Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Finishing touches

Day 41. After spending the night on Mutton Island we wake up to the wind and rain. The snooze button gets hit a few times before we finally get up. Still a bit drowsy in our sleeping bags.

We are very grateful to Njord who sponsored us with a Marmot tent for the expedition. It's been great. So Frida is setting up her jet boil.. Which lead to a small blaze inside the tent.. Ahhhhhh.. More worried about the tent than anything. We did react pretty quickly. The jet boil was thrown out onto the wet grass and situation under control. Strangely this isn't the first fire reaction Frida and I have experienced together. The previous was at the storm gathering organised by Njord where my jumper set on fire.. So you can say we had our practise run.

There was a storm coming in so today was good if we managed to get to Doolin. There was wind from the side and a reasonable swell but not too much we couldn't paddle. Although this did mean we kept a safe distance from the Cliffs of Moher. Spectacular as they are in the bad weather we didn't appreciate them fully.

We made it to Doolin where the boats go out to the Aran island. And camping wasn't looking the best. so we went to the nearby campsite to see if we could charm them into letting us stay for free. Wasn't happening. So we managed to find a little sport right where the boats were leaving. Urban camping has its issues. Anyway we get into our sleeping bags and no one disturbed us. Until the scariest thing for me happened. I'm lying in my sleeping bag reading on my phone.. and a big spider starts to crawl over the screen. I jump a mile and start screaming.. Giving Frida a shock. Luckily the spider got the message and he quickly crawled out of the door.

Day 42. There was a depression passing over so quite a bit of rain and wind. Good option to wait on land and have a longer day tomorrow. So we head into Doolin to have a coffee and charge our phones. Quite a quaint little village Frida finds a ukulele she really wants to buy. But we have no cash and the question is if she can fit it in her kayak. So after a beer in the pub. She manages to get the pub to give her cash back. Welcome aboard new ukulele. Luckily it fitted well in the kayak.

Day 43. Doolin - Deer Island. Today the weather was perfect. Breeze in the back and little cloud cover. We were flying. Nice to have a down wind paddle and little surf along the way without it being too big. We get to Deer Island and there a loads of seals again it was awesome. We set up our tent for the last time for this trip and watch the seals all evening,

Day 44 Into Galway. The final touches to our trip. Just ten km to go. Galway is pretty flat and it was hard to see the entrance to the harbour. But finally with a bit of trial and error we get to the entrance. Quick and easy over to the RNLI building and we are on land.

Finished our adventure.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

80 km from Galway

Day 34 - 36 we spent storm bound in Castlegregory. Where being quite close to Galway we aren't too stretched for time and can enjoy the days on land. The first day we hitch into Castlegregory and get picked up by a nice family. One seat in the car. Frida an I got to know each other a little better as I jump onto her lap. He he. But we got into the village and have a look around.

Day 35 we were were relaxing in the tent and we were approached by a man Don. He had been following our blog, Kayaker himself and wanted to know if we would like to join him and his wife Lisa on a road trip to Killarney so of course we were in the car before we knew it. Lovely company and then we were invited back for dinner. It was lovely not eating a meal out of a bag.

The following day. Day 36 weather was still looking rough. So lucky for us we get picked up by Don and Lisa and get fed lunch and a road trip again to Dingle, their son Darragh joins too. We were really looked after. Thanks guys for your entertainment and hospitality. Was great to meet you and get to know you.

Day 37 looks to be a good weather window to cross the Shannon estuary. All plans in our head. Options for Kilbaha kilkee and Ross Bay. Westerly winds. So not really helping much but not a head wind so for us that's great. Was a little bit more lumpy bumpy than we had thought. The clapotous coming off Kerry head were quite intimidating. But we managed just fine and ended up landing in Kilbaha and having an evening walk up to the light house. Sadly we got there 30minutes after it had shut. But it looked cool from the 1.5m stone wall around it.

Day 38 we wake up and are almost ready to pack out things in the boat. Rain is hammering down on the tent. Finding every excuse not to go on the water. Ready and dressed to go. We decided if we wanted pictures of the stack at loop head they wouldn't be very good. So we had best wait a day for the weather to improve. So we head to the pub for cooked breakfast.

Day 39 kilbaha to Kilkee.
We get on the water after an wet rest day. And paddle out in the direction of loop head. Conditions quite interesting but looking forward to a tail wind after loop head. Coming around the headland we were averaging over four knots. Finally tail winds. Tide in the back. A nice gentle paddle into Kilkee. Coming to the opening of the bay we could just see a line of crashing waves. Oh no. How do we get in. After some discussions we find a line in. I went first. Rock hopping with surf. To then find looking from the other side if we had paddle 100 or so meters more there was a huge opening no breakers. But it did look like it being on the back of the wave.

Day 40 Kilkee to Mutton Island.
Calm day on the water today. Enjoyed a nice run up to Mutton Island. Full of rabbits. We are getting pretty near our goal. Let's hope the next few days go smoothly.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Tent spots

As we get into Dingle on day 29 we are of course a bit tired after a long day paddling with low visibility. It's a headwind coming into the bay and we want to be close to the town. We pull up onto a small little island on the edge of the harbour perfect for camping but we would get cut off from the main land on high water. So we go and check out the marina. There is a lovely bit of grass behind a barrier right off the slip. So we carry out boats and decide to put up our tent after dark. A couple, friends of Jon come and say Hi and give us the key to the changing rooms. Lovely. After a night sleep we get woken up. Not too early thankfully. 'No camping here!' I try the story we are paddling around Ireland. And he left. Oh well.. We had already camped there now. 

So day 30 we pack down our tent, had breakfast in the cafe and head onto the water. We didn't seen the dolphin and after seeing how crazy the tourist boats were driving we got quickly from there.. Well not so quickly as we were paddling surprisingly into a head wind. After exploring the impressive cliffs coming out of Dingle we head to the blaskets. There is a well hidden slip way to the left of the beach.. Pretty steep. Our boats did try and escape us a few times whilst unpacking. There is a great ledge to put up the tent. We secure the kayaks and are set for the evening. Whilst eating our dinner there were a show of seals in the water popping their heads up. Frida also noticed there were many over at the beach. We decide to have a evening walk to notice there were loads on the beach. We dart down there to get as close as we could. The second largest seal colony in Ireland. It was amazing. A must if you are ever paddling here.

