16/5 Day 26 – King of Hearts

Beginish to Brandon – 64kms

Begin at the Beginish, go on to… Beginish, at Brandon stop. This was the basic gist of the advice offered to us by Mick O’Meara to David over the phone last night. I can just about imagine Mick as the King of Hearts but David as Alice is pushing things a little. Mick was basically making the point that we needed to make the most of this short spell of light tail winds to get past a long bit of committing coastline.

Having two Beginish islands within 25kms of each other is a little confusing. We camped on Beginish just to the NE of Valentia last night and were planning a short stop on the Blasket islands’ Beginish before committing ourselves to rounding Sybil Point and the cliffs on the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula where few stops were possible in the best of conditions.

After working through the tides we realised we were in for an early start – on the water at 5am.

We started off in the dark but the sky was lightening within half an hour and the crossing of Dingle Bay was quite pleasant in light winds. We hit the Blasket sound at slack water and had no problem making a landing on Beginish to stretch our legs. The large beach on the east side of Great Blasket also looked like an inviting landing site but the siren calls of a huge number of seals basking there would have made for chaos had we ventured close.

It was close to 40kms from the Blaskets to Brandon and even though we’d timed it to get 6 hours of favourable tides it was still a long haul. In these good conditions there was still alot of bouncy sea where the swell reflected off the impressive cliffs.

I was still nursing the tendons in my forearm and had elected to spend the day with my greenland paddle. Although gentle on the wrists I do lose about 5% of my speed and was therefore continually playing catch up. Not really a problem but it’s never good to feel you’re holding up progress.

At Brandon Point we gave some brief consideration to heading on to the Magharee Islands to camp in order to make the next day’s paddle shorter. However, we were all pretty much on our last legs and the pub possibility at Brandon was a much closer and more attractive option.

Michael (“Mad Mick”) in the house next to the pub very generously offered us his back yard as a place to pitch our tents. We were unpacked, pitched and in the bar in double quick time. The young couples (and new babies) in the bar made us very welcome. Rob and I were soon flagging though and only David was able to hold up our side of the ‘craic’. I think I fell asleep before I managed to fully wriggle into my sleeping bag.

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