Zen and the Art of Sea Kayaking at Night

Zen and the Art of Sea Kayaking at Night

Postby Jennymoo ]:@ » Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:33 pm

Members: Jenny Joan Mark Tom
Location: Strangford Lough - Killyleagh
Weather: Sublime
Water/Wave Height: Glassy

Perhaps Joan and I should have called each other instead of texting when organising this evenings run to Strangford Lough. After both walking to Malone we realised not only did neither of us know the way to Killyleagh but neither of us had actually brought the car to drive to Killyleagh either!!…. not to worry, Rick Cabs saved the day and after a quick jaunt to my house to pick up the car we were on our way!

As we pulled up to the Tollymore trailer Mark, Tom and the rest of the group were already getting the boats off and the sun was on its way towards the horizon. We quickly geared up, Joan opting to try one of the toasty looking hooded cags on offer from Tollymore’s huge pile of gear.

So after Oisin had let my footrests out about a foot ('You’re not in a playboat now Jenny'…sea kayakers like to be able to feel their feet apparently…weirdos!) we popped our dry bags (with food, torches, spare clothes and warm drinks) into the storage hatches, donned our woolly hats, and we were off!

With poor weather forecast all week we were delighted at the perfectly calm evening, the water was like glass as we started off along the coast. Everyone quickly got the hang of the longer paddles and edging ‘the wrong way’ and we soon had a fair speed going as we got to grips with the beautiful gliding motion of the sea kayaks. The red sky created a perfect backdrop to the coastal scenery and as the sun began to set we buddied up and headed towards open water and the many islands of the Lough.

As darkness set in we switched on our head-torches and put in on an island for a yummy picnic. Oisin and Simon handed out glow sticks, but much to our disappointment there was no rave … we were to attach the glow sticks to our BAs to keep track of each other in the darkness.

The fibreglass sea kayaks can’t be launched from the rocks and there were a few squeaks and splashes (Tom!) as people negotiated the slippery seaweed to get back into the boats in shallow water… and once again we were off, except this time in the dark!!!

I can’t fully describe the feeling of utter calm I experienced as the banter died away and we glided along in the moonlight.

(OK so the calm was briefly interrupted by smacking and splashing paddles when we discovered that the glowing phytoplankton in the water created sparks of shimmering blue light when disturbed)

All thoughts of work/money/stress melted away as we paddled along; blue, yellow and pink glow sticks bobbing psychedelically around me, every paddle-stroke sending shimmering vortexes of bioluminescence through the water. The sea felt warm to the touch and the smell of salt and seaweed filled my head. The journey was over much too quickly and it was going to be a long 6 days until my next encounter with sea kayaking…..

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Jennymoo ]:@
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