Day 31 we wake up to the little bugs flying around so we quickly pack up and get on the water. Finally a following sea and wind in the back. We get around to Bally David with good cruising speed.
Bit wet but we get there. We get our boats up and have a look for camp spots. We had been told to ask in the hostel if we could put our tent up in their garden. But we noticed they didn't have a garden. But we found a nice bit of grass around an old Lifeboat house so we asked if anyone knew the land owner. And word got around in the pub.. Someone had made a phone call.. We were allowed if we fed the donkey a packet of crisps. Joke or not we got the donkey a packet of crisps.

Day 32 heading around towards Brandon Bay. Tall cliffs and not many options for landing but we had read of a slip way just two hours from Bally David and a possible beach after another two hours. Getting around to the slip we were paddling against the tide so we decide to have a sunbath and wait for the tide to change. We met a lovely family on a rib who invited us to join them. After a few hours we get back on the water and make it round to Brandon Bay. Brandon Bay not being the easiest for camping either if you are trying to avoid the sand. Quite populated by the pier we head over to the small bridge where there are some farmers fields. Big signs 'no camping!' I did ask nicely and we were granted permission but we ended up camping next to the small river. With quite a gradient on the tent. Luckily we didn't end up in the river.

Day 33 we have a relaxing morning. I go to the pub and Frida goes for a hike. Then later we decide to paddle out of the bay to get a better start for our crossing to Loop head. Paddling up the river at high tide was great. But coming out on low tide meant a bit of a carry. Mmm.. Anyway we get on the water and head towards Straggnie Bay. Getting closer to our landing spot Frida mentions something about a boat.. I'm like where? To turn my head to find a boat meters behind me. Shit! I did paddle as 
quick as I could until I realised they had seen us. And to our surprise it was the rib we had met the day before. So when we landed at Straggnie Bay we were invited for a bbq. Nice! Thanks very much! And a few glasses of red wine.

So after the bbq and a few glasses of wine it's late and we have to put up our tent. Knowing we are going to wake at 0700 to get onto the water. We end up putting our tent up on the slip way not being able to peg it down but find a few heavy rocks for the doors. We jump into our tent to hold it down. After about an hour there comes a car who decided to open its windows and play very loudly Irish folk music.. Lovely.. Thanks for that.. Then a few hours after that the wind starts howling and our tent starts making a racket. No sleep for us. The alarm goes off and we decide today is not the day to cross to loop head. We move our tent and take a walk up the hill. And it was blowing. Yep we will stay on land. It's died down a bit now but looking to blow up again for the next few days so we could be here for a few more days. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Taking a different turn.

Day 25. After being optimistic reading the weather forecast in Allihies, we set off in hope to reach Valentia Island. Things in the bay as always were looking calm and we head off. A bit undecisive of which route to take we made the decision to cross over to islands x where on the map looked to be a landing. It turned out although the wind had dropped a few m/s it was still holding us back and the paddle was long and hard. As we get to the islands there is no landing spots and already been sat in our boats for a few hours it would have been nice with lunch.. But we are force to press on to the headland. After a struggle already we start having the conversation is this worth it? Are we having fun? We don't want to dislike kayaking after this experience. So we decided to land our boats in Ballinskellings Bay and have a real think about our trip and what really is possible.

We get on land and have a silent rule where we don't discuss things on an empty tummy. So stoves come out food goes down and then comes out the diary and calculator. We came to the conclusion we would have to paddle an average of 45km a day to get around by the end of August and looking at the weather forecast for the coming week it wasn't looking like we were getting anywhere. So we came to a realistic conclusion if we were to still enjoy kayaking, stay friends and not burn ourselves out we would have to make some changes to our trip. We still have two and a bit weeks and we want to stay here in Ireland but perhaps enjoy ourselves and not bust the gut for something we most likely aren't going to do. So we made the decision to book our tickets home at the end of August when we go back to work and take a more relaxed approach to the rest of our trip continuing along the coast. Perhaps Galway will be a nice place to finish and then we can enjoy the other half at a later time.

It was very hard for us to change our trip from circumnavigation to not circumnavigating. The dream of going around. But sometimes if weather and time don't permit there isn't much we can do except accept. And make decisions accordingly. After realising that it isn't a fail and we will be back to enjoy the rest we started enjoy our adventure again.

The trip so far has definitely been a huge learning for us all. And we can really reflect on our experiences and make thing better and smoother next time. Which is a great feeling.

The weather not looking good day 26 and 27 we spend in Ballinskellings. We took a tour to the chocolate factory with chocolate tasting and Frida bought a chocolate sheep she wanted to take home to Norway with her. Bad weather means wind.. There was still sun. Sadly the sheep didn't survive the heat and Frida needed to quickly eat him up. We picked up another package of food so now we have enough for the rest of the trip.. And enjoyed of course a pint of Guinness in the pub.

Day 28 finally south westerly winds. We set off from Ballinskellings to then paddle for a few hours with the amazing view of Skelligs Island. Would have been an experience to land out there but we chose to use the good weather to continue on our route. We got through portmagee channel with wind and tide in the back was nice to have some boat speed for a change then landing on Beginish Island. 
We set up camp with the sheep. There is a little hut on top that looked like we could hike up. So we took on the challenge having landed quite early. Through ferns and long grass and yellow spikey things.. I give up half way while I wait for Frida to make the summit. Recommended Wellington boots if anyone is to take on the challenge.

Day 29. We wake up on Beginish Island wind taking the doors on our tent and a pool of water inside.. It was not motivating to get out of the sleeping bag. Raining. And I look out of the tent to see thick fog. Mm.. With a crossing ahead. We stretch out getting ourselves ready as much as we could to the find ourselves ready to go on the water. Dingle here we come. We have our bearing of about 10° and plan to hit the westerly bay and then hand rain into Dingle. We head out of the portmagee channel waves towering over us with a westerly breeze. Radio in position for any boat traffic. And we head off towards Dingle. Through the thick fog is quite tiring on the eyes and you really have to trust in your bearing. Losing sight of shore all around. About an hour in Frida mentions feeling a bit unwell and I'm not having the best of days. We were OK to continue. To then look around to see Frida throwing up her banana bread.. Oh dear.. Everything OK? Thought of escape going through my mine. We didn't have too many options. She kept paddling.. And then I think it was her breakfast coming up too. Oh dear. Lots of water and she carried on. Bless her. After an interesting crossing we start to see land and head towards Dingle. Just coming around the headland from the west a line of tourist boats start driving out of Dingle. And one crazy boat decided to drive straight for us. My paddle went up and the others slowed down and changed direction but one didn't seem to have a pilot. We had to paddle pretty quickly out of its course. He was swerving everywhere. But finally we made it safely into Dingle.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Head winds! We love them.

