Monday, 27 June 2011

Mind the Gap

We wanted to get an evening paddle to Dun, but with a forecast of NE Force 5 to 6 imminent, we'd be paddling in increasingly breezy conditions.  We change into paddling kit and began the first of several installments of "pass the boat" to get on the water.

Cuma seemed to have sprouted a shiny new bowsprit!  Simon and Ken embarked in the double kayak aka "The Battleship Potemkin" in order to do some filming - there was a possibility that this would be the only paddling we'd be able to do given the forecast.

We headed off tward the Dun Gap, a narrow channel separating Dun from Hirta.  The breeze was already funnelling through this gap and creating some nasty conditions.  One of the party took a brief unplanned swim, was quickly rescued and promptly interviewed on film for the DVD - no opportunities wasted on this trip!

Once through the gap we were in the lee of Dun in calm, sunny conditions, the contrast was quite startling.  The air was warmer in the sun but cold in the shadows and we got our first taste of paddling under the cliffs of St Kilda.

There's constant interest along this bit of coast with caves, arches and cliffs.  We ventured into a couple of caves which cut right through Dun, but conditions on the windy east side meant that there was no safe passage through for most of us, though Gordon made a spectacular return trip through one slot....

Almost at the southeast tip of Dun and we could feel the wind whipping around the point.  More pertinently, we could see the tidal race pouring around Giumachsgor against the wind.  It looked very, very imposing and a decision was quickly made that we'd not go that way.  The Great Arch of Dun was equally tricky looking with the wind howling through it.  So it was back to the Dun Gap for our return.

I took no pictures on the way back through - I was far too concerned with keeping upright in the conditions.  The gap was utterly transformed in the hour or so since we'd come through.  The rising wind was pushing breaking waves into the consticted gut, exposing large rocks in the channel.  The wind itself was pouring through.  We dodged from rock to rock gaining what shelter we could before an unavoidable sprint out of the gap through confused seas.

After we'd all managed through, there just remained the paddle across Village Bay to the jetty, where we left the kayaks secured for the night and were picked up by Cuma's inflatable for dinner.

The swell across Village Bay set the scene for a rock n' roll night onboard Cuma as she lay beam on to swells rounding Geodha Clann on the east side of the bay.  We did wonder whether we'd missed the weather window...


  1. Hello Ian, I had wondered if it was just me that didn't get any photos on the way back!

  2. Hi Douglas,

    No, I don't think there were many pictures taken on the return leg!
    The Gap was a solid 4 on the "Skyak Excitement Scale" (tm)!

    Kind regards