Hamish’s Hibernian Circumnavigation

Round Ireland in a Skin-on-Frame Greenland Kayak

(Sadly technology has outpaced the images on this page!)

Hamish at the end of a rainbow in his fibreglass Nordkapp, off the coast of Ballycastle.  June 10th, 2014.

Rathlin in the middle distance, Scotland behind

In July and August of 2014 Hamish will be paddling the coast of Ireland in ‘Selkie’, his Skin-on-Frame Greenland Kayak.Planned date of departure: June 28th.  Portrush Harbour.

Hamish aims to be the youngest kayaker to compete the trip, at 19years of age, and the first to do so in a traditional style Greenland kayak with a Greenland style paddle.  His trip is a personal challenge, a vote of confidence in traditional design and craft, and a sight seeing tour of a beautiful island – over 1200 miles.  He will paddle the entirety of the coast and hopes to meet and paddle with local sea kayakers along the way. This is not a speed driven expedition – it is a tour of discovery.

Selkie has been built in the Valkyrie Craft workshop by Hamish and his father John using a combination of traditional techniques aided by modern tools.  The methods and design has been developed by John and Hamish from a range of sources including Christopher Cunningham: Building the Greenland Kayak, Robert Morris: Building skin on frame boats and Traditional Boats of Ireland, Edited by Cristoir MacCarthaigh.  John and Hamish build a range of wooden canoes and have applied their accumulated knowledge of other build systems to the Selkies construction.

In essence Selkie is a Greenland Style Kayak built along traditional lines with a higher than normal volume to make it an expedition boat.  She has a wooden frame held together with waxed sinuous thread, wooden dowels and mortise-and-tenon joints.  Other than some brass and bronze fixings to  hold on her ballistic nylon ‘skin’, and marine varnish to make the skin watertight, she no metal screws or fastening, modern glues or adhesives.  Each thwart, beam, rib, chine and keel is held and fixed with knotted sinew or dowel.

Where’s Hamish??

Click on the image to see where he’s been and where he is now. (Sorry – This link is no longer operative)


Valkyrie Craft Home


Charity Corner.

Hamish has elected to support a couple of charities with his paddle challenge.   If you can he would ask you to give a little to support the work done by both of these organisations.  Both of them are battling to give us a better world.   

Click on the image below to go to the Just Giving web site to make a donation


Greenpeace is a world renowned organisation which seeks to heighten awareness for our environment, particularly for the plight of oour seas.  Amazingly, despite their track record for noble activities, they refuse to take donations from large organisations, governments or political parties.  Their funding comes from individual supporters across the globe . . .

Action Cancer’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers work across the whole of Northern Ireland helping to save lives and support people affected by cancer.


Some Media Links!!

Link to a news story on Hamish by the Coleraine Timeshttp://www.colerainetimes.co.uk/news/features/hamish-paddles-around-ireland-1-6208644 Link to a Q Radio Interview – John being interviewed about Hamish’s venture.www.lifestylecoleraine.com/q-radio/q-cafe/4857-man-to-row-round-ireland-in-a-kayak
Link to a news story on Hamish by Chris Scott of CanoeNIwww.canoeni.com/whats-going-on/news/ Link to the Donegal daily . . . may require a subscription to read.http://www.donegaldaily.com/2014/09/03/donegals-own-adventurer-helps-teen-complete-round-ireland-kayak/


Friday 5th of September  – Expedition Day 70.  Paddle Days 53, Weather days 12Kinnagoe to Portrush 30km.  (1597 . . . give or take a few!!)

Hamish has finished!!!

The tracker died on the last leg so despite the glitch in the system he has landed . . . .

– 70 days since departure on the 28th of June
– 3 days awaiting tracker replacement
– 3 days for Kims wedding
– 64 days actually on expedition
– 52 days on the water
– 12 days on shore weather bound

– 1600km – 1000miles


Selkie – A job well done.

Leaving Kinnagoe Bay
Steve Smith starting the last leg with Hamish Steve riding the swell
Benevenagh Plateau – Home just out of sight Musenden Temple – less than two miles from my own bed!!


Inishowen Head well behind Speeding past Castlerock – one hour ahead of schedule
Leaving the last harbour – brief stop in Portstewart to join up with CCKA members for the paddle around and into Portrush – Robin Ruddock alongside A little chop around Portstewart
Hamish leading the CCKA arrow into Portrush
Home again – Portrush Harbour and a few words with Robin Saluting the beach – last trodden 70 days ago!!
And a welcome home from friends – Bertie and Debbie
The Victory Roll


A quiet moment And a balance performance
Dads congratulations a welcome pint A few words with Anraí Ó Domhnaill
Attempting a victory lift but almost throwing Hamish back into the harbour Four pints and four happy hands!


Thursday 4th of September – Expedition Day 69.  Paddle Days 52 Weather days 12 Dunaff Head to Kinnagoe .  43.5km (1567)

Second last day?!!!?  Again brilliant conditions.  Anraí helped again with planning and timing and today took on the entire role of land support since Dad back to work commitments.  The final big bump to paddle past – Malin Head.  No bother again and finished comfortably at Kinnagoe Bay – in fact such a lovely day I felt like carrying on to Portrush . . . except I have been told to arrive tomorrow at 6pm!!   Feels fantastic to be so close to home, to have passed the last of the big mile stones (Malin) and to have the chance to stretch out for a long km eating paddle in the boat again.

Ready to leave Dunaff Head


Wednesday 3rd of September  – Expedition Day 68.  Paddle Days 51 Weather days 12Magheraroarty to Dunaff Head.  48.5km (1524)

What a paddling day!!  Big day planned, again with Anraí’s help, and off again.  Today aiming to round Horn Head and then to the western edge of Lough Swilly, but things so fine I pushed across the Dunaff Head where I was met by Anraí.  So good to be getting the chance to paddle in conditions that allow me to stretch out and cover the distances I’d hoped to cover throughout the trip.

Cloudy skies but pretty good visibility and excellent conditions so I could appreciate the coastline instead of focusing on grinding along into head winds and broken seas.

Leaving Magheraroarty

Horn Head forward towards Lough Swilly and Malin Head

Horn Head back towards Bloody Foreland


Spotting from Horn Head

Horn Head – Can you spot him?

Horn Head from the east

Horn Head from the west
Looking east from Horn Head
Looking south – half way from Magheraroarty to Horn Head


Tuesday 2nd of September – Expedition Day 67.  Paddle Days 50. Weather days 12 Cruit Island to Magheraroarty.  25km (1475)

After a good night spent in Carrickfinn, courtesy of Anraí, and a very helpful planning and briefing session Hamish was back on the water with a planned shorter day . . . not because of a need for a rest but forced by the limited get out points within paddling distance.  After Magheroraty vehicle access is limited until the far side of Horn head.   John Ruston elected to pull out of the days paddle – one days battering enough for his not spring chicken body.