Now let's see.. Day 5 was the last time we had wind in the back.. Day 6 was calm but foggy and day 7 - 24 it has either been too strong winds to be on the water or strong winds in the face. Every morning we sit in our boats and remind ourselves we love headwinds.

Day 16 was the first day Frida and I were just two. We left Vibeke on the beach with all her things waiting for Jon to pick her up. It was a weird feeling but we wanted to continue and had agreed beforehand if anyone left the group it was ok to continue. So we waved goodbye and were on our way.. Into the head winds.

We managed to cross the bay and sit out for a few hours in hope for the winds to drop before heading around Galley head. Pushing against the winds and big clappotous waves we got around. The aim was rabbit Island but decided to get off the water before that and aimed at crossing the bay and into Owenachincha. On the way over a dolphin popped up right next to my kayak. I was petrified. He was jumping around. I could have reached him with my hand. Scary! Anyway we landed on the beach and greeted by a few locals. We got our tent up and moments later a family we had spoken too come by.. 'Delivery!' two bags of chips and a cup of tea each. Ahh how kind. Thanks. The weather wasn't looking good for the following day so we decided to sleep in and have a rest day. The tent really making some noise in the night.. Turned out to be a good choice. The next morning there came another delivery from the chip shop. Tea and biscuits for breakfast. Wow, so we went over to say thanks and stayed there the rest of the day charging our batteries and eating food. Weather wasn't looking much better but we were running out of cash and decided we would push on the following day.

Day 18.. Pushing along against the head winds. Think it was our shortest day in distance with just 14km but we were probably still out there for our average 6 hours of paddling. We did make it to rabbit Island for lunch which was great and pushed along to a small cove where we camped. After watching the rocks to my right not get anywhere for a while it was time to call it a day. We camped near a small farm where two dogs joined us for the evening.

Day 19. The winds were looking better.. Just a 7m/s headwind. We wake up at 0400 to catch the last of the tide around toe Head and onto Baltimore.. Bit of a break in Baltimore ready to then catch the ebb up to Crookhaven. Good day just 0.3km short of 50km.we were happy.

Day 20 the forecast was south westerly 14m/s.. Not what we wanted for going around Mizen Head. So we stayed weather bound in Crookhaven for day 20 and 21. The locals and regular holiday makers made us feel very welcome. A kind gentleman tried to support our charity but it's not so easy being in Norwegian. So he paid for our drinks and meals in the pub to support. Thanks for your generosity. Really appreciated. My mum and John also came to visit us on day, 21. They took us out to Mizen head signal station so we could see if the forecast was really doing what it said. And it was big out there. Waves crashing up high over the rocks and the winds blowing in. Good decision to stay on land.

Day 22 the winds had dropped from 14m/s to just 8m/s north westerly. Time to pack up and head around Mizen head. We were on the water at 0630 to catch the tide. Woke up a big otter sleeping in the water. He scared us half to death.. Being to quiet that time of morning. The winds were strong, waves and swell were pretty big too.. But we would have to get around at some point so today way the day. We head on. Help from the tide but against the wind. Our aim was dursey Island but after the tide dropped off we were going just over two knots into the wind and after 5hrs of paddling already
we decided to hit nearest land which was still a few hours away. Having woken up early there wasn't much movement in the bowels. Which meant for us both at some point during the morning there was a need for going to the toilet. Mm.. I was the first one to take a swim. Clipped my tow line onto my boat and indeed had a poo in the sea. Frida was a bit more reluctant and tried to hold it.. After many hours of pain in her belly and still hours from shore she gave in and took a dip. 38km into a Headwind was hard work. Our bodies very sore and blisters starting to brew. We made it to Pullen harbour.. Miles from anywhere it would be headwinds again the next day.

Day 23 again we are on the water for 0600 to catch the tides going through Dursey sound. Head winds were strong going west and the gusts were even stronger.. But we were going to get there. Digging deep for energy we pushed on. My mum being in the area the thought go through our minds. Shall we go home spend a few weeks paddling in Wales? Nope we are going around Ireland.. Headwinds or not.. It's not been the most motivating but we will push on at least until the end of August and then see where we are. I have to be back to start until on the 18th September so we are hoping the winds will drop for us to get around by then. It is taking a little longer than we expected. But not much we can do about the weather. We get around Dersey and into Allihies when we met my mum again. She treated us to dinner and beer. Lovely to see them and good with real food in our bellies.

Winds have picked up again today. Day 24. But it's looking better for the week to come. Yeah!!

- Ashley

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 15 Garrylucas - Dunwoody Bay (training into practice)

After two days of rest at Garretstown we were ready to get on the water. Winds drop to around 5-6m/s. It's now or we will be waiting another few days. So we pack up and head to the beach. Waves are crashing into the beach but nothing we couldn't get past to get going.
With a bit of a scramble to get off the beach.. Vibeke filling her boat with water. Finally we are all out. With a few exposed rocks in the bay it wasn't a place we wanted to be.. So pushing on a little bit before making any adjustments to empty boats of water.

For me I seem to be feeling it more in the body after rest days and the shoulders were giving me some trouble.. Oh dear. After the not so pleasant experience of towing a few days before.. My shoulders couldn't have taken anything like that with the small nagging pains they were giving me.
Anyway we paddle on. Frida was dropping back a little bit. I kept checking my shoulder.. And her paddle was still moving so things must be OK. Mm.. A few minutes later.. I hear a shout and the paddle goes up. What's up? We group together to find her back hatch had disappeared. Mm? Where has that gone? Head winds pushing us back. Vibeke quickly clips onto our raft and keeps us in position. Trying to pump the water out of the hatch wasn't the easiest. Sore shoulders and waves continuing to crash in there filling it up again. Managed to empty it a bit and Frida pulls out a plastic bag and bungee cord from her vest ready for me to assemble. Not the easiest operation in the wind and waves.. But it would do until we make it to land just an hour away. Poor Frida she had the heaviest boat as it was. Now it was a tad heavier..

