Reenter and Roll

Ocean Kayaking

Uig Bay

Today as I drove and hiked around North Skye, I was in awe of its simple beauty.  I will let the pictures tell the story as I am exhausted (good exhausted) and heading home tomorrow to be greeted by husband and daughter, both of which I appreciate and thank for giving me this time to explore and have fun in such a beautiful place.  I hope soon the three of us can come back to visit and meld into the culture of this amazing place again.

Kilt Rock

Old Man of Storr

Hiked up and into the mists above Skye

These are regularly seen signs


Sheep-common site along road ways

Sheep and woolly mammoth looking cows are every where to roam freely and live a good life

Kitten Bomb

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Kitten Bomb from my sister

My sister sent me…………(only a photo of ) three of five (not to be confused with seven of nine) of her beautiful barn kitties.  I am very jealous as new kitties are just the best.  Even though I am still in Scotland it is nice to hear from family and that life goes on.

A Skye Day

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Double Skye Rainbow

The countryside is just breath taking here in Skye.  And the weather, well, we’ve had just about everything, but nothing can dampen (I don’t loosely choose my words here) ones spirit when paddling some place as beautiful as Skye.  Friendly folks too, as I entered the pub tonight, one of the locals calls over “How are you doin’ tonight Laura, good days paddle?”  I could easily live someplace as friendly as this.

Beach briefing

A quick chat about where we’re off too.

Ominous skies and a bit of wind

And we’re off.

Just warming up before we head out into the big stuff

Getting to like this Avocet lv.

Enjoying the paddle back.

End of day

Just a quick nap and off we go.

Photo credit goes to Jacob Wacander from Sweden for these photos.  Thank you Jacob and may we cross watery  paths again.

Although a windy week, a bit of an understatement, as it’s been blowing Force 8 with gusts of 9, today calmed down to F7-all out of the north but coming around to the west with a bit of quieting after noon-we still managed to get out, paddle hard, with our eyes closed nonetheless.  Anyone having ever taken a course with G. Brown will understand.  Paddling exotic sounding places such as Tarskavaig and Kyle Rhea, playing in the rocks and surfing standing waves, respectively, has all been a blast and coming to an end too soon for me.  Still two days left of paddling and then an all day hike planned before returning home to family and pets.  Exhausted and fresh blisters that get worse each day (might be that death grip I have on my paddle), but the cool soothing salt water and numbing temperatures keeps me alert for that next instruction that will hopefully keep me upright.

I wanted to include some amazing footage, or at least a photo or two of our days action and play, but that death grip has kept me from retrieving my camera from my PFD.  So instead I have included some pre-launching entertainment as we were waiting for the current to build (a north going current with an opposing wind). Normally he helps pull in the deck line but the ferry was a bit behind in schedule.  He is a true working dog with a job! Ferry dog at Kyle Rhea

A day in the classroom

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Thank goodness I gave myself a couple days to acclimate to Scotland time and do a bit of tromping about the hills before joining Gordon for a navigation blitz.  There were a few just off the plane as of last night who were a bit blurry eyed.  The good news is that I finally got a handle on long crossings with multiple course vectors and working with those tide and current tables and a plethora of nav aid books.  Even though the UK uses different books, we’re still looking for the same information.  It was an interesting day of heavy winds, rain squalls, bursts of blazing rays of sun highlighting the Skye hills and a few vibrant rainbows.  It was a great day of accomplishment, new paddle friends and another day thwarting the onset of dementia.  Tomorrow will be a new day on the water; followed hopefully by a stint in the pub, thwarting dementia.




What does Scotland have in common with the Pacific Northwest?

Hiking the sponge

The details to arriving in Scotland are the usual travel woes but for the most part uneventful.  The fun began when I rented the car in Inverness and immediately went to the driver’s side (wrong) passenger’s side to get in.  I have subsequently solved this problem by always parking the left side of the car up against a wall or other barrier.  The next bit was to get my left hand to do what I told it to do, shift up, down, left, right…that’s gotten better too.  Then, you got to stay on the left side of the road.  As long as I’m consciously thinking about it I’m OK.  I feel as though I’m a player within a video game at times.  The Scots drive very very fast and even faster on those one lane tracks.  I think it’s a bit of sport for them.

I am staying at a wonderful B&B, with a view of the sea and amazingly good breakfast.  Everything is fresh, homemade and plentiful!  I couldn’t have gotten luckier.

So the half dozen or so folks that I have come into contact with and been asked those pertinent questions: Where ya from, how long ya staying, are ya on a hiking holiday tour?  “No, I’m doing a bit of kayaking for 6 or 7 days”, “Oh, you must be working with Gordon Brown!  Wonderful, wonderful fellow”.  It appears Gordon & Morag are quite famous around here.  I can’t wait!

Today I went on a hiking adventure to climb Ben Aslak, a hill that stands above the Sound of Sleat.  Not a biggie but very up.  The trail book classified the terrain as ‘pathless’.  A bit overcast, looked as though something was moving in, but only 3 miles ‘up’ the pathless terrain.  I guess Skye has had a bit of a wet summer as the terrain was like a very thick & wet sponge.  It was very wobbly and in short duration my boots were soaked.  And it hadn’t even begun to rain…….yet!  The rains and the winds set in and by the time up and back I was a bit of a drowned rat.  So, back to the cozy B&B.

Here in Courtenay at the home of my, so-much-more-than-gracious hosts, Doug Taylor and his partner Penny. They have taken me in and attended to me like they have known me for years rather than the smelly guy in a damp dry suit that wandered into their home just last night.

