Galley Cove to Dursey Island – 38km
The tides for going round Mizen Head favoured a later start so we’d agreed a lie in and planned to be on the water at 10. I awoke early as usual. The sun was getting up and the winds were light so it didn’t make sense to stay in the tent.
I took a short walk down to Crookhaven to see what the little village had to offer. We’d bypassed it yesterday on the way into Galley Cove as its waterfront access was from the north in the large sheltered Crook Haven from which the village gets its name. A little bit of a mixture of old, arty and touristy but at that time in the morning totally deserted.
A week ago we’d gone round Hook Head, past Waterford bay and then into Tramore to stay with Mick O’Meara. Now at Crook Haven we could muse on the possible origins of the phrase by hook or by crook. One theory is that it came about in the middle ages when sailors crossing from Normandy set course for Ireland hoping to make landfall safely between Hook Head and Crook Haven. Any further west and they’d be in the wild atlantic or landing on Ireland’s equally wild (weather or people?) west coast.
Oona the SUPer was packed up and ready to go before us. We reckoned that we’d all arrive at Mizen Head at the same time if she set off half an hour before us. This timing worked perfectly and we arrived right behind her as we all went round together. One of the potentially most daunting headlands of the trip was rounded in totally benign conditions. After a short photo session we parted company with Oona (Oona goes wild on Instagram) and headed directly across Dunmanus and Bantry bays towards Dursey Island.
This was the longest crossing we’d undertaken so far on the trip: 30kms which we were hoping would take us five hours. The conditions were good but the westerly wind slowly picked up as we progressed. The last 10kms seemed to take forever. The land seemed close but as we were approaching the coast at an oblique angle it appeared that we weren’t making any progress. Only the GPS reassured me that we were still making 5 kms/hr into the F3 westerly. In the end the crossing took closer to six hours and we were thankful that the gap between Crow Head and the small island off its tip was paddleable to shorten the final stretch northwards to the east end of Dursey Island where we made camp for the night.
We have now been paddling every day for two weeks and the long stretches into head winds is beginning to take its toll on the tendons in my right forearm. I need to think of ways to reduce the strain if I am to complete this trip. I already switch between two different paddles (greenland stick and asymmetrics) in order to reduce the chances of repetetive strain injuries but now it may be time to look at adjusting the feather angle on my asymmetrics or even experiment with left handed paddling.