Having not the best start to the day at least it brought up a conversation about our communication and how important it is. Communicating before we get on the water and then again once we are on the water. Just to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. And to take responsibility for ourselves and what our own bodies can do and then how that might affect the plan for the day. Making sure things are noticed earlier and keeping a check on each other. Luckily this time Frida wasn't too far behind before we noticed but for next time we would want it to be quicker.

After our long discussion on the beach we all agree we are ready again to head into the head wind around the headland. Maybe a two to three hour paddle before we get to any landings. Frida had emptied her hatch and luckily the spare hatch cover from Reed put to good use.

Vibeke's wrist was painful but still she was OK to continue. So we head around into the wind. Moderate breeze with some lovely swells. And again we get into the situation where we get slower and slower. Having learnt from last time we didn't want to tow any raft so Frida clips onto Vibeke and the paddle tandem to ease the pain for Vibeke. And they managed just fine. Unfortunately the nearest landing sport on the map did not look suitable so we had to dig deep and continue. Vibeke to then suggest we might need to do an emergency landing. I think she saw the steam coming out of my ears. Looking at the waves crashing over the rocks. 'we don't have many options!' This is our emergency landing. And we grit our teeth and got around to a safe beach landing.

Unfortunately we realised how dangerous it was for us to be out there with an injury and sadly Vibeke called it a day. It was amazing to have her with us for all those paddling days but for the safety of the team and Vibeke's wrist it was time for her to put the paddle down and end her trip. Luckily now she can give her wrist a good rest and work on preventing the injury for next time.

- Ashley

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Expectations - Positive or negative?

So this is it for me and Otto.
Wrist has taken a turn for the worse. And knowing the weather, conditions and area coming up on this trip, it would be nothing short of dangerous to continue. Also the chance of really injuring myself permanently was to great.
Yesterday was a hairy day, and after going a while agains rather sizy swells and strong headwinds, I felt a pop of pain in my wrist and I lost all feeling in my fingers. It wasnt like they were sleeping. I could actually not feel what they were doing.
This was kind of the last drop. And once finally on land I let the girls know that this would be where I leave them. I think we all felt that this was the right decition on that moment, even though it was hard and sad.

Now, I would like to give the biggest thank you for all the support and concerne ive gottn throughout this trip. I feel so blessed and cared for. This being from other teams going aroung Ireland, new and old friends, colleagues, total strangers and family. Without you all I would never have been able to get as far as I did.
I finnished 1/3 of this trip. And feel quite proud of that. Of course I am gutted and in quite a state at the moment. But I know I made the right decition for the team, and most of all for my self. I do not want a lasting injury when this is over. I know I did the best I could under the circumstances. And I really am in so much pain at the moment that I almost feel a little bit of relief now that the decition has been made.

Now the expectation I had for myself and for the trip, they changed almost on a daily basis for me. The outdoors never care about your pride or ego. It most sertainly do not care where you want to land and how long you have planned to paddle that day. So expectations for me was changed with great force. So did the insight to own abilities and paddlefitness..And I will leave here feeling quite defeated..But most of all blessed. Blessed for all I have seen, blessed for all I have learned, blessed for the people I have met..MOST of all the two girls I have had the honour of spending two weeks at sea with..They are the strongest and most stubborn pair of girls I have ever met. Qualities that makes me sure of their ability to succeed in this adventure. The teddies continue, one man short. But I believe more capable and stronger than ever.
I love you ladies dearly, and cant wait to follow and support - even though it will be from land this time.

I will travel home to Norway on august 2. And hopefully find a small comfort adventure (involving legs this time, as they are still working fine) to pass the time while I wait to go back to see and support them again.

Ireland we meet again - And I will get around in the end!

Thank you all

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Rest days.. Day 16

We landed on the beach on Tuesday afternoon at Garrettown. Wind was starting to pick up from the south west and rain was due to come in. After a long day in the boats be decide to have a bath and wash some clothes, get the tent up quick before it started to rain.

As we are standing there in the drizzling rain eating our dinner generous locals start coming past offering water and so on. Pat bless him went home to fill our water bags to return within a few minutes. He also then mentioned the team of four men, now two Lee and Oney were soon to be landing on the beach finishing their expedition around ireland. What a coincidence and how amazing for us to be there to greet these guys after their challenging adventures. A few friends of them were waiting for them on the beach it was brilliant and motivating to see them. We got some very useful tips and extra food and supplies.. Thanks for the help guys.

Jon Hynes had been in contact with us and if we were passing through we were more than welcome to stay with his family. Having made only plans for a quick stop we stayed on the beach in the pooring rain but through the night the winds had picked up like the forecast predicted.. When Jon came back the next morning to see if we were heading out.. It was a no. Bit too windy for not getting very far. Yes please we would love to come and recuperate at your home.

Choosing yes or no to go on the water isn't the easiest decision. When it's blowing 10m/s and it will be in the face for the whole day.. Are we better off resting and making it up on a better weather day. There is a fine line. We chose to have two bad weather days waiting for the wind to drop down. We don't want for Vibeke's wrist to get any worse and battling against a head wind is no fun. But could we have gotten a few kilometres. Probably but after being fresh from a few days of rest we are then ready to attack the next few days with more energy. We also made a trip upto the old head.. Which up that town put the wind strength into perspective. It was yes a good idea to be on land.

It has been great staying with Jon and his family. We have been made to feel really comfortable and well looked after. A load of washing went straight in the machine.. Probably more for their benefit.. And the girls enjoyed their showers. Enjoying the log cabin and having real home cooked food has been amazing. It's been a few weeks since home cooking.. And the queen of puddings... Was something special. We have learnt a lot about Irish sports and it has just been great. They will have to kick us out to get us from here in the morning. Thank you for all your generosity and help. We have definitely benefited from going over the maps. That has probably saved us the two days in itself.
We have been driven here there and everywhere. Today we went into Kinsale and met the staff at the Kinsale centre. Great to share our story with fellow outdoor folk and hopefully we have motivated someone to set themselves that goal that they want to achieve.

