Skye Circumnavigation Attempt 2019 – Norbert Ziobr

By Norbert Ziobr

The idea arose a few years back after talking to John (Willacy).

Skye is a great distance to paddle around. It is about 125 nm and requires taking a straight line between the headlands.
From my experience I know that it is possible to cover this distance, but only with exceptionally good weather.

I decided to spend a little bit of time to get to know each of the headlands.
For the last six weeks I was paddling around every corner, with tide, against tide, covering a distance, working on my forward paddling and using HR monitor to push myself. My favourite place is Kyle Rhea, a small version of the Menai Straits.

After 4 weeks on Skye I was ready to go and I started to lose patience, waiting for the weather.

Ultimately the weather had improved, there was a little bit a swell and a southerly wind. Force 2 to 3 in the morning and 4 to 5 at midday and dropping to to F1 in the evening. Not perfect weather but not bad either.

My plan was very simple.
To paddle with an empty kayak, the only way the distance is possible.

I needed to carefully calculate how much water I was going to need in each stage. Because it was overcast I was assuming that I might need 0.5 litre water for 2 hours. My calculation was just right.

I can stretch 0.5 l to 3 h on a cold day but for longer distance that definitely goes to dehydration. Its all about temperature, sun etc.

After careful planning I decided to set up depots with water and camping equipment.

The first depot with water was in Staffin Bay. The second depot with water, food and camping equipment was set up in Kyleakin, just by Skye bridge.

I chose Ramasaig Bay as place to start, it was good idea to have all these headlands done when fresh. About 0550 in the morning I started paddling towards Neist Point (Nasty Point). I have to put in lots of effort to stay up right.

After Neist Point the sea state was improving, but it was still windy. Around Waternish point I was exactly on time, watching the ferry going from Uig to Tarbert.

Between 10.00 and 11.00 was a window for crossing Loch Snizort. During the side wind my Taran was weather cocking but finally I was just at the last moment of slack by Rubha Hunish.

Then the Southerly wind was supposed to drop in the afternoon but it didn’t.

Next I stopped in Staffin Bay, to pick up my water, I was drying up.

Most of the day was overcast and I was wearing a dry suit, but in afternoon I started to become hypothermic.

Due to the head wind and choppy waters from the beginning I started to feel tired and decided to finish this trip in Portree.

I landed in Portree and talked to the Harbor Master about leaving my kayak on the pontoon overnight.

It was great day out, and I will be back.

I know for a fact that some islands never give up on the first time.