Sunday, 28 January 2018

Irish Islands and the Dalkey Seals

I love to go kayaking everywhere I travel. Whenever I head out to another country or new region in Canada or the USA, my first thought is "Where is there a body of water I can paddle on?" and my second question is "OK- is there a kayak I can rent somewhere nearby?"

Occasionally due to legal/liability constraints, I am unable to just rent a boat and go for a paddle alone or with a friend. There have been times when the only way to get on the water is by joining a "tour."

Usually joining a tour means that it will be a pretty chill day of paddling. I've found even tours marketed towards experienced kayakers or athletes usually mean paddling slowly with lots of breaks. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it can be nice to have a simple, slow moving paddle in a beautiful area.

Despite preferring to rent my own boat, there are positives to "tours." Usually the guide can tell you cool information about the local ecosystem and regional history. They might know awesome hidden spots to see wildlife and have pointers about things to do. I typically travel by myself and tours can also be a nice way to meet other folks.

Don't throw away the opportunity to paddle in a lovely place if you have to compromise and go on a tour. Sure, you might feel a bit annoyed when the guides ask everyone to watch the "how to use a paddle demonstration" but if you have been a guide yourself, you know to just be kind and go along with it.

This past July (2017), I was returning to Ireland for a work conference and wanted to get some paddling in. I landed in Dublin from my red eye flight, grabbed a coffee to make up for only getting 3 hours of sleep, and took a bus to Bullock Harbor in Dalkey where I met up with the guide from Kayaking.Ie (an awesome kayak company founded by Jenny Kilbride).

We had a lovely afternoon paddle to Dalkey Island and saw SO MANY SEALS! There was time to walk around the island and check out the historical sites.

Another advantage is that you don't have to worry about bringing all of your gear-- they likely have all of it there for you already. 

Not everything has to be about pushing yourself to your limits. Sometimes you can have a wonderful time just being on the water and checking out a new spot!