Seekajaktour: Umrundung Irlands im Seekajak 2015


Christian Dingenotto und Mirko Goldhausen umrundeten Irland im Mai 2015. Tourenbericht in englischer Sprache mit Tipps und Hinweisen für Seekajakfahrer zum Selbstfahren.

Going round 2015:


- Memories and experiences of the circumnavigation of Ireland in 2015 -

by German Paddlers Mirko Goldhausen and Christian Dingenotto

written by Christian Dingenotto (Photos mostly by Mirco Goldhausen)

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Content or Navigational Remarks

How to read or not to read – better to read before you start .......................................... 3

Facts and Figures – our trip in a nutshell ........................................................................ 4

Thinking about – thoughts an experiences… ................................................................. 10

Preparing ......................................................................................................................... 11

Living ............................................................................................................................... 16

Planning .......................................................................................................................... 17

Paddling .......................................................................................................................... 19

Eating .............................................................................................................................. 20

Meetings / Findings… ....................................................................................................... 21

People ............................................................................................................................. 21

Ups and Downs ............................................................................................................... 26

Mental Splash Zone… ....................................................................................................... 33

Meanings ......................................................................................................................... 33

Self-Reflexions ................................................................................................................ 35

Learnings ........................................................................................................................ 41

Tool Box… ......................................................................................................................... 43

Food-Box Insights ............................................................................................................ 43

Gear-Shed ....................................................................................................................... 44

Good Gear – sad Gear .................................................................................................... 48

Trip-Tips… ......................................................................................................................... 50

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Going round 2015: re-viewed

How to read or not to read – better to read before you start

There are some books written about and by Kayakers going round Ireland. Some think there

are already too many. So I did not dare to write another book which could be (in best case) a

variation of the other ones. However, I felt the need to write something for me to revise this

trip and my biggest paddling experience so far. So, as I write this down anyway, I would not

mind others reading it. To make it easier, I grouped this in sections so that you can stop

reading after any section. So you do not need to read everything, but if you read it

nevertheless, I would not complain either.

The sections are

First start – key facts

A bit more than one page (of text) giving facts and figures about the trip.

Thinking about …

Ideas, aspects and “revelations” about the trip. Some 20 pages to get an idea about

the trip and its meaning to us.


for Paddlers only? Just some notes about the gear, the skills and attitude we had and

needed. Perhaps some helpful advice if you plan a longer trip.

Trip tips

Due to the weather we made a long mental note about the things we wanted to see

which we could not, and about those we wanted to see again. Oilean of course does

not give real trips, only destinations. Here you find some trips I would like to do or or

to do again.

Some final remarks

almost at the beginning

Please do be patient with my English. The best people in my life, my daughter Aissa

(living in New Zealand) and my wife Dagmar, did their best to correct the worst of my

English. However I decided to spent more time for paddling then for writing. I feel more

like a paddler than a writer – sorry for that …

Christian Dingenotto

Oldenburg, October 2015

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


First start – key facts

Circumnavigation of Ireland by Mirco and Christian facts and figures

(4 th of Mai – 25 th of June 2015)


Circumnavigation of Ireland

○ Ca. 1560km

○ 54 days on tor(4th Mai – 25. th June 2015)

○ 44 days at sea

○ 10 days on shore

■ 7 days weather-bound

■ 1 day real deliberate break

■ 2 days extra (because we were too early)

○ Tripmap(Campsites/daily distances)



© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Paddlers (some of the first Germans circumnavigating Ireland)



(age 35 ,

living in

Wales), born

in Westerwald



(age 48 ,

living in


born in



“Bad-Weather-Boys”-Selfie: weatherbound on Inish Turk: Sun and Wind (8 Bft +)


From May until middle of June: very cold

and windy for this time of the year

About one and a half days tailwind per

coast, otherwise headwind or mist

Winds generally 4-6 Bft

Swells 1,2 to 4.20 m (13s W and 4-5 Bft


○ Daily Distances 15 km (on days of 6

Bft+) to 60 km

Strongest Winds: 7-8 in gusts 9 bft


Weatherbound in Annestown:

“Windblown” Christian

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Difficult Conditions (examples)

Mirco going round Seven Heads (me, Christian, somewhere in the mist)

Open crossings up to 20 km

Visibility sometimes less than 100 m (Crossing from Valentia Island to Great

Blasket, Dingle)

„challenging“ days

■ 60 km from Ballyheigue (Kerry) to Kilkee:

about 14 hours on the water, no landing due to strong swells

■ 18 Km from Kilmore Quay to Baginbun Head (Carnivan Bay / Fethard)

■ 15 km from Ross Port via Kid Island to Port Urchin

(4,20 swells, Wind 4-5 Bft, already mentioned)

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Gear / Way of Life

Christian and Mirco on Copeland Ireland (Photo by Will)

Boats (fully laden 60 to 70 kg):

■ Seakayaks (length 5,20 m) Nigel Dennis Explorer

■ Usual campinggear

■ Provisions for 3 to 5 days, including water

Daily routine (depending on tides)

■ Getting up at 5 / 6 o´clock

■ Breakfast, packing boats, etc.

■ Starting paddling from about 8 o´clock

■ 5 min. break every hour (i.e. RiZ/Bar-Break, see below)

■ About one pm a lunchbreak

(about 30 minutes, depending on tides and weather)

■ From 6 pm onwards landing / searching for a campsite

■ By 7 pm tents pitched up - later on cooking, eating, gear care and cleaning,

planning the following day

■ By 10 pm “bedtime”

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Info / Documentary

Facebook page with some hundreds of followers



Facebookpage with campsite photos, etc:


Background Information

Sea around Ireland known to be one of the most challenging worldwide

■ Tidal difference up to 6 m,

■ Irish Sea (between Ireland and Great Britain with strong currents 2-7 km

■ South and Westcoast exposed to Atlantic swells

■ Winds often more than 4 Bft.

■ May is known to be (until now) as the month with the best weather

Circumnavigation by seakayak

■ Done by less than 300 people world wide(mainly professionals)

■ 3 to 10 people per year (increasing number)

■ Time needed: 22 days (new record from 2015) to three month

● Very much due to weather conditions

● Solo paddlers generally need more time (for safety reasons)

■ „History“

(new record by Mick o´Meara 22 days, June 2015)

■ Other Circumnavigations in 2015 (selection) (Sean Cahill, Jon Hynes) (Susan Honan, Sonia Ewen)

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Contact-Details for Feedback and …

… other Issues (like trips together in Ireland, in Germany or somewhere else)

Christian Dingenotto,

Martin-Luther Str. 11

26129 Oldenburg

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



For me and maybe for others as well Seakayaking is

two journeys in one:

The “outer” trip is about making miles, coping with

rough seas and reaching destinations. The inner

journey however is happening in our minds which are

triggered by the outer trip and by the direct exposure

to nature and the sea.

So reading of the outer journey can sometimes be

boring whereas the inner journey is a very strong

personal even intimate experience that is not easy to

describe. If someone writes it down this often

becomes very pathetic - we are paddlers, not poets.

However I would like to try leaving a mental note of

my "thinking about" merely for myself to realize after

this journey whether I had a change in attitude to

things and the meanings to me.

Why on earth … round Ireland?

For me going round Ireland was more or less a coincidence. I just wanted to go for a longer

paddle after finishing a longtime project at the company I was working with. I was interested

in experiencing a nomadic live and living with the tides, without any longtime targets, goals

or schedules. My longest trip before that was 5 days. And when Mirco came up with the idea

of circumnavigating Ireland a year ago – it seemed attractive to me and manageable.

So when during the trip a fisherman at Seven Heads asked us “why”, while we were making

a break in a tiny cove – it was raining and the mist was coming in – I instinctively answered:

“Just for pleasure …”

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Maybe you being paddler, you might find for yourself some ideas to squeeze

some extra training into your normal live if needed. This bit I found the most

challenging first.

