Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

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Sandshark
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Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Sandshark »

Hi there.
I hoping to complete an expedition from Inverkip to Ireland at some-point during the summer months.
I'm thinking or going across to Dunoon, over to isle of Bute, cross over to Arran, round the north of Arran and across to Campbeltown then finally over to Ballycastle. I'm saying around 100 miles in total and planning on giving myself 10 day possibly more but I guess just weather dependant.
I don't have too much experience ( just across the clyde and back ) but plan on a good bit of training during the spring and learning as much as possible on lead up.
Would you guys say this would be achievable for a novice paddler or am I biting off more than Incan chew?
I'm looking for some advice on best type of kayak and equipment that I will need. Is there typically a better month weather wise?
Just any info in general would be much much appreciated. Anyone who has done similar or part of the trip it would be great to hear from you guys. Thanks v much :)

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Greetings Sandshark and a very warm welcome to the forum.

In general if you have to ask "am I ready for this trip?" the answer is usually no. The crossing of the North Channel from Mull of Kintyre is very committing with strong tides. You would need considerable understanding of tides to plan this trip as well as getting settled weather. The old ferry from NI to Campbeltown no longer runs so you would need to make your way to Larne for the return crossing. The coast from Loch Ryan up to Portencross is not exactly a sheltered by-water either. What's your hurry? If you have already crossed the Clyde from Inverkip, why not plan an expedition round the Kyles of Bute and maybe to Inchmarnock if you have good weather?

I have had some of my most bowel loosening experiences round the Cumbraes and Bute and the crossing from Garroch Head to Sannox on Arran is also exposed, tidal and committing.

If you go to my blog www.seakayakphoto.com you will find lots of trip ideas in the Clyde area. It is indexed down the right hand side.

Some will say join a club, if you don't fancy that, just build up your experience gradually and by that I mean over years not months. If you paddle on your own you have to be proficient in recovering yourself from being in the water.

I hope you enjoy many years of safe paddling.

Douglas.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by ian johnston »

Hi Sandshark, welcome to the sea kayaking forum!

I'd absolutely echo what my good friend Douglas has written above, and if I could add a couple of points too...

The tides and sea conditions around the Mull of Kintyre itself are very committing, before you consider an open sea crossing. Any miscalculation of tidal flow or sea conditions here will result in a long and hairy ride either down into the North Channel and Irish sea where more strong tides await, or (worse) northwards into the area south and west of Islay.

The other point I'd make concerns the shipping in the North Channel. Whilst not of the same density as the Dover Strait, this is a busy seaway. I'm a professional mariner and have traversed this many many times in ships of various sizes. It's worth knowing that a kayaker is virtually impossible to spot from the bridge of a ship - and we don't show on radar unless conditions are perfect either.

It's a really good thing to have ambitions for a big trip like this - but there's plenty of adventure to be had whilst working up to something of that scale. Perhaps starting with a trip around Bute, then doing the circumnavigation of Arran (which can have some interesting conditions - check both Douglas' and my blogs!) would give you an idea of whether you're ready?

Time of year for expedition paddling? Well, it's more about suitable conditions - as it happens there are four of us heading out on a mini exped this week and some of my best trips have been winter ones. Having the kit is part of it, having the training and experience is also a big part of it. If you plan to paddle solo, as I often do, it's of the utmost importance to practice self rescues until you're fairly confident you can recover in whatever conditions put you in the water in the first place.

I guess to sum it up - you'll know when you're ready and have enough experience for this trip - have lots of fun ventures while building up to it!

Kind regards

Ian

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Jim
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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Jim »

I'll echo what Douglas and Ian have said - the tidal planning both for Mull of Kintyre and the North Channel is beyond novice level.

It has been done, possibly not by that exact route, but definitely not for beginners.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Chris Bolton »

As is said above, Kintyre to Ireland is a crossing that even the most experienced sea kayakers would think carefully about. If you look on the Crossings page of the Performance Sea Kayak site there are some extremely tough crossings that have been done - and I can only see Mull of Kintyre to Ireland mentioned once, with a question mark. I have also heard of it being done once from Islay (not listed on PSK) but can't remember who by.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by CM2 »

To re-iterate the sort of paddlers who consider crossings like this, have a look at the biography of the person mentioned who has done that route, he has paddled round the UK twice (once in each direction), along with many other crossings and circumnavigations, been British champion on both slalom and wild water and been awarded adventure paddler of the year in 2012. http://performanceseakayak.co.uk/Pages/ ... leORIG.php

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Chris Bolton »

To re-iterate the sort of paddlers who consider crossings like this, have a look at the biography of the person mentioned who has done that route
Yes indeed - but actually, JW's North Channel crossings were Portpatrick to Donaghadee; even a paddler of his experience hasn't done it from Kintyre!

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by CM2 »

He's done Larne to Kintrye as part of his clockwise GB circumnavigation, which was what I was referring to. His blog makes interesting reading. I don't know if anyone has done it the other way.
"I was a little shaken by my exploits around the Mull and physically things were begining [sic] to tell. "


http://clockwisekayak.blogspot.com/2012 ... ntyre.html

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Chris Bolton »

He's done Larne to Kintrye as part of his clockwise GB circumnavigation, which was what I was referring to.
Ah, good spot, my apologies for questioning it. Just read your link - looks like he had enough bother at the Kintyre end, without even going near Rathlin Island.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by AllanC »

Hi Sandshark,
I've recently moved out of Inverkip, and my family have a caravan in Kintyre. I've soloed the MoK and led trips round it as well.

To be totally honest and you asked the question, but in my opinion yes, as a novice it's too big an undertaking.

