That was sea kayak year 2015. Welcome to 2016

That was quite a year! So busy that the blogging couldn’t keep up with the paddling.

For me, the highlights were many and varied, but mainly I seemed to spend a heck of a lot of time paddling my sea kayak underground! First it was the caves of Rum in June, then the vast caverns of the north coast in July. Some are as big as cathedrals. August took me to Orkney and Shetland where a local paddler (Iain MacBride) led us through a veritable labyrinth under Muckle Roe. Many of these are places that are completely inaccessible other than by sea kayak. It makes me feel very lucky to have (a) got into this amazing activity (b) have so many nice client who not only pay me to do it but are also tremendous fun to be with. So thank you, all of you.IMGP2902IMGP3320

I have to say that the weather this year has been very much up the “dire” end of the scale. Carol and I keep a rough track of “T Shirt days per year”. That is, days when it is warm enough and calm enough to want to paddle in T shirts. A good year has ten to fifteen. In 2014, we lost count after 20. In 2015, I don’t remember any! To be fair, I managed to be in the USA during the best weather in September, but even so, it was all a bit grim and there were days when being in a sea cave seemed like the best option. Joan Lamb and I did a high speed tour of the Small Isles in June in full winter kayaking kit and pogies and we were frozen! But somehow we still managed to have some fantastic trips and cancelled very little. Partly this is down to our knowledge of the coast – we can usually find somewhere to go – but it’s also a tribute to our intrepid clients who aren’t put off by a bit of windy/chilly stuff. Indeed, a spot of grim weather can be a plus. I find that, before a trip, I’m always hoping for (but not really expecting) good weather. But looking back, it’s often the wild weather trips that are really memorable, and I do mean in a good way. Provided that we can get the balance right and not scare people, a bit of a challenge makes for a deeper and more satisfying experience. So thank you to all our intrepid clients.

2016 is looking to be another busy and interesting year. I’m off to Alaska again, this time to coach at an Alaskan sea kayak development week near Seward and then to run a ten day Seafreedom trip in Prince William sound. I’m also delighted to have been asked to coach at the Mid west, Shetland and Pembroke Symposiums. On top of that, I will be working with Phil Keetly and Jeff Allan on a sea kayaking program for Help For Heroes. However, there should still be plenty of time for private trips, tours and coaching.

Carol and Ross are now justifiably proud parents after the birth of Finlay Scot. Carol’s paddling wings may be a bit clipped for a while, but she will continue to organise things and we have at least two of our established and experienced guiding team lined up to keep the show on the road.

So thanks again to all our clients for paddling with us in 2015. Here’s wishing you all many happy paddling days in 2016

Tony Hammock


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