ARISAIG – SEA KAYAKING June 24

After a hot shower and a good hearty Scottish breakfast, I was in about as good shape as I was going to be after yesterday’s adventure. We packed up and headed out to Arisaig for our sea kayaking adventure. I really had no idea what to expect, besides sitting, for which I was very thankful. So when Arisaig appeared, I was delighted in its charm.

To say Arisaig is small is an understatement. To say it is tiny is closer.

It’s also adorable. Which is good, because we didn’t really have an address for the outfitter. Turns out it wasn’t difficult to find.

We were rather surprised to find out that we were the first people there. Then we were delighted to find out that it was going to be a small group. And by small I mean us, another couple and the guide.

Much to my surprise the outfitter was quite happy to outfit us with booties, waterproof jackets and dry sacks for no extra charge. Yeah, no extra charge. Imagine that. It took a bit to get layered up with all of the above and our spray skirts. We looked fabulous.

Since it was high tide, we just carried our ridiculously long sea kayaks, mine was the smallest at 14 feet and Chad’s the largest at 17 feet, down to the beach to put in. It was a perfect day for paddling – overcast and cool. So no sunburn and minimal sweating. Hooray!

Once in the water we practiced maneuvering and getting comfortable with our kayaks. I was stunned to see that the water was clear. You could easily make out the rocks on the bottom, even in the water that was easily 7-8 feet deep. That made me feel much better about things. I have a love/hate relationship with natural bodies of water. I find them fascinating; love the sound of water, love being near water, dislike immensely not being able to see what’s in the water. That last one is a big deal to me when I am in a kayak. Even when we were not in between the tiny islands but in more open water, it was obvious that the water was clear, just really, really deep.

Paddling in the areas buffered from the sea was way easier, obviously, than out in the open water since out there we had swells and wind to deal with. Still, it wasn’t anything terrifying.We stopped on a little island so we could stretch our legs and look around. It was really quite lovely. Our guide, Rory, pointed out the cow hoof prints on the shore and said at low tide, the cattle would often just walk over and graze. And sure enough, Chad looked up and saw a lone brown cow grazing contently. Guess he missed the low tide crossing time. Or maybe he was the cow emperor of this particularly tiny island. Either way, cow.

The islands we stopped on weren’t big, they look like dots on the satellite photos. It was fun to walk up on a knoll and get a good view of everything while the birds flew around freaking out because we were in their space!

After our lunch stop – catered by us at the local convenience store, hooray for oatcakes! – we paddled around to where a crazy number of seals were hanging out. When we saw seals, we were supposed to stop paddling and be quiet so as not to scare them off. It was not a problem! They were just as curious about us, possibly more so, than we were about them. They kept popping up and looking at us. Heck for a long while we had a dozen or so that followed us as we moved on.

At some point it started drizzling a bit. Then maybe a bit more. Then it got a little cooler. Then it was time to put on our fancy windproof polar fleece hats. Fortunately our waterproof jackets and spray skirts kept us nice and dry.

We had one last stop on a tiny little island with a beach made of fossilized seaweed, which looked like tiny bits of coral. Which I had thought odd, since I’d not seen any coral.

Anyway, it was a tight little place from which to extricate yourself. I launched first and was getting turned around to wait for Chad when I heard a noise, looked behind me and saw the bottom of a kayak! Then a blue clad arm surfaced and a head in a black hat, strikingly similar to the one I was wearing. Chad had capsized trying to make a hard turn. He stood up, turned his kayak back over and walked back to shore to try again. The second launching was a success.

A short but vigorous paddle later, we were hauling our kayaks out of the water and divesting ourselves of the various and sundry waterproof garments. I was dry. Chad was not. The waterproof gear only really works if you don’t go underwater, no matter how briefly. He also smelled slightly of saltwater. (His clothes took days to dry. The trunk of our car stank of manky, mildew, saltwater crusted, yuck.) The good news was since Arisaig was so small, we were only a few hundred feet from our lodging, The Old Library Lodge

Clean, dry and not smelling of saltwater, we headed over to the pub at the Arisaig Hotel. It was, in fact, the only pub in town.

As always, take a look see at the gallery for more of today’s adventure. 

chris on June 24th 2015 in Travel

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