25/4 Day 5 – Big crossing and even bigger hearts

Gyles Quay to Clogherhead- 27km

It felt odd packing up surrounded by sleeping caravans, and then trolleying them down the road to the sea. We were perhaps a bit vigorous on the beach and Rob’s worst fear was realised- we bent Richard Young’s superb trolley. (How can we bear the recriminations now due?especially as he is being uncommonly decent about it) . I had had a very helpful chat when logging on to Dublin coastguard, (great response to being given the website address-“3 men in boats ? now there’s imaginosity”). The unpredictable pattern caused by the low to the south now had a name… Storm Hannah … Alan the CG officer very usefully went through the wave buoy readings. We wanted to get across Dundalk Bay but not get caught out half way across. A small craft advisory warning was out for the general area, with 6 forecast for early afternoon. At Gyles Quay it was benign and NE so we reckoned at worst we’d have a wind to blow us back. I got 45mins of sailing and we worked away into a gradually increasing wind, slowly veering round. Did the 14 k in 2hrs 15mins with Rob getting a perfect line onto Dunany point. Although perhaps not featuring in the lore, this can be an awkward bay, as some can testify, and was an important milestone for us.

We headed straight on to Clogher head with clouds and wind building up. A rather lumpy 8km seemed to take ages (I beat into it with the sail till it became too much southerly) Landed in Port Oriel in mounting seas and stiffening breeze, all fine but time to stop. And what a place to stop- clearly a working harbour with razor clam boats and a superb fish shop on the Quay. Coffee and chowder later a van drew up and Andy Wilson, local paddler, calls by having specially driven up after stalking us on the blog. Typically understated, this wonderful man has run the Grand Canyon and clearly knows his way around people & places here. He took us across to the lifeboat station and it was good to identify a camp spot on the shore and see that the beach was an easy landing. I checked with the station manager that we were not going to bother folk etc ……. and then we’ll I am not quite sure how it happened…. the remarkable force that is the people of Clogher head RNLI quietly gathered us up. Declan showed us their gleaming boat, Andy took us back across the head to the harbour and people started dropping by. It was a bit like being gathered up by a large wave and gently propelled (sic) into a spray of outstanding hospitality and practical thoughtful help. And I must stress that at no point had anyone realised that we were doing a bit of fund raising for the institution–yes sheer unconditional decency. The bent trolley was gathered up by Sean F (“my son’s a welder we’ll have that yoke sorted by the morning”) as we launched to get round the head and bashed out into a definitely stiff SE with a short steep lively 2 km of bouncebank. Definitely not allowed to go swimming here – in sight of the RNLI shed and flag, just too embarrassing and actually lovely paddling. With a group of folk meeting us on the beach and boats taken into the shed and tea and biscuits….

Where else in the world do the local volunteers offer such unconditional friendship and kindness…? well I suspect a lot more than you might ever hear about in the media but I am beginning to see that this organisation has a knack of drawing local talent into a powerful force for all sorts of good. But we are humbled by the remarkable generosity of all here at Clogher head – such a strong sense of common purpose and service. But Sean Flanagan (and especially the wonderful Wendy, who had no choice.! ) took us home, gave us space to camp, installed us in the camper van as “the control room”, while his talented son expertly fixed Richard’s trolley, and bid us sit out Hannah in peace. We submitted with gratitude and a sense that resistance was futile.

Thank you so much.


13 thoughts on “25/4 Day 5 – Big crossing and even bigger hearts

  1. You’ll find it difficult to leave! As the word gets out, I suspect you’ll get a lot more of the great Irish hospitality!


  2. I guess the great folk you meet along the way are what helps make a great journey great. Good to read about good things and good people.


  3. What an amazing story! Thank you so much to Alan, Andy, Declan, Sean & Wendy and their sons for taking the time and interest to be so kind and generous to the paddlers. I know from talking to Ritchie that he is seriously enjoying this wee break. I feel inspired to go out and help someone.


    1. More than welcome sure yis were no bother, we got dinner, wine, and I found the lily O’Briens in the camper to day and me thinking of starting rowing to get fit🙄 ok after the chocolates, the very best of luck and hope to see ye and your families in Edinburgh sometime 😉


      1. It was a real joy to meet you. Brilliant to see Sean in his element yesterday, racing around the bay with effortless good humour, enjoy the rowing & we’ll keep in touch and you must come over toEdinburgh! orrabest David


  4. Hi Ritchie. We are all following your journey with keen interest the blogs & pics are great. A pity about storm Hannah especially after the good start. Lets hope she is the last!! Sorry you and Wendy won’t be with us this evening at Ian Ms 60th but I am sure your name will crop up and you will be in our thoughts TAKE CARE Much love Mum.


      1. Hi David. Just popping up to say we missed you at FOL tonight. Avril is a star. Avidly following your progress. Keeping the three of you in our thoughts and prayers.


    1. Thanks Sean. And a huge thanks for all you’ve done for us over the last few days. Getting up at 6am to drive us and kit down to the boats was above and beyond… The early start definitely gave us the best of the day for paddling. Allowed us to stop and meet with your RNLI colleagues at Skerries.


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