Nifty being ready for her biggest trip so far

Regarding kayaking I would consider myself a late-developer: Starting at the age of 35 but

paddling once a month or on holidays for 2 or 3 days. Only when we moved to Oldenburg,

(closer to the sea) about five years ago, I could go sea kayaking on a regular basis since I

stopped my “commuting existence” (being home just on weekends). Camping was a new

experience to me as well. So while others having happily survived their mid-life-crisis and

then withdrawing to a more comfy style of living with cruise ships, Hotels and all-inclusiveoffers

I squeezed myself into a one-man-tent and (firstly) cheap sleeping-bag learning to

enjoy this.

Mirco on the other hand, I would rather call the “gear-god” of our team. He had already

gathered lots of experiences being outdoors and due to these experiences had already

“reduced his stuff to the max”. Living in Anglesea and training with the “big boyz and girls”

his rough water experience was far beyond to the extent I could reach before the trip.

To sum it up: there was lots to learn and to experience for me before and during the trip. So

my preoccupation before the trip was not to slow him down. So once we agreed about

paddling together a year before I started preparing on the three building-blocks

Training (fitness),

Skills (paddling),

Mindset (dealing mentally with conditions).

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


The third subject (mindset) I did not train or consider, but it proved to be vital during the trip.

However, I subconsciously practiced it in a business context, during my normal job, doing

big projects, adjusting and achieving targets in sometimes unfavorable conditions.

The biggest challenge for me was integrating training in my daily live, as I could not afford

extra time off, being very much involved in my job (50 to 60 hours a week).

Training (Fitness)

The Swopper: Talking about posture I made my “Swopper” my office chair. A swopper is a

stool without any arm-, back- and headrests so while sitting in my office (10 hours plus a

day). I automatically trained my posture and belly-muscles with this.

The Gym: The main target was improving my general fitness and training the muscles you

mostly need for paddling. So for the first time in my life, I went to the Gym twice a week. At

first it felt a bit weird being among all those youngsters (i.e 30 and younger), whose main

goal seemed to be looking good to improve their chances in finding an even better looking

partner or lover. And still I do not like the atmosphere of being indoors, but it helped a lot to

build up a better posture for paddling.

The river: Going directly after work on our local river Hunte, two to three times a week, was

sometimes far from being my favorite after a long workday. However, it helped to “convert”

my gym-fitness into paddling fitness. The river has hardly any currents so I was able to play

around with different paddles (euro, wing and stick), to improve my mental and physical

flexibility. I swapped to a non-feathered paddle which allowed me to keep to the same

paddling-style although switching from euro-, to greenland- and to wing – paddle.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Skills (Paddling)

Christian playing in Penwryn Mawr (Photo by Phil Clegg), the boat “hidden” in the waves

Improving paddling skills especially in rough water was the tough bit, as there is neither

much current on our local river nor any rocky coastline at the North Sea. So apart from

finding some rough conditions in the North Sea (without any rocks) I booked two courses

(four star training and assessment, with Eila Wilkinson and Nigel Dennis at Costa Brava;

rough water and tide race handling, with Phil Clegg and Trenk Müller at Anglesea). The latter

I completed right before starting the trip. So the rest of improving my skills was left to the trip,

the Irish and the Atlantic itself.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Mindset (Going-on-attitude)

This building block proved to be vital on the trip. Although I did not

especially train it as I train it every day automatically (as mentioned

before). i.e:

At first the weather conditions we had to face “spoiled” our

expectations of experiencing and exploring a fascinating shoreline.

We therefore had to find another motivation and attitude to go on in

spite these conditions. In fact, the first two thirds of the trip was

mostly creeping from headland to headland in force 4+ headwinds,

combined with the effort of getting dry and warm at least once a

day. Apart from the project – and target mentality I need for my job,

I assume that I developed this attitude as a teenager, when I did

long distance running on a competitive basis (mostly marathons).

