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Archive for July, 2015

It has been just over two weeks since Geoff and I finished our adventure.  Most of the kit has been washed, repaired and stored away, swollen hands have just about returned to normal (although I still can’t get my wedding ring on).  Neither of us has yet got back in a boat but we’ll be putting that straight very soon.  We’re  looking forward to getting out on the water and not having to worry about cracking out 30 or 40 miles or where we’ll sleep for the night.

We haven’t yet sorted through all the photos and video clips – but when we do, we’ll put together a short video of the paddle and post it on here.

In the meantime we both just wanted to say a further THANK YOU to all those who have donated to our two charities (Samaritans and West of England MS Therapy Centre) since we arrived home:

Bobbi and Dave for organising the raffle at the Royal Standard in Gerrans; Diana; Samaritan Volunteers; Anne and Terry; Steve and Lucy; Toby; Maggie; Derek; Cynthia (again!); Chris and Nett and Liz.  

Our total, including Gift Aid, is now £2,312.50 – amazing.  Thank you so much!

We will be closing down the fundraising page very soon so that the money can be handed over to our chosen charities – so if you did intend to donate then you’ll need to get your skates on!

The link again:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=Midlifekayak&pageUrl=2

Geoff and Andy

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With bellies full of tea and sausage sandwiches we kept all our paddling kit on and climbed into our bivy bags last night at around 12.30 am. The forecast for our final day looked better – west south westerly F4 gusting F5 – a notch or two lower than it had been. We just hoped that by only leaving 31 miles we would be able to get the job done.

We were up at 4am and on the water at 5am. That’s a total of 7 hours sleep in the last three days as we have attempted to paddle both ebb tides a day down this stretch of coast.

Feeling a little emotional to be finishing this incredible adventure, we paddled the 31 miles in a ‘oner’ and pulled into Rosslare fishing harbour at 12.15pm.

Geoff and I climbed out of our boats gave each other a big hug and opened a bottle of Proseco.

We feel incredibly privileged to have been able to paddle round this amazing country. We have seen incredible wildlife and scenary, experienced some exhilarating conditions and met some wonderful people. Thank you Ireland!

Thank you to all those that have helped and supported us along the way or made donations to our charities – can’t mention you all but special thanks to the gang at Seakayaking Cornwall for all your support and advice.

And of course a special thank you to our wives Sue and Tanya for putting up with our crazy adventures. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

   
   

Don’t ask……   

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Eeking out a few more miles this evening in awful conditions to give us a chance of finishing Sunday. We left Arklow at 7pm and managed 10 miles before we decided to pull over in fading light just after 10pm.

Another battering by the wind but then the Manigo family at Ballymoney came to the rescue and invited us in and made us tea and sausage sandwiches at midnight! How amazing is that. Was a perfect way to spend our last night of the expedition. Such a lovely family. Thanks guys!  Hope we didn’t leave too much sea water behind on your floor.

Tomorrow we have 30 miles to finish.

A big thank you to Toby, Ruby. Alex, Jess and  Pickle, Tim and Pip, and Maggie for your very generous donations!

  

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Day 38 Wicklow

Landed just after midnight in Wicklow harbour (once we managed to find the entrance in the dark) – another 32 miles today leaving around 55 to go. 

The last few days have been tough and a bit of a roller coaster.  We had hoped to finish today (Friday) but the Irish Sea has given the pair of us a real hiding on three separate ocassions now – forcing us either to run (paddle) for a safe harbour or certainly slowing progress right down.

When the sea picks up on this coast it produces a short steep chop and winds can accelerate quickly round mountains to deliver conditions way above what was forecast. It is certainly making us work for these last few miles.

But spirits are high – the singing hasn’t improved but the repertoire is growing. We’ve added some Frank Sinatra and Pink Floyd – and booked the O2 for our return……

Two amazing coincidences today. We crossed Dublin Bay, dodging three ferries, but as we tried to slip through between the mainland and Dalkey Island the winds got up suddenly and fiercely. We battled against it for fifteen minutes or so but failed. We had to turn in to the Bay and headed for Dalkey Harbour.

There we met Jenny Kilbride who runs a kayak school www.kayak.ie – if you are in the area and fancy a crack at what Geoff and I enjoy so much you should look her up. Some great coastline to explore and Jenny has a huge amount of experience and knowledge to share.  The coincidence? Jenny was at college with a friend back in Cornwall, Roz Osborne. We also met a great colleague of Jenny’s – Mac who gave us a history lesson of the area.

Next a chap walking by stopped and asked if we had paddled round Ireland. Which was odd because most people don’t come straight out with that question. He then said he’s been following our blog. Now we were confused. What are the chances?

He told us he had walked past our tents and kayaks late at night on a beach at Roundstone near the Aran Islands – he made a note of our web address which is in the boats and he’d been following is ever since.

Derek (Hughes) popped off to get his car before giving us a tour of the area and buying us breakfast. Such a great chap and hoping we stay in touch after this trip too.

