Posted by: rogerdane | 31 May 2011

BKC Copeland Island paddle – 17/05/11

Right then, so on the 17th May 2011 JC, myself and two other Belfast Kayak Club stalwarts assembled at Groomsport Harbour for a gentle paddle down the coast to Donaghadee and back.  Well that was the initial plan anyway.

As you can see from the pre-trip photos taken from the harbour wall the sea was millpond flat for the start and we got off without any hiccups.  The benign weather and smooth seas meant we made a good pace and around Orlock Point JC suggested rather than going to Donaghadee we head across to Copeland Island for lunch.  Everyone was in favour of this change and so we ‘hung a left’ and set out.  I have to admit that this change in plans delighted me as ever since moving to Groomsport I’ve been dying to get across to the island as I see it every day and it acts as a marine carrot to my sea kayaking aspirations.

The trip across was without incident and, having heard horror stories of the Copeland channel current, I wondered what all the fuss was about.  Later on I would find out (this is called foreshadowing ;-)).  As we rounded the point on Copeland we were joined on the water by a family of about six grey seals who had been sunning themselves on the rocks.  When you see these lovely creatures in the water it really does bring home to you how inadequate humans are in this environment even with our technology.  Anyway the seals decided to become our audience as we landed on a convenient beach and sat down for our lunch.  There was a landing quay at one end of the bay with a particularly unfriendly ‘don’t use this’ warning sign.  Being responsible kayakers we heeded this warning and pulled our boats up onto the sandy beach mere yards away.  The land below the high tide mark is considered crown property ( and exempt from laws of trespass which made the unfriendly sign seem all the more ludicrous.

We lunched in the pleasant sun but cut it short as the tide was turning and the wind beginning to pick up.  As we headed out around the point it was obvious that the conditions had worsened significantly.  Now I’m not going to claim that there was anything in these conditions that would trouble an experienced sea kayaker but the simple truth is I’m not experienced and the conditions troubled me.  The major issue was the inconsistency of the water.  We had the tide flowing in one direction, the wind bringing waves from another direction, refracted waves and swell from off the island and reflected waves from the coast.  No single element of this was difficult on its own but together they caused me what I would describe as an exciting time!  If you’re not familiar with the concepts then the following image might give you an idea.

As I’m here to tell the tale you can see that I made it but by the time we arrived back at Groomsport I don’t think I’ve ever been as physically exhausted.  The constant corrections and braces in order to stay upright were very tiring.  The good news though is that I did stay upright 🙂  I consider that this was quite an achievement and I’m really quite proud of myself.

Sadly I once again forgot to start my Runkeeper app and so the track that I’ve created via the website is approximate and not accurate but it gives a good impression of what we did (  The Aquanaut handled beautifully and although it is tippy, that is only to be expected in a sea kayak.  However, the seat was comfortable and after adjusting the footrests during the lunch break I felt much more secure in it during the paddle back which given the conditions was a very good thing.  Next time out I’m going to shorten the footrests by another notch and give that a try.

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  1. If you think the aquanaut is tippy you should try my seaking lol !

    • Compared to the rest of my ancient paddle experience the Aquanaut is tippy and I have to say the idea of taking out something less stable at this stage doesn’t appeal at all! 😉

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