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PostPosted: 20 Jul 2018, 17:41 
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Joined: 14 Jul 2015, 08:39
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The Kerry, WISKA & Cork Paddle July 2018

Saturday, 7th July 2018

Start Point: White Strand, 51.937851, -10.275084

Stop of points: Church Island, 51.937851, -10.283347; Beginish Island, 51.937814, -10.2922.02

Lunch Break: Cuas Crom Beach, 51.964913, -10.213594

End Point: Coomnahinch Pier, 51.989447, -10.213594

Low Tide: 06:36; High tide: 12.42

Weather and sea: ideal, calm, sunny and very little swell.

Start time 11ish

Finish time: 6pmish

Distance: we didn’t GPS track it but we probably covered 25-30km

Crew: Emma, Mary, Sinead, Fiona, Clara, Gildas, Stephen, Jose, Liz

 

The weekend of the 7th & 8th of July 2018 saw a group of Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork paddlers meet on the Doulus Head outside Cahersiveen. The aim was to camp beside Whitestrand beach, kayak around Doulus on Saturday, exploring every inch of the coastline and on Sunday, head for the Skelligs, a jewel in the crown for all seakayakers.

Whitestrand is a popular beach for local people in Cahersiveen. It is well serviced with lifeguards and a very clean, modern, well maintained toilet and service block (including plug points to charge phones!). On Friday night we camped on the patch of grass behind the service block and the attendant kindly left a toilet open for us. Six of us had gathered on Friday night and three more arrived early Saturday morning. As it was a long one-way paddle we left our cars in Whitestrand and Emma parked her van at Coomnahinch Pier to shuttle us back at the end of the day. Sinead contacted the Coast Guard to inform them of our plans and when we expected to be off the water.

Immediately offshore from Whitestrand is Church Island and Beginish, i.e. a quick 5min hop from the beach. Both islands have remains of ancient settlements and it was worth landing on both to go exploring. Church Island is a tiny rocky outcrop and is easy to land on. OPW have placed an information board as the church remains are significant. Beside Church Island is Beginish. We landed on the beach facing Valentia Island and Mary led us to the remains of the Viking settlement and that had been discovered in recent years and when a storm blew back the sand to reveal buildings left by the Vikings. We all noted that Beginish would be a great island to camp on for future trips in that area. The island looks to be inhabited and farmed with at least two well maintained houses. The Beginish stop-off was less than 30 mins.

Once we were off Beginish we began our exploration of every cave, blow hole, stack and rock to be hopped. It was a gorgeous day with a little bit of bump on the water outside the caves but there were no issues getting in and out. The cliffs were alive with seabirds, predominantly guillemots, who were often indignant with our intrusion to their territory. One tried to take Emma out by dive bombing on to her boat. It didn’t work.

The group dynamic and awareness was excellent throughout the day. We had one minor incident when Fiona lost a hatch cover which she thought was tied on. We now know why Fiona takes ages to get on the water as she is ever-ready for any potential incident. She had all the necessary materials for Emma to cover the hatch with an old nylon spray desk and many meters of rope to secure the makeshift cover.

We had our lunch in the small sandy beach at Cuas Crom. There were a few families there enjoying the day and there was a portaloo and bin for any necessary rubbish disposal. After our lunch and a small nap (I do appreciate a good nap) we got back on the water and continued our exploration of the Kerry coast.

Kerry is gorgeous. It is a different beauty compared to Clare, it is far more lush with green fields slopping down the mountain/hillside into the sea. As you look across the water you see the Dingle peninsula stretch all the way to the Blasket Islands.

When we arrived at Coomnahinch Pier we were tired but satisfied. Sinead rang the coast guard to inform them that we were off the water.

While the pier and slip is sizeable there is very little parking. Once we got our cars we needed to load up quickly and get out of the way of local people and holiday makers getting in and out.

