Amongst the waves

After the storms of the previous weekend, it looked like the weekend to come would be a bit more suited to getting out in our kayaks. I had anticipated a Sunday paddle, but – as a bonus – a “lazy” paddle over to Bute was scheduled in for Saturday. This involved a bit of a later start and a saunter over to Craigmore where lunch was enjoyed at the Pier at Craigmore restaurant.

On the way to Craigmore

Conditions were calm with some sunshine, albeit cold. At least the lack of wind made the temperature bearable. Just as I was contemplating breaking out my pogies, we had turned into the sun which warmed the hands nicely. It was good to get out and clear the head. At some point, Barrie mentioned that Sunday’s forecast had tacked a “2” on to the front of today’s prevailing wind speeds. I chuckled merrily, not giving it much more thought as we headed back to watch the sunset from Toward.

Our Sunday departure point was once again South Cowal, as we put in just beyond Inverchaolain on Loch Striven. I happened to notice it was a wee bit gusty and the wind was coming from the north as opposed to the previously forecast north-east, giving it a clear run down Loch Striven. The pogies would be out from the start today, it seemed.

And then there were 6 ... Maersk ships in cold lay-up on Loch Striven

And then there were 6 ... Maersk ships in cold lay-up on Loch Striven

We set off with the wind behind us which, ordinarily, would be ideal. It became evident, however, that the gusts really did mean business and conditions became quite exciting. (FYI – you will note here that I have switched over to “paddler-speak”, which tends towards understatement and euphemism). I paddled along for a bit, feeling the surges from behind and gripping my paddle tightly lest it be swiped out of my hands. I tried to assess if I was the only one who was feeling just a teeny, tiny bit tense. I watched as young Kirsty confidently paddled ahead quite unperturbed, and admonished myself for being a wuss.

As we rounded the Maersk ships anchored in cold lay-up, Julia checked in to see how I was doing. If I were to rate my comfort level according to the following scale, which correlates loosely (or not at all) to the Beaufort Scale:

    Frothy Loch Striven

    Frothy Loch Striven

  1. Chillin’ with the seals
  2. Paying a bit more attention
  3. Have been in worse conditions, it’s cool
  4. Good opportunity for skills practice
  5. Continuous monitoring of proximity of nearest potential rescuer
  6. Mental rehearsal of radio procedure, and location of flares
  7. Beam me up Scotty!

I quickly surmised that I was sitting at around 5. I confirmed to Julia that I really was quite fond of the notion of an early lunch and, before I knew it, I had the company of fellow paddlers ensuring that I made it across to the eastern shore without incident. On the way, I was presented with a beam sea, with waves and wind both to my left and in prime “tipping over” position. I was especially appreciative of Julia’s instruction as we crossed which corroborated what many people have told me, that bracing skills are hugely important. I won’t forget that real-time skills clinic. I was also appreciative of my faithful Isel, which played a large part in keeping me upright.

Heading home

Heading home

There was a palpable sense of achievement as we landed on the gravelly beach in time to watch a group of divers preparing to depart. We made our way over beyond the small point of protruding land to seek some shelter from the wind in order to consume lunch. It soon became apparent that a dividing line existed here separating the frothier north of the loch from the somewhat calmer south. And so, after eating, we carried our kayaks around to the more sheltered side and continued south. I was once again securely back in my comfort zone as we headed homewards.

I took away a number of things from Sunday:

  • My skills focus is now firmly on bracing.
  • I love kayaking. Even when I’m not 100% at ease in the conditions, I feel completely alive. This is important!
  • Paddling pals are always there to support and encourage you, to teach you, to console you, and – if necessary – to rescue you. Indeed, they are the best type of friends.

Riding high amongst the waves
I can feel like I
Have a soul that has been saved
I can feel like I
Put away my early grave

Gotta say it now
Better loud
Than too late

Amongst the Waves, Backspacer, Pearl Jam


  1. Barrie McStay says:

    Pam / Allan,
    What a beautiful account, the power of your words just brings it all back again. I agree… Kayakers ARE the best type of friends. Thank you. B

  2. pamf says:

    Thank you for the very kind words, Barrie. I am most appreciative of you guys and thanks so much for looking out for me as we paddled back to shore. Aside from being such proficient paddlers (which is always nice to have as a support team!), I’ve come to realise that I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with a really nice bunch of folks. 🙂

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