16 miles today, not very much by recent standards. But it was one of the toughest. Sleet, chop, beam winds and seas, clapotis and I forgot my blinkin’ lunch. It doesn’t feel like it helped the sinusitis clear up either.
Ma heid was up ma bahookie at the start, I got water in the top of my wellies launching in a sleety force 4 off a beach with no shelter. . The numbers are not good, 3 cameras (tart), 2 wet feet (eejit), 1 hour with no VHF on (d’oh) and 0 edible things for lunch.
Largs to Cumbrae and I got ma man Dan to take a snap or two in the shelter of the bay showing the lovely decals in the boat on the water….nice.
After that quick pit stop I was off to the North end of Cumbrae and back into the blowy cold north-westerly. The worrying thing was when I turned my VHF on I heard Belfast Coastguard’s weather broadcast and some mention of Gale Force 8 to Storm Force 10 thankfully followed by the word ‘later’….phew.
Even when I was skirting down the back of the big Cumbrae and the sun came out the hood stayed up.
It felt colder than the runs I did back around St Andrews Day when it was legitimately sub zero for weeks.
As I crossed the Tan for Wee Cumbrae the tidal effect combined with the wind was noticeble at the Cardinal mark. The feeling of the sea and wind on my beam was starting to make it hard work. Then came the Clapotis (not a disease associated with the frisky) on the West of Wee Cumbrae underneath the cliffs.
The crappy sea conditions largely evaporated when I cleared the cliff and paddled under the lighthouse. It is a glorious wee collection of buildings on the forgotten shore of quiet, barely inhabited island. If there is one thing that is striking here; it is that these buildings need some love because dilapidation has set well in.
Round the corner all went calm, and I managed to lift the pace again. Up at the dwellings on the East shore opposite the castle I had a brief chat with a chap who’s working there (renovating I assume – I can only hope they continue on the West of Wee Cumbrae). I didn’t hang about long because his pack of mutts had a very vocal ringleader who was in danger of breaching my 87dB HSE maximum noise exposure limit and I’d left my ear protection in the van with my lunch.
Next I was back across the Tan heading North for Great Cumbrae with the wind whipping me side on. For the Scots out there, my feelings on this rhyme with Fish. I was really hungry and I’d been in the saddle for god knows how long (my watch broke two days ago and I was telling the time by my compass and the sun). That was it for me, I pottered on, with my pace right down and a feeling that this had become an incessant slog today.
Then as always something happened to lift my spirits. Crossing the Fairlie Roads back over to Largs the heavens gave me a a beautiful display.
Then as I approached the Largs shore I saw my pal Neil, walking back from his work at the Marina, who kindly helped me lift my boat to the van.
Positives from the day; I can paddle 16 miles on a rough day with no food intake in approximately 4.5 hours, not ideal, but good to know. I can tell the time pretty well using my compass and the sun. I can go to bed tonight safe in the knowledge that on the expedition I can’t leave lunch (or my ear protection) in my van!
Here’s a wee map of the route for you all;
View Cumbraes Circuit in a larger map