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Irish Sea Kayaking Association

No. 50

Samhradh 2011

Speed Kayak da mare a Venezia- Havkajakk i Norge- Irish Sea CrossingManaging Seasickeness-Bhealach na Phiarsaigh-Incident ReportsKayaking the Erne - ISKA History-Paddling in Alaska- Paddling technique

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Editorial Hi folks. Welcome to a new edition of Treasna na dTonnta. Late as usual but hopefully a bumper issue to celebrate TnadT 50. We have a great selection of articles from around the globe by Irish paddlers. Italy, North America, Norway and NI are covered in this issue. The theme of the issue is speed. We have two articles along this theme, one from Jim Kennedy and the other on what I have learned from paddling K1. We have a great article from Conor on his eventful Irish Sea crossing with Eddie. Seasicknes caused some problems but they managed well. I have done a bit of reseach on seasickness for kayakers and this forms another article. We also have Sean Pierce’s recommendations for some of Ireland’s best sea kayaking trips. I was eager to get them down on paper in case anyone missed a copy of the Sea Road Irish Times series by Gary and Sean. We have a great article by Kevin on ISKA history.

As always, we welcome submissions. Three big events have occurred which I’d love to get articles on - the ISKA Symposium, the Liffey Descent and a trip by ECSKC to Alaskacontribution on these trips and any other very welcome. Next issue is themed “Weather.” Again, any contributions on this subject welcome. Tadhg

Kayaking in Venice by Trish Carraher Over a cup of coffee at work one morning a colleague described to me an unusual present his wife treated him to for his 40th birthday – a kayaking trip round Venice. As an artist/sculptor/kayaker he was completely enthralled by his trip despite the fact that he went in November. As it sounded an unusual trip we decided to try it out in April 2010.


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION The canals of the city of Venice are very busy with vaporetti, motorboats, cruise ships, gondolas. They form a maze and are at times very narrow and others are very wide. To navigate one’s way round the city’s canals would be no easy task but René Seindal of Venice Kayak offers a solution. René is a Dane living many years in Italy, he is a historian and offers guided tours of Venice – by kayak. He offers a private tour guide service through the unusual transport system of kayaking. René is a mine of cultural and historical information. He is so completely immersed in Italian culture that it would be frowned upon to put milk in your coffee after 10 am!! (I am afraid that we were a disappointment to him!!) He is very talkative and willing to converse on any topic. As a historian he has studied Italian culture and history intensively and has a wealth of knowledge to draw from. We booked a three day trip with René over the Easter break. We had an idea what we wanted to do from speaking to others and reading his website. He reserved confirmation of the content of the three days until such time as he had

had a chance to assess our skills and competence. On Day One we met René on the Lido Island. It is very easy to travel round Venice by waterbus. You can buy a 24 hour pass or a multiday pass. We took the water bus to the Lido where we got kitted out. From there we paddled to Venice, across the Grand Canal directly to the Piazza San Marco. Having dodged water taxis, water buses, gondolas, cruise ships, etc it was amazing to arrive by kayak just in front of the Piazza San Marco. We watched hundreds of tourists watching us. Over 7 million tourists visited Venice in 2010 but I doubt many arrived under the Doge’s Palace by kayak. We headed into the city via the Rio del Palazzo and immediately paddled under the Bridge of Sighs – so called as it was the way to the new prison from the Doge’s Palace. We formed an unusual group among a convoy of gondolas. Kayaking allowed us to see Venice from a very different perspective. We could paddle up the narrowest canal in Venice, inaccessible even to gondolas. We hauled the kayaks up onto the steps of the


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION little campo – square - to have lunch at a waterside café. On Day Two we met René after lunch and spent the afternoon paddling lesser known areas of Venice. By evening we stopped in the beautiful Cannaregio district for dinner. We had explained that Conor does not eat fish but this minor detail was not going to deter René from eating in his favourite fish restaurant. Luckily we found something to eat while René told us story after story of Venice. By the time dinner was over the sun had set and the city was enveloped in darkness. Back in our kayaks we glided along a different world to that of a busy, bright afternoon. At night the canals were eerily quiet and dark as we glided under magically lit bridges where the only sound was our paddles dipping into water. Couples and visitors leaning over bridges were occasionally startled as we quietly arrived below a bridge. René told us stories of group rolls under the Rialto bridge but we were not so trusting of the healthiness of the water. The night trip was certainly the highlight of our kayaking tour.

On Day 3 we visited the outlying islands of the lagoon. The islands of the lagoon are being continually eroded by the tides and by the swell created by boats. Motor boats in particular are currently generating much discussion. The equivalent of boy racers in motor boats can cause problems not just for the historical buildings but also for the safety of other water users. The city of Venice is in danger of erosion from flooding and the movement of tides. A new tidal barrier of almost 80 gates which when pumped with air, float to the surface is under construction to control tidal flow into the lagoon. We paddled by and stopped on some islands where erosion is very evident. Some islands, however, such as the colourful Burano are very well preserved and worth a visit. I have never had my own private tour guide before and it was a delicious treat to do this in Venice, in a kayak, in such a beautiful city. It cannot beat paddling the west coast of Ireland but offers a completely different experience. It is a city break with a major difference. René knows his city very well, he is fluent in English and has extensive knowledge of the history and culture of Italy.


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION Practicalities: Tour guide:

René Seindal


Venice Kayak

Equipment supplied: Kayak supplied, glass and plastic. We both had good glass boats, I had a Rockpool. Paddles were good quality. Because of a previous bad rental experience I had brought my own 4 way splits, Conor used René’s Greenland style paddles. Buoyancy aids, spraydecks, cags and drybags were also supplied. Group size: Small to large groups. We were a group of 2. Cost: €120 per day or €370 for 3 days according to website today. Accommodation: I think there is access to a campsite but we chose to rent a tourist apartment on the island of Venice.

a full circumnavigation of the Irish coast. Ideas began to form, discussion ebbed and flowed and we devised a plan. Its focus was to put together a series of Classic Irish Sea Kayaking routes for any sea kayaker who wanted to see what the Irish coast had to offer. Our plan grew and developed as Gary decided to publish his accounts of the routes to be undertaken In the Irish Times Go Magazine during the summer editions. My job was to plan and decide on the potential routes! Easy! As many readers will know Ireland has many more than 13 Classic Routes around its coastline so I had to select 13 that would be a representative sample and one’s that would challenge, invigorate and bring new experiences to Gary’s sea kayaking. I had great fun doing so and what resulted from the following choices listed below became known as the Sea Road (Gary’s experiences of the routes) a selection of Irish Sea Kayaking routes achievable by kayakers with training to Level 3 standard in good weather conditions.

Saltee Islands, Co Wexford The Saltees are one of Ireland’s most important seabird colonies and yet marvellously accessible. It’s a fantastic place. Once you land you walk the Royal Mile to Prince Michael’s throne and then follow the cliffs and enjoy the Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet colonies, along the southern side. Getting there by sea kayak is especially memorable. Although, not a trip for beginners it’s certainly quite achievable in good weather with previous training to Level 3 standard.

Photos: We both had cameras with us but René also took a lot of photos which he forwarded to us.

Bhealach na Phiarsaigh A summer of 13 Classic Sea Kayaking Routes 2011 by Sean Pierce In the deep mid winter of 2010-2011 Gary Quinn and I met on several occasions over a “few pints” in a well known Skerries hostelry. We discussed the state of Irish Sea Kayaking, personal experiences during the year just gone and ambitions for the future. As a result of those conversations Gary decided he wanted to “do” something to push his skills and experiences in the forthcoming summer of 2011. Like many others, Gary’s work and domestic commitments would not allow the time necessary for

This island group lies five kilometres off the coast of Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford. It’s made up of the Great Saltee and the Little Saltee and they make for a really interesting sea kayak route. The primary challenge is in navigating the tidal races that develop between the islands and the mainland. The tidal flows between Kilmore Quay and the Saltees deserve respect, especially if winds are contrary to the direction of the flow. Saltee’s tides require some research before you go as normal rules do not apply. There are two nice challenges on both the inward and outward journeys. One is called the Sebber Bridge and the other the St Patrick’s Bridge. They are long landward projecting spits – shingle bars of sand, gravel and rock that can cause overfall conditions. Overfalls are not unlike river rapids and for well-trained kayakers they add a degree of spice to the day. If the weather and wind conditions allow, a full circumnavigation of the Saltees is a must.


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION Once you go to the seaward side, or the Celtic sea side of the Saltees, the conditions are not unlike those of the Atlantic, the cliff scenery is beautiful and the seabird experience one of the best in Ireland. Treat both the SW and NW corners with respect as in both areas tides run strongly and surf waves occur that can lead to challenging conditions. You’ll make it direct to the Great Saltee in good conditions in under an hour and the full circumnavigation will easily fill your day. If there’s any wind over tide you’re guaranteed some excitement. This is a level 3/4 trip so good planning and knowledge of local tides is essential.

The Copper Coast Co. Waterford The Copper Coast runs for some 20-plus kilometres along the Co Waterford coastline, between Tramore and Dungarvan. Visually it’s very attractive and offers a very different kind of sea kayaking experience. It’s essentially a route for exploring: it’s filled with caves, sea stacks, arches and beautiful hidden coves. The area got its name from the copper mining industry that dominated the area in the 19th century. One of first things that first-time visitors notice is the dramatic colour of the sandstone rocks. The coastal geology is fantastic and it’s the sheer complexity of the coastline that makes it exciting for a sea kayaker. The challenge is the distance and getting into those nooks and crannies or landing on some of the exposed sea stacks. On a fine-weather day, simply nipping in and out of caves and coves makes for a very enjoyable day of coastal exploration. A lot of the islands are steep like small sea stacks. The landing beaches are generally in small hidden coves behind. It’s a place you go and explore, stick the nose of your boat around corners and find new things. The beauty of sea kayaks is all one needs is six inches of water and a two foot gap to venture where no boats have gone before!

Roaringwater Bay, Co Cork Baltimore – Cape Clear – Baltimore. Visually this is a beautiful trip. You’ve got tremendous island variety, more exposed sea passages and for the first time on this series of routes you’ll be in the south-west Atlantic and get to experience real Atlantic conditions. They don’t call it roaring water bay for nothing so be prepared for complicated swells and south-westerly winds.

This is whale and dolphin country so you can expect lots of sea life and, as with lots of these trips, the seabird passages are spectacular. Sea birds filter down from the Kerry colonies on the way to the Celtic sea to feed, returning in the evenings. Sitting on the water off Cape Clear or Sherkin Island you can literally watch thousands upon thousands of Gannets, Manx Shearwater and Storm Petrels passing to seaward of your kayak on their way back to the Kerry colonies. It’s a sight that most people never see because it happens towards evening, and often when people have already finished their day at sea. The route is one of those trips that progressively gets more exposed the further SW one goes. If the day is good you should follow the summer ferry route between Sherkin and the Beacon and follow this really beautiful coastline out towards Cape Clear. If you’re going to circumnavigate you really have to be a level 3 or 4 sea kayaker with previous Atlantic swells experience. However, the inner route along the western edge of both Sherkin and Cape Clear is nearly always navigable and brings one amongst some of Carbery’s Hundred Isles. Once on Cape, expect to spend as much of the day or night there as you can spare. It is simply a stunning place with great history and presence. You just have to see it.

Skerries Triangle Skerries-RockabillLambay Island-Skerries Co. Dublin The Skerries – Rockabill – Lambay triangle is classic trip because it has so much of interest. It’s a mix of diverse islands, tidal flows and wildlife. The duration of the route is also itself a real test of the “inner kayaker”. The seabird density on the north County Dublin coast is amazing: While the west coast has the beauty and drama it doesn’t pack in the wildlife like north County Dublin. It’s the close proximity that makes the difference. There are few places that have it. The Skerries Islands hold breeding Gulls, Shags and Cormorants, Rockabill is an important Roseate Tern breeding colony, Lambay Island has for everything else – Razorbills, Puffins, Guillemots & Gannets... it’s the second most important sea bird colony in Ireland. This part of the coastline really holds up internationally. Please be sensitive to the breeding seabirds and don’t land anywhere near


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION the breeding colonies. You will see plenty from the kayak all day. The route out of Skerries is around 30 kilometres in all. It’s one of those trips that can give you a real sense of achievement, but you need to be fit. Because of its length the conditions are guaranteed to change at some stage so the challenge is getting the tides right. Ideally you want to head out of Skerries at/around local high water and grab the first of the ebb out towards Rockabill. This should take just under an hour. Ask permission to land at Rockabill from the Birdwatch Ireland wardens. This is especially important in the late May-June period when non- disturbance of the breeding site is a priority for the species protection programme in operation since 1989. After a rest on the Rock you can paddle with the ebb to Lambay, giving yourself another 90 minutes for the crossing. Lambay is a private island and landings are not allowed, but it has a real sense of adventure and feels completely different to everything else nearby. If you’re fit enough you can try the circumnavigation of Lambay or, if not, you come back along the north cliffs and head for home. Ideally you want to hit slack water or when the tides are pushing north again so that it brings you back to the Skerries islands. It’s a beautiful and demanding day out, but pure sea kayaking.

