Last weekend I finally got the opportunity to head out for my first kayaking adventure on the sea. I had arranged for a 2 hour lesson with Kayak Cork Harbour (http://www.kayakcorkharbour.ie/), who are based out of Whitegate in East Cork. The car was loaded up on Saturday night with what seemed like enough gear to move house (as I was also going shore fishing later in the day), and I was all set, weather permitting, to head out early on the Sunday morning.
I woke to bright dry weather, with absolutely no wind – perfect conditions to get out on the sea with a kayak! Arriving at Roches Point (note – Roches Point lighthouse is shown as the background image of this blog!), I met up with the kayak instructor Mike, and two others who were coming out for the trip. We got ourselves set up, carried down the yaks to the shore on a dropping tide, and after a quick theoretical lesson headed out onto the water.
I was immediately struck by how close to the water I was, and the blue-green water clarity was excellent, being able to see down to the sea bed from a depth of 2-3 metres easily. It will take some time to learn the subtleties of kayak paddling, but I guess I did OK with the basics of moving and turning early on – only to discover later that I had the paddle upside down, and I found that I could get better movement by having my knees bent as opposed to having my legs straight out (mental note taken).
We spotted a pod of dolphins / porpoises in the distance at around the mid-way point of Cork harbour’s mouth, they appeared to be feeding – most likely on herring or possibly some early mackerel. Sadly we also found a dead porpoise along the shoreline, the reason for its demise was unclear. Due to this being my first outing, I hadn’t taken the chance of bringing along any camera / mobile phone with me, hence the lack of photos 😦
After some pottering around just inside the mouth of the harbour, the decision was made that it was one of those *very rare* opportunities, ie. when the conditions were calm enough to venture ‘around-the-corner’ and past Roches Point lighthouse, to bring us out of Cork harbour and into open sea. There was no chop on the sea, but a sizeable swell was apparent once we passed the lighthouse and began to head East along the coast in the direction of Trabolgan. See the map below for an overview of our paddling route – note when I begin fishing from the yak I will not be posting any catch locations!
I found myself trailing the other kayakers, who were all paddling in a different ‘Sit-In’ type of kayak, as opposed to my ‘Sit-on-Top’ kayak. Their kayaks were also 3 foot longer than my own, and I figured that the longer, more slender kayaks made for faster paddling (or else I was just plain slow!). The instructor announced we could head to a small sheltered beach less than a kilometre down the coast, and would attempt to ‘reverse’ the kayaks onto the beach (as opposed to going forward onto the beach and not seeing a big wave come up behind and drench you!). Upon landing, we found a lovely small golden-sanded beach, with high cliffs on each side. A well earned breather was taken and then, with the assistance of Mike, we launched back out to sea (not an easy thing to do on your own I discovered as you need to paddle directly into oncoming waves to get out from the shore).
At this point, Mike took a photo or two (see above – I am the dodgy looking kayaker in the background) of us posing with Roches Point lighthouse in the background. After paddling back to the launch site 2-3 hours had flown by. The kayaks were loaded back onto cars / trailers and we headed our separate ways. I am planning another outing with Kayak Cork Harbour, hopefully next time doing some more practical safety drills such as jumping off the yak and trying to get back in.. Mike also noted that we may try to bring along a rod or two next time and have my first crack at fishing off the yak.
- Don’t even think about heading out alone, for a long time yet..
- Paddling easier with the knees bent
- When landing on a beach with onshore waves, reverse onto a landing spot as oppose to paddling forward
- Get a kayak trolley to bring the yak from car to shore and vice-versa – it weighs a bloody ton and won’t do the back any favours if carried without one