This trip never seems to amaze us – the conditions force us off the water and instead of feeling low about it we end up meeting some fabulous people.

  
  
The view from my tent at 5.30am – 3 hours sleep and time to catch the tide gain…..

Hope to finish Sunday.

  

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This morning Geoff and I set off from Clogher Head and paddled to Balbriggan where my brother in law’s, in laws live (if that makes sense).

We were met on the beach by Mary, Ciara and Daire, who arrived with a cup of tea and a bacon, egg and sausage roll! The perfect stop. 

Thanks so much guys, it was great to see you!

   
   

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Day 36 Clogher Head

We finally made a break for it to get out of Ardglass harbour. It was an epic day – a nasty sea rose up rapidly during a committed crossing – 3 hours of perhaps the most tense paddling Geoff and I have ever experienced (more on this in a later blog) but we also managed 45 miles so all in all a great day. We now have 108miles to go (or there abouts). 

Thanks to Fay and Andy for your generous donation!

Geoff having a rest on the way to Dublin….  

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Since we came round Malin Head five days ago we seem to have battled against headwinds. I’m sure all us paddlers (and cyclists for that matter) on expedition complain about the winds being against them. And I’m sure we only remember those days slogging it out against the wind rather than those where the sun warmed our backs and the winds have us a gentle push on our way. But we do seem to have had more than our fair share. But hey, no complaints – everyday is an adventure and a physical and psychological roller coaster.  If one of us is feeling low or slow, the other will try and perk them up. We’ve found that food and singing usually do the trick. Distracting each other from the thought of cranking out 30 or so miles a day has become a distinct skill of ours.

As for the singing – not sure we will be repeating performances on terra firma, but our repertoire is developing into an eclectic mix – The Auld Triangle,  South Australia, Wish You Were Here, Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…..if you happen to find yourself on a headland along the Irish East coast over the next few days, and the wind is blowing in the right direction, you might just catch us murdering a great song.

On the way to Whitehead on Saturday we came across a charity cycle event in Larne. It was in aid of http://www.makeadifferenceworldwide.com – who are currently helping disadvantaged people in Malawi. Looked like a great event despite the strong headwinds (we have something in common with cyclists). The organisers saw us land and straight away invited over, gave us soup and food and made us feel very welcome.

Thanks so much guys and best of luck with the fund raising!

Last night we reached the south end of the Ards Peninsula and got a sneaky camp in the grounds of the Quintin Castle – an old Norman building – now updated and renovated complete with its own slipway and heli pad. Not a bad place to kip for the night.

This morning we made only 11 miles before the winds picked up to F7 and gusting F8. When Geoff got surfed over some rocks we decided it was time to get off. So now we are in the club house at Ardglass golf club, drinking tea and eating cake whilst looking out at a wild sea.

Right now we have covered 790 miles and have about 160 to go.  
Thank you to Chris, Janet and Morgan for your very generous donations! Around £1200 raised now – amazing stuff!
   
  

    

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Making the most of the stream on this side of the country as the tide is squeezed between Ireland and Scotland. That means paddling two shifts a day – early morning to lunchtime and again in the evening.. 735 miles down and 215 or so to go.

Yesterday at Malin Head we ate breakfast on the beach watching dolphins broach and summersault in the bay before jumping on the tide to Portstewart where we relaxed and took on calories before jumping back in the evening tide around the Giants Causeway. A stunning way to see this world heritage site. 

We ended the day pulling up to a cottage at the base of the cliffs around the corner from the Causeway. The only way to get to the cottage is by sea. It has it’s own natural harbour. Sadly we were camping on the outside but it was idyllic. We watched the sunset and drank the last of our malt whiskey, a 16 year old Lagavulin. From where we sat we could see the Scottish Island of Islay – which appropriately is home to the Lagavulin distillery.

We climbed into bed as the full moon rose, reminding us that we are on spring tides and so the stream is good!

Today was fun. The stream past Rathlin Island had us ticking along at 8 and 9 miles am hour. We turned south and then had to paddle in the eddies to avoid the north going flood tide which was running well over 3 miles an hour.

The morning sunshine gave way to a sudden fog bank that descended – just as well it was time to get off the water and wait for the next tide anyway. We spent the afternoon in Cushendun before pushing on this evening to Glenarm. 

The next few days are all about the miles. We’ve a pretty good idea which day we will finish now – but of course it is weather dependent. 

Hands are swollen, various body parts ache and we’re both sleep deprived but each day is an incredible experience that we don’t want to take for granted.

Massive thank you to ‘Sam’, Janet, Sylv and Martyn for your incredibly generous donations! The total is coming along very nicely now – thank you!

   
                

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Geoff has been keeping a tally of the number of Guinesses we’ve had since we started this adventure. Apparently I  am one behind him – 25 to 24. 

He’s just gone to buy provisions so guess what ……it is all square now!

  

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