Valentia to Puffin Island Co. Kerry The Valentia – Puffin Island area is fantastic. The Kingdom’s south-west corner is one of the classic Irish sea kayak destinations. The area has dramatic coastal scenery; it has big seascapes and is visually stunning. The area has a myriad of possibilities in terms of route choices and interest. Exposed coasts, wonderful caves, dramatic arches and sea stacks combine with the historic interest of settlement from the Celtic Iron Age, Viking remains, early Christian sites through to the medieval monastic period and the Victorian heyday of Trans-Atlantic communications. All around Valentia is exciting, but particularly if you take the route to Puffin Island from Portmagee. It’s a marvellous piece of coastline. The route goes south west through Horse Island and Long Island sounds then turns south past the superb rock architecture of the Foilnageragh Cliffs. The passage towards Puffin Island is rarely calm and to get through the inside passage of the mas-

sive sea stack of Lemontougher Rock is always a real bonus. Once, Puffin Sound is reached it gives a welcome rest before the possibility of rounding Puffin Island can be decided. The circumnavigation of this lovely island is a must for all sea kayakers but does require the right judgement and in the right weather conditions. That trip, if successful writes its own story! What is wonderful about this sea kayaking route is that The Skelligs sit out on the horizon tempting you at every turn. A sea kayaking trip of another magnitude! The return to Portmagee is the reverse of the outward journey but no less dramatic and with the constant possibility of that Kerry wildlife spectacle of whales, dolphins, sunfish or basking shark to seal a perfect day’s sea kayaking

Slieve League Cliffs Co. Donegal This is one of the premier sea kayaking trips in Ireland. The 13 km stretch of coast from Teelin to Malin Beg is a fine example of exposed and committing Atlantic kayaking. After leaving the attractive harbour at Teelin, the route leads westwards toward Carrigan Head. The views explode on the eyes as one rounds Carrigan. The cliffs are magnificent from sea level as they arc their way westwards in a kaleidoscope of colours. Slieve League is the gateway to Donegal sea kayaking. The combination of quartzite and gneiss geology has resulted in a wonderful visual mixture of weathered scree slopes amid the greens, yellows and purples of Western Gorse and Heathers. The sea has eroded a myriad of coastal features. Caves, cliffs, stacks all vie for exploration by the kayaker. Waterfalls fall sheer over cliff faces to the sea and provide a welcome drenching on a warm day. There are beautiful storm beaches tucked away under the cliff edges, many perfect for a quiet coffee or a swim. This coast deserves time to savour and many kayakers start and finish at Teelin just to prolong the enjoyment! On a good day, one may be lucky to have a close encounter with Basking Sharks or Sunfish at sea whilst high above on the cliffs Peregrine Falcons, Rock Doves, Chough and the elusive Ring Ouzel may be seen. As walkers on the slopes struggle on One Man’s Pass to gain the summit views, the sea kayaker below has a unique perspective on this spe-


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Rocks that is the real destination.

The Slieve League route requires good planning from sea kayakers as the exposed coast is open to Atlantic weather and swell and reflected waves off the cliffs can weaken even the strongest stomachs! Visiting kayakers need to be of Level 3-4 standard, fit and experienced in handling big sea conditions.

As the ebb tide flows out of the Lough it swirls and eddies around the shallow ground areas and runs strongly in the main channel. It’s a perfect place for sea kayaking challenges! However, the area is best avoided when strong east to south east winds blow against the ebb by all but the most experienced kayakers.

Carlingford Lough Co. Louth

Lunch break is at Cranfield Point and if one has timed one’s visit a good rest can be had before the tide reverses and the Lough comes alive again! The afternoon route plan heads out again into the flood tide to wonder at the Haulbowline Lighthouse and its “picture window” facing east. The whole area holds a good population of both Grey and Common Seal and the always attractive Black Guillemots in their crisp black and white plumage.

Sea Kayaking in Carlingford Lough is different to many of the other routes described in this series. The beautiful backdrop of the Cooley and Mourne mountain ranges both teases and pleases the eye of the kayaker throughout the day. The Lough is interesting because it offers a wide range of challenges and opportunities for sea kayaking skills training. Visitors can launch from many points around the Lough but most prefer Carlingford or Greenore on the southern side or Greencastle on the northern shore. Carlingford village is the most picturesque and the paddle down to Greenore allows for a warm up and stretching of the muscles before the action of the Lough is encountered. It also offers a wide range of food and restaurant facilities at the end of a tough day! My recommended route goes east from Carlingford towards Greenore on an ebb tide. Carlingford Lough narrows between Greenore Point and Greencastle Point and tidal flows run strongly especially in spring tides off Greenore Point. Speeds of 5 knots are recorded at these times and thus provide a great place to both practice and teach boat control skills, ferry gliding, surfing and rescue training exercises. Even in neaps, tides run strongly in mid flow. River kayakers will be in their element here as river skills come into their own crossing over and back the “honking” tide races. Crossing the Lough to Greencastle allows for more training possibilities in calculating passage times, boat speeds and basic coastal navigation. In summer, the small low lying Green Island just east of Greencastle has a large population of breeding Sandwich Terns to provide interest (Please don’t land and avoid disturbance by keeping a distance offshore). Following the northern shoreline towards Soldier’s Point both Blockhouse Island and Haulbowline Lighthouse hove into view. The many navigational lights allow for more mental arithmetic and chart work but it’s the shallow ground around the lighthouse, Cooley Long Rock and Limestone

The route back swings around the Cooley Long Rock and on towards Greenore for “last immersions training” before catching the ever increasing tidal flow back to Carlingford. The level of sea kayaking interest and challenge that Carlingford Lough can provide is wide and varied. For beginners the Inner Lough provides very safe and attractive kayaking whilst as described above the degree of challenge can be increased towards the outer reaches of the Lough for more experienced and trained sea kayakers.

Cliffs of Moher Co. Clare The relentless Atlantic swells that have pounded the coast of Clare for millennia have carved and formed the world renowned Cliffs of Moher. The very same Atlantic swells have thwarted more than one sea kayaker’s dream to complete the magical passage beneath those cliffs. It’s a rare day that comes all too infrequently and not many are blessed to do the route more than a few times in their kayaking careers. The Cliffs of Moher offer sheer drama and it really is all about the beauty of the place. It’s a committing and bold route that requires good planning as the 16km route has no escape options once the kayaker has rounded Hag’s Head at the southern end or left Doolin at the northern end. Ideally, the route requires light winds preferably from an east or southeast direction. My recommended route starts in Liscannor and heads west for Hag’s Head. On rounding Hag’s


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION Head, the dramatic cliffs stretch away north-eastwards toward Doolin. If the day is bright and sunny, the light should be behind the kayaker and the panorama is spectacular. Seeing the cliffs from the water is guaranteed to make one feel small but bobbing around in a sea kayak under the huge vertical walls is a wonderful experience.

“The Reek”, Croagh Patrick to the south and the Nephin range to the north. Both provide a stunning backdrop to the islands and the kayaker navigating the narrow channels. Collan More, Crovinish, Dorninish Mór, Inishlyre or Inishgort offer opportunities for a coffee break or lunch stop and time to take in the views.

On passing under the Moher Tower and later the sea stack of Branaunbeg, the distinctive O’ Brien’s Tower looms into view. Beneath the tower, the 61m high Branaunmore sea stack is worth a close look. Seabirds like Guillemots, Razorbills and Fulmars breed here but also the stack can provide one of the most memorable “lunch spots” in Ireland. Landing is not always possible but on calm days a rock shelf on its north-east side can allow access for an unforgettable coffee!

The Clew Bay islands are a magnet for wildlife year round and the kayaker can get close to Grey and Common Seals, Black Guillemots, Terns and Otters in summer while Barnacle Geese, ducks and waders abound during the winter months. The lighthouse on Inishgort provides a useful navigation aid and the old wreck, the MV Inishlyre; on Inishlyre has had an interesting history.

The passage continues towards Ailleenasharragh, the home of the now world famous surfing wave. As one passes over the wave cut platforms that allow Ailleens to form in big storm conditions, one can only admire the skills of those who can tackle its power and speed on surfboards. The coastal route continues towards Luogh Point and Crab Island where more stacks, caves and arches can be enjoyed during the afternoon before running ashore at Doolin. This route described is one of the best sea kayaking day excursions in Ireland. It is not for beginners and sea kayakers need to be at Level 3-4 Sea Proficiency standard before undertaking it.

Clew Bay, Co. Mayo Mayo is a “mighty county” for sea kayaking routes. One could spend a few weeks in the county and still be spoilt for choice. If one has time to enjoy Mayo at one’s leisure then a novel introduction to the county is to kayak west from Westport. Clew Bay’s myriad of islands give great inshore shelter during Atlantic blows and merits a week’s camping expedition. However, on a good day and with the tides running strongly through the islands a fit kayaker can have a great day “going west”. The drumlin belt of Ireland terminates in Clew Bay but the sea has reshaped their forms to leave an interesting variety of eroded landforms especially on their seaward flanks.

All the islands are different, some with more history than others and all will tempt one to linger. However, as one begins to clear the outermost islands then the bulk of Achill to the northwest and Clare Island to the west will tease the kayaker ever seaward. Our route follows the southern shore heading for the attractive headland at Old Head. The nature of the landscape changes again, as here the marine erosion processes now dominate and have shaped the attractive caves, arches and cliff faces. The last few miles to Roonah Quay allow time to fish and savour a good day’s kayaking.

Causeway Coast, Co Antrim The north Antrim coast from Portrush to Ballycastle is a “must do” experience for all sea kayakers in Ireland. The Sea of Moyle coastline is a beautiful mixture of complex geology and a fascinating social history and the sea kayaker is very aware of the closeness of Scotland. The processes of erosion have resulted in the islands, arches, sea stacks and cliff faces having a unique texture and distinctive colouration of basaltic blacks, greys and reds offset by pure white layers of chalk. This combination makes the area visually stunning and very different to other parts of Ireland. Visiting sea kayakers will be impressed at the strong tidal flows, eddies and tidal races of this area. Trips require planning to maximise the east-west flood and ebb cycles. The Irish Sea basin ebbs west to North West around Fair Head and between Rathlin Island and the mainland. Some big seas can result when the ebb is contrary to strong west to North West winds and thus can provide some challenging sea kayaking.

Visually the trip westwards is dominated by the


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION The natural history of the coast is varied with great seabird life especially the density of Black Guillemots. The northern speciality species of this coast is the handsome Eider. The lovely ports of Ballintoy and Portbalintrae, the attractions of the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick -aRede and Dunluce Castle, make the area a super location for sea kayakers. There is a richness of treasures along this coastline which in truth deserves a two day trip to enjoy it fully.

swing west and take on one of Ireland’s premier sea kayaking challenges. The seabird life is fantastic with Gannets, Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwakes all breeding and both Manx Shearwater and Storm Petrel are regularly seen. On a flat day keep an eye out for a fin as anything can be encountered! If the sea does not allow passage swing south eastwards and enjoy the coastline until landing under Grace O Malley’s castle. A day can be spent immersed in the fascinating history of this famous island and the legendary Pirate Queen.

Achillbeg to Clare Island. Co. Mayo Darby’s Point is located at the southern end of Achill Sound. It is a picturesque location with Achillbeg Island lying just offshore. It is an ideal place to begin today’s route that is full of interest for the sea kayaker. The tides run hard around Darby’s Point as Achill Sound both empties and fills through the narrow channel. Speeds of up to 4 knots are common at periods of spring tides so it is an immediate action spot for kayakers. Balance, edging and ferrying gliding skills begin the day and provide good fun to the start our trip. Leaving the slipway and tidal stream zones the kayaker has a possibility of two route choices to see and pass outside Achill Beg. If the weather is good and you have planned your tides correctly then my favourite route is head west and pass through Blind Sound. Achillbeg is a very attractive island and is well worth exploring but it is too early in the day not to be kayaking! The views as one clears the outer edge of Achillbeg are magic. The rugged coastline of Achillbeg itself combined with the views north -west along Achill’s cliff faces are really stunning. The sea kayaker is in a special place and now has a feast of possibilities to enjoy. Our route choice today is to swing south passing Achillbeg’s dramatic west coast to head across the open passage towards Clare Island. This is Atlantic kayaking at its very best and the spectacularly placed Clare Island lighthouse and high top of Knockmore draw the eye and kayaker ever closer. Knockmore stands tall above Clare Island at 425m and seems to fall sheer to the sea. The result is a rugged and beautiful coastline that presents the sea kayaker with a dilemma. A full circumnavigation of Clare Island is a memorable experience but it is a serious commitment. If one has planned the day correctly and conditions allow it,

Our journey back to Achillbeg takes the passage northwards on the flooding tide towards the distinctive beacon on its southern point. We continue the route along Achillbeg’s eastern flank to land on a beautifully sheltered beach. A walk on Achillbeg is the ideal way to finish off this route and allows one to savour the views once again of a very special place. Achillbeg will cause one to linger but be aware that the tide should now be at full tilt so enjoy the tidal push and complete the route back to Darby’s Point.

Connemara Co. Galway The shores of Connemara from Gorumna Island to the county bounds at Killary Harbour contain many fascinating and beautiful areas to be explored by sea kayak. For generations, the people of Connemara have travelled and communicated by sea around these coasts. Their legacy of language, culture, industry, hard work and social history enriches any journey taken through its islands and bays. Our journey today begins at Carna and continues southwards along the eastern shore of Mainis (Mweenish Island). The area is famous for its boat builders and many of the big Galway Hookers originated here. The coastline, although low lying is stunningly beautiful with that cosy south Connemara mix of rounded granite, green fields blending with the blue seas and golden beaches. The view eastwards is dominated by Finis Island. Its evocative ruins and gable ends touch the skyline, while the houses are being slowly sifted back into the sands. Finis merits time and exploration but we will save it until later in our journey. Rounding the headland of Mainis, the sea kayaker has a myriad of possibilities to choose from. Away


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION westwards, lies Oileán Máisin (Mason Island) and beyond it the jewel of Oileán Mhic Dara (St Mac Dara’s Island), while eastwards Inís Mhuscrai (Inishmuskery), Bior Mór (Birmore) and Ceann Golam (Golam Head) beckon.

lands, surf beaches, and estuaries with good tidal flows. Around every corner, a hidden beach, an ever changing kaleidoscope of colour, aquamarine greens to blue, ochre sands to pink granite, while Errigal calmly watches.

It’s a nice dilemma! Thankfully this is generally solved by the weather forecast and time available to the kayaker.

Thus today’s article is not so much a suggested route choice rather a celebration of a sea kayaking destination that simply is world class. Donegal’s sea kayaking is rich and varied. The sea kayaker “on passage” is challenged constantly as the sea changes rapidly and tests the complete skill set of the paddler. Dealing with Atlantic swell, crossing bays, rounding headlands, landing on surf beaches and coping with tidal flows all come at the kayaker quickly and continuously.

