So, another year another trip to the Saltees with Mick O'Meara and SeaPaddling.com! This trip, today Sunday 16th June 2005, was excellent. Whilst the weather was not as good as last year, in that it was overcast rather than the sun splitting the stones, it was perfect weather for paddling. Last year's trip was at the end of May so the bluebells on the island were in full bloom, this year in mid-June you could still see traces of the blue carpet of flowers that must have covered the island a few weeks ago. The birds were there in full glory, especially the gannet colony, a noisy mass of birds that has overspilled onto a number of nearby rocky outcroppings, allowing me to get some closer photographs. I've uploaded some photograph highlights to a Flickr photo set (I haven't had time to process the images yet so they are a bit raw, and some could do with some cropping).
UPDATE 2005-06-13: I have cropped a picture of a puffin with fish in its mouth.
On Saturday morning I went with a group of sea kayakers on a trip from Helvick Head in Co. Waterford towards Ardmore (though not all the way). The trip was organised by Paul Durnan, the key contact in the South East Sea Kayaking group. Details of these trips are published on the Irish Sea Kayakers Association ISKA Bulletin Board. Note the strange URL for the site, though the more sensible ISKA redirects you to it.
Whilst it was quite chilly, it was great to be out on the water in January. There were fourteen of us in all, though Des Keaney, from Deep Blue Sea Kayaking stayed onshore, and provided a lift back from the halfway point for anyone not feeling up to the return trip. All in all it was a great day, lasting from 10:00am to 18:00pm, followed by a sociable drink for those still able to move their arms. The photo above shows the lunch stop at a beach near Ardmore.
Last Sunday 23rd May 2004 I went with Mick O'Meara and others to the Saltee Islands from Kilmore Quay in Co. Wexford. Mick has recently setup a local Sea Kayaking business in Co. Waterford: http://www.seapaddling.com/ offering trips and certification for groups of all abilities. His website is a good place for links to weather information as well as for booking trips with him. As we had not travelled as far out the Saltees (4 miles offshore) before, I was happy to go in a guided group with Mick; he is an excellent instructor and guide. The trip was great fun, the good weather helped. The abundance of wildlife, in particular nesting seabirds such as the Gannet colony of nesting birds, a joy to behold. I recommend this trip to anyone with basic Seakayak skills, but I'd warn people that the tides can be tricky around here, so be sure to consult with local experts or other resources ton plan the trip properly.
We landed for lunch on the Greater Saltee island which is owned by Michael the First (who as decarled the island as an independent territory). You can just make out a party of divers swimming in for their lunch break, as well as our Kayaks lined up on the small beach.