On the Sea – Arisaig July 9

Like the previous day, we were up early to head out. Not 5 am early, but still early. We had to be in Arisaig for a 10 am sea kayaking adventure. No rest for the wicked, the weary or the vacationing if you do it our way! We were using the same outfitter as last time, so at least we were ahead of the game in knowing where it was. I look for small victories in the morning, very small victories! 

Once again we lucked out and had quite a small group – 7 including our guide. We had a family from Norway and a guy from London. He told me a dreadful story about kayaking in London in a river (no, not the Thames) where there’s loads of trash including dead pigeons. But that’s not the worst part, apparently a lot of beginning kayakers go there and somehow manage to flip their kayaks multiple times! The first time I landed in dead pigeon water would make me a fast learner of how not to flip my kayak! It makes my natural aversion to West Virginia river water, which has thus far yielded no dead pigeons, seem rather silly.

The area around Arisaig is a seal nursery so we saw loads of them, including mom seals with their babies on their back. Which…super squee!

Watching them flop around trying to get to the water is hilarious. They are definitely NOT graceful on land, more like extremely large slugs.

I even had a baby seal swim under the front of my kayak!

The paddle was fairly uneventful, if you discount floating amongst seals, until we headed out into the more open water which was choppy! As we paddled along in the troughs and swells, I kept thinking “So, should I flip this thing and not be able to roll back up (likely), and have to do a wet escape what the hell am I going to do? It’s cold. The water is quick. This is how it ends.” (Although to be honest, I was pretty sure I was going to die sliding down the shortcut of Ben Nevis, as well, so take it all with a grain of salt.)

We reached a piece of water sheltered by a few small islands and our guide asked us if we wanted to go into more open water (obvious from the looks on all our faces that was a big NO) or if we wanted to turn back the way we came, have the wind at our backs and surf back in. Confused silence. And I spoke up and said, let’s go with the surfing bit, as it seemed far less likely to involve me rolling my kayak.

(the following photo is NOT taken anywhere near the area being mentioned in the current narration)

What happens when you’re the slowest paddler is when your group turns around, you suddenly find yourself in front and the guinea pig to try the surfing! Hooray me! As instructed, I thought I was paddling pretty hard. Apparently I was not, since our guide pulled up beside me and basically said you’re gonna have to paddle so hard your arms will fall off tonight. Good enough.

I do admit, surfing was fun – plus upper body workout!

This was our paddling route. 

Once back on land, we took a little walk around Arisaig to check out an old cemetery. Turns out there were six graves of sailors from the H.M.S. Curacoa, which was involved in a very sad accident.

Here’s a rundown of the accident: On the morning of 2 October 1942, Curacoa rendezvoused north of Ireland with the ocean liner Queen Mary, which was carrying approximately 10,000 American troops of the 29th Infantry Division. Each captain had different interpretations of The Rule of the Road believing his ship had the right of way. Queen Mary struck Curacoa amidships at full speed, cutting the cruiser in half. The aft end sank almost immediately, but the rest of the ship stayed on the surface a few minutes longer. Lost with Curacoa were 337 officers and men of her crew.

So, now that we’re all depressed, I’ll end with this. When you’re staying so close to a mussel farm, that you’ve paddled by it twice, you’re pretty much obligated to have mussels for dinner. And they were delicious!

 

chris on July 9th 2018 in Animals, Travel

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