Our route passes to the western side of Oileán Na Lachan (Duck Island) and here we feel the swell for the first time. The shoals and reefs here deserve respect and can catch the unwary if too close a passage is followed. Oileán Na Lachan holds evidence of a sad memory still visible on its southern side. A local trawler tragically went aground there in September 2004 with the loss of four local men. Today, the island is full of Shags, Cormorants, Arctic Terns and Oystercatchers all finished with their breeding duties and both adults and young enjoying the heat of late summer. From October, all the islands here will have guests from Greenland. Barnacle Geese, Ducks and Waders will feed and shelter until April sunshine lures them northwest once again. We push on and pass Inís Mhuscrai (Inishmuskery) to seaward. The island must have a Cork connection but as yet I haven’t managed to find out what it is! Still, the island is our chosen lunch spot and a prime location to watch Connemara’s “big skies”. The panorama sweeps around from west to east with Na Beanna Beola (Twelve Bens) providing a wonderful backdrop. More decisions, whether to cross to Bior Mór (Birmore) and beyond to Ceann Golam (Golam Head) and its attendant islands or savour the afternoon on the wonderful crescent shaped beaches on Finis’s east shore. The latter is chosen and none can resist walking the island to savour its atmosphere, wildflowers and sweeping sand dominated landscapes. Connemara smiles as we make our way shoreward.

However, Donegal also has smaller day trips, safe weather bays and a wealth of exploring options to choose from. I once spent an entire day mostly underground yet at sea, travelled four miles and never left my kayak! Donegal’s islands are famous, offer all sorts of challenges and experiences. A day on Tory, Aranmore, Gola, Owey or Inishtrahull is simply not enough to see all that is on offer. One must stay overnight and one needs to revisit. You can only hear Inishbofin’s Corncrakes in June, and catch the returning Barnacle Geese “whiffling” downwards onto Inishfree after flying from Greenland if you are there in October. The evocative calls of Great-northern Divers fill Aranmore Sound in April, and the seabird colonies of Horn Head come alive in May and June. Donegal Bay feeds many species of shearwaters from as far away as the South Atlantic from July to September and Donegal is the Basking Shark capital of Ireland. Donegal is “nay bother” and no matter what the weather there is a place to see “hey”.

Glacier Bay SE Alaska, June 1999

Sea Kayaking in Co. Donegal

by Tom Ronayne

In the planning of the Sea Road, I joked with Gary that a man could spend a lifetime exploring Co Donegal and that all 14 routes we planned for the series could be accommodated within the county! The coastline from Donegal town to Lough Foyle has it all for the sea kayaker, dramatic cliffs, rugged headlands, sea arches and caves, a wealth of is-

While on a paddle to the Bailey Lighthouse in Howth sometime in the summer of 1998 I asked Liam O’Brien and Alan Mulligan if they were interested in joining me on a kayaking trip to Glacier Bay, SE Alaska in the summer of 2000 as a start to the new millennium. They thought this a great idea but agreed to go only if we did it in


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION 1999 so the planning started in earnest. This would be our first trip to SE Alaska. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park in the south eastern part of Alaska, west of Juneau, the state capital. The park covers 13,287 km² most of which is a designated wilderness area which covers 10,784 km² of the park. In 1794 Glacier Bay itself was almost entirely iced over by the 32km wide Grand Pacific Glacier. This glacier has retreated about 128km from the mouth of Glacier Bay leaving about sixteen separate glaciers descending from high snowcapped mountains, nine of which are tidewater glaciers. Four of these glaciers actively calve icebergs into the bay creating spectacular displays of ice and iceberg formation. Glacier Bay is an enormous fiord with two main arms, the east and west arm. Both of these have other inlets leading off them. It is a very sheltered area which makes for very safe paddling and can have up to 7m tidal range in any six hour period.

The sort of wildlife you might expect to see in Glacier Bay are: humpback whales, minke and killer whales, harbor and dall’s porpoises, steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, moose, black bears, brown (grizzly) bears, wolves, coyotes, marmots, mountain goats, lynx, snowshoe hare, beaver, tufted and horned puffins, pigeon guillemots, horned grebe, least sandpiper, arctic terns, kittiwakes, bald eagles, ptarmigan, etc., etc. (We saw those in italics) If you time your trip to July you are more than likely to see silver, chum, sockeye and/or pink salmon as they head up the rivers to spawn. You are also highly likely to see bears hunting salmon in the rivers feeding the bay. You will definitely see No-See-ums by the million - tiny biting insects that pack a big punch. Insect repellent a must!! I bought a book called “Glacier Bay National Park – a Back country Guide to the Glaciers and Beyond” by Jim DuFresne and “Guide to Sea Kayaking in Southeast Alaska”: The Best Day Trips and Tours from Misty Fjords to Gla-


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cier Bay by Jim Howard, a must if you are thinking of paddling here. I also bought copies of the National Geographic topographical map of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Another very good book is the official national park handbook “Glacier Bay”. We spent the first day in Juneau checking out where best to buy supplies and we stocked up with Granola bars , tea, coffee, hot chocolate, high energy drinks, cup a soup, pitta bread, large blocks of cheddar cheese, tinned tuna and chicken, pasta, smash, bags of raisins, dried milk, chocolate, tinned fruit. All of this food filled two 60L dry bags. Glacier Bay can only be reached by plane or boat so on the morning of the 14th we boarded “The Alaskan Dream” a small but very nice and neat ferry to travel to Gustavus the “Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park”. This trip took about three hours. The sky was blue, the sea flat and the weather warm as we stood at the bow taking in the stunning scenery of very high, snow covered mountains. The coastal Fairweather Range is 15,300ft high. We saw porpoises, seals and our first humpback whale before we landed at Gustavus. We had hired our kayaks (Necky Narpa’s) from Sea Otter Kayaks which was based at Gustavus. We emptied all of our gear onto big plastic sheets and started sorting everything. All of

our food and things that smelled, like toothpaste, medicines etc. were packed into plastic bags inside four bear canisters each. Then everything loaded into the kayaks which were then loaded onto a trailer. There is only one road in Glacier Bay National Park. It is ten miles long and connects Gustavus to Bartlett Cove where the ranger’s station and lodge are located. There is also a free campsite there. This is the starting point for entry into the wilderness of Glacier Bay. As soon as we arrived in Bartlett Cove we were advised to load our kayaks onto “The Spirit of Adventure”, the tour boat that would drop us off at the starting point of our trip the next day. We had to put all of our bear containers into a bear proof cabin for the night and then we pitched our tents. Early the next morning we packed all of our gear onto the tour boat. We were objects of curiosity among the other passengers as we were dressed in our kayaking gear and we enjoyed telling them about our trip when not watching sea otters, puffins, porpoises, seals and two humpback whales from the deck during the hour and a half of our journey. The tour boat dropped us off at the base of Mount Wright opposite Garforth Island. It took about an hour to load the kayaks and everything packed in well with very little on deck. The tide had just started to flood which was


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ideal for us as we were heading north.

for a good night’s sleep.

Conditions were perfect: Clear blue skies, flat calm sea and very warm.

We woke up the next morning to lashing rain. It rained all day with very low cloud and poor visibility but no wind and no mozzies. We set off for McBride glacier sixteen miles away. It was a great day for paddling.

We paddled three miles before turning east into Adams Inlet. A porpoise swam around us for a while and we saw hundreds of seals. We paddled seven miles into the Inlet and had lunch there and encountered our first contact with no see ums, tiny biting midgies that are found in almost any aquatic or semiaquatic habitat throughout the world. It was very difficult to eat our pitta bread & cheese and to drink tea/coffee while wearing a mosquito net. We learned very quickly never to eat or pitch near swampy ground and to always stay in the open away from bushes as any breeze at all kept the no see ums at bay. A couple of porpoises followed us out of Adams and into Muir Inlet as we turned north again. We kept paddling thinking it would be easy to find a spot to pitch our tents but after six hours paddling and twenty one miles we just pulled in at a narrow grassy stretch of coast about seven foot wide to the treeline, sorted our gear out, made dinner of pasta and settled in to the tents

A short while after leaving camp we met a few paddlers heading south and had a brief chat. The sea was calm and we got a good rhythm going. Saw lots of seals and a few porpoises. It was strangely beautiful paddling in Muir Inlet that day. The mountains were shrouded in low clouds and the sea was covered in mist and it was incredibly quiet apart from the stroke of our paddles and the odd call of a bird. As we paddled in near silence opposite Point McLeod there was a loud whoosh behind us. None of us had ever heard that sound before and as we were wondering what it was when there was a second one. We stopped paddling and sat in the calm water looking around us, listening. Then it happened again.

This time we saw the distinctive V shape of a whales blow, between us and the tree line. A


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION humpback whale was passing by. It is twelve years ago now and I can still hear and see that amazing blow in my mind. We paddled back towards the whale and when we were about a quarter mile from him he rolled on his side and put one of his huge pectoral fins in the air. Awesome. During a brief stop for lunch we saw a moose in the distance but he ran away as soon as he became aware of us. Very soon after re-launching we came across our first iceberg. It was a beautiful blue and white colour. We saw hundreds more as we got closer to McBride glacier. Some of them were filthy and black with dirt, stones or rocks (moraine), to be dropped off as the iceberg melted. McBride glacier is the only tidewater glacier in the East Arm. The receding glacier has formed a lagoon which has a very narrow entrance, about 50m. The face of the glacier is about a mile from the lagoon entrance. It is constantly calving and all the icebergs that we had passed had calved from it.

When we arrived at the entrance the tide was full and we paddled into the lagoon weaving our way past many icebergs. Once inside we found ourselves paddling in and around hundreds of icebergs. Everything was calm. It was very very cold and we were fully geared up. We had no idea of the danger we were in. The glacier calved a number of times as we paddled among the icebergs but we went no closer than a half mile from the face. Each calving caused a series of ripple waves to expand out from the glacier, none of them more than a foot high. It would have been very easy to have been crushed between two icebergs or to have one roll over on us. After a while we paddled back towards the entrance and found a sandy beach to pitch our tents. We unloaded all of our gear and pitched the tents. While we were pitching a small wave washed up the beach and pulled three of our bear canisters into the water. I had to scramble into one of the kayaks very quickly and paddle out to retrieve them. The penny still didn’t drop. We cooked our evening meal and used beached icebergs as ta-


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bles. It was still raining so we packed everything up and went to bed. The glacier calved all night, some of them thunderous, and when we woke in the morning the tide was out and there was a very big iceberg beached about twenty feet in front of our tents. We had pitched on a beach directly opposite the glacier giving no thought at all to the fact that the glacier could have calved with enough force to have either swept us off the beach or crushed us with icebergs or maybe both. We had been very stupid but also extremely lucky. The other serious danger was tidal movement during the ebbing tide. As the tide flowed out the narrow entrance it literally sucks icebergs into the flow causing big movement between the icebergs in the lagoon. (During another trip to McBride in 2006 we met a brother and sister who had been kayaking in the lagoon as unaware as we were of the danger. They got caught in the ebbing tide among the icebergs and both their kayaks capsized. She made it to shore and he scrambled onto a glacier, minus one of his booties. They were screaming for help when two amazing coinci-

dences happened. A solo kayaker happened to be paddling by the entrance and heard their calls for help. He called for help on his VHF (line of sight!!) and a US navy rescue helicopter on a training exercise heard the call) The entrance to the lagoon was completely closed off with beached icebergs as the tide was nearly at its lowest so we had to portage around it with our kayaks fully laden before we started our third days paddling. We turned north and headed for Riggs glacier which is only a tidewater glacier at high tide. It was low tide when we reached it and we beached the kayaks and walked to about fifty feet from it. It was enormous. It is very difficult to describe what it is like to stand in front of one of these massive rivers of ice that has ground down mountains, scattered strange rock formations across the countryside and reduced solid rock to the fine sand that we were standing on. We paddled west for four miles to see Muir glacier a further four miles distant and then turned to start paddling back south to the beginning of


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION the east arm. It rained a lot and was very cool which made for very easy paddling. Muir Inlet ranges from one to two miles wide and with the sea conditions flat we got into an easy rhythm of paddling. We paddled mostly in silence, about a half mile apart, listening to the sound of melt water cascading down the sides of the mountains on either side of us and to the call of the odd bird flying by. It was one of the most peaceful paddles I have ever had.

Very soon this glacier will no longer be in Glacier Bay. It is twenty five miles long and a mile and a half wide at water’s edge and is a filthy black colour from all the debris it has scoured from the land. To the west at ninety degrees to and nearly touching Grand Pacific is one of only two still advancing glaciers on the eastern face of the Fairweather range.

Over the next two days we paddled south to Sebree Island at Tslingit point before turning North West into the west arm of Glacier Bay. As we approached Sebree Island we saw two orcas, a humpback whale and a few porpoises. One of the humpbacks came within 50 metres of us. One of the orcas breached once about a half mile ahead of us. It was sudden and spectacular.

All of the icebergs in Tarr Inlet have calved from Margerie. Margerie is spectacular. It is twenty one miles long, two hundred and fifty feet high and a little over a mile wide at its contact with the sea. It is completely fractured at its leading edge and has a raging torrent of melt water bursting out its front. You can actually hear this glacier.

We paddled forty two miles between days five and six and paddled in and out of some of the smaller Inlets on the west coast, all the time heading towards Tarr Inlet, the most northerly of the west arm.

We paddled in and out of the icebergs as we paddled towards it and stayed about a half mile from it. It was a gloriously hot day. Clear blue skies, flat water but a freezing cold air blowing down from the glaciers.

Tarr is nine miles long and directly in front of us at the head of Tarr is Grand Pacific Glacier. It is enormous even from nine miles distance. This is the glacier that is believed to have carved out Glacier Bay and it has receded about 32 miles in the past one hundred years. A mile behind where it reaches the sea in Tarr Inlet is the Canadian border.

Marjorie was calving constantly. We would hear an enormous cracking sound and then see huge pillars of ice fall into the sea with a roar. We sat on the water looking and listening to the glacier for about an hour, took some photos, and then turned south to find a spot to pitch. Once we paddled away from Marjorie we were heading south for Bartlett Cove.


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We found a spot to pitch on the west side of Tarr about four miles from the glacier and settled in. That evening Liam and I saw our first bear: a black bear.

their bad habits. No people allowed to overnight for that year.

