Thursday, 4 June 2009

Chillblains in June

We were woken early by the rain but fortunately it had stopped by the time we were ready to get going. All the same it was pretty cold with the air temperature down at 9 degrees and a brisk N F3-4 blowing.

We were on the water by 8.30am and headed straight across Sinclair Bay to Noss Point. The sea state picked up as we got closer but was still only slight to moderate. At the point though things got a bit lively and some serious concentration was required due to the 1.5m ground swell mixing with the wind blown waves and the clapotis bouncing back off the point. Things eased a little once past the main point but it was still a lively ride down to Wick.

We stopped at Broad Haven just N of Wick for a breather and top up our water.

Suitably refreshed we head S across Wick Bay only to find more tricky seas awaiting us just S of the bay, in part a function of the N going tide. Eventually we reached The Haven just N of Sarclet Point, an old fishing station, and went ashore for lunch. It was still pretty cold and we hunckered down in the shelter of the ruins to get out of the worst of the wind.

Back on the water and round Sarclet Point things improved. The swell was still there but we had lost the influence of the tide and the wind so the sea was much more manageable.

The coast down this section S of Wick is pretty impresive with a continous selection of arches, geos, caves and stacks. A great place for a paddle on a calm day.

What was even more startling was the number of sea birds. In the course of the day we must have passed thousands if not tens of thousands of them. Common Guillimots, Black Guillimots, Razorbilla, Puffins, Shags, Black Backs, Herring Gulls and the occasional Eider Duck. The noise, the sky filled with birds and the smell are difficult to capture in words. Incredible just doesn't do it justice. We also found ourselves paddled past Guillimots and Razorbills with beaks full of freshly caught fish and on their way back to the 'family ledge', just amazing.

A bit further along as we passed inside a skerry we came upon a large group of seals hauled out on the rocks. We were pretty close before we spotted them and vice versa and managed to get a few shots before they did their depth charge impressions and came for a closer look at us.

Eventually we arrived at Lybster and pulled in for a break just as the rain returned.

From there we headed off on the final leg to Dunbeath. As we did so the wind dropped to a whisper, the sea state eased right off and the rain stopped. A nice way to finish the shift.

We pulled into Dunbeath and had just got the tent up when the rain returned. Probably the coldest June day that we can recall and we both now have chillblains for good measure.

Distance travelled today: 47km
Total distance travelled: 467km
Midgee ferrocity: am nil, pm 3/5

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