So John R and I had a lovely lazy day trundling along the coast with excellent opportunities to sit and watch Hamish fly up the coast past Inishfree Lower, Gola and then turn right to go around the Bloody Foreland (a psychological magic spot since it can be seen as the start of the north coast – the beginning of home ground) and along the coast to his finish spot.  Beautiful timing of the tide and with light wind to help the trip.

Planning session with Anrai

Leaving Cruit Harbour – Owey in the background

Approaching the head of Cruit Island

Bloody Foreland back to Aran Mor

Passing Tory

Arriving at Magheraroarty – Another little speck on the ocean

Surfing at Magheraroarty

Erigal from the north


Monday 1st of September – Expedition Day 66.  Paddle Days 49. Weather days 12Glencolmcille to Cruit Island.  46.5km (1450)

We set of on an early start to make the most of the promised continued good weather.  Sally an I made a quick shuttle (hour or more!!) down to Glencolmcille with Hamish and John Ruston only to find the westerly was producing nasty dumping surf onto the beach.  Some quick skirting around the narrow lanes found access to the stream flowing into the bay and a route to work out into the bay with some shelter from the surf.  We watched the pair make a bit of a frantic paddle out with and the day was under way . . . not the calm waters hope for but nothing that would dampen the potential for a good long run northwards.  In all events John had his work cut out paddling his plastic Capella to keep up with Hamish.  A section of breaking waves south of Aran Mor caused the pair to divert onto the south of the Island to give John a break, both from the paddling and from the incessant westerly 2m swell.  Back on the move through Aran Mor sound and heading for the planned get out at Burtonport the decision was made, based on the heavy sea to head further north to a beach beside Fall Island only to find the entrance completely blocked by breaking surf.  At this stage advice was relayed to the pair by me from our local support, Anraí Ó Domhnaill, suggesting they paddle north to the harbour on Cruit Island – a mere 10km further north.  Despite Johns desire to finish the decision was made to paddle on.  Anrai, Sally and I headed up to the exit point and watched the two boats paddle in over a pretty ‘hairy’ sea where both boats disappeared regularly behind the swell, Hamish leading and pausing to answer his phone a number of times to take in the specific directions to work their way through the channel and islands leading into the harbour.  A great run in difficult seas.

Packing the boats


Paddling out using Glen Bay stream

Glen Bay swell!!  Can you spot the two paddlers

Fun water out of Glen Bay – Hamish and John dwarfed by the waves and spume!

The view north around Glen Head

From Owey sound looking south – Aran More in the distance

South towards Glen Head

South across Loghros Bay towards Glen Head

Sea state looking towards Aran Mor from Burtonport area

Anxious spotting off Cruit Island

Arriving Cruit – Owey in the background

Sea State at Cruit Island

John Ruston arriving Cruit Harbour

Finished at Cruit hrbour


Sunday 31th August – Expedition Day 65.  Paddle Days 48. Weather days 12St Johns Point to Glencolmcille.  38km (1403)

Finally a good run with the weather.  The winds dropped to a firm southerly allowing for a solid push along the northern coast of Donegal Bay past Muchross Head and at long last the cliffs of  Slieve League.  Just to irritate the mist descended onto the head of the cliffs to hide the full magnificence of the view but even that couldn’t dull the shear pleasure of finally escaping Donegal Bay and the feeling of being stuck fast by the weather.  A short duck into the beach at Malin Beg to consider it as a stopping point, and then around into the harbour with its steep slip with its rough little beach was enough to encourage another push on around the headland on on up to Glencolmcille.   The day went so well that the arrival in Glen Bay was early enough to require a quite sit on the beach, a gentle unloading of the boat and some time to chill out waiting for the promised land crew to arrive and chauffeur Hamish up to Carrickfin for a night in a house again!!

Heading north

Heading for Glencolmcille looking east Turning North from Slieve League/ malin Beg
Slieve League – Misty hat on


Slieve League behind the swell
The Beach and Bay at Malin Beg Malin Beg Harbour from the shingle beach
Packing up at Glen Bay


Saturday 30th August – Expedition Day 64.  Paddle Days 47. Weather days 12 Cullumore to St Johns Point.  33km (1365)

Finally making some progress again.  Strongish winds from the west meant I could paddle from my stopover on a beach west of Cullumore, heading up along the coast to Mulaghmore head – for a brief lunch stop and a rest up . . .  hard work keeping the boat on a good line with a following sea from the south west and westerly winds working to swing the boat around.  From Mullaghmore headed due north for St Johns Point and then ducked to the east side of the point to finish on a beach a little northward along the promontory.  A good 33km paddle in not too helpful conditions mean I am now on the north side of Donegal Bay with the rounding of Slieve League the only big hurdle before I paddle the Donegal coast . . . the last of the counties before the last days paddle across the mouth of the Foyle into County L’derry Waters and Portrush Harbour!!!!

SPOT is apparently playing up a bit . .  seems to be having periods where it drops out and fails to send GPS locations for and hour or so at a time.


Friday 29th August – Expedition Day 63.  Paddle Days 46. Weather days 12.A day land bound again.  Serious easterly winds again making progress into Donegal Bay a poor option and ruling out an attempt across the Bay from Cullumore, south of Inishmurray.   Met Valli today for a brief chat at my campsite.  Too knackered for a trip to the pub with them and wanting to get a good rest in for the Bay crossing.  Starting to be really fed up with the Donegal Bay hurdle. This is perhaps the most significant point in the trip for driving home the beneift of a paddling partner . . . I feel paddling with a partner would make all the difference -there is no way I’d cross the Bay on my own in these conditions but with someone else it could be do-able. . .  and if not the company on shore would make all the difference.

Slieve League taunting in the distance


Thursday 28th August  – Expedition Day 62.  Paddle Days 46. Weather days 11Easkey to Cullumore.   22km.(1332)

Back on the water again, and despite a good start, found myself struggling by mid day as the winds built up again and the the swell responded.  Made Cullumore and had a good hard think about the best plan . . . forecast relayed to me indicated I’d be off the  water again for two days with yet another low pressure system swinging in from the west bringing more strong easterlies.  Not sure I wanted to spend a few days trapped on Inishmurray (Thanks Jasper Whin for highlighting that prospect!!) so made the decision to pull in and camp up for a day or two.  Possible meet up with Valli and Gerry from Sligo paddlers and maybe some company on the next part of the trip!!

A battle developing – lovely day for a walk but a shocker for open water paddling

Slieve League still a far distant goal.


Wednesday 27th August – Expedition Day 61.  Paddle Days 45. Weather days 11Relaxing in a real house again!!  A good couple of days in good company (again!!)  Found myself is a safe and strong building while for 9 winds battered the place.  Very very thankful not to be out in my struggling tent tonight.


Tuesday 26th August – Expedition Day 60.  Paddle Days 45. Weather days 10 Forecast for unrelenting easterlies at force five – not a hope of crossing the Bay from Easkey and paddling into the teeth of the winds towards Sligo seems pointless. . . . struggling to see it as worth while spending another day inching along the coast when the right winds could send me north across the bay.  Made contact with Tony McGonigle and family and lucky enough to have them come south from the Rosses region an take me off the water for a couple of days until the latest bought of bad weather passes.