When we arrived at Bartlett Cove we had to attend an orientation session with the park rangers. They covered weather, glaciers and ice, tides, hypothermia, giardia (boil all water in GB), shellfish poisoning (don’t eat them unless you have a death wish), leave no trace and bears. We were very interested in the bears, especially when a ranger pulled out some camping equipment that had been chewed up by bears. The advice went like this: Black and brown bear roam freely throughout the park. It is their home. Be alert at all times. Never leave food unattended. Store all food, rubbish and scented items in bear canisters, never in your tent. Use triangle camping method: Pitch tent at one apex, store food at another and eat at the third, this being the intertidal zone. Each area should be at least one hundred yards apart. We stuck to this plan everywhere we could, depending on the terrain. Bears are protected in Glacier Bay. No guns are allowed. If a bear incident occurs the park rangers close off a ten mile section of the coast each side of where the incident occurs for at least a year so that the bears do not become familiar with people and

We had been advised to watch out for ‘bear signs’ each time we landed on shore and had seen lots of footprints and dumps of bear shit at nearly everywhere we stopped. They couldn’t be avoided and yes bears do shit in the woods!! On this particular evening at about 11.30pm (dusky) I was standing by my tent looking at the scenery when I saw what I initially thought was a black rock further along the coast. Then I noticed that it was moving. I ran and called Liam (Alan was pretending that there were no bears). It was a young black bear and as soon as we made some noise it ran up the hill away from us. We hoped he wasn’t gone to get his mammy!! We spotted him again the following morning while we ate breakfast. Day eight was a cloudy but warm day and saw us heading south towards Reid Inlet. This was an area that the rangers had closed off so we stopped at a long curved snow Covered gravelly section of coast just below Mt. Parker to pitch. There was a group of six paddlers already pitched there. Two of them were guides and they told us that there had been some grizzly bear activity along this section of coast in the recent past. We were extra careful about setting up camp and after dinner we sat chatting about the previ-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION ous days and planning for the next few days. We needed an ebbing tide the next morning so the plan was to leave about 1pm. The other group left about 9am on the flooding tide and we set about having breakfast and sorting out our gear. It was a lovely sunny day and we were relaxed and taking it easy. I had carried my four bear canisters to my kayak in preparation for packing and Liam and Alan were at the canister stash 100 metres away when I heard them shouting. I looked up and they were waving as well as shouting and coming towards me quickly. Like running, I mean. I turned and looked south along the coast and there was an adult grizzly bear wandering along the beach towards us. We banged pots together, jumped up and down and made lots of noise as the rangers had advised us to do but this bear had obviously not attended the same orientation as we did. It became very clear that this bear was not going to change direction. There was only one option and that was to kayak off shore. We hopped into our kayaks, (Liam grabbed his SLR camera) and we back paddled to about five metres from shore and watched as the bear sniffed his way between

the other group’s tents and then made his way to ours. He sniffed around our camp but found nothing of interest. He was a very beautiful animal. A golden brown colour with the classic hump of a grizzly bear and very big. He made his way slowly to where our canisters were stored; found nothing there and then disappeared around a rock formation. Liam got some fabulous photos from his kayak. It was an amazing experience to see this bear in his own habitat and master of it. As soon as he passed by we broke camp in record time and flooding tide or not we moved on. This was another gloriously hot day. Liam’s hands had got badly sunburned the day before so we took it easy as we paddled the twenty miles to Blue Mouse Cove. We planned on camping on a small island in the Cove but some fishermen told us that there was a grizzly on the beach so we paddled back across the Cove to the northern shore towards a spot that we had seen earlier with some tents pitched. As we approached the shore we saw four double kayaks facing the shore ahead but not paddling. We met up with eight women paddlers who said that there was a grizzly bear in their camp and as we got closer we saw the grizzly. Not the same one that we had seen earlier but an angry, aggressive bear. He was busy shredding anything and everything looking for food. This was an habituated bear. One who had met people before and must have


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION gotten food as he was very seriously searching. He shredded some clothes and buckled some pots in his search. I approached the shore very quietly to get some photos. (I didn’t have a zoom lens). The bear saw me and was suddenly moving quickly (not running) towards me. I back paddled rapidly as he came into the waters edge and stood looking at me. Serious tightening of the cheeks as I rejoined the group. There was no way we were going on shore here. As luck would have it there was a floating ranger’s station anchored in a curve of the shore right next to where the bear was and we made our way to it. There was also a large boat anchored a short distance from us and Alan made his way to it. The people on the

boat told him that they had called the rangers station in Bartlett Cove on their marine VHF and were told that this was a particularly dangerous bear and we were not to go on shore. They advised that we sleep on the ranger’s station. The ranger’s station was a floating meshed steel platform, about 5m by 4m, with a metal

cabin attached. The cabin had a bunk bed, a small table, a chair and a marine VHF radio and it had a 1m walkway all-round the cabin, with an outside toilet stamped “For official use only. US Government”. Yeah!! There was room for about four people in the cabin so we set about jamming our paddles vertically into the outer edge of the platform to stop us rolling off as we slept and rigged up a tarp to cover us in case of rain. We set up our stoves and cooked an evening meal and swapped wilderness stories with some of the women. Late in the evening the bear wandered into our small cove and while there two of the women paddled back to their camp to retrieve their gear. It was interesting to see the damage done to their equipment – pots crushed, holes

in containers from claws and ripped material. I woke about 6am and the bear was still wandering back and forth on shore. One of the women and I sat and watched him pace backwards and forwards along the shore for about three quarters of an hour before others started to wake. We said our goodbyes after breakfast


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION and headed south again. What a day!! This story made front page news in the Juneau Empire on 29th June 1999 although we were not mentioned. The park rangers closed a twenty mile section of coastline to overnight camping for a year to avoid having a bear incident which might mean killing the bear. Day 10 saw us paddle twelve miles to Geikie Inlet in calm seas and another lovely hot day. Geikie was a pick-up point for the tour boat but we were two days early because of our paddling rate and we had lost no days to weather. We decided to paddle the last thirty miles into Bartlett Cove. We were due to leave Geikie about 1pm with the tide so the two lads decided to have a lie in the next morning. They were looking for coffee so I broke the cardinal rule of bear country and gave them a cup each in their tents. I was sitting with my back to a rock reading and drinking tea when I heard noises in the bushes behind me.

about 11pm this time on the sea side of the island. He swam up and down the island directly below us and appeared to be scratching himself off the sheer rocks below. We were able to look directly down onto his blowholes. There was an awful smell of oily fish as he blew. It was incredible. None of us could take photos. We were either out of batteries or had no rolls of film. Still remember it though. Our final days paddling – a six mile crossing of Glacier Bay to the northern end of the Beardslee Islands and then twelve sheltered miles into Bartlett Cove. The Beardslee Islands can only be paddled at high tide so we paddled across the bay against the tide into a headwind and in choppy seas, the most difficult paddle of the trip. We saw seals, porpoises, bald eagles and a humpback as we crossed into the sheltered waters of the islands. We spotted a mother black bear and two cubs and numerous bald eagles as we paddled the final miles into Bartlett Cove sad at adventures end but the trip had been everything that we had hoped for and more.

Alan shouted “Is that you Tom?” as I turned round to look towards the forest and a black bear walked out of the bushes three metres behind me. Liam came out of his tent like a rocket roaring “bear, bear”. I roared something and the bear ran back into the forest, reappearing back on the beach a few metres away to wander on up the coast. Another lucky break.

The short version is that three hours after beaching at Bartlett Cove we were on the ferry back to Juneau two days earlier than expected and the hostel had no spaces.

We left Geikie about 1pm and paddled the twelve miles to Willoughby Island passing inside Drake Island and lunching on Francis Island. We spotted a number of seals, numerous bald eagles and two porpoises on the way. We camped on an un-named island in Johnson Cove at Willoughby.

We were tired and filthy not having washed properly in two weeks. Theresa Walden and her parents Joe and Maureen (who were due to visit Ireland in September) were also on the ferry and they overheard us talking, guessed we were Irish (our good looks, I suppose) and engaged us in conversation about Ireland.

The sea side of this island was about ten metres high and sheer. At about 6pm a humpback whale came into Johnson Cove and stayed there for about two hours. The whale stayed at rest for long periods, dropping below the surface and then rising again to blow. We sat on the grass thrilled that we were being visited by a humpback on our last night in the wilderness.

As we approached Juneau Theresa invited us to her home for dinner and offered us beds for the last three days of our trip. We were introduced to her husband Jim on shore and after greeting us started loading our six huge, heavy backpacks into the back of his jeep and we were off.

He disappeared for a few hours and returned

The end of this story cannot be told without mentioning the Waldens.

They threw a barbeque for us the next evening, invited family and friends, with Alaskan salmon


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION and king crab the main menu. They gave us a car for three days and treated us as family. Real Alaskan hospitality. We are lifelong friends now. An incredible end to an astonishing trip. For more information about kayaking Glacier Bay have a look at “Adventure Kayaking: Glacier Bay� by Don Skillman. Also visit

to hand it to the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (CANI) and The Countryside Access and Activities Network who are the chief producers of a series of leaflets and other information on a number of Canoe Trails which help to get folks off their sofas and sitting in a canoe or kayak. Armed with this info from their website and a hastily obtained NI IS map (Sheets 27 & 17) we were set. Route planning for this weekend was relatively easy considering the wind forecast was for Fresh to Strong Easterly/South easterly winds all weekend. We decided to start in the South East of the trail and paddle North West. There are numerous put in points are detailed with a grid ref so you can find them on the OS map. We chose Trail Bay GR 329 233 which on paper looked to have easy access with parking and camping.

Five go Camping by Alan Horner The weather forecast has just wrecked the planned weekends paddling off the North Coast but your weekend visa is still valid - so what to do ? For some time I had wanted to check out the Lough Erne Canoe Trail which on paper at least promises much in terms of amenities and scenery. You have

Our plan was to drop 2 cars further up on Lower Lough Erne and over Saturday and Sunday cover somewhere between 50-60kms. We met up in Killeshandra and did our shopping in the local Londis. I think they had not seen such a hungry lot in a while as we filled 4 baskets with food and drink for the weekend.


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On up through Belturbet we took the Enniskillen road and on the ground the place we wanted was actually called Derryvore Quay. Waterways Ireland a cross border body have done a fantastic job of signage both on and off the waterways around here and so despite being led up a small boreen the quay was signposted. Unfortunately it wasnt a fantastic camping spot so we tried our luck a bit further on at a place called Trinity Slip. The entrance to the slip way is through an unlocked (unmarked) gateway beside Crom Parish Church and so we were able to set up camp beside the slipway on some rough but flat ground. Once tents were up three headed off for the car drop and 2 started the cooking. The car drop took longer than we reckoned (as they always do?) and an hour/half later the drivers were back. Steak & spuds awaited and despite the rain were were able to enjoy our dinner inside a humungous tarp ( You know that tent in the Harry Potter film which comes out of a small bag and has a mansion inside it had everything... A couple of “PassionateFeeserman” from Paris were camping nearby and we invited them over for some Wine and Whiskey. They brought a gift of their self

made DVD on “PasionateFeeshing”. They were so passionate that they were planning to by up by 5am to catch a big Pike at dawn. Saturday Morning The birdsong and sounds of Swans in take-off and the quiet lap of the water was all that could be heard until the alarm went off at 8am. A leisurely breakfast followed with porridge, muesli, bannocks and fried eggs to set us up for the day. We were on our way by 11am with laden kayaks and the wind at our backs. The lake here in Upper Lough Erne is full of channels rather than open water and makes for very sheltered paddling. The birdlife / waterfowl consists of Mute Swans which are abundant as well as Heron, Mallard, Coot, Black Headed Gulls & Terns. It is striking the amount of Fisherman which are both on the water in small dinghys and at the many purpose built fishing stands that line the lakeside. Our Sea Kayaks & bright clothing stood out against all their Green & Brown Fishing clothing which blended in with the general hue of the lake & countryside.


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION We tootled on up to Bellanaleck which boasted overnight camping, water & toilets. On landing we found that camping was not available. We found out that the childrens Playground & Park near the water used to be the camping site. So of course we put it to good use and pitched anyway 単 without any problems. The Toilets which are used by the cruisers are clean and have showers And hot water free of charge so we made use of those. When we visited the place was very quiet but many of the cruisers were tied up and un occupied. So potentially on Summer weekends this could be a very busy spot. Bellanaleck was a short walk away and we went in search of the local pub. Unusually for an Irish village there was none ? So we Marched into Arney 1.5miles away and were the only customers....a very quiet place. Sunday The lake is in many places bordered by trees and scrub with Willow and hawthorn in abundance.

We were up and ready to go by 11. The wind was a steady F5 Southerly and the sun was shining.

Especially on the many small islands it looks as if this vegetation has been wround for many hundreds of years and it would be impenetrable to land or camp on. However the views and scenery do open up to rolling green fields with sheep & cattle roaming freely. Our lunch stop was on Naan Island where we found a grassy spot beside a small jetty out of the wind. The soup and bannocks and ham and cheese were happily devoured by hungry paddlers.

Our route was to continue from Bellnaleck up the Erne River into Enniskillen and in a generally North Westerly Direction into Lower Lough Erne to finish at Tully Castle Jetty. Despite the threatening black sky to our South the rain kept off and the haul of the kit and kayaks to the launch slip was hot, enough for some to wander around topless much to the disgust of the local birdlife !

After lunch the lake opened up and the wind pick-up at our backs and we took that helping hand Up past Knockninny and until we reached the mouth of the Erne River. As you will see on the map there are a number of channels going North And this one is a quiet one. Cruiser traffic has a restricted speed all along the river on this side to about 10kph so its not a problem to keep out of their way or to try wash hanging if you have the energy.


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The wind kept on blowing from the East / ESE and we were hooshed along the Erne River into Enniskillen. The photos dont really show it but we were hardly paddling and still managing about 5kmph. The approach to Enniskillen has some impressive bridges and a wee castle.. Just after the bridges we found a spot for a coffee/tea break and sat down in glorious sunshine for a while. We met some paddlers from the Enniskillen Canoe Club who informed us that Elaine “Shooter” was now paddling around Ireland and hailed from this neck of the woods. After our coffee break the next leg took on a bit more excitement as we passed out of the river into the wider Lower Lough Erne. The wind picked up to around F6 at times and accompanied by rain squalls. We whizzed by many small islands and surfed some small waves which gave us an average speed of around 9kmph. The waves were quite surfable reaching about half to 1 metre and we bombed along towards our finish point with the wind pushing F7 at our backs. In about 2 hours we were at our pullout point near Tully Castle, a short haul up to the cars and Lunch was prepared in the carpark in sunshine. So although its not sea paddling if you are looking for relatively sheltered water when the weather is bad or even some gentle paddling with serviced campsites for family or friends check out the Lough Erne Waterways. Windy conditions are especially good around here keeps the midge away. It makes you wonder whether the various bodies in

volved with Kayaking & tourism here in the Republic of Ireland might aspire to similar Canoe Trails & guides in our numerous Loughs and Waterways.

