Last shoot for DVD. Hopefully.

This is the MV Coruisk which crosses the Sound of Sleat from Mallaig
to Armadale. It's becoming a regular commute for me, the easiest way
to get to Gordon Brown's place on Skye. We've a few pieces to camera
to shoot today and then we're done.

New Podcast - Cheri perry, Greenland Roller

Now this is one surprising lady. She... well, perhaps I ought to let you hear for yourself.

We saw her on The Is The Sea 3 and some were lucky to be coached by her at the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium on Skye in May earlier this year.

In the latest Podcast from SeaKayakRoutes.com, Cheri talks about getting into kayaking, the switch from Euro to Greeland styles and much more.

She runs Kayakways.net with Turner Wilson who we'll hear from in a month or two.

Hey, the Podcasts are free, there's no advertising and are done just for fun!

Sample of my Book is Online

Today I posted the hard copy of my book, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail back to Pesda Press.

A sample version is now online.

After so long, I can hardly believe this is actually going to end up as a real book any day now.

Skyak's Gordon Brown on Radio Scotland

Photographer Colin Prior has made a series of programmes about people's whose lives are directly affected by the weather. It's called Four Seasons in A Day.

The first progamme, just broadcast, featured Gordon Brown with whom I'm making a coaching / expeditioning DVD.

The programme is broadcast again on 1st August at 06:00 and after that might hopefully appear in the iPlayer. It is on the iPlayer, but not for long.

Kayak to Faroes - On TV Sunday 2nd August

The Adventure Show at 19:00 on BBC-2 Scotland this Sunday, 2nd August.

Mick Berwick and Patrick Winterton's astonishing five-day kayak from Scotland to the Faroe Islands, including a four-day, three-night crossing of 300 km.

I believe the producers have divided their story into two sections within the programme which also covers the Scottish Islands Peaks Race.

So something of a salty flavour to this Adventure Show.

If you're not in Scotland you might need to check Sky or other digital providers. I'm fairly sure the programme does not appear in the iPlayer.

Final Proof Copy - Scottish Sea Kayak Trail

So this is the final proof of my book, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail.

I think I'm meant to initial each page to say I'm happy with it, then return the whole thing as a hostage to fortune. When someone finds mistakes, those signatures mean it's my head on the block, no one elses. Fair enough.

I spent yesterday afternoon checking phone numbers. An astonishing number have changed since I wrote the book. I thought it was finished last August!

Tourist Information Centres have closed or changed their numbers too. And I still find the occasional inconsistency or typo. So I can't sign off every page, but most are ready to go. Once Liz gives it her approval.

Helping to Raise my Friend's Mast. On Winkle.

It sounds like I'm using some odd sexual euphamism. I'm not.

Allister's new (second hand) boat is a Corbee called 'Winkle'. Having brought it up from the south coast to a new home on Scotland's west coast, he needed help raising the mast. It's temporarily going into Arisaig harbour until he can secure a mooring somewhere else.

With much huffing and puffing we almost had it up. Then a passer-by picked up the wind-finder and said, "er, shouldn't this go ontop?"

It had been. It must have fallen off. Down came the mast, on went the little needle, and up went the mast again. Much quicker this time around. Hopefully, he and Jo will get out to sea in her later this week and then we might join them at the weekend.

I can't wait to play with his 'Winkle'.

So Farewell Dear Quest

I sold my Quest this morning. It has gone to a good home. I bought it in 2005 from Douglas Wilcox, and now she's back with one of his friends. Expect her to start appearing in photos rather soon.


She's had quite a history. Originally badged as 'Capella Explorer' it was the late Mike Thomson who insisted P&H come up with a better name. "Sea Quest" was his suggestion, and he put that name on the front of his demo boat when it arrived. P&H liked the name, dropped the 'sea' and so the Quest was born. Or at least that's the story Mike told me.

If you enjoy this blog, please consider visiting a few of the sites linked in the adverts above.

Madagascar Circumnavigated by Kayak

Riaan Manser spent 11 months on the task and has successfully circumnavigated Madagascar. He finished 8th July.