The fascinating thing about marathon is, that you can cover a long

distance on a rather fast pace. That implies, that the body needs to

start burning it´s fat reserves after about 30 km. Of course, the body wants to prevent using

up it´s ultimate reserves. Therefore it “initiates” a mental crisis with questions and internal

dialogues like “why on earth am I doing this? – Why don’t I stop? …” So a runner´s saying is

“the marathon starts after having run 30 km”. So, mentally dealing with this and finding a

motivation to keep going on “in spite …”, is one of the main issues of a long-distance runner.

This ability of self-motivation helped me a lot to go on.

Moreover the area I am sea kayaking in proved to be a good mental training as well: The

shallow rather featureless waters and mudflats of Eastern Frisia (some call it watery desert)

make you to cover long distances to get somewhere. So you learn to focus on a wee dot on

the horizon for hours, without having play times in any rocky conditions. This helped me in

dealing with the long crossings and not getting nervous paddling on a compass course for

hours in visibility less than 100 m.

Last but not least, the DVD´s of Simeon Osborne and Jeff Allan / Harry Wheelan as well as

the seakayak-podcasts by Simon Willis about expeditions helped preparing me mentally how

to cope with an expedition from the couch potato-perspective. Apart from different

perspectives and conditions, all had some things in common:

o Start slow: daily distances of 30km for the beginnings help getting you in the


o Be prepared (coping mentally with) being weather bound: this really did not work in

the beginning with me – at least I took a book for reading.

o Eat what you get and what you like: cheese, salami and tuna turned out to be a

perfect diet for me.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


On tour

Some descriptions of the “odd daily” life:

perhaps some inspiration for your own trip?

Starting to set up the campsite at Baginbun Head

You might wonder how life is like, apart from the “heroic” stories and encounters you find on

the Facebook page or when you talk to us. This daily life-routine is more than 90 percent of

the trip. So this might be the interesting and essential part for the ones doing a

circumnavigation themselves.

Nobody talks about base camps and plains they crossed when climbing a mountain, but

without these odd tedious areas no mountain could ever be climbed. This is the same with

sea kayaking. When planning a trip yourself, you might find some helpful ideas which you

could try for yourself or skip it if it does not work for you. To make things even easier, the

non-paddlers could just stick to the description of daily live, whereas the paddlers could dive

into the matter a bit more and read the more detailed and additional texts about planning,

paddling and eating.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



A normal Day (times according to the tide)

5 / 6 o´clock am: Preparations

As a rather unexperienced camper, this turned out to be a bigger challenge for me. At the

beginning, I had too much “fuff” with me. I was struggling with the most effective sequence of

packing the gear. At the end I managed reducing my prep-time from 2 hours to a good hour

– Mirco always being faster and of course being able to sleep longer. So still a lot to learn.

Here for non-campers and paddlers the basic issues of the prep-time.

o Breakfast (cooking porridge for Mirco and me)

o Washing dishes / brushing teeth (at beach with salt water to save water)

o Checking lunch – box and checking thermos flask

Putting down tents and loading boats.

o Final check of planning

8 o´clock am: Paddling / being in the boat

While paddling in bad weather, we found for us the best means to cheer ourselves up by

eating - a perfect combination of getting enough energy and making some bright moments in

a sometimes very dim atmosphere:

RiZ: Short for the the German word RiegelZeit (Chocolate-Bar-Time), we timed every hour

for about 5 min. on the water to have a chocolate bar. This became such a tradition that I

once answered to Mirco´s question of “what time is it” – “It is a quarter to RiZ”. It really

helped us, to push on for hours through an eventless mist, having something to look forward

to every hour.