Monday 25th August – Expedition Day 59.  Paddle Days 44. Weather days 9East side of Killala Bay to Easky.  6 km (1310)

6km in 1 1/2 hours this morning into an unsteady easterly gusting 22kn. Not worth the effort for so little gain so holed up at Easky . . close to a pub and food. Inshmurray tomorrow? Forecast better but not much.

Eastern shore of Killala Bay and eastward – a short crossing but a battle every stroke of the trip.


Sunday 24th August – Expedition Day 58.  Paddle Days 43. Weather days 9Lackan Bay across Killala Bay. 12km (1304)

Re-launched from Lackan Bay with high hopes of a good days paddle eastward along the coast toward Sligo and then north east to Inishmurray.  Sea god in a foul mood . . . strong easterly blowing force five and gusting force 6 put paid to the whole plan.  very hard paddle across Killala Bay ended the days trip with a forced landing and camp up on a very rocky shore just short of Easky – poor camping spot and very exposed.  Luck to be able to meet up with Dad/ John to get the boat up of the waterline before he had to race back to Castlerock to get sorted out to work on Monday morning!!

Rinsing the booties, Lackan Bay harbour

Crossing Killala Bay


Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th August       Pause!!Home for Kim and Marks Wedding – Time for a beer or two, a shower and a few days sitting in a real chair again!!

The first dance


Wednesday 20th August – Expedition Day 54.  Paddle Days 42. Weather days 9Portacloy to Lackan Bay – 40km (1292)

The first day with following winds in a rather long time, coincided with the first day with company in a rather long time… John (Dad) and John R(friend) arrived in the morning and helped me get onto the water.

Conditions were lovely-the best in a long time. The wind freshened during the day, but as it was behind us (me and John R) I really didn’t mind. In fact the fresher the better! About time the wind did some of the work.

Highlight of the day was Downpatrick head. With fairly low sedimentary rock style cliffs and plenty of caves it was an engaging view, particularly with the waves booming off the cliffs with deep bass noise and high white spray-some of it reaching above the cliffs where, rather incongruously, fishermen plied their lines. I recall hoping that they didn’t accidently hook me or John.

We finished the day in Lackan Bay, roughly 40km. It was certainty the most relaxing paddle I have had for a long while!

Cruising the northern Mayo coastline and cliffs

Downpatrick Head through the swell Mad fisher folk – thankful they didn’t hook us!
Downpatrick Head
The Stags of Broadhaven John Checking his camera  equipment.
View the 30km back to the days start View of the 10km onward from Downpatrick head.
North Mayo Coastline
John Ruston
One of four abandoned boasts at Belderg Harbour Near the end of the day . . . Slieve League in the far distance.


  Dad impersonating a large mooring bollard
Salty sea dog


Tuesday 19th August – Expedition Day 53.  Paddle Days 41. Weather days 9Kanfinalta Point to Portacloy.  40 km (1252)

Light winds from the north forecast so a good day compared to yesterday.  Left Kanifinalta ealryish to get a good long day paddle in and to make the most of the lighter winds in the morning.  Made good time to Belmulett making a straight open crossing up the middle of the lough to the canal and through the gap and out into the narrow bay on the east side.  Paddled on the west bank most of the way up and then made a bee line for Rinroe Point.  The sea began to build from here up to Kid Island . .  . at which point it became a bit of a worry.  Paddling around Benwee Point was perhaps the most nerve wracking sea to date.  The swell was seriously big, waves cresting and some breaking, and the rebound of the cliffs around the head turning them into a mess.  A reminder that the sea state sometimes does not mirror the current conditions – but the conditions of the past when they were made.  Hoping they will have had time to settle and downsize by tomorrow.

Achill Island from Belmulett

Belmullet Channel Sea Lough East of Belmullet
Stags of Broadwater from the south Another 5* view from the tent – Portacloy
Surgical Splint for pole….again!


Monday 18th August – Expedition Day 52.  Paddle Days 40. Weather days 9. Achill Island , north end of the sound, to Kanfinalta Point.  20 km (1212)

After two days on Achill, land bound with the high winds, Hamish was itching to make some progress so set off today for Belmullet . . . forecast gave force five driving down from the north, and it proved to be correct. Long hard paddle from around 11 am to 5.30 made only 20km . . just over 3km hour.   After a brief stop at a beach south of Kanfinalta Point he made a second push for the day but after struggling into the wind for another hour, making only 3 more km he rounded the point into the full force of the wind . . .  took a hard right hand turn into the beach on the point and gave up for the day.  Just to be polite he wandered up to a small cottage behind the beach to check it was okay to camp behind the beach, and In another stroke of Irish generosity, found himself invited to share a meal and to make use of the shower!  A fine way to finish what had been a pretty soul destroying day on the water.

View across Blacksod Bay

Achill from Kaninalta Nice place for Dinner!!


Sunday 17th August – Expedition Day 51.  Paddle Days 39. Weather days 9.Still trapped by weather on Achill west of Inishbiggle


Saturday 16th August – Expedition Day 50.  Paddle Days 39. Weather days 8Trapped by weather on Achill Island west of Inishbiggle


Friday 15th August – Expedition Day 49.  Paddle Days 39. Weather days 7Inishturk to north end of Achill sound.  42 km  (1192)

A good day for paddling!!  Winds much nicer to me even though still coming from the north east.  Made good time to Clare Island and then took a leisurely rate around the coast enjoying the views.  Headed off for Achillbeg but by this stage not in the best position for the tides through the Sound.  Arrived in time for the last of the outward tide so took a break waiting for it to turn and then shot up making good time on the rising tide . . . . only get close to the bridge and find the channel still too dried out to get over.  Spent a good hour hanging about as it filled and then pulling the boat for a while because it was still to shallow to paddle.  Finally had enough water to paddle only to find the incoming race was speeding up fast.  Had to work very hard for 3km or so until I broke out of the narrow section and could make better progress but by this stage the day was getting late.  Combined with the knackering effect of paddling the last section against the tide I had to concede that I wasn’t crossing Blacksod Bay today.   Picked out a good enough spot to camp in the failing light aware that it would be my sport for at least two nights until the weather cleared.

Achill from just north of Clare Island

Clare Island Achill Beg on the near left . .  heading for the Sound
Achill sound at low water


Thursday 14th August – Expedition Day 48.  Paddle Days 38. Weather days 7Omey Island strand to Inishturk.  24 km  (1150)

The hope had been for a good stretch covered from Omey to Clare Island to set up for a well timed tide assisted paddle up Achill Sound.  Best laid plans of mice and men!  The reality was hampered first off by the need to stop on a little rocky island to empty the boat out and check the hull and then by a solid low force five from the north west all the way up to Inishturk.  In effect it was a ferry-glide course aiming for Iceland slogging into the wind.  Not a hope of reaching Clare.  Spent the night in a beautiful cove on the south of Inishturk with a narrow entrance that I’d have missed if I blinked.  Had a long talk about the weather over the phone trying to plan out the next couple of days – serious winds hitting the coast on Saturday/ Sunday.   Half aiming to get a huge paddle in to get the north west side of Blacksod Bay so that I can use the peninsular as cover and get some paddling in to head up towards Bellmulet  on Saturday despite the wind.