The goal had been attempted over two years by Simon Osbourne of Sea Kayaking Cornwall. I recorded a Podcast with Simon when he and Phil Clegg were part way around.

In the current Ocean Paddler Magazine, Simon explained why he returned to complete the task with a local paddler, but then decided that wasn't going to work, so he went and did something else. Read more about that trip and see video on Simon's website.

In the meantime, you can read more about Riaan Manser's Madagascar expedition, during which he was nudged by sharks, on Reuters news service, and the Portfolio Travel Blog.

(Nudged by sharks eh? Fancy that Gavin?)

Anyone for Orkney in August?

The Orkney Sea Kayaking Association is organising get-together on the third weekend in August.

It's a mini-symposium and Mary Saunders is trying to drum-up some kayakers to attend.

Mary tells me: "It will be on the 15th and 16th of August this year and as well as some nice paddles around Orkney, I have used my charms (a big stick) to persuade Donald Thomson and Nige Robinson to come up and do some coached sessions too".

From the booking sheet, these sessions seem to be £20 each, with up to four a day.

"Numbers are pretty much limited to about 30 folk and priority will go to our friends in Shetland. Camping is very basic but the venue is near our sports centre which has showers, a jacuzzi and sauna etc etc".

Again, it seems camping for the weekend costs £15, participation £5, and dinner Sat/Sun £10 each day. More info and a registration form, which they need back by 7th August with money.

Peninsula not Peninsular - Whoops!

I received a very nice e-mail today, politely pointing out that my spelling of this word was wrong.

Wrong on ScottishSeaKayakTrail.com. Wrong on the Pesda Press website. And quite possibly wrong in my book, which is close to being at final proof stage. Or rather, was close.

I'd used 'peninsular', which is the form of the adjective, when I should have used 'peninsula' which is the noun. Pesda Press are on the case.

"Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but I hate to see good quality, interesting websites and books 'spoiled' by spelling mistakes", wrote my correspondent.

I'm delighted she did.

Scottish Sea Kayak Trail - now 10th August

After reading Cailean's blog, I looked at the Pesda Press website.

I discovered that my book is now due out on the 10th August. News to me! Somewhat later than anticipated, but I'm determined to make sure all the details are correct.

For example, I just discovered today that the 'official' campsite on Gigha, at the start of the trail, is no longer free.

Last year we left a £5 returnable deposit at the Gigha Hotel. Now you pay £3 per person per night to the neighbouring Boathouse Cafe. The owners tell me they're putting the funds towards better toilet and shower facilities.

I know it's a truism that any guidebook will be out of date before it's published. That is why I set up the ScottishSeaKayakTrail.com. I can update it, but more importantly, people who kayak the trail and in the area can share their knowledge of changes. But I'm still hoping to make the book as up-to-date as possible. And still hit 10th August!

700 miles in 32 Hours

I've completed my own endurance test and driven for more than twenty of the last thirty two hours. It's been a 'grand tour' of the west of Scotland.

From Loch Sunart where I live, it was up the Great Glen to Inverness, then the long coast road to Thurso where yesterday afternoon I saw Cailean for the first time in ages.

I collected Mick and Patrick from the Silver Fjord cargo ship, and after buying food we set off to drive across the top. Cailean advised the other route was quicker, but we chose the scenic route. With my little VW Polo groaning under the weight of the two big expedition boats, all their kit and three blokes, we rarely managed to go over 50mph. It was a beautiful drive.

And they gave me a superb pair of Faroes socks as a gift. Toastie.

We got the tents up around midnight (next to a lavator yin Drumbeg) and were back in the car by 7:30am this morning, finding our way to their chosen launch site at Clashnessie Bay to cross the Minch.

I drove down to Ullapool to drop off some kit for their return by ferry, then headed for Skye where I'd left Liz's kayak with Gordon & Morag Brown.

A twenty minute nap in a Glen Shiel lay-by revitalised me, and I was nearing home when I discovered the A82 blocked north of Spean Bridge. A check of the Road Conditions website confirmed a traffic accident had happened twenty minutes earlier at 14:08. Police vehicles streamed to the scene. So should I wait, or find another way?