1 o´clock´ish pm: depending on tide and weather: lunchbreak

Usually we spend half an hour for having half a loaf of bread, cheese and some tea on the

shore. But we extended this break up to 2 hours whenever we either got the chance of

cheering us up with Coffee &Cake or had to wait for the tide to turn. In the end that meant

sometimes paddling up till 8 pm to cover enough distances for the day, but it was well worth


6 o´clock pm: searching for a campsite / landing-spot

The time we needed to land and find a campsite could extend to up to one hour, as being

new to the whole area, some landing spots either turned out to be impossible due to

conditions or were not pretty enough (for me being the campsite-diva, read below).

By 7 o´clock pm: „after-work“

Also more interesting for non-campers to understand that the “after – work time” is one of the

busiest times. There is not much spare-time left for just strolling around. Here the big points

we needed to do:

o Cleaning of equipment (hosing off saltwater if possible)

o Unloading boats

o Pitching up tents

o Collecting wood: Mirco had a wood-stove so he needed extra time for that

o Cooking and preparing lunch for the next day

o Eating and of course doing dishes

o Planning the following day

o Spare time (5 minutes reading for me before falling asleep)

By 10 o´clock p.m: sleeping

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Planning session in Crookhaven – after the first pint of guiness of course

We didn’t have a complete plan of the tour with daily mileage and stopping-spots in advance

as it would not have been very helpful with the conditions we had. So the main planning was

done depending on our daily progress and the next day´s weather forecast.

Anyway before describing our daily planning routine, here are some things we did in


Oilean: It was a good coincidence (or fate), that the 2 nd edition of this book described

almost every Irish island with camping-, water- and landing-facilities from a kayakers

perspective. It was just published in our preparation phase (end of 2014) for the trip.

This really saved us a lot of preparation and planning ahead. Especially the tidal

information and the details about the currents were extremely helpful for our daily


Experience: Mirco got all the details of landing spots and tour info´s from Justine and

Barry, who did the trip a few years ago. Although we could not land on most places

they landed or camped on (the weather they had must have been better), their

experience was a very valuable resource of making up our mind and planning the

next day.

OS-Maps: Being used to charts in our home area I was first surprised using an OS –


Although Oilean contains the grid reference for the larger scale (1:50000) the hint we

got to use the smaller scale (1:250.000) proved to be very helpful. Especially when

planning the crossings and the compass-bearings for the big crossings, the largescale-maps

did not cover the area we needed. So we did the basic planning on the

smaller scale and used it on our kayak-deck, having put in the detailed information

(landing spots / piers, etc.) from the large scale 1.50000 maps the evening before.

Actually, we had the detailed maps of the whole west coast which proved to be

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


helpful for the complex areas with small islands and reefs. This turned out to be quite

an investment (7.50 € each for about 30 maps!). But you could probably do without, if

you just ask some of the people who did the circumnav.

Tidal table: This tiny little booklet for 2015 was our daily companion and sometimes

helped with cross-checking the tidal information from Oilean.

VHF Channels: Mirco had a little table with all the VHF-channels for the weather

forecast from the Irish Coastguard. This helped us switching channels when we

needed up to date weather information.

Planning the next day turned out to be best as a daily after-dinner routine:

Trip notes for the next day: Distances, Courses and Timings for going round Mizen Head

1. Checking Weather Resources

o Windfinder

o Windguru (is meant to have the same algorithm as Windfinder)

o Magic Seaweed

o VHF Forecast

2. Planning distances

o 30 km for a good day, 20 for a bad weather day (at first). With better weather

and better fitness we pushed it up to an average for 40 km. We ended up with

normal days of 50 to 60 km.

o At least two options for distances (preferred day´s goal and minimum target)

3. Landing spots

o Piers (especially on west-coast) and safe landings from the large scale OSmaps

o Something to look forward to -Villages with pubs: Coffee & Cake being one of

the main driving forces during our trip (see below) …

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Being our first big trip and without any experience in the area, we planned 8 weeks for

paddling including 2 weeks of being weather-bound. Therefore going round meant for us

going from headland to headland and avoiding the “fun spots” (like big surf, tidal races, etc.).

