Saltee Islands 9 Nov 2011

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Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

Saltee Islands 9 Nov 2011

Post by Chancer » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:26 am

A group of six paddlers from ECSKC launched from Kilmore Quay for the Saltees in stiff breezes this past weekend. The launch requires a short carry down from the carpark over easy rocks to the beach. Wind was WSW F4/5 tending more to F5. Sun was shining and the wind had been well up for several days previously. After a bit of a surf launch we made good headway towards Great Saltee on a bearing of 220 degrees as the tide was flooding and our plan was to aim off to the west of the island group to allow for the westerly winds and tide which were against us. We arrived in good shape on the NW shore to a rocky beach with little or no sand and landed for a short break to catch our breath. There being a lot of seals about we quickly launched again for the anticlockwise circumnav of the Great Saltee. Conditions quickly deteriorated very shortly after the launch with breaking waves ahead as we approached the SW end of the island. Best route was inshore to avoid breaking seas offshore and we gingerly nosed between a series of large rocky islets in increasingly rough sea. As we rounded the end of the island to run down the back of it we now faced surfing what was a run of large powerful waves with wind and tide pushing them and us along at a rate of knots. Despite the conditions we had only one swimmer who was quickly rescued and after a bit of a roller coaster ride we could land into a safe eddy. Further on we found a storm beach and landed for lunch. After a surf launch we continued in sheltered water to the end of Great Saltee and set out across the Sound separating Great from Little Saltee. With wind now at a steady F5 we zoomed across the Sound in conditions that rewarded those comfortable with their surfing in a following sea. No real breaking waves here just good fun. The southern point off Little Saltee had however a very long train of big breaking over falls running back towards the Great Saltee known as the Sebber Bridge but this could be avoided by cutting close to the point. The back of the island provided shelter and little else of interest. Possible to land here if you pick your spot on the rocky shore of this low lying island. At the end of the Little Saltee we got our first sight of St Patricks bridge. A long unbroken line of surf stretching from the point of Little Saltee to the mainland. We initially set course to keep north of the bridge as the tide had now turned. We drifted across on our ferry glide but the temptation to get closer for a look was too much for some and eventually a number of us entered the bridge surf area and enjoyed a good surf time there. The bridge in not very wide so you can punch through it quickly as it is only about 250-300m wide. It is big in the middle with powerful waves which the strongest paddlers will find a challenge. You can however skirt all along the edge of it surfing what you feel comfortable in. Eventually you have to punch through it to get back to the landing point if you follow our route though it stops apparently according to Oileain close to the pier. Five hours and 28 kms after we started we finished what was a great day out. Thanks to Alan Horner who did the planning for this trip.
One point of interest in relation to St Patricks bridge was that when we arrived back onshore standing in the carpark which is two metres above sea level and looked back out across the bridge which we had just paddled across, there was absolutely no sign of it whatsoever, not even a streak of foam. The unwary could easily be lulled into thinking this is a safe route out to the Great Saltee. The prevailing SW winds roll the waves offshore making what was an unbroken line of surf from the island to the landing spot invisible from shore. Considering we were in Neaps I would reckon the wave height could increase by another half metre especially in the middle of the bridge and the bridge could widen to as much as 500m in springs at full bore of the tide.
Last edited by Chancer on Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

Re: Saltee Islands 9 Nov 2011

Post by conorsmith » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:32 pm

Great to see this and what others are up to. As well as a good read, these reports can be a great source of information for people traveling to an area for the first time regarding where to go, what to see and what to be aware of.

More please.

Also, many of us travel to foreign destinations. I have a request in the General section at the moment for suggestions and if details of foreign trips were posted, it would again be a great source of information.

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