Skye Circumnav 2021 — Attempt 2 – The Reprise
In 2017 I set out on an attempt to circumnavigate the Isle of Skye, however I was unsuccessful. So there was unfinished business to attend to of course, it’s taken until 2021 to have another go.
For this attempt we travelled to Skye, but then found ourselves sitting out and watching the wind-blown sound for 2 weeks. Life as a sea paddler of course. So we amused ourselves with blustery training sessions in the bay, bike rides with ferries and of course a downwind run of Loch Ness – setting a new UK record for the end-to-end run of the loch: 02:58:14.
Just as we were about to accept the disappointment and head home, a window appeared in the weather and the Skye attempt was belatedly and suddenly on.
Meanish, in the North West corner, was the chosen start point for a number of reasons, none of them ideal, more the best of a bad job as such – under sufferance of the dictats of weather and tide. I left Meanish heading anti-clockwise.
There were stretches of chop, wallowy swell, flat calm, pleasant sunshine, gloomy drizzle and the inevitable headwind. But this time I made it around, to finish happily back at a breezy Meanish Pier – in 54 hrs and 22 mins.
Along the way the wildlife broke up the miles with Gannets, Skuas, Otters, Black Guillemots, Terns, Puffins and even a shy Sea Eagle hiding in in the mouth of a cave.
Unknowingly my path also crossed that of Ed Loffill who was also paddling around and heading in the opposite direction. By co-incidence our tracks overlapped about 5 mins apart on the far side of Scalpay, though somehow we managed not to see each other.
Anyway, job done:
54 hrs 22 mins 10 secs ~215 km
It was a long one.
Something In the Bag
As is the way with these things you can not guarantee the weather. So, with the extensive preparations and the cost/time invested just to get there, I was going to come home with something. So there were 3 plans to allow for varying ‘levels’ of weather:
Plan A: Skye Circumnav
Plan B: Raasay + Rona circumnav (Poor weather option)
Plan C: Loch Ness Downwind (Very poor weather option)
I managed to complete A + C, which was more than hoped for.
There was quite a bit of prep for this one. After looking through my notes of 2017 attempt I decided I needed to work on my pacing – less of a record pace, more a sustainable one. But with an aim to improve one, without detriment to the other.
So there was quite a lot of work inside the covid-restricted last year:
3 laps of Anglesey
2 x 100 k days on the Kayakpro Ergo
1 x 140 k day in the boat (included in the 3rd Ang lap)
2 x Walney Island records inside 1 week (used to look at stressed paddling/short term recovery)
A 6 hr/100 laps effort of Gorad Goch island ( at 3 min per lap – for consistency, focus and tedium!)
and a Conwy Ascent race just to keep me honest.
Now it’s time for a bit of an easy spell.