A few blisters on my hands that were not expected but not really an issue.  I suspect they are due to the repeated correcting strokes in the quartering seas that have been consistently from the SE in the Strait of Georgia.  I’m not complaining as I’d much rather have it astern than ahead.  My low back has really been getting sore after a few hours in the boat.  Its not the kind of sore like I pulled my back out, its more of a conditioning of those sacral ligaments and tendons that are required to keep you in the paddling position. It should work out with time.   My body is feeling great otherwise.   I am certainly going through the fluids at a much higher rate than expected; that will prove to be an ongoing challenge.

I arrived on Orcas Island Friday and hitched a ride from the ferry terminal into Eastsound where I caught up with Leon and Shawna.  They had the Nordkapp sitting in their barn, waiting to be unpacked with all my gear next to it.  Wow, this is really happening!   The Nordkapp, in many kayaker’s opinion, is one of the most beautiful kayaks to look at.   Its seaworthiness has been tested and proven in all the major oceans of the world.  There are a few great kayaks out there with no less seagoing credentials but none as pretty to see, hauled up on a desolate beach as the Nordkapp.

The Nordkapp

I camped the first night on the SE end of South Pender Island.  A rocky beach that offered little protection but it was getting dark and I needed to get off the water and Customs had already closed.  I hauled the boat over the rocks on driftwood “rolls” to get it well above the high water mark and then secured it with line.   When I got up in the morning I just had to laugh…   the tide was falling and the water was already a long ways away.   Completely unload the boat, move it to a continuously receding waters edge, reload it then launch.

Of note: The boat with me and the water is > 300 lbs.  No rock gardening on this trip.

The Nordkapp and a lot of the stuff that needs to fit into those hatches.

My paddle speed is unchanged; averaging a little over 4 knots consistently; I’m covering about one nautical mile every 15 minutes.

At this point I have a decision to make.  Given my time constraints, I am concerned about getting partway down the west coast (the best part of this trip) and running out of time.   I must be back on Orcas Island to end the trip on the 12th of July to join my wife and daughter in Seattle on the 13th.  That leaves me with 20 days and the weather is the final arbiter of whether I paddle or not on any given day once on the west coast.  So….   a total circumnavigation is unlikely.  More likely is leap-frogging some of the more trafficked and developed coastline coming up and starting from some point along the Johnstone Strait.  That decision will be made tonight and I will begin again tomorrow.

Thank You’s:

This trip is a real gift from so many sources; my wife who, with quiet reservations, has supported this voyage completely.  That said, while I attend to to the joys of this challenge, it is she who lives with the uncertainty, waiting to hear each day that all is well.    Shawna and Leon at Body Boat Blade who made getting a boat possible and welcomed me into their home. Their friendship and logistical support has helped make this trip happen.  A very big thank you to Claudia and Melissa who drove to SeaTac at midnight to pick me up and allow me a couple hours sleep in a real bed before getting back up at 0500 to take me to the Anacortes ferry terminal.   I also thank my colleagues at Derry Medical Center who have supported my taking this much time off knowing they would be picking up the slack in my absence.   Thank you again to Doug and Penny whose generosity overwhelms me.           Thank you, thank you, thank you !

Update 6/21 PM


Just off the phone with Jon. He paddled 33nm today, up from 21nm yesterday. He says he feels like he’s getting stronger. Has gone through 21 liters of water in 3 days. He originally thought 3 liters/day, but looks like 6-7.

My campsite on Pebble Beach, Galiano Island

An update to Jon’s beginning trip around Vancouver Island, from Laura.

To start with, Jon headed out west via Jet Blue with the remnants of a head cold that developed into a bit more with his descent into Seattle.  After being picked up by my sister, a few hours respite and driven to Anacortes to catch a ferry to Orcas Island, Jon spent the following day outfitting his new Nordkapp.  He had the opportunity before leaving to spend some time with a borrowed (but older version) Nordkapp, figuring out how to foam out and pack, but as it turned out, the new Nordkapp’s seat and cockpit  is put together a bit differently.  For those that know Jon, he is an industrious guy and when it comes to figuring anything out he gets it the way he wants it.

Jon set out for South Pender Island, BC on the 19th of June, where he is required  to clear customs.  He landed late in the day due to a bit of a late start (still trying to rid himself of his sinus infection), making camp for the night in order to clear customs in the early am.  This turned out to be a bank of four phones placed at the dockside.  After being asked the name of his vessel he stated he was in a kayak, after a somewhat longer than usual pause the customs official put him on hold, then came back stating “OK, you are noted as vessel Kayak Kilroy”.  Jon’s journey is now under way.

Jon sends out regular Spot signals that I receive via my cell phone and as email’s.  This is of course a huge peace of mind on my part although I don’t doubt his competence.  Jon is doing this trip solo.  Although I wish I had the competence and stamina to be doing this with him, and I’m envious as all hell, yeah, it’s a little scary for me to have him out there all alone.  Hence, the regular updates keep us connected and his progress updated.

A brief update from Jon stated that his fully loaded boat, with a fairly vigorous following S’E wind was causing the boat to wallow and weathercock a bit more than he would like.  He is looking to lighten up (hence ditch some gear/food) when he arrives in Comox.  Jon has a contact there that is following his progress and willing to lend a hand.  Doug has previously made this same circumnavigation and so has insights and info that of course will be beneficial.  I am sure a friendly face with information and commmensuration, and a good cup of coffee will help sort things out.  Jon sounded tired, but in good spirits as he spent his second night on Galiano Island.

Please go to ‘Follow me Around Vancouver Island’ to click on Spot tracking.

We are providing this Spot Messenger link so folks can follow either of us or both on our paddling adventures.

Click on the Spot image to see what we’re up to now.