The Twelve Pins again

One of the Inish Islands . . .  Turk?  Boffin?


Wednesday 13th August – Expedition Day 47.  Paddle Days 37. Weather days 7Gurteen Bay to Omey Island strand.  36km  (1126)

Off again . . . weather not perfect.   Force 4 W and NNW  winds will make the paddle hard enough with it into the face most of the way to Slyne Head.  Paddled pretty slowly around Slyne Head but then made much better speed across Mannin and Clifden bays, past Inishturk and onto the beach connecting Omey Island with the mainland.

A bit of news via Kevin O’Callaghan:

Met Hamish yesterday just North of Slyne Head. I had to do some more mundane things like have a septic tank inspection in the morning. After that I headed to Clifden and then paddled southwards from a beach opposite Inishturk Beag. Coming close to Slyne, I was getting a bit worried that I hadn’t met with him and was afraid I missed him, though unlikely as the sea was rough with breakers and boomers so the route choice was limited and I knew that the inner passage was dry at that tide stage. Eventually I climbed up on an Island and saw that he had come out of one of the gaps in Slyne Head and then paddled out to meet him and we took the inner passage northwards. This necessitates 1 cul de sac and a small portage.
Once north of the small islands it was easier going as less breakers etc and headed direct to Inish Turbot’s east side and then continued on to cross the Tombola on Omey approx 19.00. At that stage I was turning back so offered Hamish a lift to Clifden which he without hesitation accepted. He paddled back to the car with me and we put everything in and then we went to Clifden boat club and got some food there and met some people. I dropped him back at about 10 to the beach  that we had reached earlier paddling, so he didn’t loose or gain any ground.

Traffic signs on Omey Island Strand

Once again it was good to have the offers of friendship and support form local paddlers . . .  Joise and Mairee for a bed, transport and company during the bad weather and Geo for the good company on the water for the day, a lift and a feed in Clifden and local advice for the coming days.

People putting themselves out to help a virtual stranger!

Ready to load again

And off again heading for Slyne Head and a link up with Geo

Seals lounging around the islets


The gap chosen through Slyne Head


Tuesday 12th August – Expedition Day 46.  Paddle Days 36. Weather days 7Still a little storm bound. . .



Monday 11th August – Expedition Day 45.  Paddle Days 36. Weather days 6Still a little storm bound. . .     🙁    Of into Galway today.     😉

Wednesdays weather is looking better now.  With a little luck I could be on my way before Thursday.  Winds still in the North though.


Sunday 10th August – Expedition Day 44.  Paddle Days 36. Weather days 5Spending the day at Josies house.  Actually finding myself to be feeling a little restless.  Its hard to relax having got into the habit of getting up and moving on each day!  Defiantly good to be taking a break.

Talking Boats

Talking Kit Trying Selkie out for size!!


Saturday 9th August – Expedition Day 43.  Paddle Days 36. Weather days 4Got in contact with Josie and Marie Gibons late morning and met up with them a later.  Josie took me down to a Galway Hooker sailing event at Kinvarra south of Galway.  It was a nice change to watch something other than the sea!!!

Hamish and Josie Gibons


Galway Hooker

Galway Hooker in the distance – Me paddling one of Josie’s Cedar strips
Josie’s double cedar strip


8th August – Expedition Day 42.  Paddle Days 36. Weather days 3Inishmuskerry to Gurteen bay.  15km (1090)

In the morning I was still half thinking of trying for Bunowen Bay on the east side of Horse Island.  It would have been a 25km paddle into a lightish force 5, another slog of a day, but would have given me the option to paddle around the head into Clifden before the real weather hit.  However, after getting the forecast by text and a text from Franci in Gurteen Bay I decided I need to give myself a break and to get a little company again.  Met up with Franci put up the tent, broke another pole, fixed it had a trip into Roundstone and then chilled out.

Landing on the beach at Gurteen Bay.


The Twelve Pins


7th August – Expedition Day 41.  Paddle Days 35. Weather days 3  Inisheer to Inishmuskerry 32 km. (1075)

Had hoped for a huge paddle up to Gurteen Bay to put me in a good position for a paddle of around 35km around Slyne Head and into Clifden to shelter up from the coming bad weather.  A couple of hurdles got in the way though . . The first was too late a night out in the pub followed  by too long a lie in in the morning, feeling a little rough around the edges!!  Finally got myself into gear and onto the water aware that some serious winds was forecast for the mid afternoon and that I’d be hard pressed to do the 40 odd km to Gurteen.  By mid afternoon, and after what seemed like an endless slog around Golam Head, I had to call it a day on Inishmuskerry . . . aware that I was feeling pretty worn out and did not want to make life too hard by ending up battling the forecast force 6 gusts.  On the up side the island was a fine spot to camp up; treeless, rocky, bleak and peaceful in the way of the west of Ireland.

Time for a day or two off!

  Looking and feeling a little less youthful than the picture at the top of the blog!!

Golam Head – Looks peaceful but seemed an endless paddle to pass it.


6th August – Expedition Day 40.  Paddle Days 34. Weather days 3Just past Spanish Point to Inisheer.  25km (1043)

The plan today was to cross Lahinch bay and then paddle up the length of the cliffs of Moher, cross to Inisheer and then up to Inishmore.  The forecast was for high force 4 winds from the west but as the day progressed the winds seemed to be coming fairly solidly from the north west.  With the sea swell over a meter or so, and some cresting and breaking, after I’d paddled a km or so along the cliff it seemed smarter to head directly for Inisheer, moving away from the cliffs to avoid the rebounding waves.  Most of the way across to Inisheer the cliffs stand out like a huge wall across the horizon.  Another time that I would have loved a calmer sea so I could have appreciated the coast.  By the time I reached the first of the Aran Islands I was fairly worn out for he day so decided to call it a day.  With the tent up on the first beach I walked across to the main bay to the pub for a beer or two and a chance to put my feet up!!

Hags Head

Beginnings of the Cliffs of Moher

View along the length of the cliffs

Inisheer sliding into view

The Inisheer wreck


5th August – Expedition Day 39.  Paddle Days 33. Weather days 3.Largan Bay to just past Spanish Point.  45km (1018)

Boat loaded a little front heavy today to counteract the tail heavy effect of yesterday  . . . but overdid it – so made the boat less well trimmed and harder to keep on line.  Sea lovely again with a nice gentle swell and a gentle following sea.  Coastline pretty impressive to start the day but became duller again towards Kilkee where it flattened out.  Mutton Island looked a good camp spot but too early to stop.  Little castle and abandoned crofts would have made a scenic spot to spend the night but decided to battle on to Spanish Point for the night.  Finally ended up in a little bay near Breffa South.  Had to lug the gear up a fair way off the beach – hard work but ended up with a brilliant spot on a ledge above the beach – drop of 3 or 4 metres just beside the tent!!  Better not sleep walk tonight – or trip over a guy rope first thing in the morning.