The girls are on the water at the moment having a bit of a wind session with Jon. Hopefully we will be recuperated and ready for paddling tomorrow. Westerly winds but they are said to drop off. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Almost in Cork day 11

Day 7 and 8 we spent the time recuperating. Vibeke visited the doctor and we enjoyed a few beers and dinner in Tramoure. Seems to be well know for its surf school and has a fun fare. Where I did lose the odd euro or two in the slot machines... and trying to win more teddies for the team.
After two days of rest.. In all fairness the winds were pretty rough too; we were ready to get back in our boats.. Forecast sun and light winds.

Day 9 was our longest stretch so far with 38km. It has been nice with a steady start and hopefully we will get some longer days in soon as our bodies adjust to expedition life. Great to finally get out of Tramoure Bay and we made it to Helvick head with a dolphin display on the way in. There is a spa at Helvick head for next time we will book in in advance. 

Great slip way next to the rnli station and we had a great night sleep on grass.. After the horrendous sand flees everyday at Tramoure.

Day 10 was beautiful. Helvick head to Youghal. Lovely channels and caves coming around Helvick head a few long stretches and we stopped at a beach for lunch. Luckily it was Sundays farmers market.. We tuck in to pasties and pancakes. There was a family on the beach who had seen us on Facebook. It was great.. The young boy had recognised our teddies. Yeah!! Great to have a chat and a send off. We had some great tips to watch out for a crane.. Which we found thanks! Rounding the next headland and then approaching Youghal crossing over the bay.. A romany surf in plastic drives down the hill.. I know that boat. And before we knew it Rob was on the beach to great us. Lovely to see a friendly face. We all enjoyed beer and dinner. Great with some company.. Keeping us sane and socialised.. As we have been lacking a few manners just being ourselves as you can imagine. We were stopping here to pick up our post. Looking for a camp spot wasn't so easy. We ended up lying under the stars on the slip way. Not so comfortable.

Day 11 Youghal to Gyldendal. Great start to the day by picking up our post.. Having a coffee and Rob joining us on the water. Our first guest paddler. Great with some company. Chatter on the water hadn't been our priority so it was lovely to break up the silence. After a bad night sleep and long day on the water.. We make it to a camp spot to later find out it a camp spot for teenagers and their teenage parties.. Mmm.. Fingers crossed we will get more sleep than yesterday.
- Ashley

Friday, 21 July 2017

Day 8 - Trouble in paradise

Oh so..Day 8..And landbound for another day.
Although I am enjoying every minute of this adventure, I will have to admit that I have had quite the challenging first week..There has been some expected issues, and then some quite unexpected ones.

For me, maybe the biggest challenge is to get enough food in me. I have never been a "breakfast person" and I hate eating when on the move..
These were things I knew beforehand, and had spent a lot of time thinking about. So I tried to find sollutions where I brought food and supliments I knew I would enjoy as much as possible. I have to admit what I missed the mark on was the lunches. Maybe the most important meal for fuel. And also bars dont go down to easy on the move.
After the disastrous crash the other day, I have very much realised that these problems are not to be taken lightly. I thought I could push it, and restock on land. I could not. With the problems I have in my wrist and well..Everywhere..My body was working overtime. I could have put myself and my friends in a really dangerous situation, luckily it only ended with a slight scare. And a very huge load of hard work. for them..Now the shame of that no energybars or food can fix. I have to admit I was crying my eyes out, really feeling the stress of holding my team back and making such a stupid mistake.
I am just so blessed and lucky to be here with such understanding and patient friends and SUPER strong paddlers. That not only wants the best for me, but also do everything possible to help and be supportive.
The group dynamics and just the whole learning experience of doing something like this in a group with 3 totally different girls. It might just be the biggest learning experience for me. Like Ash says...Vibeke..Just get over yourself...Come on..
A welcome, nice and positive learningexperience. The quality these two girls posess are nothing short of amazing, exciting and inspiring. Lucky me!!

Now, second problem was much more expected. Blisters. Of course I would get blisters. And they would be hard to heal, as you just keep paddling.
The beauties I now posess on my right hand....Oh wow...And then camping on beaches with loads of sand. Sand is clean, so not at all the worst thing. Only..You are not supposed to have grinding micropieces of sand and shell into open wounds for days. They will get infected if you are not careful right away. Which I was not. Enough....So one day I woke up with these swollen fingers I could not bend. Open soars and it all was just looking rather grim.
Luckily Frida is an excellent field doctor, and we also got sponsored with some brilliant first aid kits. So my suggestion as to what to bring first aid wise to a longer paddling trip would be: A flush surringe (this is to rinse sand and other grim stuff from soars and scrubs), anticeptic creams, variety of plasters and gloves (no matter how warm the weather), and anti inflamatories in pill form.
These little blisters are not to be taken lightly! They could easily ruin your whole trip!!

Third problem came completely out of left field..Tendonitis in my wrist...REALLY?? I have never in my life had anything like that. I have paddled on longer trips. I have paddled hard..I have trained..I have had amazingly physical jobs. Never before have I had any problems with that before...Just my luck!!
So when we decided to have a rest day I thought it best to go to the pharmacy. Try and get something for the pain and the wrist. The ladies behind the counter were just adorable. One of them kept staring at my arm that was very red and swollen..I showed it to her, and had her feel it grind and squeek whenever I moved the hand.
Scuuuuse meeee...Got anything for this maybe miss? Girls chuckling in the bacground..I tried my most charming Norwegian-Irish in the hope I would get some helpful advice..and maybe even some juicy pills. They oh my dear-ed me for a while before they suggested to go to the local family practice down the street.
Brilliant advice!! Got to see a doctor straight a way..
I told him what we were up to, and he looked at me for a while..Sighed..And said I had left him in a little bit of a spot there...
He didnt really want to give me anything as he wouldnt want to help me ruin my arm and hand..On the other hand he said he could see I would just continue anyway, so he felt he needed to try and help me as best as he could.
So got something for the swelling, painkillers he refused to give me. Said if i were to continue against his better judgement, he hoped the pain would stop me before anything got ruined in there. Fair enough..I rather liked that actually!!
So here we are then..Bad case of Tendonitis..The wrist will not get better as long as i keep paddling with it like this...And might likely get worse..He thought...
But then..I cant really quit now because someone thinks that. I have to keep trying atleast. So thats what I am left with really. Kind of between a rock and a hard place.
I do want to paddle on. I want to get around. I want to continue with the girls and will do whatever possible to be able to. At the same time, its a hard enough trip being fit and well..And the last thing I want is to be the reason for the other two not to get around. Also I never again want to put them in the same situation as I did the other day. So whats the best thing to do right now? I have no idea what so ever. Its all I can think about really...
But right now I think I will try to continue. Give it another week and see how the progress is, how my wrist is holding up and how I am affecting the girls. As the group will be my number one priority always!! Worst case I will have to go on land. Travel a week up the coast and wait for the girls. It would be devastating..But it would keep me with the girls. And Ashley really have me thinking..What are you really doing this for? It would still be an acomplishment..Even tho ive missed 200 km of the 1600 we need to cover. All of this have made me feel a lot more happy and optimistic. And ive reconsidered my whole reason for being here and doing this.
What a learning experience this all is!!!

