Monday, October 27, 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Skye with Gordon Brown

I have been doing my best to fit in some quality sea kayaking while I'm here in Scotland.  I came up short in Anglesey, but Gordon made sure I got my salt water fix today.  I hitched a ride with Gordon, Morag and their lovely kids (one 3 and the other 5 years old) from the Perth show to Skye last night.  They were happy to be home after a long time away.  It was late and we were all tired from the long drive.  

The next morning, we had some breakfast with the kiddos and prepared for the days activities.  We were waiting for a few folks to arrive before we would sort out the best place to go.  Gordon does not have pre-determined class syllabi.  He invites you into the office, serves you some tea or coffee by the fire, and asks what it is that you need to know.  Two of the students arrived, and the third had some car trouble.  Martin, who is going for his level III next week, and Jonathan, who was up for 5 star assessment in a few days expressed interest in incident management, positioning, and trip planning.  

Gordon, Making a plan for the day's lesson

Going over 5 star scenarios with Jonathan 

After drilling Jonathan on some scenarios with the dry erase board and taking in the warm cozy fire, we headed out into the frigid pelting drizzle.  Every drop seemed to cut right into you.  The winds were from the North and fairly strong.  23 mph gusting to 32.  We decided to head towards a constriction that separates the inner sound from Loch Alsh.  We would be sure to have enough wind, with plenty of fetch, opposing the flooding tidal currents mid-day.     
Gettin ready to hit the water

It was a really nice place to go for a paddle.  There was a very picturesque lighthouse coupled with a huge bridge that spanned the narrow gap between the Isle of Skye and the mainland of Scotland.  Everywhere you looked you could see dramatic hills in the distance and complex chains of small islands and inlets carved by glaciers long ago.  
The lighthouse and bridge
 (Gordon and the boys are just between the two, but are too far away and small to be seen)

First thing we did was paddle out well beyond the bridge into the big wind waves to go for a little surf session.  Gordon said we were in prime 5 star conditions including 4-6 ft wind swell pushed up by force 6+ winds.  I was unable to pull my camera out in the big stuff but, once both the clients were comfortable with the conditions, the boys worked on some contact towing while I rattled off a few shots from shore.  

Tow, tow, tow your boat...

The Stevenson Lighthouse

Martin crossing the shipping channel

After I hopped back into my boat we headed across to the other side.  Jonathan was checking out possible landing sites when a bigger set of waves decided for him.  He got washed up onto some sharp rocks and managed to badly damage his carbon/Kevlar Nordkapp Jubilee.  Enough with the scenarios... we did some real deal repairs in the field.

 Gordon helping with the repair by applying denso tape

Gordon explains to Jonthan what went wrong

We found several more breaks in the hull and deck

Eventually we called Martin in to join us on the beach.  At first he seemed reluctant to try his luck with HIS boat, but we coaxed him in for a nice clean landing.  The waves were very small, but broke onto a rocky shore.  It was good practice for him.  

Martin making a smooth landing on the rocky beach

Me, happy to be back in a long boat

After a nice stretch of the legs, we were right back at it.  We went for a little tour around the area and got in close to some more rocks.  The sun was getting low, so we didn't go for long.  The weather had improved slightly, but there was some ominous clouds on the horizon.  

Making our way back along the rocks near sunset

Almost home...

Making it back, just before the next batch of rain

We had a nice day out.  The conditions were great for the students, and I think we all learned something...especially Jonathan.   We headed back to the house via a hardware store where I picked up some denso tape of my own.  Since we can't get it in the States, I figured I would stock up.  I look forward to tomorrow.  We will be back at it for one more day.  It will be my last day of paddling in Scotland.  


Anonymous said...

Bring back tape for your friends.


Jay said...

Say hello to Gordon and Morag for me. I really enjoyed paddling with him. In much mellower conditions than you folks found :) And I look forward to paddling in Scotland with him again someday!

Anonymous said...

Gordon is such a doll!! I'm disappointed to see a wedding band on his finger ;- )