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Ro i tidens flöde
Den snabba tjuven

Heading for Inishbofin
Av Richard Dalton


First I'd like to say that Inishbofin is an island off the west coast of Ireland, in English it means “island of the white cow”. It lies off the middle west of the country and just north of Clifden, Cleggan is the ferry port, where the ferry MV DunAengus runs all year round depending on the weather. There is bike rental and pony trekking but its best to be explored on foot. ”They say the island keeps time according to the ferry, the tides and the sun.

After working with machines all day in Dublin, I drove home to pick up my kayak and off I went to Declan Donnelly’s house as he was going too. You see, we were headed for Clifden for the night and on to Cleggan next morning.

On our way into Clifden we had to stop one of our party, ahead of us along the road, flashing lights and beeping horns, his straps had come lose and the kayak was falling off the top of his jeep. He retied his load. I swear he was like an Indian on a narrow trail with the kayak like a very long bone through his nose (yes, he nearly lost his nose) and I don’t like paddling with people with no nose.

We arrived at about 10 pm.

When we booked into the hostel, the Warden said he was glad we were not later as he wanted to go for a pint. So after a bag of chips and some tea we went for a pint ourselves. Then back to the hostel. The hostel beds were very high and I’d landed the top bunk. During the night they got higher as I used the bathroom one time, then dug out my crampons to get bac k into it. After that I dreamt of the Himalayas and woke up with an icicle on my nose. The weather had got cold during the night!
Breakfast was a kettling affair, with none at first and then all going at the same time.The main electric switch was off, you see. We packed our gear with some soup and toast for lunch and drove to Cleggan, meeting time 11:00 sharp. A good turn out, ten in all, for this time of year.

Cleggan was bitterly cold and a split decision was called for, beer or gear on. The sea didn’t look too wild and the wind, mild, so gear on it was. Eight loaded sea kayaks (two were going by ferry), we launched floating in the harbour, flat calm, cold, solid if you know what I mean? "Nothing of him doth fade suffer a sea change, into something rich and strange".

We paddled out into the Atlantic Ocean, swell calling "come to me". The sound in the sound and the bright green white and blue cutting freshness in your face that takes your cares away.

We headed for the north east point of Inishbofin, the first of a group of islands that are inhabited on the west coast of Ireland going north. Five nautical miles from Cleggan harbour. The group pulled up at the point and checked that all were happy to go on. One darting through the baby shags, the rest circling round past the light, sighting Damhoiléan to the north and into East End Bay.

Pillage time was called, the taste on all their lips, with crystal clear water and an easy landing for appetizers, heated up with a glimpse of sunshine. Food, talk and craic galore. Some climbed up to the highest point to see his highness and what lumpy mess he had in store around the next corner. The view was amazing, a picture to behold. Then back to our beautiful ocean going ocean. We decided to head west along the island coast with a possible circumnavigation in mind. Turk, which is the next island of the group to the north, looked possible but we had arranged to meet up with the others that got the ferry. Past Dún Dubh, Dún na hIníne, and around towards Ardlea Cove, it was very lumpy . We gathered together in close formation and continued on.

This wonderful seascape, clapotis swell bouncing back off sheer rock,
columns of water direction unknown,
falling helplessly back from the belt the night before.
Vision tossed in an unending fury of balance,
we paddled on through foam like spilled milk.
Then in the middle of this churn,
The drama did unfold,
When one was green (you know the scene),
Every captains fear.
We sent a scout into the sun towards a distant bay.
Following a blinding light,
We pulled into a nice calm storm beach and all was well.

Some pitched their tents while the rest of us crossed muddy roads past the way of life of island folk and geese that protect their turf, friendly smiles and dogs that look for "pats" and will follow you until you say go home in a loud voice.

Into Days Hotel where we ordered dinner. We were lucky that it was open. Only some poor soul had died so it was open for the mourners. The hostel was quiet also for this time of the winter. There weren’t many tourists around. It’s a big hostel but the top bunk! ”Yes I ended up there again” are balance conscious and I’d recommend bed belts, like seat belts, very narrow. The kitchen was ready for a bigger crowd, as we seamed lost in it. After breakfast the following morning, we strolled back across the island to the kayaks. It was raining along the way but when we got there, it had turned into a storm. The forecast was for a force 5 in the afternoon but it was like it had come in early.

North beach was sheltered enough for a launch so five of us set out to go around the Stags of Bofin and complete the circumnavigation. It got rougher the further out we went, waves breaking on our decks. So we turned back, thinking "maybe another day". Instead, we portaged across Loch Bó Finne and a 500 meter walk to the south beach. Bofin Sound didn’t look as bad as the other side of the island, but looks can be deceptive. An old man I met, as he was going by on his bike, stopped and I got talking to him. He had lived on the island all his life. He said he’d been in Spain for two weeks holidays, his first time outside of Ireland. He’d got back yesterday and said he was "bloody freezing". After I told him my story, he said that we must be all mad.

But mad or not, we wanted to paddle to Cleggan that day because most of us had to be home for work the next morning. It was 12 o’clock and the tide was full out. The wind was blowing off the mainland into our faces. The island man took one look out into the sound and said "Ah, sure there isn’t a drop in it, the wind has nothing to get a hold of and ye should be alright for two or two and a half hours yet I suppose". In other words the tide was out. So off we went six and a half miles and sure enough, in two and a half-hours, it started to kick up a stink but we were in Cleggan Harbour by then. We wished each other good luck, another successful trip. Checked our straps were good and tight, drove for home and into my big double bed.

Good night!

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Lydia Duprat