Interesting days......


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Day five and six!

Day five Rosslare to Cullenstown

Getting ready to get onto the water.. Anticipation lay to what was ahead. The unknown. Reading the map there was marked tidal races around the headland from Rosslare and then the intimidating St Patrick's bridge.. 

I was a little bit unsure about St Patrick's bridge. From the maps we have I was unsure whether we would be going around The Saltees or not. And then I read a book given to me called Oileáin which suggested that we would get pulled down onto the bridge.. What did that mean. Sucked in? Or were we to expect a small tidal race. Anyway we head around the headland from Rosslare no problem and then headed straight for Kilmore Quay over the bridge.. How bad could it be if we go on slack.

Anyway there was no sucking down or pulling in.. We crossed just as the tide turned to the flood and there was a little race picking up but we were fine and great place to stop at Kilmore Quay. This is where we found the RNLI shop and needed to show our support by adopting two new bears to the team Sam and Billy.

This day we had lovely winds from behind all day force three to four. Expedition boats are a must for a working skeg. Although NDK boats are not dependent on the skeg the tired paddler is. Very useful to put the skeg down and cruse along. excellent surf in the afternoon for those small energy bursts we had in us.

We then landed on a beach first one with facilities for those of us that wanted a lovely cold shower... Mm...

Day six Cullenstown - Tramore (east side of the bay)

Today was the first day of rain.. Wet rain it was poring down. Can we wait five more minutes? No use it was hammering it down. Quick dive to the kayaks with our kit and a strategic packing of the tent to keep the inside as dry as possible.. We will see how long that lasts before we stop caring so much.

We had a lovely morning on the water dispite the rain. It was actually nice to have the cooling rain instead of beaming sun for a few hours. We had lunch and continued around to the light house and hooks head. For the first time in six days we met other kayakers on the water. No surprise really as we have been staying out and making some crossing but today we kept close to sure and met a group on sit on tops.. Friendly guide with a group of Americans. Great to see others on the water.

As we got around hooks head the sea fog came in and the visibility was low. Time to trust my navigation skills and follow a bearing 280 degrees for an hour and we should hit land... And we did.

Having been in our kayaks for a few hours already it was maybe time for a break. But not the best landing spots. The decision was made to carry on. I had my fist pee in my kayak with the use of a sheewee very happy about that and a quick bar to eat and we carried on.

Six nautical miles to the next landing spot we decided to proceed. This was around three o clock.. Knowing the wind was going to pick up at five.. We head on. As we were paddling I could see the speedometer was going slower and slower. Vibeke was finding it hard against the headwind which was picking up. But we were plodding on getting closer to the headland we needed to get around. Energy levels we obviously a bit low. So I shout over to check if she had food. Yes. So we continue. We were not far but with a decelerating speed we were not getting there very quickly. And the winds still picking up.

Vibeke' she energy levels getting lower and lower and she also squired a pain in her wrist resulting in her not being able to paddle.. Especially in a surf as her hand was hurting. The beach didn't look for away so frida rated up and I started toeing them into the beach. Yes towing two fully loaded kayaks was not easy. Going at about one and a half knots not too quickly but faster that what we were paddling with an injured paddler. After about thirty minutes the beach wasn't looking much closer. And it was time for me to give up my super hero badge and asked frida to drop forward in the contact tow and paddle as well. She then replied.. But she did just pass out a few minutes ago. With me to just reply. Ok just lay her on your back deck then. So she did where Vibeke was sound asleep until being woken up by the occasional breaker.

Wasn't the best situation to be in. The thought was there ready to make an emergency landing on the rocks. But steady wins the race. We kept the pace down and carried on. The river coming out and wind waves blowing in there were some interesting conditions.. I almost went over.. Waves pushing me one way and the raft of kayakers pulling me backwards.. I took the biggest deep breath ready for that roll.. Turned out my very low low brace saved me.. That was a close one.. Steady through the surf and eventually we made it to the beach.

We were amazed we made it to the beach all of us exhausted.. Camp went up quickly and food in the belly. Best night sleep for us all.

Day seven

Day seven we have had a rest. Hitch hiked to the nearest town. Vibeke had visited the doctor for her wrist and had some great advice from the pharmacy.now we are enjoying a cold beer in the pub hopefully ready for more paddling but less action tomorrow.

- Ashley

Monday, 17 July 2017

Day four!

We haven't long got off the water. The last few days we have been trying to catch the tide as much as possible so today it was two hours on the water and then a three hour sun bathing then five hours non stop paddling riding on the ebb. It's a bit of a drag getting off the water at low water though with Frida's really heavy kayak.. Either the repair it had done on it recently added some extra weight or she is feeding us all from that kayak.

It's been a lovely few days paddling. Bit of head wind but it settled down today giving us a lovely days paddling. We got a good rhythm going in the group so that has been super.
Today was beautiful. We got the kokatat shorts and rash t-shirts on and our kokatat caps to shade us from the sun. Really impressed with all of our kit.

We have been astonished by the seals dancing around us all day and some other nature elements. I got a bug in my boat with pincer type tail on it.. He was crawling around in their keeping me on my toes.. I tried to drown him.. We will see the results in the morning if I have any bite marks. And then a poor bee didn't have the best odds either flying straight for my face.. The paddle makes a useful weapon against bees. Me screaming like a girl and making kung-fu with my paddle his days we over. Sorry bee.

