Ballygally to Larne – 9kms
With the tide and wind assistance yesterday we could easily have made it to Larne then. However our ferry booking was made for today and we didn’t fancy our chances of finding a scenic campsite close to the ferry terminal.
The 9 kilometer paddle was the easiest bit of the morning. We got out at the boat club where we’d left two trolleys, exchanged a few good manly handshakes to congratulate ourselves on a job well done, and then went to hunt down the trolleys. Only one could be found! Dave’s appeared to have been stolen – maybe little wheels were just too attractive in a land of small trailers. There was much other discarded paraphernalia lying around and we found the hacked off bottom of a wheelie bin that had a complete axle and two wheels. Dave reckoned he’d be able to cobble together a working kayak trolley from it. Rob and I were a little more skeptical.
The boat club gate was locked so it was back on the water for a short paddle round to our original put-in spot back on Easter Sunday just over seven weeks ago. There we found a couple of guys working out of their garage. What then unfolded was like an episode of Scrapheap Challenge: hacksaws, screwdrivers and angle grinders were all put to work on our salvaged wheelie bin axle.
The end result was a functional set of wheels strapped to the back of Dave’s kayak which, with a bit of extra effort, allowed Dave to proceed towards the ferry terminal. We were within a 100 metres of our goal when the axle finally succumbed to someone’s earlier attempts at cutting it in two… back to square one.
Dave headed back to the boat club to see what other junk he could come up with, I went to check us in, and Rob stayed with the boats. On my return I was very surprised to see Dave’s kayak sitting up on a very fine bit of junk that looked remarkably like his original, stolen trolley. It transpired that a kind soul had taken the trolley into the clubhouse to keep it safe and was very apologetic about not being there to greet us on our return.
With all wheels on our wagons we were escorted up to the ferry where someone took pity on us and allowed us on the lower deck next to the trucks rather than following the original plan of taking the steep ramp up to the car deck. As we put chocks against the wheels we heard a familiar voice chastising us for not getting in touch earlier: Dennis, from the Clogherhead RNLI crew, just happened to be first mate on our ferry. We were then treated like royalty for our trip across to Cairnryan – complementary lunch and a tour of the bridge.
On the last few days of our trip we’d been keeping an eye on the track of three female kayakers, Dropseat Adventure, as they progressed northwards from Dublin on their anti-clockwise trip round Ireland. We’d hoped that we might meet them before we got to Larne but it was not to be. As the ferry pulled out of Larne and turned east towards Scotland we saw the trio through the port windows heading across to Ballygally – where we’d just spent the night. We only missed them by a few hours.
Safely home now, I’m wondering what I’m going to do tomorrow. We’ve really appreciated all the support we’ve had and the interest shown in our blog. We’re hugely grateful to all those who have made donations through our JustGiving page and are amazed that we’ve exceeded our target by over 50%. The page will be kept open for a while yet so we’d be delighted to exceed the target by a little more if you’ve been putting off donating until you felt we’d put in enough effort. We will also look at posting a few more times in the next week or so with some further thoughts on our trip.