Wednesday, March 25, 2015

North Sea paddle: The stars align...the four men in mango and the lady in red.

"The stars align": When an unexpected and nearly impossible event takes place.

The recent solar eclipse was certainly impressive. The sun, the moon, and the earth were perfectly lined up. But something even more unexpected came to be yesterday: Five kayakers (from the north, the south, and the west) were available on the same day (with just a little "schedule manipulation"); the weather forecast was perfect; the sea state was ideal for a late March paddle on the North Sea, into caves and through arches; was Joan's birthday.

When we met up with Ian, Mike, and Douglas at the Auchmithie launch, we all knew we were in for a good day. We had no idea, however, just how good, and how varied it was going to be.

First order of business, of course...

Carrying Ian's boat to the water.
...was to get the kayaks to the water. Even with a loaded boat, it's a labour of love.

The second matter...

Douglas and Mike work their magic and field repair a troublesome skeg.
...was to get Joan's oft-annoying skeg on the yellow "Starship Scorpio" fully operational. With paddling partners like this, however, it's a piece of cake.

"Come on guys, surely there is some way I can help?"
The third matter was to host a group consultation on a technical, camera-related issue.

"Hey guys, just FYI, Joan's usually right."
Joan (the lady in red) appears to be advising. ;)

In no time at all, the repairs were completed, camera sorted, and it was down to the serious matter of paddling - the magnificent cliffs, caves, arches, rock gardens, and beaches of the North Sea!

Paddling to a backdrop of layers of ancient sandstone
and the dark mouths of caves.
The plan was to leave Auchmithie and paddle northwards up to Lunan Bay, but first of all, a small detour to the south was in order...a visit to the cave leading to the Gaylet Pot.

There's a LOT of "geology" to admire on the way.

You have to pause to take it all in.
There are numerous caves to explore...

Mike, Douglas, and Ian turn the corner to the first cave.
...and the sea permitted full entry, to some.

Mike and Douglas, deep inside an ancient "cathedral".
It is incredibly humbling being "inside" our dynamic earth. Walkers on the trail above probably have no idea that 200 feet below them, sea kayaks are penetrating the innermost regions of the ancient cliffs.

Ian and Mike.
We paddled from this cavern to the cave and passageway that leads to the Gaylet Pot, the "crater" well inland in a farmer's field. 

Benign at first, the sea state inside changed when a series of larger swell rolled silently into the cave. It was an excellent lesson on how complete care must be taken...and nothing assumed. Ian demonstrated the proper technique for cautious exploration in this unforgiving environment. It certainly raised my heart rate.

Heading back north, a stunningly beautiful coast awaited...and many more unforgettable moments.

Ian and formation.
The stars had aligned...and the sea was permitting a simply extraordinary day for the lady in red and the four men in mango. ;)

But she (the sea) had some heart-stopping surprises up her sleeve...


  1. Hi Duncan, Wow it's more than stunning! And to think it's only March and you are so far north. You really do see the planet "inside and out" there. :>) Looking forward to more of your pics and story! Gen.

    1. Thank you for that, Gen. Speaking of March, the "weather star" move out of "alignment" today. Our morning run enjoyed light snow flurries! Now it's raining. Haha! It's Scotland. :) "Warm" wishes. Duncan.

  2. Duncan, what a great day, fantastic coast and really excellent company! :o)

    1. Indeed it was a great day, Douglas, so glad we could all get out on the water was the best! Warm wishes from us both and looking forward to the next time. Duncan.

  3. What a day it was Duncan, and doubly good to be sharing Joan's birthday. Getting air-miles in a cave raised my heart rate almost as quickly as the bow of my boat! Stunning location :o)

    Warm wishes

    1. Ian, all these years I've been collecting the wrong kind of "Air Miles". I mean, who needs a full gas tank when you can have a small but regular measure ("dram"?) of adrenaline. :) Warm wishes to you. Duncan.