We are start to feel it in our bodies today. We have made it to Rosslare and are excited to see what's around the headland.

- Ashley

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Day one!

Today has been an excellent day.. Full of nerves, excitement and anticipation.

We started out at Dun Laoghaire. It was high water at 1500 so we decided to set off at around 1230 paddling against the rising tide before catching a ride with the ebb.

Meaning quite a slow start until lunch and then moving a bit quicker but still Into a head wind.

Having been told about the wildlife around Ireland, I wasn't expecting to wait too long to see seals.

After an hour or two of complaining they started popping their heads up to say hello. It was amazing.

We haven't had much practice together so finding a pace that suits everyone has been difficult but I am sure we will come closer together as the days go by.

Had our first challenges of surf landings. By the third one we were improving. But we have had an unattended boat in the water Mm..

We have put out tent up.. Fast and easy then dinner was served.. The sun is going down and soon ready for bed.

Landed in Wicklow.

- Ashley

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Tomorrow is the day we have been waiting for.

Tomorrow we will be setting off for our adventure around Ireland. Setting out from Dun Laoghaire harbour and heading south. Both teddies and ladies have butterflies in their bellies.. We can't wait. Follow our track by using the link. http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0BpiI4h1Zbk7nzLJ96BDbFHonoqF2bo93

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Three weeks to go!!!

The next time we see each other it will be in Ireland on the 12th July ready to set off for our adventure around Ireland.

The last 8 months has been a long process of training, organising, preparing, getting ready and now time is closing in on us quickly.

The nervous, anticipation and excitement are all building up inside us. We are very grateful for all the help we have received. Friends and family, sponsors and businesses that have help us out this far thank you very much!

We will be starting our trip clockwise around Ireland from Dun Laoghaire on the morning of 14th July. Weather permitting of course.

We hope to continue raising money for Barnekreftforeningen throughout our trip.. it is possible to donate here:http://minaksjon.barnekreftforeningen.no/barn-i-sentrum/5-5237

We will be keeping blogger and facebook uptodate as often as possible so keep watching.

- Ashley

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Vibeke: First solo multi-day trip

First solo multi-day trip

This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but always found an excuse for not going. Whether it be not having transport, the weather not being right or not having the equipment I need. And of course being really spoiled and invited for trips with my friends in the most amazing areas would always be the preferred option. Then I could go safely out in more challenging conditions. And never have to worry about navigation or safety issues. The decisions were always taken for me, and I only ever had to think about paddling.

Lately however I have realized the importance of not only being able to navigate and be responsible for others as well as myself. I have been realizing the importance knowing the real limits of my abilities as a paddler, team-mate and what I need to work on. And really be a self sufficient and confident paddler in my own right. I never really have had the need to find out these things before. Now it seems quite crucial. I have been in a weird mental state paddling wise. Having had to go on land on a couple of trips, seeing my friends who are much better and more experienced paddlers continue. Feeling not good enough for certain conditions when my paddling partners are so fearless and confident and good at what they are doing. Not really knowing what the problem was, I kept finding myself in conditions my body handled good enough, but my head kept telling me «this is too much, you are not good enough for this». So instead of driving my surroundings crazy, I felt that I had to do something. My decision was I needed to go out on my own and be responsible for everything myself. So I did.....

Day 1:
I started late in the afternoon, after a day of shopping all the equipment I was lacking. Like a cooker and gas, drybags for a lot more equipment than I normally bring, powerbank for charging my electricals and little bits and bobs.
When I got to the boat house I was a bit stressed and really nervous. Had I remembered everything? Had I planned everything correctly? Had I missed anything important?
Packed my boat. It was the heaviest it's ever been. And finally set off. Made sure to let my on land support group know I was starting. And got all the «good luck» and motivation I needed to collect my nerves and paddle out into the busy shipping lanes. Managed the crossings safely, and slowly got used to the different unknown movements of my now heavy boat. I really started thinking about the balance and weight distribution of my packed load, and decided to change it the next day, as the boat kept reacting weird to wind and current. Knowing my boat is quite perfect, this had to be «a human error» somewhere.
Then the boat traffic became severe. The big tankers and ships are easy. You see them coming from far away and you stay out of their way. The leisure boats are a whole different scenario. It really can get quite dangerous. And this being one of the first really nice days weather-wise in Bergen, it was probably worse than normal. And I chose the worst possible time of day to go out. So it became a problem. At one point I was forced on a barnacle covered big rock by a smaller boat. Got stuck. And could hear people laughing in the background. I was sure i had put a hole in my boat, and was really quite frustrated. However my NDK Pilgrim Expedition is made of strong stuff and got away with just a few cuts and bruises. I did realise I couldn't continue like this, it just was too dangerous. So I went on land first useful camp spot I could find. 

Having only paddled 18 km I was disappointed and a little bit discouraged. I had planned quite a long trip, and this would make it hard to reach my imaginary end goal. But setting camp was fun. I had never done this on my own before. And found it quite rewarding. Unpacked in the lovely sun. Hanged my paddle gear for drying. And got ready to cook my evening dinner. Only......No matches...How will I light my cooker without matches??..aaaah sandwiches for dinner. Oh well...Let my support group know I was safe on land. Had a few supporting words and went to sleep in my tent.

Day 2:
Woke up and it was freezing cold. I hadn't slept much. I learned the importance of a good camp spot. This one wasn't completely flat. So I ended up sliding off my sleeping mat all the time. But I was excited. I was getting out of the shipping lanes and out to the sea and wilderness. So I got out of the tent. Running around trying to pack and eat whatever I had brought that didn't need cooking. Gathered my paddle gear which was neoprene for the occasion. Only to find it completely wet and frozen. As I saw it I had two options at this point. I could either just find the strength to slide the completely stiff shorts and socks onto my bare skin, or I could wait for the sun to rise and warm it up a bit. Having had such a bad first day, in the end I went for option number one. I had to get the day started. And what a day it would turn out be. The weather was amazing. Ocean was completely flat. And most of the area I paddled, I had never seen before.