Everyone's rightly pointing out that the MoK is an extremely challenging environment for paddling, the tides and isolation there are hard to overstate. I know for a fact the crossing has been done from Kintyre to Northern Ireland and back, probably in the 70's or 80's by the guys I know. It'll have been done subsequently I'm sure. For the crossing you're well south of the primary race, but the amount of water that goes round there the route calculation not to be swept one way or the other would be complicated. A further factor is the amount of shipping in the north channel. I've sat at the Mull of Kintyre light and watched a Tanker, cruise liner and a bulker all heading north or west come out the Clyde more or less in convoy, not counting the stuff further out and the small boat traffic. I'm sure Patrick Winterton wrote in Ocean Paddler years ago that when he was doing his lighthouse expedition, that he was nearly run down by a cabin cruiser off Sanda.

Working backwards from there;
Before reaching Southend/the Mull of Kintyre the paddle round from Campbeltown is serious in itself - there are tide races and reefs, not of the same magnitude as the Mull, but difficult. Also, the options for egress are poor - there are long stretches where landing in anything but totally benign conditions are hard/impossible.

Before you get to the south Kintyre, the Kilbrannan sound can be very exposed to the weather, and are long stretches where landing or bailing out can be difficult. If you kept to the Arran shore you'd be left with a crossing as long as the north channel to get into Peninver or Campbeltown from Blackwaterfoot.

To get to Kintyre, you're crossing the mouth of Loch Fyne, again this can be exposed to the weather and there's a hell of a lot of water moving through there, to reach Loch Fyne though you'll either need to through the Kyles which is a totally reasonable paddle, although Ardlamont point south of Tighnabruich where you turn into Loch Fyne can be tasty; or down the east side of Bute and round the Garroch Head - where in days of yore they ran 5* assessments, although this route isn't even worth discussing.

I'm really really sorry to sound like a profit of doom and put a total downer on the plan, but the trip would be pretty involved for any paddler. If you're in Inverkip, you've the RWSABC at the esplanade in Greenock that seems to be going well at the moment. I'm still a member there though I live in Shetland, but you've also got Castlecraigs in I think it's Ardeer pool, West Coast Paddlers at Lochwinnoch and Garnock CC in Dalry. I've friends in all these clubs and the experience available is astounding, which they'd all be delighted to share. As well as these, the National Centre is on Cumbrae that can cater for any level and Callum McNicol is about the best coach I've ever been trained by.

You've asked about at month for the weather, how much knowledge/experience do you have with tidal planning?

When you've asked about the type of boat and kit needed, I'd suggest a club is the ideal place to start. (RWSABC have a very strange attitude to kit IMO/experience, so be advised)

I'll be honest that this is off the top of my head over morning coffee, and that actually the paddle from Greenock to Campbeltown has been on my mind for years now, but it's not a simple undertaking. I'm really hoping like I don't come off like I'm criticising you, I'm absolutely not. Having ambitions and aspirations is why we all get in our boats, but it's a big trip from many perspectives.

Regards
Allan Cadenhead

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by kayakcarl »

Hi Sandshark,
Myself and 2 other members of Belfast Kayak Club crossed from Cushendun to the Mull, camping at Southend on Saturday 27th August 2016 and return crossing on Sunday 28th August. This had been a well planned trip and we had waited not only for the best weather window but also tidal conditions to make the crossing as safe as possible. This is a committed trip and it was not taken lightly. We had more wind on the trip over and used flat earth sails to help push us along. We slightly over shot our bearings due to the tidal movement and because the sails boosted our speed we were a good 40 minutes ahead of our schedule. This might sound great but we then ended up in a tidal race and overfalls which if we had been on our time plan would have not been as chunky as they were. The trip was 22 miles with a time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. The return trip the next day we had no wind and kept a very straight course coming back in just over 20 miles but taking 5 hours, it was a very warm day and a mix of tiredness and trying to keep cool slowed our efforts. We had done chart work and plotting well in advance individually and made sure it all agreed up for the final map out. We had informed shore contacts when leaving and arriving and had given time windows for our crossings, we all had gps, eprb, vhf and mobile phones along with the usual safety and first aid kits. We would paddle around the North coast and have a very knowledgeable contact in relation to tides in the area. We intend to hopefully do a crossing this year from Ballycastle to Islay(Port Ellen) and return but I know for one I need to certainly up my paddle fitness before committing to this trip. Join a club and I'm sure you will meet people with experience, enthusiasm and the adventure to do a trip as you have described.....as its now 2020 and your post was in 2018 you have maybe already achieved your ambition.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by pathbrae »

The OP was December 2018 and the poster hasn't replied to any of the advice offered, nor have they posted anything else to the forum.....
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Beryl »

pathbrae wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:45 pm
The OP was December 2018 and the poster hasn't replied to any of the advice offered, nor have they posted anything else to the forum.....
Good read mind...
Growing old disgracefully

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by pathbrae »

Beryl wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:00 pm
pathbrae wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:45 pm
The OP was December 2018 and the poster hasn't replied to any of the advice offered, nor have they posted anything else to the forum.....
Good read mind...
I was hoping for volume two "The Plan" if not volume three "The Voyage" :-)
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Kayaking from Inverkip to Ireland.. Advice please.

Post by Ceegee »

I thought the OP was deluded then, and I still think it is a deluded ambition now: attempting the North Channel solo with zero open crossing or tidal experience.

Given the lack of response to what were several detailed, in depth and well meant responses, I can only assume the OP was trolling, or that they actually went ahead on the trip without telling anyone, hence we can expect not to ever hear from them again.
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

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