Camp site in the bay south of Spanish Point . .  no sleep walking!!


4th August – Expedition Day 38.  Paddle Days 32. Weather days 3.Open Crossings over Tralee Bay and The Mouth of the Shannon – from Rough Point, Dingle peninsula, to Laragen Bay,5km past Loop Head.  34km (973)

Not much to tell – a very long crossing.  The boat felt very tail heavy today with a very full load of food supplies.  Breeze at my back – Crossing the Shannon a gentle rolling swell, so none of the broken sea I had been warned could crop up with the tide, wind and Shannon flow all colliding.  Loop Head lovely and calm and a beautiful view with impressive cliffs jutting out rising straight up from the sea.  One of the views that make the trip worthwhile.  Weather and sea state are a constantly changing issue – calm and peaceful makes for great sight seeing but on long bland stretches becomes mind numbingly dull – but wild water and wind around headlands means I can’t take in the view . . . much less get a picture or two to remember them by. Only had a choice of a couple of beaches for the night .. one south of Loop Head meant a longer paddle tomorrow and both of the options north of Loop Head were pretty rough – I chose a boulder ridden beach with rolling sliding stones set to break my ankles.   No mobile coverage so spent a night all on my own again – a bit of a change after a few nights with Dad and Sally and with the welcoming strangers last night.

Loop Head – Lovely and calm after the worries I’d had from various horror stories of difficult seas!!  A nice change.


3rd August – Expedition Day 37.  Paddle Days 31. Weather days 3.Short crossing over Brandon Bay 12.5km (939)

Last day with the support team!!  I had half considered trying to get across the Shannon Mouth today but it seemed like too good a chance for a lie in, to suck up some company and spend some time sorting out kit.  Boots polished, gear cleaned up a little and some serious attention to the tent poles – both front poles now well overhauled with new sections and bungie cord.  The pieces supplied by Kinsale Outdoors have served well and they have been carefully stored away in case of another calamity.  Late in the day I finally launched out of Brandon Village (boat packed to the brim with food supplies and lightened with ditching some of the gear I haven’t used) and headed the 10km or so across to Rough Head to spend the night before making the big push past the Shannon tomorrow.  Just when I thought I’d waved good-bye to company for a few days I got talking to some friendly campers who invited me to share their evening meal!!  One more chance to avoid cooking for myself – no Uncle Bens Rice and Dolmio Pasta sauce tonight!  Hoping for helpful weather tomorrow.  The forecast is looking bleak for the weekend.

A little rest  . . . . didn’t show up in the photo but Hamish needs to do some sun baking with his eyes closed . .  eye lids lovely and white in his tanned face!!

Kerry Head in the mid ground and Loop Head in the far far distance – the planned trip for the day after tomorrow.

Boat and kit – needs some careful packing every morning.

Forced to pose for a few photos

Fully loaded and ready to go.

Out of Brandon Village Harbour

Little boat on a big sea.


2nd August – Expedition Day 36.  Paddle Days 30. Weather days 3.Glashabeg harbour to Brandon Village 23km.  (926)

Toady I’d hoped for a light and short day and a chance to walk up Brandon Mountain with Dad and Sally . . . .  The wind and tide should have been helping me but this was definitely the hardest day’s paddle of the trip.  I hoped to finish at Rough Point but stopped well short and paddled pretty wearily into Brandon Village.  The water was a mess from Ballydavid Head to Brandon Point – about 17km of swell hitting wind head on.  No chances to rest up with no possible get outs, other than Brandon Creek, and no chance to pause for a bite of lunch.  At one point I felt myself lifted up high on the peak of a pile of water and then literally drop through thin air a few feet into a trough that appeared where the water had been!!  No walk up Brandon Mt for me!  Ferried back to the camp site by the support crew and off to Dingle for a beer and take away Pizza!!  Too knackered to have a second Beer!

Food restock!!

Leaving Glashabeg harbour Ballydavid Head
View of the way back from Brandon Mt.  Skellig Michael way off in the middle right.   A truly weary exit on the slip at Brandon Village!!
Wrecked Racing Curraghs in Brandon Village
Ready for a pint and a big feed. A little History

And a beautiful sunset.


1st Aug – Expedition Day 35.  Paddle Days 29. Weather days 3.Coonanna Harbour across Dingle Bay to Glashabeg harbour.  42km (903)

Big paddle today.  The weather was excellent for the Dingle Bay crossing.  Rather than head due north to Dingle town and then work into the wind to the head I set out for Slea Head, pretty much north west.  The possible get-out just north of the head seemed too short a day so I headed on around into Blasket Sound – hoping to see Basking Sharks on the way through.  The Sound was hard work – more wind and a messy sea.  The cliffs along Sybil Head are pretty stunning too but after a long day’s paddling it can be a little hard to appreciate things properly!!!  Paddling across Smerwick bay was a little hard to finish with – initially the bay was beautifully calm, but just to make sure I’d earned the rest provided by Dad and Sally – tent put up and a nice trip into Dingle for some food, a bit of cider and some Breton liquor or other – the wind swung around to the north east and blew good and hard for the last 2 km home.

The first half of the day’s planned paddle – across Dingle Bay

Paddling out of Killurly Bay Smerwick Head – North Dingle.
Paddling into Glashabeg Harbour First Curraghs of the west coast
Sunset over Smerwick Head


31st July – Expedition Day 34.  Paddle Days 28. Weather days 3.St Finans Bay to Coonanna Harbour 35km (861)

Lighter winds forecast today meant a much easier paddle, coupled with ducking behind Valentia Island meant I was out of the wind for a change.  All I had to do was to paddle around to the north of the peninsula to set myself up for the paddle across to Dingle tomorrow.  The cliffs on the peninsula to the south of Puffin Island are absolutely majestic.  Managed to make life a little hard for myself by losing the water bottle off the front deck paddling out of the bay first thing.  Had to turn back and retrieve it from the surf.  Had a lovely view of Skellig Michael as I paddled out – I had originally thought of paddling out but stories of being showered with bird shit put me off a little, and then Star Wars being shot on the Island meant I wouldn’t have been permitted anyway . . . had to settle for the view.

A face full of surf. Puffin Island ahead
Skellig Michael . . .  not this time around.  Star Wars filming in process so no chance even if I wanted to. Puffin Island from the water.
Can you spot Hamish??  Paddling out of St Finan’s Bay
Paddling in to Killurly Bay.


