strength we had into our paddles we were only gaining feet! And it soon became aparent that if anything went wrong we would be in difficulty.
Longest open crossing without a break: Paddling from Streedagh beach we headed straight across Donegal bay to Teelin. This was a distance of 18.5 miles or 37k! It took us about 6 hours as we were paddling in a force 5 cross-on breeze.
Longest day on the water/greatest distance covered: Towards the end of the trip while experiencing nice weather in the northeast we pushed on and hit 50 miles or 100k in one day! This was in two sections a two hour paddle in the morning and a 13 hour straight run in the evening! We stayed in our boats from 12 midday till 1am being powered by haribo and boost energy drink.
Worst downsides to the trip: eating porridge every morning that has been cooked with rehydrated 'Marvel' milk. And getting dumped on in the open sea by breaking waves while you have you relief zip open to go for a pee!Soggy thermals for the rest of the day,not cool!....
4 of my favourite places to sea paddle from the trip:
.(County Kerry)-Leaving Smerwick harbour and rounding Ballydavid head an incredible view of Brandon mountain will greet you. The mountain seems to rise straight out of the water and is surrounded on both sides by cliffs. This is a committing paddle as the next access point is not for over 11 miles, Brandon bay.
.(County Mayo)-A day of island hopping! Leaving inishboffin we headed northeast and took in Inishturk, Clare island, Achill Beg and finished in Achill sound. I really enjoyed this trip as it took in some good distances with exposed crossings open to the Atlantic swell. While we got to experience Irelands island life on some of its smaller islands.(While stopping for 2 hours on Inishturk we met all of one person!)Length of the paddle about,26 miles.
.(County Donegal)-departing from Teelin and heading north west to Malin Beg you will paddle past a well known area of cliffs called the Slieve Liag's. They are a really spectacular spot, distance:8.5 knots. If you want to make the paddle longer we also paddled across Donegal bay on the same day from Streedagh beach in County Sligo. This will add an extra 18 nautical miles.
.(County Mayo)- Paddling from Broadhaven bay around Benwee head and on as far as Ballycastle. You will get to experience some of the spectacular paddling that Mayo has to offer!Rounding a steep and rocky Benwee head you will be welcomed by an impressive view of the Stags and then heading east you will pass by the cliffs just below the Céide fields. This is a beautifully isolated place to paddle with some really nice sand and gravel beaches to stop on along the way. Distance: 22 miles.
The majority of the photos from our adventure have been put into a flickr gallery and are viewable here:
Currently the funds raised for the Irish Hospice stands at over €3000 and with a few more events planned we hope to hit 5k!
We would also like to thank our family and friends who also helped to make the trip possible: Our parents Marie, Tommy, Fran and John for helping with the restocking of supplies and motivation, the many people that put us up during the jouney Gerry, Nicholas,Liz and Laura, Gay, Joe and Martina, Tom and Marian.
Colm from I-canoe.com for assisting with knowledge and equipment for the trip in any way that he could.
Aswell as Kokatat and Northshore kayaks.
....Soon to follow will be reviews of the kit used during the trip!