19 April 2007

Biting the bullet

By the time Thursday had come round I had given up any hope on finding a river with anywhere near enough water in to warrant a paddle and therefore I teamed up with the other section of paddlers I was staying with. This section wasn't the hardcore river paddler or thrill seeking adrenaline junkie, well some of them maybe, but instead they were sea paddlers. Paddlers who went out paddling for enjoyment and to discover new places from a vantage point very few people can say they have experienced. However, I did not have a long, pointy 16ft+ sea boat, instead I had my dad's Diesel. I was told I would be fine in such craft as they were only pottering around the small chain of islands south of Mallaig. We headed off at 10 o'clock and arrived at our destination some 90 minutes later.

In good sea kayaking fashion I'll include a map - cheers Ordnance Survey. We launched from that small yellow road north of Gortenachullish and paddled out to the islands nor'-west from here.

I don't think I'll write much about the trip as what can be said? Not much really, however I had one of the best days paddling, which hasn't involved a river, and can see why there is such an attraction with sea paddling. It is one sure way to blow your mind and turn your perspective of the world on its head. Maybe it isn't such a bad place after all.

My boat sat on the shore waiting to be launched into the salty waters.

Whilst in the chain of islands we saw plenty of wildlife. There is a sea otter in this picture, which you may see if you enlarge it by clicking on it and putting it at full resolution.

Some of the more thrill seeking sea paddlers, out beyond the island chain and in a small rolling swell.

One of the paddlers taking a breather from paddling and taking a moment to reflect on their surroundings.

A seal laid up on a piece of high land. There were plenty of seals around, but this is the only decent photo I managed to get of one.

The island (think it is Sguirean Gobhlach on the map above) where we had dinner. I was trying a bit of an arty shot with my Astral Aquavest 300 - I don't know whether it worked.

One thing I noticed about sea paddlers is that nothing is ever rushed. Dinnertime lasted a fair while - 2 hours - allowing us to build a fire, have a sleep and just admire the view. Amazing.

Two of the paddlers stood out on a headland of the island taking a moment out from the group to take in their surroundings during lunch.

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolute nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing..." [Ratty, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham]

The mascot the group of sea paddlers adopted for their trips during the week sat on one of the boats at the end of the day.

Five days complete, three rivers done, one sea trip done, another one day to fill.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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