I new I needed some stuff in B&Q so I headed back up to Inverness, did the weekly shop, then with the website saying the A82 wasn't closed but 'restricted', I decided to come down the A9 to Kingussie and cross over through Roybridge. I was touched that Morag rang to check it wasn't me in the crash.

I should have been on the 15:15 Corran ferry home but was on the 19:15. Perhaps I should have just waited? I hope Mick and Patrick have had a better day.

Faroes Paddlers Head Across Minch

The two dots in the photo are Mick Berwick and Patrick Winterton
leaving Clashnessie Bay near Stoer early Sunday morning heading across
the Minch to Stornoway. With no ferries today it was the only way back
to their vehicle. This would be a huge crossing for me, and not one
I'd attempt in a forecast F7, but I haven't just paddled to the Faroes.

Caledonian Sleeper Train

Liz took the sleeper train from Fort William to London last night. Not the best night's sleep, she reports, but easier than driving to Glasgow and flying.

Passing through the highlands at 'golden hour' in the lounge was apparently lovely. But the clanking of carriages being shunted together plus the irregular train movements conspired for a fitfull night.

Seeing her go brought back memories for me. Every other Sunday, while I was growing up, my Mum used to take the sleeper from Morpeth to London. I'd join her during school vaccations. She'd spend all Monday buying stock for her clothes shops (this was the swinging 1960's), then virtually commandeer the guard's van for the return journey Monday evening. Steak & kidney pie in the restaurant car was a highlight.

She and Dad would require the services of a porter with a massive trolley to carry all the boxes back in Newcastle and would fill the large car. When I say trolleyt, I don't mean the tiny aluminium carts you get now, but the sort of things you could imagine running on rails. You'd never get away with it nowardays.

I loved travelling by sleeper train, which is probably why I took a liking to TS Elliot's poem of Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, although I knew it from 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats', not the 'Cats' musical.

Mink in Loch Moidart

We went out for a couple of hours on our local paddle in Loch Moidart.

In the lovely lagoon at the end of the south channel we came across a family of five mink.

I know they do a lot of damage and have a reputation for being vicious, so feel free to add your mink horror stories below.


Shiant Islands and More

We managed a late night crossing to the lovely Shiant Islands during our three weeks on the Outer Hebrides.

In fact, we managed quite a few routes, so I've added an Outer Hebrides page to SeaKayakRoutes.com.

Expecting tranquility on the Shiants, we were far from alone. A team from the British Trust for Ornithology were there for two weeks. Through out the hours of darkness they were playing, very loudly, a looped recording of a Storm Petrel.

This was an attempt to lure the small birds into a net where they were bagged, ringed, recorded and then released.

Made for fascinating video which I'll eventually edit. Surprisingly, we slept throught the whole thihng.

Kayak to Faroes - Video

This video was posted on Friday when the lads arrived but I've only managed to get online Sunday to embed it. It's included for completeness. Interviews and closer pictures start about 6 minutes in.



New Podcast - Scotland to Faroes by Kayak recorded today

Kayaking history is yours for the listening.

Listen to or download a fourteen minute interview with Patrick Winterton about his truly epic journey with Mick Berwick - the first people to kayak from Scotland to the Faroe Islands.


Recorded on the phone this evening from Suderoy, Patrick tells of the problems they had to overcome.

With no water on North Rona the trip was nearly over before it began - how to get past that? The sores. The head game. The tides and weather. And the utterly amazing reception. When they finally worked out where they were - not Famjin at all but Vagar. Our camera team only just made it down the coast in time.

The community were on the look out. A fisherman spotted them them, and one phone call later there was champagne on the beach, a hotel, food, a lift for the kayaks to the capital, and, quite possibly, a ride home for boats and kayakers on a trawler bound for Scrabster!

Oh, and when they stood up, they fell over. You know where to find this? Your favourite Sea Kayak Podcast site. www.SeaKayakRoutes.com You can listen online at the Podcasts page, or download the file into your media player.