Paddlers: Margaret Farrell, Pauline Jordan, Alan Horner, Ciaran Clissmann & Eddie O’Shea

Key Info:

Ordnance Survey Sheets 17 & 27. (We found sheet 27 hard to get ñ you might need to pre-order) Waterways Ireland : Canoe Association of Northern Ireland :

Irish Sea Crossing by Conor Murray

The year was 1981. I don’t remember the exact date or much else surrounding my first attempt at crossing the Irish Sea. I had acquired a wooden pallet and spent what felt like months collecting 1litre plas-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION tic drinks bottles and tying them to the pallet to make my raft to paddle to Holyhead. There were just two of us that day and at 10 years of age we struggled to drag the craft to the water’s edge. It was a miserably low tide and we had to leave Sandycove harbour to get enough water to launch. By this stage a small crowd had gathered on the pier and were waiting patiently. We pushed off with our sticks and were afloat at last. But as we moved out to sea, the flotation system failed; bottles were drifting and the raft slowly began sinking. Our feet and legs were soon immersed and luckily for us we were in no more than two feet of water, but the mission was over. Our audience laughed as we dragged our raft and wet bodies back to the beach. These memories only surfaced recently and 30 years later I was about to embark on the same journey. Soon I would be standing in the cold pre-dawn air close to where I had launched from as a boy. And again there would be two of us but this time just a bit more prepared, or so I hoped!

fore the scheduled departure we made the call. Even though we had picked a lovely July weekend, the weather was still cold and I would end up wearing a woolly hat for the first half of the journey!

The planning is magical and takes you into a world of it’s own The scales are so off the wall that it’s almost comical Stare at a map of the Irish Sea for long enough it plays tricks on you and actually shrinks. You go over the distances again and again, breaking down the journey into sections. If you paddle 1 kmph faster on an average club trip you could save 10 minutes. If you do the same on a long crossing you can save over 2.5 hours!!! The hardest part of planning the crossing is figuring out which conditions are most favourable. You don’t really want to be surfing all the way and neither do you need the wind in your face and obviously neap tides are best.

crazy the plan was. At 03:30 we were in Bullock harbour and at 04:30 we were getting into our kayaks and preparing to head for Holyhead, Wales. I think the shock of lack of sleep, dark and cold seemed to have numbed us from the reality. We were on autopilot, going through the usual checks while hardly speaking. We were on the water at last and after a long interrogation from the coastguard we were finally on our way. Everything was in place; trip plan, EPIRB, flares, spare everything, shore contacts, weather updates and all we had to do now was paddle

Having Eddie on board was a great bonus as I had originally planned it as a solo crossing, due to a lack of interest – funny that! But two minds and bodies make the planning and the journey easier in many ways. I had recounted my childhood attempt but I don’t think it was that story that won him over. A two week kayak tour of Alsaka meant he was kayak fit and ready to go.

At 02:30 I found myself in the bathroom putting on sun cream but the penny hadn’t dropped at how

There was a moderate swell which didn’t help us settle down to a rhythm as we half surfed towards the sunrise. The sunrise seemed to make it all worthwhile and with daylight grew a new energy as we paddled on to the horizon. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t hard, we just paddled along in our own worlds enjoying the open sea feeling. Suddenly there was a loud whoosh right in front of me as a cetacean surfaced. Not huge but large and fast. Then again, it surfaced to my left. I called

This was my third attempt (excluding 1981!) and each previous plan had been dashed by the weather and again, the outlook was poor. Three low pressures to the NW, SW and E were all playing tag with each other and this left the east coast of Ireland in a small area of slack winds mostly from the NE. There were strong winds off the west coast of Ireland and the east coast of England was experiencing F6+ winds. If this low off the English coast started to track westward then we would be in a whole heap of trouble. We watched one isobar for four days. It shifted left then right - the trip was on, the trip was off. But we continued preparing regardless and by Saturday afternoon a mere 12 hours be-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION to Eddie and we began to aim off in the direction of the large gathering of seabirds diving and fighting near the surface. We could only follow for so long before resuming our journey eastwards but we were given one more display before we left and my amateur eye later identified it as a Minke whale. We were joined regularly by shearwaters, who were out in numbers and kept us company. Everything was positive and even my fears, or moreover the fears planted in me by others, of being run down by a large vessel, were once again unfounded and we only saw two on the entire crossing! The next big milestone of the day was the half way point, about 50km out and as we had only taken some small breaks over the previous eight hours, I was starving. And really looking forward to my little box of lightly grilled chicken, boiled egg and brown bread, but as we settled down and tucked in, I was

fixed Eddie an electrolyte drink, I wolfed down as much of my left over lunch as discretely possible, for I was still ravenous! And then, and I don’t know how he did it but Eddie just put his head down and began paddling again. The GPS showed our speed was good and constant and this was something I would need to monitor, firstly because Eddie would be busy trying to recover and secondly, if we couldn’t make landfall before 10pm the infamous tides of Holy Island would no longer be with us and the prospect of tides races in the dark didn’t bear thinking about. Oh and before I forget, our two options were; continue or stop; and option B is not worth elaborating on here! At this stage everything was looking up. The sun was shining, the sea state was now calm and land was in sight, albeit another 6 hours away, our pace was constant and our position was good. We made a minor adjustment to our bearing so as to ensure the slingshot style which was needed in approaching Holyhead, otherwise a nasty paddle against a strong tidal flow would be required.

interrupted by Eddie telling me that his lunch didn’t taste so good. And no sooner had the words come out, that he made a lurch forward and proceeded to vomit over my boat right behind me. I felt helpless and just held on to the deck lines as the world stood still. Three rounds later I just simply said, ‘you okay?’ what happened? Shit!’

I made sure we had regular breaks and getting some nutrition into Eddie was crucial. Each break resembled a children’s tea party, with crisps, brownies, jaffa cakes and sweet drinks. Of course man cannot live on jaffa cakes alone and after staring at the South Stack lighthouse for what felt like an eternity, the tiredness set in. Okay we only had three hours to go but the body was just giving up. Up to a certain point you can override the body’s desire to give up. You can use the mind to push yourself but there comes a point when the mind starts to agree with body and it’s at this precise point where you start finding your limits and we were certainly finding ours! In other sports you can get off, sit down or fall over. But in kayaking, this isn’t an option. We don’t have the choice; we just had to keep going. And that’s just what we did and before long we could see

So there we were, drifting in the middle of the Irish Sea and my mind was working overtime. I thought to myself; options, what are the options? Okay, one… and two… I’ll just run through them again. A or B… yikes! This was not looking good but panicking never helps so I stayed calm. Eddie reassured me that he was fine but his pale complexion and furrowed brow didn’t leave me with a warm cosy feeling. We went through the facts and established that the main cause of the sickness was his constant analysis of the various charts, lists and electronic gizmos on his deck. I promptly removed everything and put it out of sight. To try to reduce the chance of further bouts, I made sure that I was in a good position to Eddie and not riding the swell next to him. I tried to reassure Eddie that land would be sight within a couple of hours and this would help but I was probably just trying to reassure myself! As I

buildings, cars and people, followed by the surreal feeling that we had made it. I’m assuming that my attempt at picking up the pace for the last 200m was all in my mind. There were people on the beach. Nigel Dennis, Eila Wilkinson and some friends were


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION there with hugs and whiskey! I don’t know how we would have managed without them. They carried our boats, got us changed and drove us to the pub for a celebration!!! Of course, the big question is why? Why paddle all that way? Why seemingly risk so much? I’d like to shrug off the questions with the famous George Mallory quote ‘because it’s there’. And as simple and convenient as it is, it scarcely scratches the surface of the real reasons why people like to go on seemingly pointless adventures. Another less quoted Mallory philosophy goes like this… ‘’ It is no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer

joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.’’ So what is my motivation to paddle to the horizon? I would love to think that I’ve inherited a magic gene from my ancient ancestors who once arrived here by boat or that I’m the explorer in my tribe. But could it somehow be possible that my long forgotten boyhood dream has stayed with me all this time? Either way I’m still drawn to the distant horizon and to the next adventure. Route: Bullock Harbour Dalkey to Porth Darfach, Holyhead Kayakers: Eddie O’Shea, Conor Murray Distance: 108km Time: 16.5 hours

Reflections on a Circumnavigation of Ulster by Richard Lineham It’s been a month since Gethin and I finished our circumnavigation of Ulster to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The journey took us from Belfast Lough down the east coast to Blackrock, across Ireland to Ballyshannon on the west coast and then around the coasts of Donegal and Northern Ireland. Over a few beers and whilst I should have been marking children’s books, I’ve had time to reflect on a trip that had a relentless pace as we raced to stay with the weather. We took just 16 days to cover the 560 km route. Things that I have learnt: Sails are the way ahead; we woke up in just north of Burtonport in one of the most ideal campsites of the trip. The promised north westerly winds had not turned up during the night and we had slept peacefully on our granite atoll. Paddling out along the west side of Cruit Island the wind arrived from the south. We popped the sails up and headed towards Gola, a quick check of the GPS showed that we were getting a lift of 4km/h from the sails. Happy that we were going make Inishboffin for the end of the day we surfed our way north on the small wind chop, the sails giving us that extra push to stay on the waves. Bloody Foreland came all too easily and we turned east as the wind kindly turned west and increased to a steady force 4+. We were soon zipping long, surfing the small waves, making a steady 9km/h against the tide. Pulling into Inishboffin for a late lunch, we knew that we could not stop long and had to make the most of the conditions. Horn head and then across Sheephaven to Doagh became the new target. With the wind increasing and the seas building, the sailing and surfing was moving towards a little too exciting with both Gethin and I stalling the boats and backing off the big waves by the end of the crossing. With the sails up we only needed to keep the boats pointing in a straight line to keep the speed up, so this did not slow us down that much. We pulled into Doagh 9 hours after starting, having had the wind behind us all day. Sails are not a common sight on sea boats in Ireland but in NZ (a windy place) they are*. Are sails cheating? I remember Scott saying something like that about Amundsen and his dogs. Don’t take advice from TV characters; it did not take long to get used to putting on wet clothes in the morning and by the 3rd day, as we left in the early morning mizzle to cross Cralingford Lough and Dun-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION dalk Bay, the force 5 winds were of far more concern. We needed to get to Blackrock and the Fane River within 2 hours of high tide before the bay dried out or risk losing a day waiting for the evening tide. The crosswinds became headwinds as we tuned west into Dundalk bay and remembering that Del boy declared “fortune favours the brave!” We gambled on getting across to the Fane in time. Fast forward an hour and a half and taking advice from an imaginary East End market trader seamed slightly foolish. We were out of the boats, running through shin deep water to get to the deep channel, as the water disappeared around us. With legs screaming and breakfast threatening to make a comeback, we made it into the Fane River with barely a centimetre of water to spare. Del boy was not quoted in the decision making process again.

10km the wheels quite literally fell off. Standing 20km from the sea by the side of the road, with two fully loaded boats and no trolley was a potential stumbling block for the trip. So we grabbed the bat

People are generous and kind; to our knowledge the round Ulster route had only been completed once before by “Shooter”. It was starting to become apparent why, after 5km the Fane became shallow and phone and called Shooter, who called Andrew McCol, who called his mate Paddy and a rescue was on. We even had a reserve in the wings with Gregg Miller who decided that he did not need to sleep that night and could head down from Belfast once he had finished work at 9pm. After Paddy had helped us off the road (whilst laughing heartily at the ridiculousness of the situation) Andrew arrived and took us home for the night, fed us and then dropped us off at Butlers Bridge the next day. John O’Neil helped us out in a similar way by giving us a lift round the barrage at Ballyshannon and numerous other people helped with words of encouragement and support along the way. The circumnavigation has raised over £5000 pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support with the vast majority of donations coming from people who I have never met or heared of and who never met my wife Alex. Thank you for helping Macmillan continue to support those affected by cancer. And finally Ulster is not an island! littered with small stone weirs. By 6 o’clock towing the boats up stream, through calf deep water, was losing its novelty and hey 6 is the magic number so the next cow field was declared camp. I would like to say that the tents were up and the kettle on in minutes but we just stood there staring and gently rocking backwards and forwards wondering what we had got ourselves in to. The next day we managed to paddle 100m before we were out of the boats, this time we were lifting them over fallen trees, setting the theme for the rest of the morning. After only making 3km in two hours we decided to quit the river and break out the trolleys. Unfortunately just as sea kayaks were not designed to be tracked upstream, the trolleys were not designed to carry 50kg and within 5km they were starting to creak and at


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION As well as the physical, there are mental advantages. Going hard is about the journey within rather than without. The below is a quote from Jeff Allen regarding their recent Round Ireland Record.

There will be a talk on the Ulster Circumnavigation at 1930 on the 20th October at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre. See for more details. * Search for “kayak sail” on the Belfast Kayak Club web site for how to make a sail. "The circumnavigation was kindly supported by P and H Custom Sea Kayaks, Reed Chillcheater, Cotswold Outdoors and Johnson Campbell Limited"

“For both Harry and I, sea kayaking has for the most part been about the journey, exploring new coastlines, cultures and experiencing the richness and excitement of being within a dynamic coastal environment. But over the past few years we have started to find that inside of us, we had a desire to see how far we could push ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally, in hindsight this was still very much a journey, in many ways a journey that was every bit as rich and rewarding as previous journeys, only this time it was a journey within.” The focus required in going fast certainly occupies the mind. You focus on each consecutive stroke- perfecting one stroke after anotherperfecting four in a row-then ten in a row- best twenty minutes. Its addictive... In pushing, you will also acquire a clearer definition of your physical limits and thus become a safer more self aware paddler. You learn about your stamina, your food demands, water demands, your bladder/ bowel demands. The three key areas to improve are 1) Position in kayak/ Paddle stroke 2) Training; Base and Interval 3) Your Kayak (least important but considered first here)

Going Faster in your Sea Kayak

Kayak considerations

by Tadhg de Barra This article is adapted from a slide/demo presentation given to the ECSKC, hence the slightly staccato text. Why bother....? More distance covered in same time. Ability to punching thru' trouble such as clapotis or a tide race. Safer surf landings if you can outsprint the wave. You acquire a more stable kayak at speed. Sustaining speed requires good technique. It obliges a faster stroke rate which causes less ligament/ joint strain. It necessitates the use of larger muscle groups. Both these factors reduce the likelihood of muscle tears and reduce shoulder/ elbow/ hand issues. Larger muscle groups also have a better blood supply- better energy supply, better metabolic clearance.

