The North Sea Crossing –July 2015

by Dimitri Vandepoele

I have dreamed. I have prepared. I have trained hard. I have crossed the Southern part of the North Sea by sea kayak on 30 and 31 July 2015. Manpowered and alone, no support whatsoever and no support or pilot vessel. I have paddled during day and night time. I’ve been exhausted, excited and happy at the same time. This is my story.

I had this dream to do the North Sea crossing for years and now the weather conditions were perfect. So I planned, made calculations to counter the tide and prepared myself mentally.

Wet Knees at 5:30? — Holyhead to Dublin 2011

by John Willacy

My arms had been making circles for 11 hours now, the tide had long since turned and the speed was dropping. Should I work against the flow, straight line to the headland, or take a chance and head to the cliffs, aiming to scratch my way up the eddies? Looking across I could see all the clapotis and chaos below the cliffs. The clock was ticking; time was tight. Some days I just wish someone else would make the decisions for me…

Irish Sea Crossing 2007

by John Willacy

It was now more than two hours since I had rounded the harbour wall at Dun Laoghaire, the GPS showed I was now nine miles off-shore. As I ventured further from the sanctuary of Dun Laoghaire the conditions had grown steadily worse. Ahead of me lay 40 miles of open water to Holyhead, which still lurked beyond the horizon. It was coming close to decision time; do I continue and hope for the forecast improving conditions or turn back and face the disappointment of the slog back to the harbour?

Manx Miles – Anglesey to Isle of Man Crossing

by John Willacy

According to the family photo album I had last visited the Isle of Man in 1978; I had always wanted to return to see a little more of the island, it just took a little longer than expected. Of course life had moved on in the intervening years, I wouldn’t be using the ferry to get across this time…

I also remember a rollercoaster return ride as the ferry battered its way through a stormy Irish Sea. This time I was hoping for better weather for the crossing.

The North Channel

by John Willacy

Going back a few years, I took part in the Hebridean Challenge.  At the end of a tiring but rewarding day I found myself sat on a beach with Bennie.  Bennie was a fellow competitor and we were discussing canoeing tales of past and future, as well as his rather strange tent with no poles.  Bennie regaled me with details of his trips across the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland; it all sounded impressive and rather intriguing… could I paddle that far? Bennie made it sound like an (almost) everyday occurrence, though it sounded an unfeasibly long way to me…

Irish Sea 1969

by John Willacy

UK Sea kayaking history is littered with adventure and adventurers, not least three young men who set out to make the first crossing by kayak between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead, back in the summer of 1969…