Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Windswept Isle of Man

This being the earliest Easter for many years I should have not been surprised at the weather we encountered on this kayaking trip to the Isle of Man. Having booked the high speed ferry from Liverpool the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. contacted me a further two times to inform me of changes to the crossing due to forecast winds of up to force 10 in the Irish Sea. Peter, Glen, Chris and I eventually left on the overnight boat from Birkenhead and after a gut churning crossing we disembarked and took breakfast at 'The Caff' in Douglas.

The wind had not abated so we started our tourist trail with a look at Calf Sound. With huge waves breaking onto the jagged shoreline there was clearly no paddling to be done here today. It was unlikely we could have taken our kayaks from the roof racks without causing injury to ourselves or damage to the boats or cars.

The chilly arctic blast blew us to what would become our base for the trip. 'Ballabrooie' is home to the Tastagh family and the base for Keirron's 'Adventurous Experiences' kayaking, climbing and coasteering business. As ever we were given a warm welcome washed down with plenty of tea.

Eager to make the most of the day and to stave off inactivity we headed inland to view the Island from its highest peak. Snaefell stands 621 metres and offers splendid views over much of the Isle of Man, and beyond to Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

In search of more maritime entertainment we returned to the coast at Peel where we stumbled upon a bunch of surfers and kayakers relishing the arctic conditions.

Saturday brought a little in the way of change in the relentless north or northwesterly winds. With a decrease to force 5-7 we decided to have a go at some of the east coast. Following an aborted attempt to paddle south from Port Mooar we decided more shelter would be better found further south at Port Grenaugh. Peter and I paddled northeast to Port Soderick and beyond to Little Ness. The Rockhopping and squally down draughts from the tall cliffs kept us entertained for the remainder of the afternoon.

Easter Sunday Peter and I felt that the wind had abated enough for us to make our way around the low lying Langness Peninsula, across Castletown Bay and into Port St Mary. After an easy start with plenty of enjoyable rockhopping and some fun in the overfalls the finish was to become one of the coldest and most testing paddles I have done for some considerable time. Whilst crossing Bay ny Carrickey we were tenderised by squally force 6+ winds with sleet and hail. Relief at arriving in the comparative shelter of Port St Mary was marred by the painful procedure of removing my frozen fingers from my paddle.

Monday brought the four of us together to repeat the paddle from Port Grenaugh to Little Ness and back and indulge further rockhopping adventures. The wind strength and direction had not changed giving us precious little option and as the afternoon wore on gusty down draughts became an increasing feature in the day's entertainment.

Keirron had been kind enough to spare us an arctic survival course and rather than leaving us to camp in the field he allowed us to stay in what will be his new lecture room. This gave us the opportunity to get warm and dry, enjoy a reasonably comfortable existence and enjoy the results of Peter's culinary expertize.

Before leaving for the ferry on Tuesday morning we chipped in with some Polish style 'flying labour' to help out with the completion of the lecture room.

There are more pictures from the NWSK Easter trip to the Isle of Man here.


The Go Mann said...

I've never managed to summon up the courage to leave Derbyhaven in a kayak yet :)

Jim Krawiecki said...

We were seriously tempted to stay in the bay due to the weather conditions but our experience and paddling skills allowed us to make the passage to Port St Mary safely, if with some difficulty.

If you want to explore the area further, I reccomend getting in touch with Keirron via he does a variety of sea kayak courses and trips and doesn't charge the earth!