General principles in choosing a kayak for speed would be the following; Light > heavy so keep your gear light. Rudder> skeg as sustained edging is inefficient and strains the lower back. Longer> short kayak; a longer waterline tends to be faster. Narrow > wide as less bow wave. Round Hull> Flat hull, not sure why but most fast kayaks are designed with a rounder hull rather than flat. However remember, the kayak needs to be stable enough to pee /eat. And a slowish kayak doesnt prevent your from doing anything. Mick and Brian did the Rosslare Whitesands Record in Nigel Foster Legends53cm beam with skegs rather than rudders

Training Keep your weight down, strength up and do lots of core work. Keeping active in winter; consider Mountain Running, Wild Water Racing, Surf Kayaking, White Water Kayaking, all of which come into season in the Winter months. Paddle


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION on the great rivers of Ireland instead. Consider Devises to Westminster Kayak race!!

Aerobic Power (efforts lasting 4 mins and beyond)

The basic principle of training is to stress the body so that it heals stronger and better than before. Huge improvements in basic speed, feel for kayak, efficiency can be easily had.

Think of towing someone home, getting around a headland or getting home thru a tough headwind

The most widely used method is called 'Interval Training.' It involves performing a repeated bursts of speed alternating with adequate recovery. Frequent rests allow elimination of lactic acid and replenishment of energy stores. Sea kayakers training for an objective say three or four times per week might consider one interval session per week. (Racing kayakers would use intervals far more frequently) One session involves stressing one of each of the three main energy systems of the body.These are the;s

Typically examples would be three or four 5-6 min efforts or the last 20 mins of kayak home You should be breathing hard throughout. Maintain full deep breathing and a high fast loose controlled stroke- always trying for the perfect paddle motion through the water. You should be both tired and empty by the end.

Position in your Kayak

ATP-Power system ( lasts <30 secs) Anaerobic system (lasts 1 min- 4 mins) Aerobic system (4- 20+ mins) Always do a good warm up, paddling steadily for a minimum of 10 mins. Non – elite athletes have glycogen stores for about 16 mins between liver/ muscle. So the efforts usually add up to about 16 mins eg eight by two mins, four by four mins. Emphasis always on your style and your stroke. ATP- Power ( efforts last <30 secs) Think surf landing, sprinting in before a breaking wave, catching a swell to surf, sprinting through a gap in rock garden etc Little O2 used. Develops muscle mass. Develops coordination An example would be 20 reps of thirty second sprints. Take a good one- two min recovery between. Maybe you could use it to break up a long boring paddle home. Anaerobic Power (efforts last from 1 min to 4 mins) Think pushing thru a tide race, sprinting into the lee of a headland Examples could be four by 4 min efforts or sixteen by 1 min “Burn in entire body afterward, gasping for breath by end and half a min after” Control your breathing/coordination during effort

Modern kayaks are designed with knees splayed. This allows you better control on leaning, edging, rolling etc. However, it is not the most efficient position from which to propel your kayak. Paddling with your knees together, as in upright and touching, allows you to cycle your kayak, in other words incorporate the immense power of your quadriceps into your stroke. Can you fit your knees upright inside your coaming? Try to get your bum higher than heels. This allows you open up your chest and cycle down your legs. Maintain a neutral position- not leaning forward nor back. Dont push on your backrest. Pushing into the backrest is wasting effort, this effort should be used in pushing past the paddle. Remember to pull the kayak past the paddle as if the paddle shaft were a pole in the water. Try hard to rotate your trunk with every stroke. Two mental tricks to use are; 1-Try to keep centre of your paddle shaft in line with zip of your PFD. 2-Try to show the front of your PFD to people on the shore and out to sea as you rotate. Remember not to source all of your trunk movement from your low back- try also to slide your bum back and forth on the seat. This will enhance your trunk movement. As important as training, is your paddle stroke. One's paddle stroke is never perfected. We are


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always seeking it keep it tuned and improved.

Note that for speed, ideally the paddle shaft is held in a far more upright position- see the following K-1 photos. However, we sea kayakers can make allowances for the width of our

Begin with the blade parallel with kayak. Top Arm at right angle and 40cms from ear Bottom Arm straight, loose, open and at face height Torso rotated as far forward as if shouldering someone

kayaks. And we sometimes need to retain a lower stroke to employ quick bracing.

The Catch

Four Phases of the Stroke At the end of TnadT 50, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve attached a couple of sheets from the French kayaking union. Despite being in french, they are quite useful for critiquing your stroke and position. Again are aimed at marathon rather than sea paddlers

The Set-up The Catch The Power phase The Exit

Top arm starts pushing forward- it also controls the angle of blade Try to spear the salmon Bottom arm stays almost straight as it gets pushed into water Close to kayak. Deep into water ISSUE 50

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tum. Dont rock or swing. Dont brace/rudder unless you have to. Recover when surfing. Paddle with waves but surf to your destination Headwinds Accept them. Headwinds are an inevitability. Work with the oncoming sea Try to paddle perpendicular- Hug the shore? Count out strokes. Time Power Phase with wave crests. Lean back and forth to minimise pitching Keep a fast cadence Catch far forward

Leg Drive begins. Bottom arm stays straight Elbow angle remains same, all paddle movement comes from torso rotation and leg drive. Blade sweeps away from kayak- neutral wrist angle Finally the elbow begins to pull. Top arm stays at head height- punch the hand forward

Irish Sea Kayaking Association the early years, some memories

The Exit

by Kevin Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Callaghan The following is an attempt at a chronology of some early events relating to sea kayaking that that helped shape the beginnings of what is now a major part of kayaking in Ireland. So apologies for omissions in advance.

Leg Drive ends, Top arm remains where it is. Lower arm whips paddle out at hip and flicks up to the 40cm from ear position

Downwind Speed tips. Keep bow pointing down. Catch sets not waves. Dont bother sprinting uphill. Maintain momen-

The foundation blocks of the Irish Sea Kayaking Association (ISKA) that people see today are only 20 years old! In the early nineties the number of sea kayaks in Ireland was less than 100. Of these the bulk were owned by outdoor centres, Little Killary had a fleet of Sea Tigers that they had augmented after the Cape Horn and Guinea Bissau expeditions, Tiglin (formerly the National Adventure Centre) had a mixed fleet, with some anus Acutas, Nordkapps and one or two other specimens. Tollymore Mountain Centre (now the National Adventure Centre) and Gartan OEC were the other guardians of these rare craft. Almost all of the other craft were in private hands. Josie Gibbons was rare in that he had more than one sea kayak in addition to the mould to make sea kayaks. At this time the main boats to be found in the country were Nordkapps, some Shorelines, sea tigers, a Vyneck, Sea Kings, some Nordkapps by Mark Downey, legends, pintails and anus ascutas. Training in sea kayaking for most was confined to the sea and surf weekend run by the Irish Canoe Union (ICU) as part of the CK (former in-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION offered Gartan in Co. Donegal as a venue for the first “come and try it” sea meet.

structor series). Up to then there had been some notable journeys, Tom Hanrahan’s Irish Sea crossing, Circumnavigation of Ireland by Suzanne Kennedy and Karen Weakes, and other circumnavigations by……… The first sea kayak symposium was organised by Donal O Dubha of Cappanalea OEC. The venue for the symposium was Clare Island and of a September weekend in 1989. The next symposium did not happen until 1991. This was based in the little Killary Adventure centre on the first weekend in November. The instigator of this event was Stephen Hannon. This was the beginning of what the modern day symposia grew out of. The weekend chosen was the first weekend in November as it was to be in essence a celebration at the end of the paddling year. There were approximately 40 participants at the first symposium. The aim of the symposium was to promote sea kayaking in Ireland. Some of the guests included Nigel Foster, Terry Storry, and Robin from Valley in the UK who brought over a trailer of kayaks, from the UK. At this time Stephen Hannon had also established Saoirse na Mara, and became Ireland’s first commercial sea kayak provider. While based primarily out of Connemara, Saoirse na Mara also ran trip to Scotland, Northern Spain, Crotia and elsewhere around Ireland Following on from the success of this event another symposium was planned for the following year, again based in Little Killary. The attendance of the 1991 symposium made up the mailing list for the 2nd Symposium. A major part of these events was the promotion of the sport and to facilitate the introduction of others to experience the delights of sea paddling. This involved the gathering of all available boats in the country that could be made available to get as many on the water as possible While many of the same people featured again with some extremely artistic slide show of the Nordkapp Expedition, the highlight of the show was the entertaining and enthralling slide show by 3 Irish guys who had just circumnavigated Iceland. These 3 were Mick O’Meara, Dermott Blunt and Karl Heery. During this symposium there was an open forum. One of the participants of this forum who had a vision of what sea kayaking could be was Michael O Driscoll among the suggestions from the forum were, the establishment of a newsletter, a club, races, regional meets, etc. Ursula McPherson and Oisin Hallisey (then in Gartan OEC) generously

Invites and an application forms were forwarded to all in attendance at the symposium with a view to establishing the “Irish Sea Kayaking Club”. During this meet a group got together and met and hence the Irish Sea Kayaking Association was formed. The initial group that met included Oisin Hallisey, Ursula McPherson, Dave Walsh, Stephen Hannon and myself. One of the objectives of this new association was the circulation of a regular newsletter to all members. The names suggested ranged from An Mhaidean Mhara to Treasna na dTonnta. (note spelling). The thin first issue of TND appeared in under my editorship later in 1993. Meanwhile the growth in sea kayaking necessitated the need for training in the discipline and a new award was added to the ICU award scheme and was known as the Basic Sea proficiency. This was later augmented by the Advanced Sea Proficiency. These were developed by both Humphrey Murphy and Stephen Hannon the then Chair of the training and development Unit (TDU) committee of the ICU. The first assessments of the advanced sea proficiency were observed by outside assessors, both as a quality assurance measure and also to develop an equivalency with another award scheme. The third symposium meanwhile went ahead once more in Little Killary, in Connemara. By this stage the numbers attending were growing very rapidly and the venue while providing an intimate atmosphere that was self contained by both the refreshments and the by now resident Maimin Cajun Band. This was to be the last time the Maumin Cajun band played at a symposium. These were a gregarious bunch from Galway, who always made it clear in advance that they were playing only for 2 hours (they were very adamant about this in 1993!), however due to the isolated nature of the venue and the craic they were usually late in leaving, and usually departed with everyone else the following afternoon. Memories of the third symposium included: the music, and Dave Kavannagh winning the sea orienteering by carrying his boat over an isthmus of land rather than paddling around it, much to the annoyance of some others. The Killary symposia were always held on the first weekend in November and in some regards were best considered a laying up party. The other constants at these events were Nigel Foster, Brian Hughes and the lads from the North. Saturday was usually a day of trips of various


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION durations and distances, while Sunday tended to have more workshops and a sea kayak orienteering event. Following on the third symposium there was a move to get the symposium to move around the country, hence the following year the symposium moved to Castletownbere Haven in Co. Cork. This symposium was run under the stewardship of Frank Conroy. With the change in venue of the event we then had to get used to the almost resident Gale the symposium courted for a number of years, which was later addressed by trying to have the symposium earlier in the year in May. In 1995 I resigned from running the association

and Dave Walsh took over the reins of both of ISKA of publishing Trasna na dTonnta and duly changed the spelling (TND no. 5), there was also confusion over issue numbers initially. At this stage ISKA had 54 paid up members and a further 41 names that Dave drew attention to either being useful contacts or having membership in arrears! What I remember most was the enthusiasm and gusto that Dave brought to association and in particular AGM of ISKA where he ruled supreme in the autocratic structure, thus allowing for very succinct meetings.. By the end 1995 the numbers of boats in the country had grown significantly as had the variety and construction of boats available. The Association was still in its infancy with newsletters


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION still stapled photocopied productions. The sport began to grow rapidly mirroring the overall boom that the Irish economy was also beginning to experience. In addition ISKA also grew from the seeds of the Open forum sown at the second symposium to its inauguration at Gartan in Donegal to become the organisation it is today. There follows a brief chronology of the early to mid years gleaned from back issues of Trasna na dTonnta. The subsequent story can be filled in by others who were more involved with the association in the intervening years, but should also include some of the other key events undertaken by Irish sea paddlers during that time

The emergence of A Modest Proposal by Paul Higgins At the start of 2011 we decided to start a fundraising initiative for the four Irish Charities: Console, Aware, Respond and Samaritans. The

stretches 205 kilometres (127 miles) inland to the small village of Skjolden. With a maximum depth of 4,291 feet (1,308 metres), Sognefjord has a greater depth than the ocean floor. This is one of the most beautiful, unspoilt regions of the world and it has miraculously remained relatively unchanged since the very first settlers arrived there over 1000 years ago. The Fjord encapsulates an unmatchable combination of beauty and truly formidable landscapes, carved out by enormous glaciers during the last ice age. In choosing this location we wanted a destination that inspired the imagination, a harsh enough environment to provide us with a number of challenges along the way and also relatively sheltered flat water. The main worry being weather conditions affecting the trip while maintaining time, distance and endurance while battling through the Glacier melt water. Another goal of the trip was to promote Irish businesses in Norway while doing the same for our Norwegian partners in the Irish markets. The present environment in which we find ourselves is a harsh, and unforgiving landscape, much like the one we encountered this summer in Norway.  Since 2008, a number of important events have been unfolding outside the public’s control. These events have triggered significant socio-economic difficulties and indeed a loss of national pride. Together we hoped to do our bit in supporting a number of organisations that are at the coal face in helping those most affected by the current economic downturn, CONSOLE, AWARE, SAMARITANS & RESPOND. We also hoped to raise awareness for suicide and depression in Ireland (often seen as taboo issues) and bring attention to the support agencies that exist and services they can provide. Phase one: the problems and issue in planning and training 

current economic climate has had the effect of increasing the number of people at risk from depression and suicide and thus we wanted to support those suffering from these illnesses. To focus our efforts and bring attention to our cause, our ‘AMP 2011’ team planned to traverse the longest open sea fjord in the world in just 4 days. The Sognefjord in Western Norway is located in Sogn og Fjordane county, and

