I can’t thank enough the folk who have helped and supported me on this trip and actually made it possible. What started out as a team event when Sonja and I left Bullock Harbour (yes, with a tear in our eyes) on May 12th took a completely different turn when Sonja got sick and after 2 days at Golam Island, north of the Aran islands got off the water and I realised I was on my own.
However, with all the support crew, back home and in Ireland, through email and with the reassurance they knew where I was and all was well through SPoT has always left me feeling that I was never completely alone. I for one will certainly be looking into getting hold of one of those little orange gadgets. It was a shame he stopped working on those last few days but hopefully we’ll find out why. There is a new SPoT 2 available, so will be keen to see that too. I know for sure quite a few folk who are very interested in SPoT.
Chris Reed, of Chillcheater who generously provided a load of my paddling kit and gear needs a special thank you. I lost my beanie hat after about day 2 which was a real disaster!!
There were other people who helped and supported- MULE BARS where fantastic and there are enough flavours to keep the taste buds happy! They came into their own towards the end of the day when energy levels slumped. Expeditioning solo is probably at its toughest at night, all the kit has to be taken out of the boat to ensure it’s light enough to wheel or drag to a safe place above the high water mark. When that is done its time to put up the tent or bivvy bag and get some food inside!
Blizzard Survival gave us emergency survival jackets and blankets, kept in the cockpit and fortunately never needed- which is where they’ll stay, ready but hopefully never to be used!
Brian Forrest of North West Sea Kayaking in Donegal and his delightful family were fantastic and I think I ate them out of house and home while I was stuck there weatherbound- l was so lucky to be held up in such luxury with Joan and the girls taking such good care of me. It was here I hit a big low and it was a huge help to have moral support to get me through.
Biggest thanks of all has to go to Des Keaney (and of course Sonja) of DEEP BLUE SEAKAYAKING, Dublin who looked after me and provided loads of useful advice and again kept morale up and kept me going!!
It took a couple of days to transform from Team head to Solo head but I got there thanks to the support of everyone and inparticular Nigel. It was Mark Tozer who initially got me into solo paddling initially, so it was as well I had a Solo head to find! I missed the fun and chat Sonja and I had and hope she gets better quickly so can complete the full circle herself as well.
Predominantly though to SEA KAYAKING UK and Nigel Dennis- the pure carbon kevlar Pilgrim Expedition, otherwise known as ‘Red’ was tough as old boots but looked regal. The fine gold glitter shone and twinkled in the sunlight, it would catch my eye and I felt so proud to paddle that boat. I look forward to having loads more adventures with him. He’s fast and sleek and handled like a dream!
Also mega thanks again to Nigel, now owner of LENDAL PADDLES for surprising me with a brand new set of super lightweight carbon paddles! They’re awesome and have probably splashed their way over 500 miles since I took possession of them on the Dingle peninsula and still look brand new! They cruised over 90 nm just these past 2 days.
Lizzie and Suzie were awesome, the sqeal of ‘Eila!!!’ from Lizzie as I was about to wheel my boat up the slip at Port Stewart in the rain and dark was such a welcome surprise! They couldn’t do enough to help me out and made the next few days evenings and put ins a delight!
There is a whole host of other folk who have been awesome, friends and family back home, especially my daughter Beth, Snowdonia Canoe club, Paul and all the Cybi Kayakers in Holyhead and all the people I met and helped along the way. Kielan, Ian and Oivera at Helvick, Hannah and Gerry at Blacksod, Marion and Liz, Tony, Michael and Margaret at Inishbofin and Charles at Gola to name just a few. Lifeboat men all round the coast and well, everywhere.
So many folk have inspired and helped me!!
Last but not least Waddles, he has placed an order for a 25cm expedition paddle- but he sure proved his worth! Always at the helm, checking we were on course and ensuring all the passing wildlife called by to say hello!
This journey may well have come to an end but the journey of Expeditioning and Life continues.