30th July – Expedition Day 33.  Paddle Days 27. Weather days 3.Open Crossing from Garnish Point over the Mouth of the Kenmare River to St Finans Bay.  34km (826)

Why it’s called the Kenmare River is a bit of a mystery!  The river meets the sea about 40km west of where I crossed.  I’d planned to at least make Lambs Head if the wind was against me again but the day was a little kinder in general.  34km included two 13km fairly open crossings which were not too difficult but then came what was possibly the roughest water I have had to deal with so far.  Rounding Bolus head was hard work and the sea state a real mess.  The swell was big and the rebounding clapitus of the cliffs didn’t seem a lot smaller.   Doing the east coast first has proved its worth a few times now.  Very welcome face on the beach of St Finans – Dad has driven down to act as land crew for a few days.  Lighter boat by day, less lifting and a bit of a diet change!!!

Some lively sea ahead . . . never seems to look quite as big in a photo!!

Heading for Bolus Head – A pretty serious bit of water coming up!! The Skellig Michael in the distance – Half considering paddling out to them in a few days time….!
Happy to be greeted on the Quay Hands looking a little salt sore


29th July – Expedition Day 32.  Paddle Days 26. Weather days 3. Rest Day on Garnish Point.

With the winds forecast to be stronger today it makes no sense to make the crossing up to Lamb Head so I’m sitting tight.


28th July – Expedition Day 31.  Paddle Days 26. Weather days 2.Castletown/ Bearhaven to Garnish Point. 26km (792)

Hard work again today.  The forecast was for NW low force 5 but the way the wind came it was easterly.  I had to paddle into the wind all along the peninsula and then when I reached the point and turned north the wind seemed to swing into the north west, back into my face.  The reality was probably that the wind was swirling around the point – either way a hard slog.  Coming up through the channel between the mainland and Dursey island the swell built up into a pretty serious sea.  Paddling around Garnish point the waves were fairly constantly breaking over the boat.

I am very pleased with the way Selkie handles the seas.  I had to stay well and truly focused today to keep upright but the boat is responding well.  The fact she is loaded makes her sit low, but this is helping with stability – keeping the centre of gravity low.  It is hard work though and I am thinking hard about attempting the longer crossings with winds and seas like today’s.

In Dursey Sound

Dursey Sound cable car


27th July – Expedition Day 30.  Paddle Days 25. Weather days 2.Rest day south west of Castletown/ Bearhaven.

Lovely spot to pull up for a day.  Got a lift into Castlehaven/ Bearhaven to pick up supplies and had a longish stroll back to thebeach with it all. . . . . makes a nice change to be making the legs to all the work.

Unfortunately I managed to get some of the electrical kit wet yesterday despite double bagging it.  With the seas washing over the deck and cockpit combing all day I took in a a good bit of water so have had it all out drying in the sun . . . I think the battery pack has died though!


26th July – Expedition Day 29.  Paddle Days 25. Weather days 1. Crookhaven to a little beach near Castletown/ Bearhaven.  38km. (766)

That was not a funny day!

The original forecast suggested a fair enough days paddle with force 3-4 winds from the north west.  What ended up were force 5 winds from the north west that built through the day.  What had been intended as a straight run from Mizen Head up to Black Ball head had to be modified to become a change of tack, half way across Bantry Bay, towards Castlehaven to avoid a long battle into the wind.  The day was effectively 7 solid hours, without a break (no lunch!!), into the wind.  Arriving at the small beach was a massive relief and sealed the decision to have a day off!  Time to dry everything off, give the boat a good all over check and rest some weary bones!


25th July – Expedition Day 28.  Paddle Days 24. Weather days 1. Toe Head to Crookhaven.  36km. (728)

A beautiful day to finish the last long day on the south coast.  The islands along the route provided interesting viewing and then, once I headed out across the bay towards Crookhaven, a small group of Dolphins joined me for a while, first surfacing around a boat length from the the side of the boat surfaceing and diving beside me, and then heading up front to lead me along for a while.  Typical . . .too slow with the camera to get any good shots . .  hard to paddle and picture at the same time!!. 

Out of the boat at Crookhaven slip and straight into O’Sullivans bar for a pint |(forgot to send the all okay from the SPOT – the call of the beer got in the way!!).  Real hospitality from Demott in the pub providing a feed and to Billy for putting me up for the night – and thanks to Nigel back in Roberts cove for the contact.

Even got to watch a little rugby in the pub for a bit.  Luxury!

Away again

Some company

In close again

Shared sea for a change

More company


24th July – Expedition Day 27.  Paddle Days 23. Weather days 1.Dunworly Bay, to Toe Heads  39km. (692)

The crossing from Dunworly to Toe Head seemed to take for ever.  Not sure if the tide was doing something odd, it felt like working into a back eddy!!  Overall a long days paddle ending with choosing a campsite on a bed of rocks . . .  which seemed to get rockier through the night!!

The goal ahead

The coast beside The and another goal ahead
But some lovely views And a view to go to bed with.


23rd July – Expedition Day 26.  Paddle Days 22. Weather days 1.Roberts Cove to Dunworly Bay, Seven Heads.  42km. (653)

Long day, lovely paddling weather with mist but clearing in the afternoon.  The highlight of the day was The Old Head of Kinsale.  Probably the best bit of scenery for the trip so far.  Paddled through one of the caves through the central section of the head and had lunch in the boat bobbing on about under the western cliffs of the Head.  Really fantastic.

A friend in Roberts Cove

Inside the Old Head of Kinsale

Western side of the Head

Mist setting in again



Tonight’s view


22nd July – Expedition Day 25.  Paddle Days 21. Weather days 1.Ballycroneen East to Roberts Cove.  18km. (611)

What a night.  Camped on the beach okay but woke with the tent pole going again.  The previous repairs using repair sleeves and tape have given way and the front poles are done.  Trying to sort it out the sand midges erupted and feasted on me and then helped them selves into the tent.  I then spent ages exterminating them.  Morning brought a thick mist and I had to walk up away from the beach to get reception to try and sort out the poles issue leasing with John and Valkyrie as he tried to find a solution.  In one of those odd examples of human kindness, while I was hanging about waiting for a call, a stranger I had met earlier on the beach reappeared with breakfast for me!  The pole problem also proved to be not too be the calamity it appeared with the help of Kinsale Outdoors, Eileen in particular, stepping in to help. Her advice had me paddle to Roberts Cove, initially in the thick mist, to meet up to get the poles and for a good camp spot on the grass verge.

Another plus for the day was meeting Nigel Ducker who gave a possible contact for Crookhaven

Another day where things looked pretty bleak but through the efforts of strangers the day ended well.

Mist again

Tonight’s camp!!


21st July – Expedition Day 24.  Paddle Days 20. Weather days 1.Ardmore to Ballycroneen East.  38km. (593)

A long steady day in the boat – hoped to cross the entrance of Cork harbour but the mist closed in thick and strong late in the day so stopped short for the night at Ballycroneen East.

The day ahead

Another Lighthouse

Mist closing in

Deck looking a little lived in!!

Close in for a change

Pole issues.  They have all been wrapped in electrical tape but a little late for some.