Once the team and idea were finalized, we went about planning the project. We split this into managing 4 main areas being; time management (as we were dealing with only 3 months to make the whole thing happen), the logistics of the trip itself, donations and training. Some of the major things that we had to source over the planning period included transportation from Oslo to the start of the fjord (Lustrefjord), boats for training and boats during the trip, an aid with


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION local knowledge, and all of the necessary supplies. Underlying all of our major concerns was keeping the overall trip costs down (as we funded the trip entirely out of our pockets allowing all donations to go to the cause) and preventing any duplication of efforts (we needed to spread every man hour out over the major tasks if we were to have any chance of completing the project by June). Looking back now the below issues were some of the most crucial to the success of the challenge; 1) Maintaining the same level of enthusiasm that we began the project with in terms of attending training and meetings as we got closer to exams and some of us started jobs. 2) Sharing workload equally, as from time to time jobs allocated to an individual would begin to drag on for a number of weeks putting the overall project at risk of stalling. 3) Avoiding injury and sickness- Due to the way we were almost busy all the time during the months leading up to the project we found we never really had any downtime and as the project drew closer and major tasks remained incomplete (e.g. Getting boats, getting guide, accommodation Oslo, reaching our target donations wise...the list goes on, our stress levels grew higher). Combined low energy levels, the technique we had been using in the first few months was leading to injuries that we were finding hard to shake off with pains in the wrists and swollen knuckles surfacing every few training sessions. For this particular challenge finding the right techniques was extremely important, as the racing techniques we were watching online were not appropriate. After a few sessions with Jim Kennedy (of Atlantic sea kayaking in Reen Pier, West Cork) we realized we had to learn a lot about the natural cruising speed of the boat and getting the most out of each stroke Phase two: the problems from the last week and first few days over there The last few weeks were hectic. Four of us were studying all day and night for our final year exams and at the same time trying to fit in training and raising donations. We had been down

to Jim Kennedy’s school twice, however, never as the six-man crew. We had a lot of geographical issues especially with so many crazy events going on in everybody’s lives at once. During the final countdown we had to organize the logistics of getting all our gear together before we left the emerald isle. The gear included everything from our dried food pouches to making sure everybody brought their Vaseline for the blisters that were going to be ‘quite bothersome to say the least’ as described by our coach Brian Keogh from Total Experience, Blessington. It was a long and worrying list of things to find when on a shoestring budget. The most alarming part was our inexperience kayaking for longer than 8 hours in a day; we may have been forgetting something very obvious and essential while not knowing it. That being said, we always knew once we had a paddle, a map, food and a floating boat we would give ourselves as good a chance as possible at completing the challenge. The week before we left we had gone to training with Jim Kennedy in West Cork. He had taught us a great technique for sustaining our energy levels on a ‘long’ paddle. We had worked it out with Jim that we would need to kayak for up to 12 hours a day for the four days to be able to finish the challenge. The average speed that we had been told would be 4 to 5 kilometres an hour. As I will describe we did a bit better than that, thank god. This training session was the second last session we did. We had proposed that seeing as it was our last one with Jim, we should do a run through of the kayaking all day, camping and then kayaking again the next day. However, Jim explained that our body works in cycles of three weeks and if we use all our energy this weekend our bodies won’t recover before the trip. We had missed our opportunity to do a trial. The last few days we collected on Grafton Street to help reach the 10,000 goal. We collected over 4,000 Euro overall in that one weekend. It was great to be able to talk to a lot of people about the challenge. We also gained a lot of fans as we handed out our AMP2011 cards for people to follow our progress online.


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION It was in the final week that we had to reach out to the Irish Sea Kayak Association looking to borrow VHF radio and a gps. As mentioned we were funding the trip ourselves to make sure all donations go straight to the charities. We had to leverage on a few contacts as you can imagine. Tadhg de Barra kindly accommodated us within 48 hours of posting the appeal for equipment. Yet another example of the great culture within the Irish Kayaking community. Great Outdoors were a great partner with loaning some of the equipment we needed and guided us on the best places to look for alternative sources. Phase three: the issues while on the water From the starting point we had some major hiccups. The largest was the misunderstanding over cags. We had thought that they were being provided over there and Roger from Njord kayaking thought the same thing. It is very funny looking back now that we attempted to kayak 205 km over the course of four days without a waterproof jacket (I would like to add that for one whole day we used black bin bags as jackets and shorts to shelter us from the 12 hours of rain on day three). Although surpris-

ingly, we managed to only carry the clothing we needed for the trip in the bow, we didn’t need to leave too much with Roger and the van. The essential accessories that I would advise anyone trying this adventure or something similar are hat, sun cream, a solid tent, sponge, great pair of dry clothes (especially socks) for the evening and then finally a waterproof jacket……

As far as food goes we had some issues. The very first day for our ‘dinner’ we attempted to use the dehydrated Spaghetti Bolognese. What we didn’t know was we had used three times the amount of water in the packets; as a result we had a soup type meal that had dry bits of meat in it. Doug got sick the next morning just before we took off. We had no other option so we all just tried to keep his spirits up and hoped that it wasn’t going to be a recurring thing. For the rest of the trip we had no problems with the food, actually I thought the food was delicious. Chris Caulfield from the Blessington’s Total Experience club had referred us to dried food provider Expedition foods. As I chowed down on the shepards pie after 14 hours of kayaking on day three, I thought that we owed the whole trip to our choice and quality in our nutrition. We supplemented the three main meals a day with constant snacking on nuts, dried fruit (tastes amazing after the monotonous diet), energy gels and lastly our favourite chocolate bars to reward ourselves. Our navigational tools consisted of a GPS, VHF and laminated maps. We were also lucky enough to get the aid of Michael L. Storebø. He was the best-trained kayaker we could have had with us. He is a great mentor and now life long friend. He was in a single sea kayak for the entire trip. A very adventurous kayaker to say the least. He was a great asset to the team. He guided us down the Fjord, on how to deal with the tides, winds and lastly, when to push it and when to certainly NOT push it. The navigation along the fjord is quite straightforward but it was the time frame that we wouldn’t have conquered if we hadn’t had his expertise. We had a hot spot gps that could update our followers at home on our progress. This was great as we could get text messages from people every now and then spurring us on. These are invaluable when you are finished a 14 hour paddle and struggling to soaking to the bone. The accommodation issue was extremely simple due to the outdoor nature of the majority of Norwegians. We were able to camp anywhere along the way as long as it wasn’t within a couple hundred yards from an occupied residence or active agricultural land. This meant it was a lot easier on our budgets as well. As you can


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imagine we took a long time finding the best location and more importantly, our view for the morning ‘porridge with sultanas’. Finally, I think the single biggest obstacle while on the water was the mental battle and the group moral as stated previously. At times we bellowed just like a jukebox of a local bar in Dublin. There was the constant struggle to make sure that all of us kept our energy and concentration levels high. We would all have a few disagreements with our crewmembers but five minutes later you realize the bigger picture. I would like to emphasize the necessity of strategically choosing your ‘team’. The characteristics of the team should be aligned and not conflicting. We also chose a team Captain whom in an emergency everybody goes to because he had the only VHF. Other than all the above, just sit back and enjoy the paddle.

Final Phase: the biggest challenges and how the charity funds went etc. By the end of our trip we had dealt with a lot of obstacles. These ranged from making sure we all brought our toilet paper to whether Dan and myself were going to have to discontinue our

paddling when our rudder snapped in an open stretch of water. The challenge was created on a whim and over the course of a three hour-long meeting. It gained momentum with ambition and conviction in all the areas involved. We had started with the Irish Canoe association, and then referred to Ross Harding who taught us our level one certificate within one week of our initial contact. From there we joined the UCD canoe club where we were welcomed with open arms. Dave Byrne then trained us outside UCD training and referred us to different contacts and gave us direction all along the way, and then were mentored by Brain Keogh and Jim Kennedy for the remainder. We were astonished by the accommodating nature of all those involved in Kayaking across Ireland. The training schedules and the kayaking preparation would not have been possible without the help of all the kayaking community. The perfect example, there was not one single monetary transactions for all our training along the way due to the charitable nature of the challenge. We managed to help all those involved through exposure to our partners and also to helping them with any ‘odd-jobs’ (some much more odd than others) that they needed to be done. I truly believe that we would not have been able to do this in any other commu-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION nity in Ireland. Lastly, all of the preparation and the stress is all worth it when you stand there with nothing but blue seas in the distance having finished the challenge. I would like to thank you very much for this opportunity to share our experience with all you avid kayakers and please feel free to email us for any further information. My email: Website:

Faster Kayaking with Jim Kennedy With all disciplines the holy grail of kayaking must surely be the perfect forward stroke. In sea Kayaking, you can go further, faster and be safer due to an efficient stroke. In play boating you can get on that wave just another few feet away from you . In Slalom you can get to the gates faster. In Marathon and sprint you can of course win. In Ocean racing similarly, technique is essential. If you can get the perfect technique for one stroke, it is then only a matter of repeating it over and over again. Usually they complement each other. I have been beaten by some very fast paddler with bad techniques. Imagine how much they would beat me by if they had an efficient good technique. They are fast because of strength to weight ratio, fitness level and maybe equipment In sea kayaking I have been on trips where I was trying hard to stay up with people fitter than me. The only reason I could stay up was because their technique was inefficient. (Thankfully) Below are a few pointers need to be taken into account when looking at an efficient stroke. Firstly I really believe there is a difference between speed and efficiency. Many people go on line and watch the Olympic sprint final and try and copy the winner, but you have to remember that that person male or female are at the peak of their fitness, have a

very light narrow boat and a very large paddle blade. Amazing as this technique looks I believe it has to be adjusted to suit a sea kayak Here are some of the things you might ponder on. A sea kayak is usually heavier, wider and has a slower cruising speed than a K1. Has it got a rudder or a skeg or neither? In the case of an Ocean Ski , what width is it , How high are your heel in relation to your lower back? The paddles also need careful looking at . What height are you, how high are you above the water line , How heavy is the loaded kayak, Are you going to be paddling into the wind or down wind? What kind of distance do you intend to cover ? How fit are you? Is your catch (entry) in the right place, at the correct angle. Is your exit in the correct place, Is it behind your hips or opposite them? Are your wrists straight? Are your elbows bent or locked? Is your back and neck in line? Are your legs at the correct angle? Are your hands at the correct height? So much to take into account. Sea Kayakers the world over are beginning to see the advantages of good efficient technique. In Ireland we have access to some very successful and respected kayakers who have crossed over from racing to sea kayaking and have brought the knowledge with them. Some of the ones I would highly recommend and know are listed below. Of course I am sure there are others but these are the ones with whom I regularly work with . No offence to any one I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mentioned. Sea Paddling .com . Mick O Meara. 3 Times winner of the Devizes to Westminster 126 mile race. Held Ireland circumnavigation record for many years . Holds record for crossing from Rosslare to Fishguard. Competed on the International stage for many years. Is an Irish Canoe Union Sea Instructor. Jim Morrissey also 3 times winner of the Devizes to Westminster . Winner of the Arctic Sea Kayak race. Competes nationally and internationally regularly. Is an Irish Canoe Union Instructor. Atlantic Sea Jim Kennedy Past


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION winner of the Devizes to Westminster race . Raced at 4 World Kayak championships , Has been British champion at 5,0000m and 10,000m Is an Irish Canoe Union Sea Instructor. Jim runs forward efficient paddling classes in Cobh near Cork every 3 or 4 weeks with Video analysis and lots of good stuff. Once we have 4 people it is a goer. Price 2 day course 160e. One day course 95e .

only begins when you are so exhausted that a little exertion makes a feeling of faintness come on - I found that nothing but lying in my hammock did any good.”

Managing Sea Sickness when Kayaking

There are well documented cases of sea sickness, car-sickness, airsickness, train- sickness, camel-sickness, elephant-sickness, and of laboratory induced sickness initiated by riding on moving devices or watching moving scenes. Pilots and astronauts can get it, as can scuba divers.

by Tadhg de Barra Conor's Irish Sea Crossing article presents a nightmare scenario; you or your colleague becomes sea sick in the middle of the sea, hours from land. Vomiting can severely impair a kayaker’s ability to absorb fuel and thus their ability to power their own way home. Dizziness will impair their balance in the kayak. Their self control can be impaired. One paddler's disability causes the group to halt which in turn predisposes others to motion sickness. It can all very easily spiral out of control. Here’s some information on the condition and its management.s Greeks provide the first written account of motion sickness - “nausea” derives from the Greek “naus” meaning a ship. Cicero, the Roman philosopher claimed that he would rather be killed in battle than suffer the “tortures” of nausea maris. Nelson, while on board HMS Amazon in 1801 wrote to his wife in London, “My dear Emma, it blows so fresh today that I almost doubt if a boat will be able to get on shore with our letters… I shall write you every day if it is possible…” and then adds, "I am more than half sea-sick." Charles Darwin described in his journal, “The misery I endured from sea sickness is far beyond what I ever guessed at. The real misery

In his book The Human Body, Isaac Asimov related the anecdote about a seasick passenger whom a steward cheerfully assured that nobody ever died from seasickness. The passenger muttered, "Please--it's only the hope of dying that's keeping me alive."

