Friday, 25 June 2010

South West Sea Kayaking - Isles of Scilly

Sea Kayaking Solo to The Isles of Scilly

I had been waiting for the last 9 months for settled weather and time off to work to come together for a paddle to the Isles of Scilly. As I drove down on the Monday, I realised that it was the Longest day and with it being the best forecast, I was keen to make the most of it and paddle out that evening.

I began my paddle at about 1700 and went out to the Long ships lighthouse. On the way I was greeted by a 3mt Basking Shark. I didn't want to disturb it and get to close, but what a start.

The photo above is about 2 hours into the paddle, and behind me you may just be able to make out lands end. Many Shearwaters, Gannets, Fulmars and a couple of Storm Petrels passed me buy and the sea remained and oily calm. After 3 hours I could just about make out small islands, sun set and moon provide adequate light, and with the occasional shooting star was quite magic. I arrived at the first group of island, called the Eastern Isles at 2300 and I was pleased to have covered the 42k in 6 hours and believe that the cool evening and the impending darkness had helped to push me on! It took another hour for me to find a suitable camp spot for the night.

Sunrise was spectacular and watched it for 20 minutes or so, before returning to my bivi bag. At 0700 I got up and packed away my kit and went over my return journey, which was to take in the Seven Stones light ship, about a third of the way back and a little further to the north. I paddled in to St Marys that day and had a wander around the shops and then moved on to St Martins. The whole place had a real Caribbean feel about it, and the colours of the sea and sand were amazing.

I set of at 0830 and covered the 18k in 2.5 hours, to the long ships light boat, again many sea birds and a small seal escort out from the Isles with a further 3 different porpoise sightings.

On the way out I had only seen 3/4 large container ships on the horizon, and by the time I got into the Traffic Separation Zone (TSZ), all was quiet. On the way back I only came across the one and had the situation of upping my paddle rate to see if I could pass beyond it, to realising I couldn't ... it was best to sit it out and have a break!
On approaching lands end, the place was quite different than before. A gentle broad rolling Atlantic swell had been developing over the course of my journey and now it was opposing current and the cliffs at Lands End, it was very atmospheric. On top of this I was tired from being out in the mid day sun, having run out of water and hour or so ago. Just after 1500, I was safe through the reefs and surf, pleased with my achievement. I loaded all my kit and boat, phoned Sonja and then went looking for an ice cream!

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