20th July – Expedition Day 23.  Paddle Days 19. Weather days 1.Drillis Beach to Ardmore. 40km (555)

Sent the night at the hospitality of Ardmore Adventures. http://www.ardmoreadventures.ie/

Good to have some company on the water again!


19th of July – Expedition Day 22.  Paddle Days 18. Weather days 1.Rathmoylen Bay to Drillis Beach. 11 km (515)

This morning I met up with Philip McCormick of Pure Adventure  http://www.pureadventure.ie  Another welcome face along the way with some local knowledge to share about the next stretch.  Didn’t feel great today – possibly should have just taken the day off – so didn’t manage to much distance.  My desire to make the trip under my own steam from start to finish is defiantly tempered by the pleasure that comes from meeting people and having company here and there to paddle with.

Brownstone Head The Metal Man – Tramore
Copper Coast Mine Head


18th of July  – Expedition Day 21.  Paddle Days 17. Weather days 1.Killmore Quay to Rathmoylen Bay.  35km (504)

Spent the evening on the beach behind the slip at Rathmoylen bay.  Lost the map today – luckily nearly on the next sheet.  Had a good view of Hook point lighthouse, the oldest in lighthouse in continual operation in the world.  Also took the time to have a look around Slade castle today.  Spent some of the evening with another attempt to sort out breaking tent poles!!  All inn all gear and equipment has been good but the tent pole concern is becoming a serious worry.

Slade Castle

Hook Point – Oldest every running lighthouse . .  in the world!!

Another Beach side camp!!


17th of July  – Expedition Day 20.  Paddle Days 16. Weather days 1.Curracloe Beach to Killmore Quay. 43km (469)

Around Carnsomre Head and turning west!!!  This is a big mental milestone.

Weather nice and sea calm building into following sea after I rounded the head.  This was fine, and quite fun for a while, to surf but becomes a bit wearing keeping a good line as the day progressed.  Another night at the Fortunes chatting about paddling on the west coast.  Feeling good about the total distances covered now.

Seal doing a dive!

Carnsmore Point – Not that inspiring a view but a very welcome one!!

Kilmore Quay


16th of July – Expedition Day 19.  Paddle Days 15. Weather days 1.Courtown to Curracloe Beach. 33km (426)

Head winds made the paddle today hard and by evening when they died I was wreaked, so couldn’t take advantage of the lull.  Spent the night at John’s again where he showed me his half finished Greenland kayak!!  A little slower in the built than mine – but not the same pressure to get it done.


15th of July – Expedition Day 18.  Paddle Days 14. Weather days 1.Arklow to Courtown. 20km (393)

Unkind weather –  Force 5 and 6 winds into my face building through the day.  With contact rpovided by Robin Ruddock back home I Met up with John Fortune and his wife Maireen.  Fantastic night spent in there straw bale house.  They very kindly offered to put me up for the next three nights, picking me up and dropping me off each morning.  More brilliant of the people of Ireland.

14th of July. – Expedition Day 17, Paddle Days 13, Weather days 1.Wicklow town.  Keith Fitzsimmons

Weather today forecast for a force 7 from the south so it made no sense to try and get onto the water.  Took a day off to check the boat, wash some gear and rest up a little.  It was good to get a chance to spend a little time with Keith, to talk over the plans for the next section and to look over the trip so far.  Eradicated the sand lice!!

Wicklow Head

13th of July – Expedition Day 16.  Paddle Days 13.Killcoole to Arklow. 38 km (373)

Relaxed paddle pushed along by the tide but the skeg had been jammed by a pebble when I launched from the beach in the morning.  If I’d had a partner they could have helped pull down the skeg – a down side of solo paddling.  Lunched in the boat being swept along.  Camp site typically sandy and the boat full of sand lice in the morning….. revolting creatures!!  Starting to hate them more than midges!!



12th of July – Expedition Day 15.  Paddle Days 12.Howth to Killcoole. 36km (335)

10.30 start – sporting  a shear water peaked cap . .  thanks Sean.  Strong tide pulled me up for the evening – took too long over lunch . . . starting to think I should be eating on the move!  Had a bit of a red face moment – managed to tip myself in getting out – cheeky wave washed me over – bum on the back deck and feet in the cockpit followed by face in the brine.  Nice and wet!!!  Wicklow mountains a beautiful backdrop.

Bray Head


11th of July – Expedition Day 14.  Paddle Days 11.Clogher Head to Howth. 47km (299)

Cut across a big chunk of sea today today between Clogher head and the Skerries, and was followed by a seal.  Pulled up short of Howth because of the hard tide and phoned Shearwater kayaking – Sean Pierce and Eileen Murphy  www.shearwaterseakayaking.ie.  With there help I was sorted out to stay with Paul and Niamh for the night.  Had a good dinner together, along with John and Dianne of True fitness.  Great night shared –  most of us being current or past around Ireland paddlers made it pretty special for me.

Howth from the North

John and Dianne – True Fitness

Follower Seal


10th of July. Expedition Day 13.  Paddle Days 10.Annalong to Clogher Head. 42 km (252)

Onto the water for 10am – thanks to Andy for the lift and help.  Met up with John and Dianne from True Fitness who are currently paddling around Ireland in a double.  Saw dolphins crossing Dundalk Bay.  Coming at Clogher Head met up with John and Dianne and we were brought dinner by a friendly local . .  what a great country!! 

Broke another tent pole . . . what is going on!!!

Mourne Mts from the South


9th of July.  Expedition Day 12.  Paddle Days 9.Newcastle to Annalong.  12km (210)

Late start getting down to Newcastle, thanks for the lift Vonnie!!  Had lunch with Andy Carden and his wife and then onto the water for 5pm and the paddle down to Annalong.  Very kind of Andy lift me back to Newcastle for a bed for the night.

Good to be able to stretch out the legs.

Arriving at Annalong – A welcome stop
Snugly in and ready to go On My way again
John and Dianne – True Fitness The Men in Black!!


5th July. Expedition Day 8.  Paddle Days 8.Kearney Beach to Newcastle. 38km. (198)

Met up with Will Brown just north of the entrance into Strangford Lough for the paddle across.  This is one of the key places to make sure the tide is right . . . good advice from Robin Ruddock here.  Will and I timed it to cross on slack water so that the water was settled.

Good to have some company on the water again. . thanks Will.  Also good to meet up with Andy Carden on the slip with an offer of a place to stay for the night. . . . but calamity to finish.  When I pulled in to Newcastle I found my SPOT had died. . . full of water.   Along with some slow hard days and the tent pole problems earlier I wasn’t in great spirits and after long talk with the support back home I agreed to head for home for a day or two until the Spot was fixed.   Ever helpful Steve Smith from the CCKA turned up with Lyndsay and Jan to share a bite to eat and then lug me home to dry things out, slap on some more bitumous paint and wait for a replacement SPOT.  . . .very weird few days being back home and off the water!!