What is sea sickness? Simply put, we don't know. There are several theories. It appears to occur when the brain receives several contradictory or merely complex physiological stimuli simultaneously. Some people are particularly vulnerable to the condition with minor stimulus, while others are relatively immune or become immune through exposure. In the context of sea kayaking, it occurs when the balance apparatus in our middle ear is receiving signals - the motion of the seawhich is not correlating our visual input. Think of feeling your kayak dropping down a trough while a wave face rises in front of you. On the deck of a large ship, with a high vantage point and visual reference of a distant relatively stable horizon ( achieved by compensatory movements of the body and head), the nausea inducing movements of the middle ear is overridden. But in a kayak, with its motion dependent on the sea surface (twisting and turning with every swell), where a visual reference to counter the input from the ears may be unavailable, nausea and vomiting can occur. How do you identify it? Sleepiness can actually be an early sign. Some people who think they don't get seasick actually do without realising it. People who love to take a nap i.e. lie flat, the moment they get out onto the water are probably feeling the effects of mild motion sickness. (This is known as Sopite Syndrome, sopire being the Latin verb


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION for â&#x20AC;&#x153;to lay to rest.â&#x20AC;? This may be what puts baby to sleep when you rock the cradle.) After sleepiness comes the nausea but it is often mild and may not be much of a problem. Maintaining a positive state of mind can help offset the effects. For others, the symptoms escalate to extreme nausea, repeated vomiting, dizziness, headache, pallor and cold perspiration. The vomiting stage is most worrisome, for reasons outlined below. It also tends to advance quickly and be severe. The stomach is quickly emptied and dry-retching can ensue. The victims psychological state can also be severely compromised. They can become entirely incapacitated, distraught and wishing themselves to die. Balance Implications Unlike sailors, kayakers must maintain balance to keep their vessel upright. Thus dizziness can have very serious consequences. A motion sickness victim is less likely to roll and more likely to panic when immersed. A particularly dangerous point is when the victim leans over the side of the kayak to vomit, risking toppling in. Calorific Implications While a sailor's fuel is in the wind (or diesel tanks), a kayaker's fuel tank is his stomach. We store perhaps forty minutes of energy in our muscles and liver. After that, we become increasingly dependent on energy provided from food in the bowel. When vomiting empties stomach contents and prevents eating, the paddler soon succumbs to exhaustion. Thermal Implications Evidence suggests that sea sickness may impair thermoregulation which may predispose victims to hypothermia. Possible mechanisms may be inactivity, increased sweat loss through sweating and vasomotor changes. In people exposed to cold environments, those suffering from sea sickness appeared to become colder faster. Their body temperature also dropped to a lower level. Survivors immersed in rough open water are also prone to seasickness, although less so than those in kayaks.

When does it occur? Obviously, rough water presents the greatest risk. Even well habituated individuals can succumb to sickness in a scenario outside their previous experience such as in unusually rough seas. While it may expose you to more wind/ spray and go against an instinct to 'hunker down,' try to grab a glimpse of the horizon on each rise of a wave peak. Be wary of very fine days. A heat haze can obscure the horizon or reflect the sky panorama in astonishing detail, again making the horizon difficult to perceive. Similarly midday when a lack of shadows on the waves can cause a failure to anticipate motion. Kayakers often become sick through excessive study of the trip plan/ navigation chart on their deck. Similarly, over study of the compass can be dangerous. For the same reasons, be careful of other detailed work such as using binoculars, doing prolonged rope work etc. Having to remain stationary in rough water is also a predisposing factor. It exposes us to a lot more movement from directions we don't anticipate ie from aft. Prevention If ever there was a strong case of prevention being better than cure, motion sickness is it. Habituation is the best preventer. Those who don't habituate well tend to eliminate themselves from kayaking by natural selection. Certain practices when on a kayak can help reduce its occurrence. Maintaining one's gaze toward a stationary target or toward the horizon is the basic rule. That is not to say that you need (or should) stare intently at the target or horizon, just keep referring to it regularly. In daytime this may mean a distant land mass, building or cloud (remembering, of course that clouds drift...) At night, stars and light can also be used. Even if a horizon is difficult to discern, it is worth keeping your chin up and head looking straight ahead. Our ears are best attuned to balancing in this position. Our peripheral vision


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION may be better suited to helping us anticipate rapid movement shifts rather than direct staring. Mount your compass high and well forward (within the limits of your vision) ideally close to your eye-line to the horizon. Make you navigation notes clear and large so that they can be read quickly. Plan on making your study of charts similarly brief. As stated above, kayaks are more stable and more distracting when moving forward. So keep moving forward. Obviously night- paddling presents difficulties. If stars are visible, these can be used as focal points. Avoid disturbing your night vision with lamps/ torches etc and it may provide you with enough reference points to keep seasickness at bay. Habituation is key. There is undoubtedly a psychological element to motion sickness. Those who go around boasting to all and sundry that they never get sea sick usually don't. It is worth telling yourself repeatedly in a susceptible environment, that you are one of those who don't. A splash of cold water in the face, a drink of fresh water, some self motivational talk and exposing the head to some fresh air may be all that is required. Managing seasickness within a group A trip leader may want to discuss the issue with his/ her group prior and ask that anyone suffering from the early symptoms to make the leader aware quickly. One sure recipe for sea sickness is to hold a group stationary in rough water, particularly if they are not busy. They lose focus on the horizon and start staring at the sea around them. If you have navigation or planning responsibilities, it is worth considering getting the group into calmer water while your decisions are made. If you need to do a rescue, keep others busy helping you or consider sending the remainder of the group into calmer water. Motion sickness tends to be contagious. Once one person goes, others including yourself become more susceptible. The smell of vomit adds to the effect. Help the victim to wash the vomit off their deck and clothing. But don't

encourage them to vomit into the sea, or they can quickly topple in. Move casual observers away. There is some anecdotal evidence that paddling in a group may be more dangerous with regard to sea sickness. The up- down motion of nearby kayaks on a different phase of a different wave to you may predispose you. Solo paddlers rarely seem to be affected. Thus, as a leader, it might be worth putting your motion sickness victim out front of the group where they can be less distracted. Whether intentionally or not, this was one of the successful strategies used by Conor and Eddie. Medication Neither I nor the ISKA take any responsibility for use of the medications described here. Descriptions here are is only for general information. Talk to your GP if you have any questions. The first and foremost consideration with medication for sea kayakers is that all of the suggested medications can sedate. This is fine on a ship (assuming you are not the captain!). You can take the med and go sleep off your sea sickness in the bunk. For obvious reasons, kayakers need to strictly avoid taking anything that risks sedating them. Thus I would always be reluctant to see a kayaker take medication to prevent sea sickness, unless seasickness was almost guaranteed, the kayaker was already very familiar with the medication and it was an important and necessary sea journey eg a crossing to home. The same medications used in prevention are those used in treatment. Possibly the best medication is derived from the drug hyoscine. During the early years of WW2, US sailors swore by â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mother Siegal's Soothing Syrup,â&#x20AC;? the active ingredient of which was found to be hyoscine. Unfortunately it has many side effects,and most important for kayakers, it may cause drowsiness, as well as dry mouth, blurring of vision, urinary retention and possible hallucinations. That said, it's beneficial effects have been well studied. It acts rapidly, is effective at preventing vomiting and lasts 4- 6 hours. Typical dose is 300mcgs taken 30 mins before the start of a journey followed by 300mcgs every 6 hours to a maximum 3 doses in 24 hours. Pro-


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION prietary brands of Hyoscine (Joy-Rides, Kwells etc) are on sale to the public. Hyoscine can also be applied in patch form (Scopoderm TTS) behind the ear, useful in someone who is vomiting. The next group of drugs to consider are the anti-histamines. They have fewer side effects and thus are tolerated better, but are not as effective as hyoscine. They can cause (and need to be used with caution in those with) urinary retention and glaucoma. Drowsiness is a significant side effect with older antihistamines such as Trimeprazine/Valergan , Chlorphenamine/ Piriton and Promethazine/ Phenergan. Drowsiness is a less prominent side effect of newer so-called â&#x20AC;&#x153;non-sedating antihistaminesâ&#x20AC;? but can occur. Thus non- sedating antihistamines should be considered first by kayakers. Examples and dosages; Cetirizine/ Zirtek 5-10mgs twice daily. Desloratine/ Neoclarityn 5mgs daily. Levocitirizine/ Xyzal 5mgs daily, Loratadine/ Clarityn 10mgs daily. . Much like other medication used in survival situations, such as anti-malarial drugs or Diamox, it is worth talking with your GP about the medication. If you are going into a difficult environment, this is not the best place to discover that you are sensitive or allergic to a particular medication. Considering doing a couple of trials during daytime, in the company of others, to ensure that you an take the drug without any major side effects. There are also recommendations in sea survival books that the tablets be chewed or dissolved under the tongue rather than swallowed. Although the manufacturers don't mention these as methods of administration, drugs can be absorbed through the mouth by this method. It makes sense that if one is vomiting, swallowing tablets wont work because they will quickly be regurgitated. It is also worth noting that antihistamines may already be part of your expedition pharmacopia to deal with allergic reactions which can follow insect stings/bites. There is no evidence to suggest the older sedating antihistamines are any better than the non- sedating form in dealing with allergies. So consider bringing a non-

sedating form for both seasickness and allergic reaction purposes. Drugs commonly used for the management of non-motion related vomiting such as metoclopramide/Stemetil and the phenothiazines are not effective for sea sickness. Many American kayakers talk of using Gravol or Dramamine. This is an early and very sedating antihistamine quite valued amongst the drug misuse community for its hallucinogenic properties. It also contains theophylline, a caffeine analogue, intended to offset the sedative effects. Often, the stimulatory effects of the caffeine don't last as long as the sedative effects of the antihistamine. You may also be familiar with Benadryl from many an Eminem song. It contains antihistamines however in different countries, the contents may differ between non-sedating and sedating antihistamines. Unsurprisingly, given the strong psychological component to sea-sickness, there is a strong placebo effect to many non-medical cures. If you think it works for you, it probably does. The best known is root ginger, in various forms such as powder, capsules or tea. Others swear by olives or lemons. Various magnets and wrist bands fall into the same category.

Treatment of Intractable Seasickness Mild seasickness can be nullified by using the horizon, a little drink of water, some forward motion and some reassurance. Most anecdotal evidence supports giving the kayaker the small drink of water. This is a supportive psychological gesture. It may also dilute the acid/ saliva sloshing in the stomach. Talking the victim through the episode can help, talk sympathetically and supportively. Maintain a positive and reassuring outlook. If the elements allow, take down their hood and allow them feel the wind. Wind direction can become a fixed reference point, something the victim's brain is desperately crying out for. There are exceptions to the rule but once someone starts vomiting you usually need to


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION get the victim off of the water. Remind them to vomit on their skirt if they need to do so, to avoid a swim. A potential complication is the temporary relief ones feels after vomiting. It is very common for the paddler to say, "I feel much better know. I do not need to go ashore." They do feel better at that moment but the fuel tank has just been emptied and dry retching may follow. On shore, encourage them to change clothes, then lie down a little while. Encourage them to begin drinking first, followed by eating as soon as they feel up to it. Consider whether they are safe to drive home. Similar medications as mentioned in the prevention section can be used when sea sickness is established. If the victim is on shore, the sedating side effects may not have the same consequences so the medication can be administered more liberally. Disembarkation Worth mentioning is that perfectly habituated individuals immune to seasickness may be vulnerable to balance issues when back on shore. In the context of sea kayaking, consider the heavy kayaks we have to portage inshore, often over slippery terrain and other potential hazards such as lighting fuel oils. Fortunately, for most we get our land legs back in a matter of minutes.

Wicklow Head Incident Report produced by participants We set off from Greystones at about 10am. We checked in with the coast guard and were doing great the whole way to Wicklow. We stopped for a quick break and checked back in with the coast guard, reporting abeam Wicklow town. With the proximity to the equinoctial tide, we were travelling at about 7kts (two hours into the ebb). We had timed this to help progress around the head as our final destination was Arklow.

As soon as we rounded the head the sea picked up. Unfortunately we were not in a position to take a picture and none of those above show the extent of the change. I will not try to describe it as I feel it will sound like an exaggeration but suffice to say its psychological effect was what ultimately caused us a problem. Our knee jerk reaction was to turn back and head for Wicklow (in hindsight not the best decision as we stood no chance against the tide). This had us surfing down 'large' waves. One of our group's kayaks broached and he quickly came out of his boat. He was wearing a drycag and thermal pants but no drysuit. We have been paddling as a trio for 2 years and know each other very well so after the capsized kayaker (let's call him Dave!) requested we call it in it did not take much deliberation. It may not have felt a necessity at the time but was certainly the safer option as the water temp was about 10 degrees and we had no chance of an x-rescue or re-entry in that sea. In fact at this stage we could not reach his boat. The coast guard reacted immediately and I believe within nine minutes had the first crew at the station. They launched their 'IRB' rhib and started to make their way toward us but were delayed from rounding the head with the sea state. In the meantime we acquired the missing boat and rafted up with Dave lying on his kayak. It was a struggle to hold the raft and it was nearly broken apart a few times. By the time the rhib had arrived the tide had moved us clear of the very rough area and we would have been able to perform a rescue but at this stage. Dave was shivering a lot so we were happy we had made the right decision considering the circumstances. We had already rigged a tow (as we were afraid to lose the boats and unsure it the RNLI's procedure). In fact they were very concerned about our kit. Dave was transported to the all weather ship by rhib while we towed his kayak to nearby Meaghair Mor. The rhib then rejoined us and brought us to Wicklow. Dave was brought to hospital as procedure but this turned out to be unnecessary. He had suffered from mild hypothermia which the RNLI had treated sufficiently. I would like to say at this point that the level of


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IRISH SEA KAYAKING ASSOCIATION professionalism shown by the RNLI was outstanding. For a volunteer organisation they run an extremely tight ship if you will pardon the pun. From the word go they were excellent at all levels and managed the incident flawlessly. It is worth noting that they do not charge or expect a donation (although naturally someone who is rescued will make some contribution). My advise would be that if you are in doubt as to whether you should call them then there is no doubt, call them! At no stage did they criticise us for kayaking in the conditions or pass any negative remarks toward us. IF WE DID NOT HAVE A WORKING, CHARGED VHF THEN THE RNLI WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN AN OPTION. This is obvious but worth a moment of thought. No matter how short or simple a paddle. We were also able to give a gps position which makes their job a lot easier and we had plenty of flares to hand if required. It is worth noting that without paddle leashes it would have made life impossible for recovery. As it was with the conditions a spare set of paddles were lost from under a secure set of deck bungee cord. All in all some lessons learned. In total we lost two paddles and a blow to our pride but hopefully our experience will prevent anyone else from having to experience the same. Wicklow head should not be taken lightly no matter what the weather.

Sea Fever by John Maseflied (1 June 1878 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 12 May 1967) I MUST go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking. I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife; And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Addendum; I cannot recall the predicted wind on the day but to the best of my memory it was as predicted, which was a south easterly force 4. It was also an equinoctial tide. So when we were passing the head it was a force four wind with plenty of fetch pushing against a 6kts+ ebbing tide. We had experienced overfalls and races before, including Wicklow head but we were not expecting as ferocious a sea.


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Treasna na dTonnta 50  
Treasna na dTonnta 50  

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