Portaferry 3 days
After the rescue of last night, it was time for a rest. I needed to regroup, recover and consider if I should carry on. I was full of questions: was I unlucky? Was it a lack of experience or the equipment? Was the pressure of dealing with constant bad weather putting me at too great a risk? All important things to think about. The main question of course, was what would I do differently if I was to continue?
I met regularly with a Dave, a member of the Portaferry life boat crew- also a keen sea kayaker. And out of the blue, Barry and Claire, local sea kayaker got in touch.
After a few days of soul searching and resting, I made the decision to carry on. The main obstacle ahead would be crossing back across to the Mull of kintyre. An open crossing. I felt unsure that my nerve would hold after the recent scare. The idea of paddling across the open sea with no land close-by wasn’t a pleasant one. But my mind was made up and I knew I had it in me!
Portaferry to Ballywalter
The weather had (mostly) improved from the storm and it was time to move on from my comfortable Irish B’n’b!
Firstly, I tackled getting out of strangford lough and it’s notorious currents. A good warm up for my arms. Then my route was along the coast. Lovely clear water and marine life, lots of seals on the rocks.
I was a little nervous but also glad to be underway. It was a day of mixed wind, which I quickly found frustrating. Acting with extra caution now, I decided that rather than battle headwinds and feel demoralised and tired, I’d stop early. The forecast looked better the next day, and so I set up my tent and planned to rise with the larks.
Right on cue, the rain started and I enjoyed another wet night camping. Can’t say I’d missed that.
Good to be back.
Ballywalter to Larne
A rainy night unfortunately meant starting with wet kit. Anyone else familiar with the horrible feeling of surfing two days in a row and having to squeeze on a damp wetsuit in the morning…?
I had to cross Belfast sound that day, so I made an early start. I noticed I was getting worryingly short of water and methylated spirit so needed to stop and get some. Thankfully I was able to find a small spar and they had some. I felt my spirits go up. It was time to cross! Wind waves in a good direction.
Half way over, I became aware of two ferries heading my way. The nearest one seemed a bit too close for comfort. As it got in front of me it stopped and started drifting. Confused, I put my radio on but no calls. Guess I was going to have to cross in front of it. Just as I concluded this, a third ferry appeared to my right, this time heading straight at me! I picked up the pace, but it was still getting nearer. Crickey it was fast. A nervous 10 mins later it changed course. Phew. A bit of a close one to keep me on my toes! Despite my website being called ‘big blue kayak’… It was a reminder of how small I am in comparison to others on the sea…
Some time later, I reached the other side and could see huge cliffs, covered in sea birds. There are metal walk ways connecting the shear cliffs. Impressive.
Pulling into Larne, I saw a ferry docked. Minutes later it turned around left the port and coming at me. Not again. Another frantic paddle to get to shore.
Other end of the bay, I was pleased to find a slipway and a rowing club. That means water and a tap! What treats.
Tents up. Quick meal. And off to bed! Another early start planned tomorrow