A Sea Kayaking Day to Remember...
Traditionally the May bank holiday weekend was always a weekend away for paddling. In this particular year we decided to head to Achill Island, an island off the west coast of Ireland. It wasn't the first time we had visited here and it definitely wasn't going to be the last.
We arrived on the first day, set up camp, had a short paddle and went to the bar to plan the next day, pretty standard Irish way of doing things. Beer in hand we discussed, prepped and planned the next day's paddle, the weather was okay but was definitely going to provide some fun and chunky conditions.
Next morning we set off the Keel Bay, after the usual faff we were off. It was a stunning start to the Day....
As we set off out of the bay I couldn't help but notice some loud Baa'ing, I finally spotted a lamb and it seemed it had fallen down the cliff. Not wanting to paddle on I decided I needed to rescue it before we could carry on. As a true sea paddler I was very aware that time and tide waits for no one but I had to save the little lamb.
After much chasing and wrestling we had the lamb, we put it in a kayak and paddled it back to shore, much to the entertainment of the locals. We then used a tape sling to walk it back up the cliff to it's mother. With wee Minty successfully reunited we got back on the water and continued our mission around Achill head.
Achill Head is one of those notorious paddles and now an hour behind schedule it was sure to provide some more entertainment. Half way round I spied something in the over falls, I was told it wasn't time for anymore rescues but I couldn't help but go and look. In the midst of the over falls was a little dorsal fin, it turned out this tiny fin actually belonged to a rather huge basking shark, now known as Bruce. At first I was excited, I always wanted to see one from my kayak, but then I totally freaked out as big Bruce started to pass under my boat, but what a moment, it was a dream come true for me. Just check out how awesome he is, he wasn't even camera shy!
With Bruce on his way we finally got down to some paddling, well only until half an hour later; just when we thought this day couldn't get any better, we were joined by a pod of dolphins. It was one of those days that most paddlers dream of and here we were, the 3 of us living our best lives.
Sheep, sharks and dolphins, what more could you ask for. By this stage of the day my hangry side was coming out. The sea state was interesting and we needed to refuel to work against the tide for the last section of the trip after losing time with our new friends along the way. The sea was super rough and it was difficult to find a landing spot, until one of the crew spied a beach that looked good. On the approach to the breakers we noticed the beach seemed to be alive and moving, strange I know. As we started to get a little closer we realised it was alive with seal pups, like hundreds of them. We decided to back away and leave them to it just as Mummy seal appeared. So with no landing spot it was lunch on the go. Rafted boats, bouncing up and down on the sea, half the lunch in our mouths, the other half over our faces.
Refuelled and we were off. The sea was great fun, lots of swell and over falls to challenge us for the remainder of the trip. As far as sea paddling days goes this was honestly one of my most favourite days. The day were I really did get to see it all and what better place to experience it.
This very trip is planned as part of our West Coast of Ireland Sea Kayaking Expedition this year. Check out our website for details and join us for what could be your most unforgettable day at sea.