Lovely day for it
1998 was a poor year weather wise, and for this this trip the tides had to be right. We were planning to paddle from Stromness to Kirkwall, via the western coast which as any local will know is very exposed. Any westerly motion can make this trip VERY bouncy and pretty much a suicide mission on the wrong day! In saying this it is also a very spectacular stretch of water and a trip we all really wanted to do.
It was evident that the South Westerly wind from the previous few days had kicked up quite a swell. After we came out of the Hoy sound we headed out and paddled half a Mile of the craigs as the confused back swell was a little less prominent out there. This for me was the hardest part of the day. But as we rounded the coast towards Yesnaby stack the 2-3 meter swell became more manageable. Our first tea break was on Skaill Beach and by this time the large swell had all bu subsided. Roughly 3 hours since we left Stromness it felt good to stretch legs and spend a penny!
John in the Westerly swell
The next leg was around marwick head and to the Broch o' Birsay Largly uneventful but the last 2-3 Nautical miles was a following sea and great fun for a but of surf.
When we were finishing our cups of tea I spotted my fathers Yacht on in the distance so jumped in the boat and paddled out to meet them. They had planned to accompany us till at least Eynhallow sound. It was easy to see how hard kayakers are to spot on the sea as they couldn't see us for a while even though they were looking for us.
John in the Hoy Sound
Through the Eynhallow in Ebb tide can often be a crazy ride of standing waves and overfalls! But today was perfect, hugging the coast took us out of the main stream and we were soon rounding the Broch of Gurness and into sheltered waters. here the support vessel left for home as the sun went down. We donned head torches and paddled for the bright lights of Kirkwall.
Such a peaceful end to our journey. Night paddling in silence, heading towards lights reflecting on glassy waters made me realise why I love Kayaking and all its diversities.