Kinsale to Dunworly Bay – 34km
As Rob said, our stay at the Kinsale Outdoor Centre courtesy of Jon and Karen and the rest of the staff there was hugely welcome. As we set down to sleep at night listening to the rain outside we very happy that we weren’t camping. I was also hugely relieved that we had a replacement for the SPOT device which I had carelessly dropped in a rock pool during a battery change (well it actually fell, bounced and skitted over the rocks for a bit, balanced on the edge for a few precarious seconds before slowly sliding in… aaaggghhh!). Jon has very generously leant us his and given up more of his time in chatting through the handover process with the (very helpful) SPOT support person.
Our departure this morning was far removed from that of the efficient team we thought we’d become. Jon appeared (with our washing all cleaned and dried – thanks again) before we were fully awake and breakfasted. We then spent a couple of hours retrieving our kit from all the places it had wandered and forcing it back inside our kayaks (kit appears to expand to fill the space available).
At an embarrassingly late hour we wheeled our kayaks down to the harbour and then, well out of site of the Outdoor Centre staff, indulged in a bacon roll and coffee from the all too conveniently located cafe next to the slip.
It was an easy exit from Kinsale with both wind and tide in our favour. Once out in the bay Dave had his sail up and we were heading swiftly across to Black Head and Holeopen Bays which would allow us a short cut to the west, by means of a tunnel under the headland, avoiding the Old Head of Kinsale.
Within a kilometer of Black Point the sail had to come down as the swell had picked up dramatically. As we passed the point and viewed the white water rimmed bay we knew that the hole wouldn’t be opening for us today and the longer route round was our only option.
The sea birds are in their element in the bigger seas and appear to be more numerous at these times. A number of Gannets were out gliding effortlessly as if in training to become Albatroses on the Southern Ocean – using the 2-3 metre swell here as the practice slopes for the 20-30 metre swells routinely encountered there. This large a swell with occasional breaking tops leading up to the headland didn’t bode well for us having an easy time getting round and a few nervous glances were exchanged. However the lead up proved to be worse than the open sea at the head and we rounded with relative ease.
The sea then dropped to a more regular pattern of smaller peaks and troughs from astern. My boat was behaving like a fiesty filly eager to be given rein and to take full advantage of the downward slopes. I use “fiesty” here reservedly as since leaving full time employment (ok… becoming a kept man) and catching more daytime radio 4 I have been educated by Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray (Woman’s Hour at 10am) that this adjective is to be used with caution when applied to female humans. I feel I’m on safer ground when using it to describe a gender neutral inanimate object being compared to a female horse. There’s plenty more I’ve learnt from these regular one hour slots but this probably isn’t the place to discuss menstruation and the menopause.
Although my boat appeared to revel in these conditions I could see that David wasn’t getting the same boost and was paddling continuously to keep apace. It isn’t the first time on this trip that I’ve noticed the differences in the boats we paddle. To continue with the horse theme it appears that Dave’s C-Trek is more stallion like: large and stable it strides out more confidently in oncoming seas, cutting through the water and staying more level than mine which can rear up and waste momentum in needless vertical movement. Rob’s Pace is more difficult to judge. It always appears that Rob has more to give and just matches his pace to whichever the other two of us is slowest at the time. I’m calling it colt like: a confident teenager cantering easily over everything but with a full gallop left in reserve. As a totally inexpert judgement from the sidelines (having never paddled it) and with no arm twisting from the sponsor (Roddy that hurts!) I can safely say the Pace is as fast as a Taran but without the twitchiness.
It was two hours across to Seven Heads and Dunworly Point and in this time the wind increased. At 15:30, just past Dunworly Point, we rafted up and discussed our options. We had hoped to get around Galley Head today but that would be a further 3 hours paddling in a rising wind and sea with no certainty on how manageable our landing after would be. We decided to take the safer option and seek a campsite within the nearby bays of Dunworly. Even this proved a challenge as the swell reached into every nook and cranny and along with the offshore winds created steep breaking surf on all the possible landing spots. We opted to head as far inland as possible where the river created a sandbar further out on which much of the surf could dissipate itself over a larger area. It worked well with us all making dry landings and provided us with a large shingle storm beach above the mouth of the river on which to camp. We only had a short moment of worry later that evening as the ride rose to within a few feet of our tents.