Subscribers will find the Podcast now downloads as an enhanced M4A file due to Apple's publishing system. If you want the MP3 version, you can still play and download it directly from the Podcast Library by just clicking the link.

Wifi facilities kindly provided by our friends, Bill & Sukie.

They are there

Safe well and heading for a shower

I've had lightning strike - no phones or broadband

You could not make this up!

Big flash, loud band, odd smell. No phone and completely fried
broadband box. I hope it's better out in the Faroes.

I'll try to do this from my car down beside Loch Sunart with the
iPhone but I can't respond to comments on this, sorry.

Kayak to Faroes - 3:10pm edited update

Just spoken to the chap driving the boat that's looking for them.  He says Mick and Patrick have changed their intended landing site to a place further up the west coast of Suderoy.  I didn't catch the name of the port, sorry.  A head-wind has sprung up so their progress has slowed.

The boat can perform a rescue if necessary, but will not do so unless requested by Mick and Patrick.  Somehow I don't think they'll be asking for help now.  So the boat is standing by, outside this new port, ready to watch them come in.  

My nerves are frayed.... How are yours?

EDIT: I replayed the recording of the phone conversation with the skipper and it sounds like Mick and Patrick are now headed quite a long way up the coast of the island to Famjin.




View Larger Map

Kayak to Faroes - 13:00 update 5.7nm to go.

I've just spoken to the Suderoy search boat team.  They have spoken to Mick and Patrick who are 5.7nm from the coast of the Faroes.  They are making slow progress against the tide.  The boat team have yet to make visual contact.

Kayak to Faroes - Fog! 10:15am update

The team in the Faroe Islands are on the water searching for Mick and Patrick to film their arrival.  They report fog in the area making the search difficult.  This from Triple Echo Productions who are managing that contact.

Kayak to Faroes - Recorded Interview with Patrick Winterton

Just before I spoke to Mick Berwick (see previous post), Patrick Winterton recorded an interview with BBC Radio Scotland.  It was transmitted just before 7am on Good Morning Scotland.  Here's a copy.  If you're a media outlet you can download free images for web & print here.


Kayak to Faroes - Listen to Recorded Sat-Phone Call 6am

Friday morning at 6am Patrick Winterton recorded an interview with BBC Radio Scotland.  I'll try to get a copy of that soon.  I've recorded this interview with Mick Berwick.  In places it's hard to make out, but it's short.  He explains they paddled through the night and they are now 13 nautical miles / 24 kilometres from Sumba.  The wind has dropped but one forecast anticipates it rising again.  They are also begining to have tide against them.  So they are pushing on as fast as possible.  If you're a media outlet you can download free images for web & print here.

Kayak to Faroes - 5 pm coversation

Just recorded phone call with Mick and Patrick.

They estimate 45 nm to go but their progress is down to 2kn due to
unforecast wind. As we spoke they were inside their sleep system,
sheltering from a F5-6 wind which was making them rather wet.

Both sound very tired to me. Patrick reckons the muscles ache a bit
but he's prone to understatement! I've told them how many people
around the world are following their progress and cheering them on.

Patrick said they have some route decisions to make. At one stage he
also said they must decide whether to stick to their routine of eating
and resting each hour, or just pressing on. Then he said they really
should stick to the routine as they don't wish to become utterly
fatigued as they approach the difficult tides around the Faroes. I
told him that made good sense to me.

I asked mentally how they were feeling, and was told "no problems
there. Mick is still making me laugh. In fact we just had a very
entertaining toilet stop".

They're going to make it!

Kayak to Faroes 3pm update

Murdo Campbell makes then 28 nautical miles to destination.

Kayak to Faroes - 50 nautical miles to go

I've not heard from Mick and Patrick, but I have heard from Murdo
Campbell, cox of the Stormoway RNLI lifeboat.

Based on their Spot transmitter, he plots their position as 45-50
nautical miles off Sumba, as of 11am.

That's still a heck of a way to go, especially at their most tired and
as the tide becomes most difficult. However, the weather forecasts
look in their favour.

They expected the 300km trip to take 3 days from North Rona. So being
2/3 of the way after two days, with no following sea to help, is
pretty much on track.