That evening we headed into Cahersiveen for well-earned Pizza in the former church at the end of the town. There we reviewed our plan for the next day. While the original intention was to camp on Saturday night and get up early on Sunday to be on the water for 7am, Mary Kavanagh very kindly offered her house as our base. This meant we didn’t have to worry about breaking down tents and we could get on the water sooner. Some of us slept inside while more camped in tents or vans outside. 

 

Sunday 8th of July.

Start time 7:20am

Finish time: 6:30pm(ish)

Start & End Point: The Glen Pier, 51.847517, -10.355858

Destination: Skellig Micheal

Comfort break on the way back, Puffin Island, 51.842269, -10.403547

Weather Conditions: Excellent. Slight swell 1-2m.

Crew: Emma, Mary, Sinead, Clara, Gildas, Brian, José, Liz

Boat types: 7 Plastic, 1 fibreglass.

Distance: we didn’t GPS track it but the journey is typically 35km

The Sunday start was early, a 5:45am alarm call for everyone and by 7:20am eight paddlers were on the water heading south west. The sky was overcast but the Skelligs were visible in the distance. Our aim was to get to Skellig Michael before the first tourist boat at 9:30am so we pushed on. Sargent Major McMahon cracked the whip calling our ETA at regular intervals and we were allowed a short 4min break just after Lemon Rock. If ever there was an illusion of distance this morning certainly proved it. Lemon is half way to Skellig but it doesn’t appear like that when you are on the water. Having said all that it is a fantastic journey out there with the sea birds keeping us company all the way. Puffins, Guillemots, Ganets, fulmars and Shearwaters were swooping, diving and gliding all along the way. We made it to Skellig Michael at 9:30 on the button but so too did the tourist boats, and they have priority on the pier. We waited patiently and to be honest there was not much waiting. Emma was first out and with some minimal assistance she hauled her boat up the steps. After that we all landed, the first few up the steps and after that we used a shelf in the rock beside the pier. Landing wasn’t too difficult, the trick was to do what Emma said and hop out on the top of the swell.

Once we got all boats up on to the flat rock beside the pier we gathered our breath, changed clothes and took in the majesty of our surroundings. We also provided amazement to the tourists who were also landing.

For anyone thinking of doing this trip if you want to climb the steps up to the monastery, be on the island early between 9am and 1pm at the very latest. Otherwise, the OPW guides will not let you past the pier. They have to do their job and give a health and safety talk to everyone who lands on the island. Also, there are no toilets or bins on the island and beware off any bird poop that will hit you, so plan accordingly.

We spent around 2.5 hours on the island taking paparazzi shots of the puffins and a visiting Luke Skywalker. It is well worth listening to the guides give their talk and explain the history of the island.

We got off the island around midday and circumnavigated to check out the lighthouse and caves. You have to wonder about the monks who decided to set up out there. The weather, remoteness and inhospitable nature of the place. They were amazing but definitely nuts!

We took our time coming back to explore Skellig Beag and just hang out. Between Skellig Beag and Lemon Rock a minke whale popped up to say hello and check us out. For 30 minutes Miss Minke circled us and passed underneath multiple times. This was an exhilarating and an amazing plus to the day.

Once Miss Minke had her fill of us we continued on our journey home. The water was calmer coming home and the sun was high in the sky. A few of us called into Puffin Island on the way back as we needed a land break before the final 3km to the pier. We were tired but happy paddlers.

This was an amazing trip with really good people. Again, like Saturday, the group dynamic and awareness was brilliant. The whole weekend was definitely a major highlight in my kayaking experience.


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PostPosted: 23 Jul 2018, 14:28 
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Joined: 15 Feb 2011, 16:17
Posts: 39
Location: inna bog, n.e. mayo
A most excellent and informative report Liz, thank you.


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PostPosted: 25 Jul 2018, 22:05 
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Joined: 24 Jan 2011, 14:43
Posts: 450
Location: Burren
Spot o liz. A magic weekend. Both days as good as the other.
Emma g


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