I had the biggest smile on my face all day. I was quite nervous about this one part that people kept telling me about. Known for its rough conditions and no landing spots. But I got there and it was completely flat. Sparkling water. And I could use the whole day for sightseeing and practicing my navigation. I had promised myself a long lunch break when I got this area out of the way, and I found a fisherman who kindly donated his lighter so I could light my cooker.
Got on land. Packed out all my cooking equipment. Only to find that my brand new cooker self ignites. It's times like these you can either die of shame or laugh at yourself. I laughed as it was just too good a day to be ashamed of anything. So had a two hour break just having a quick snooze in the sun. Just enough to get quite the sunburn, and set off on my final leg of the day. My body was tired, so didn’t move in lightning speed. Hands started to get sore, and blisters started appearing on my fingers. 

But I did feel like in those scenarios it was kind of nice being a solo paddler as you can set your own pace. I was in no hurry. I was just getting to this one place on the map that marked a camp spot. Only..Turned out there was no camp spot. That was when I got really tired. How far did I need to go to find one?. And what was the best tactic now? Ended up paddling for another 5 km before I got lucky and found a perfect spot. 55 km done. Perfect day. Great paddling. My confidence grew!

Day 3:
Had a lovely night. It was not cold. And I could cook myself a lovely breakfast. I had decided the evening before that it was going to be an easy day, and I could sleep in as the winds would turn to a favourable direction around lunchtime. Had a lovely morning, and just as I was putting on my paddle gear i noticed something black in my belly button..So i brushed it out as one do..Only it was stuck. Brushed again, and I noticed it had legs. A TICK...Panic set in. I absolutely hate ticks. And this one was in my belly. I kept imagining it drilling itself in there. Time to call in the support system. What do I doooooooo????? Might seem like a minor issue for some people. This was a real thriller for me. So after 5 minutes of minor surgery with a big knife. I mutilated myself enough that the tick found it best to just release and go.
I got on the water really quickly after that. Would not spend another minute on that tick infested camp spot, did another crossing over to another island. Luckily it wasn't to busy to cross. I chose to cross over at a wider spot than I normally would. But felt it was best as I had a better overview from all directions. And then to this small island where I knew there was supposed to be a good camp spot. As I got closer this huge fishing trawler passed in front of me. I was wondering why it went so slowly. And thinking what would be the best direction for me to take to be out of its way. So I picked a side. And saw that it was turning after a while. So I took a breath of relief and paddled on. Only, after a while I heard it behind me. What was it doing? Going in a circle? That’s when I realized what it was doing. It was putting out a net in a circle around me. It must have not seen me. And I was smack in the middle. I'M ABOUT TO GET FISHED I thought to myself. And started waving my paddle around franticly. When nothing happened I figured a decision had to be made. So I put my skeg up and gunned on all I could. Jumping over the nets rather big floating device and into safe waters. Waved a fist in the air at the boat and paddled over to the island.
My back was really painful from the long paddle before, and hands really sore. So I felt a short day would be nice. 

But after about two hours of rest other people started to come to the island. Barbecuing, drinking beer and playing loud music. I started to get unhappy. This did not feel like the wilderness experience I was hoping for. So I decided I've come this far, might as well paddle all the way home. Once the decision was made. I packed my boat in a hurry, and set off. It was a slow paddle. But I kept imagining my shower and bed, so it kept me going. Another crossing of a shipping lane. But timing was perfect and I just managed to set foot on land before it got dark.
Trip done. 110 km done in 2 and a half day. On my own. And I survived. The plan changed a bit as I went along. But I didn't mind. What I needed to get done. I got done. I had a very good training session covering everything from planning, camping, paddling, navigation and decision making. Being able to change plans along the way is important I think. And I really feel like I'm not as bad a paddler as I convinced myself before I went. So the mental training for this is worth more than anything.

And I've learned that paddling on your own can be quite rewarding and beautiful!


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Askøy Rundt

Living far away from each other and with quite different schedules it isn’t easy to find time to train together. By chance we were all in Bergen at the same time. Weather is said to be beautiful. The question comes up.. How do we use our time wisely? What do we want to do? Skills, distance? How much time do we have?

With good weather planned we decided to give Askøy rundt a go. Get some km covered as a team. 58km in a day is just enough to put us under stress as a team. And let us know where our personal limits are with regards to distance and time spent in the kayak. The trip is longer than what we plan to do on an average day so it makes it possible to train those distances and a bit more.

Around Ireland our tactics will be slightly different. Instead of counting distance every day we will be counting hours paddling. And then have a weekly distance goal in the back of our minds. This way if we don't make the distances we hope for we are not going to be disappointed if we have used the time in the boat. We aim to paddle six hours a day for the first two weeks and eight hours a day for the last four weeks. Having an easy start will be important to get our bodies used to paddling everyday. We of course hope for things to go well and being ahead of schedule will gain us rest days.

Starting off for Askøy rundt, using the first crossing from the boat house over to Kleppestø as a warm up. It will be important that we have a steady pace and not too fast. So we used the exercise of counting our paddle strokes in five minutes to have an idea of the frequency we were paddling. Here we are looking to have between 135-145 strokes.

Rounding the first corner on the south west coat is the decision maker. No turning back now. And we continue. The winds being very kind so us and giving us a gentle push in the back to ease us on our way. One of the challenges around Ireland will be to paddle with the same conditions all day. Most of our training trip have been going around something, or a to b and back to a; where the wind direction is changing. Where six to eight hours of the same weather; will be a challenge and hard to train for.

The length of Askøy was an ease. We had planned to stop every three hours but as we were rounding the top of Askøy breaks became more frequent. Tiredness and fatigue were definitely kicking in. But we were over halfway and just the journey back to go.

This is where the real training started. After 5 hours of paddling the hands started to become sore and the body a little tired. But one hour more and that’s an average day around Ireland in the first two week. As we get to the six hour mark it was great to feel ok.. A bit tired but yes we could do this.

The last hours were definitely slower than the first so we will need to train more in the tired zone to improve our endurance for the trip. Training for such expeditions there is no better than multi day trips with fully loaded kayaks. We can train as much as we want with empty kayaks or in the gym but what will prepare us the most is those practice expeditions.

We returned back to the boat house after ten hours and thirty seven minutes. The wind had amazingly followed us all the way around. We were happy.