Photograph by Rapid Kayaking
Sea kayaking had been on my wish list for around three years, until I let go of some old fears and booked a two hour trip with local instructor James O’Donnell of http://www.rapidkayaking.com in August.
“James is a member of the British and Irish Canoe Association and is a fully insured and up to date sea kayak guide and instructor. He has spent the last 16 years exploring and paddling the Donegal coastline and offshore islands, which has given him a great awareness and understanding of this wild, natural environment and its marine and bird life.”
I arrived at Kincasslagh Harbour on a calm, dry morning and joined a small group for a two hour trip to Oilean Traigh – known as Big Island by the local fishermen.
James supplied all equipment including a wetsuit, shoes, a waterproof jacket, buoyancy aid and helmet. This was my first time wearing a wetsuit, but I did not have my photograph taken, so you will be spared that sight!
Kayaks and paddles were allocated to each member of our group, and a series of health and safety instructions were given. It was time to enter the water.
Practice Area inside Kincasslagh Harbour
Despite my long held fears of participating in a trip, I felt remarkably calm.
Before heading out to sea we practiced paddling forwards, backwards, gathering as a group with the noses of our kayaks closely parked, maneuvering off rocks…
Then we were off.
Out to Sea
Leaving the harbour, James indicated our first stop alongside a small island in the bay. It took me some time to accomplish a smooth paddling rhythm but it was a good learning experience.
I reached our first stop as the last in the group, but it did not matter.
James set our group another goal to reach the next small island, and so we continued, until we were a fair distance from shore. I was now enjoying myself immensely despite continuing to be the slowest.
The more experienced members of the group took a short trip through some exciting swells, while I remained in calmer waters.
It felt good to wait peacefully on their return. Indeed, I enjoyed breathing in Nature’s beauty, staring into the sea and observing the marine life and different types of seaweed.
An Island Picnic and Swim
It was time for a break on Oilean Traigh.
After pulling our kayaks ashore, we enjoyed a picnic and a bit of exploration. Some members of the group had a swim beneath a mighty sea arch, while I enjoyed a gentle paddle in my wet suit.
All too soon, it was time to head back to the mainland.
Photograph by Rapid Kayaking
The sea had grown a little more choppy, but I enjoyed it immensely, and paddled quite confidently.
Once again, I was last to reach the shore, but it did not matter. James helped me out of my kayak, and asked me, “How do you feel.”
I wished I had not procrastinated for so long. Sea kayaking will be a definite on next summer’s list of pleasurable activities.
Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from a debilitating illness.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.