An introduction to sea paddling
by Helen McKenna
How it all began.
Having, over the past year, paddled white water rivers, a waterfall or two, increased my paddling skills and gained in confidence I was keen to widen my paddling horizons. I kept hearing about the wonders of sea paddling and set my sights on trying it. Mike was an active sea paddler and regularly regaled me with tales of the sea. It sounded fantastic. OK I was sold. Poor Mike has had no peace since he sold this idea to me. I've been constantly on his case - every Club email I've sent has had a special 'don't forget about me' ending - as if anyone could!
This week Mike emailed me to say that he was planning a sea trip from Ayr out round the headland to Dunure (where a pub was mentioned!) and did I want him to put the double on. Did I! My first sea kayaking trip at last. I watched the weather forecast avidly for the next few days praying that it didn't get too windy. A few emails went back and forward with regard to what I should wear/take etc. I tried to round up a few other people who I thought would be interested but they were all out of town or had other commitments. Tom was up for it though.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Weather forcast was bright to start getting windier with rain forecast through the afternoon. We arrived at Ayr about 1100. Sun was shining but there was a stiff breeze blowing. I should have been worried when Mike said - 'Hmmm it's going to be a bit bouncier than I would have liked for your first trip Helen' but I wasn't. I did, tentively, ask what force the wind was. I wasn't even worried when he said Force 4 - I mean the sea didn't look very wavy (no doubt I'll get the technical terms right soon!).
Before long we were underway. Bouncy was an understatement! It was fantastic - like being on a big rollercoaster. What a feeling. I acted as a spraybreak for Mike - and yes - I got very wet. There was a strong headwind so we were battling against that too. Didn't even get worried when Mike said 'Ohh they were big ones'. Tom, who was paddling Mikes' Quest (his first time sea paddling too) took to it like a duck to water and was also really enjoying himself. We stopped for a coffee break on a wee beach only accessible from the sea - I guess this is what sea paddling is all about. We set off again - the wind had died slightly and the sea wasn't so bouncy. We hugged the coastline more for this part of the trip and I was instructed to look out for rocks. We managed to navigate a safe passage and our destination (harbour at Dunure) was soon in sight. I was more than ready for food - which we followed up with a drink at the pub and a look around the castle.
We were looking forward to the return trip for the simple reason that we would have the wind behind us giving us a helping hand. I wasn't surprised to find that the wind had died considerably - oh well - there were always those big waves we'd negotiated on the way there to hitch a ride on. I keep hearing lots about surfing waves. Hmmm - they'd disappeared too! Oh well - guess it was down to good old paddle power (have got the blisters to prove it!).
We managed to get back just as the weather broke. We literally just made the Landy before a strong wind and stiff downpour started.
I had a fantastic time - great first introduction to sea paddling - great company and fantastic craik. Thanks Mike and Tom. Now about a sea paddling weekend ….
(PS: Just to add that I felt quite safe with Mike )
(Part 2 of Helen's introduction to sea kayking is here)