4th of July.  Expedition Day 7.  Paddle Days 7.Ballywater to Kearney Beach. 19km (160)

Again not a great day with the weather.  I made slow progress into a head wind and then against the tide . . . need to get sharper at rising and packing.  I wanted to cross the Strangford entrance but blew it badly with the weather.  Sorting a camping spot was hard and needed support over the phone from Mr Google Earth.  The water state had got pretty nasty because of the weather and the tide confusion of the narrows, white caps ended up with waves breaking over the boat.   I was pretty pleased to be off the water today!!  Feeling a bit worn and low.

3rd July. Expedition Day 6.  Paddle Days 6. 

Bangor to Ballywater. 26km (141)

Another not such lovely day!  SW winds made the first run from Bangor around and beyond the Copelands not too bad but the rest of the day was had work.  Paddling directly into a steady force 4 meant the planned finish beyond Ballyhalbert was cut short.  Good to see Troy Klewchucks grinning face making a surprise visit on Bangor slipway first thing in the morning!  Tent poles broke again!!  Bit of ahorrible night – broken poles and sandy beach.


2nd July. Expedition Day 5.  Paddle Days 5. 

Island Magee to Bangor. 21 km (115)

A weather change made today a far less easy romp.  A later start due to problems sorting out charging his phone coupled with steadily building SW winds made the day a slog into a head wind from start to finish.  After a short break at Whitehead Hamish headed across Belfast Lough hoping to be able to make it to Milisle and Gannaway Outdoor Centre for a shower, bed and a chance to charge things up again.  However, the crossing of the lough took longer than hoped so Hamish settled for a night in Bangor.

Thanks to Jenny Ridley for the offer of some rest at Gannaway and to Gary for providing accommodation for the night, and to Tim Jonstone for dropping off Camera and supplies first thing.

Big – and not the best braking system!!!

The Gobins

1st July. Expedition Day 4.  Paddle Days 4. 

Cushendun to Island Magee. 41 km (94)

Another beautiful day.  Finished with a welcome feed provided by Steve, Lyndsay and Glen (CCKA motorcycle splinter group) who biked down from Coleraine to meet Hamish.   Not too eventful.

Muck Island viewed from the palace.

Packing Chaos . . .  not a wreck!


30th June. Expedition Day 3.  Paddle Days 3.

Dunseverik Harbour to Cushendun. 35km. (53)

Another  beautiful day.  Onto the water at Dunseverick with plans to round Fairhead and on down along the glens coast.  He met up with John Ruston and Vonnie who kept him company from Balintoy to Carrick-a-Rede and from there the day was timed pretty tightly with Hamish arriving at Fairhead  at  crucial turn of the tide.  First sea creatures sighted here with John and Vonnie – Porpoise and Big Jelly fish  Rounding the Head on slack water makes for a much safer and  more enjoyable trip.  Any other time and the head is the junction of strong tidal flows, counter eddies and over-falls.  As it was Hamish rounded the head without problems, took time for lunch at Murlough Bay before battling the tide along the face of the head, where he met up with Charles Stewart of Redbay boats, and then on down to Cushedun for the night – and a pint at McBrides with Steve Smith and Lyndsay Phee.  Tent pole sleeve cracked !!!! Aghhh

Leaving Dunseverick

Carrik-a-rede Rope brindge

Working against the tide

Pictures from Charles Stewart



A little cooked by the sun – Guinness as an aesthetic.


29th June. Expedition Day 2.  Paddle Days 2. 

Portmoon Bothy to Dunseverisk Harbour. 2km. (18)

After a beautiful sunrise at the Bothy and a leisurely feed, the day was a short paddling day – Portmoon to Dunseverick harbour where we took the boat out of the water, back to the workshop for a final messing about.  The skeg mechanism was fine tuned, a couple of coats of bitumous paint applied to the lower hull and an additional keel band added – all to be sure to be sure!!

Portmoon is a fantastic spot for a kayak stop over.  Managed by the CCKA, it is a designated stopping point on the causeway coast kayak trail – well worth a night in if you get the chance!!  Contact Robin Ruddock to get the key and to arrange payment for the night – £5 per head.

John Ruston heads home on the 7am tide.

Hamish Heads for the workshop!!

John Vance admires the view

28th June Expedition Day 1.  Paddle Days 1. Portrush Harbour to Portmoon Both. 16km

Saturday 28th of June.  Leaving Portrush Harbour – intended departure at 3.30 but as with all such things the boats didn’t actually managed to leave the harbour mouth until more like 4.30.  Hamish was accompanied out of the harbour by a good number of CCKA members in a classy V formation.  Once out onto the bay a smaller number stayed with Hamish to keep him company to Portmoon Bothy for the first night of the trip.

A beautiful sunny day but the sea state was lively enough, particularly around the headlands on either side of the Giants Causeway.  Hamish found himself having to wait for the rest of the party.  ‘Selkie’ looks to be a fast boat fully loaded.

Thanks to John Vance, John Wilkinson, Franci, Tim, Kieron and Vonnie for the company on the paddle and to John Ruston for the welcome at the Bothy.

Loaded and ready

Leaving the harbour

Off the giants causeway

Leaving the Skerries

Arriving Portmoon


The Building of Selkie

Selkie is built from Scots Pine and  French Ash.  She arrived in the workshop looking like this Once the gunnel timbers are cut and shaped the are ‘formed’ into the basic shape using plywood formers.
The deck beams are fitted using mortise and tenon joints, each one cut on an individual compound angle.

The gunnel ends are then joined using traditional Greenland lashing systems.
Each deck beam is lashed to the gunnel, ensuring the mortise and tenon joint is well seated, without the use of screws or glues. Each rib is then cut and thinned down to ensure it is both the correct length and that it bends in a uniform arc.
The ribs are fitted into a mortise socket and then lashed, again using traditional  knots Despite carful selection of bending stock, a number of ribs snap during the steaming and shaping process . . . so a second batch have to be cut, soaked, steamed and bent!!
The bow and stern stems are cut and shaped from single pieces of knot free whitewood.  The shape of these varies depending on the desired characteristics  of the final boat.  Selkie is a higher volume boat, but built for good tracking and speed. Stems in place the keel is then fitted and the boats lines start to emerge.
The front view shows of the lovely sweeping lines. The keel, gunnels and stem plates are tied into one using a series of lashings and dowel pins
The chines are then fitted and lashed to the ribs and the stems providing even more strength to the whole frame.

And finally a chance to heft the boat to check its weight.  Selkie is built as a serious expedition boat, which dictated the choice of heavier Scots pine for the gunnels, keel and chines.  Even so the frame is comfortably manageable.
Beautiful Frame fully completed
Cockpit rim made of two sections of steamed and bent oak Fully clothed and ready for waterproofing.


Island of Ireland Canoe Links

The CCKA is Hamish’s local club.  The club has a wide range of paddlers with strong sea kayak and open boat sections.  Hamish is a keen white water open boater as well as sea kayaker

Irish Sea Kayak AssociationISKA was formed over 25 years ago to provide a means for sea kayakers to communicate with one another, share information & get together for regular meets.  It is an association as opposed to a club & members are spread throughout Ireland & beyond.