Paddling in “standard” weather conditions – near the Great Blaskets

So from the technical point of view paddling the trip proved to be not very challenging:

o The challenging part was more coping with conditions like headwinds, crossing

seas, following seas/winds, surf Landings (if not avoidable). Moreover, especially

when paddling in the mist for hours on a flat sea we had to cope with boredom – I

once nearly fell into the water while nodding of …

o Covering Distances and sitting in the boat for hours without getting out, was in the

beginning, especially for Mirco as the “rough-water-guy”, mentally unfamiliar. He was

used to two to three hour sessions of power-play and then having a break. The

distances covered per day got longer during the trip as written above. So the time of

paddling and sitting in the boat increased as well from 6 up to 12 hours, depending

on the weather, of course.

o Another technique not directly related to paddling, proved to be essential: being able

to wee in a bottle. I never wanted to do trips where this was necessary. However,

with the crossings we had to do it could not be avoided. I remember being rather

proud of this “achievement” in force five winds near Golam Head. We even

developed the idea to make this part of the four star syllabus: the unassisted wee in

winds up to force three/ the assisted wee in winds up to force 5.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Having a special treat whenever possible – just a picture of the first course …

Talking about meals would be misleading when you have to “get in” 4000 to 5000 calories a

day. So we would rather call it constant feeding. Starting with a big pot of porridge (find

“recipe” in the food-box), we would devour 6 to 8 chocolate-bars for RiZ (=hourly bar-time)

per day, half a loaf of bread (300g) and cheese (200g) for lunch, plus (if available)

coffee&cake (min. 1 big piece of cake with ice-cream plus cappuccino or latte). The

afternoon would be “filled” with the rest of the chocolate bars, followed by dinner, normally a

big 700 ml bowl of something like pasta, bulgu,r wheat, etc. Still hungry? Of course- I just

forgot to mention the daily apple (for me) and banana (for Mirco).

As we were due to the weather pier-(and beer) bound, supply never was a big issue:

Especially in the western communities there were almost everywhere small shops, together

with local pubs. Normally we were self-sufficient for three days, then stocking up especially

bread, cheese and definitely chocolate-bars.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Meetings / Findings

While paddling and working your way along, you certainly learn a lot about the

country, the people and yourself. You meet conditions and people, find new

friends and even find out something about yourself, if you want to. This is an

attempt to sum it up for me and perhaps for you as well.


People were always helpful – Ewen MacMahon looking after us when being weatherbound in Annestown

Of course, when planning the trip we were very much focused on “going round”, planning

crossings, “doing” headlands and experiencing nature. So the biggest surprise for us was

that meeting people along the Irish coast turned out to be one of the greatest and most

touching experience of our trip. So once we will be paddling in Ireland again, this will be

more about revisiting the people we met than re-viewing the landscape. Telling all the stories

about these human encounters would be sometimes too boring or too personal. However I

would like to try sum it up. And summing up means some times “putting people into drawers”

(i.e. clustering them) as we say in German. I hope they do not mind as I try to make the

drawers I put them in rather comfy ;-)

So looking back to all our encounters, I experienced three different kind of people and

attitudes to our journey:

o People who wonder

o People who are interested

o People who understand

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


People who wonder – they are puzzled

Imagine …


… two wild looking guys with dark bags in their hand approaching a house at the

back of the street with children playing in front

Something that resembles a setting from from a wild west movie

kids looking up, realizing the approaching strangers, running back into their houses

the lads getting closer, finally knocking on the door

dark sunglasses, raincoats, sun tanned, unshaved faces:

the mother appears, children hiding behind her protecting back

"Sorry could we get some tab water?" said the guys waving with their black water


the woman smiles and fills them up

the lads then turn , returning to wherever they came from.



… drizzle and mist coming in, on a remote almost natural slipway, near Seven


Two guys sitting in wet paddling gear watching out to sea, a fisherman arriving at his

sort of private harbour from a lonesome workday, collecting lobster pots.

Talking to the guys after learning that they are trying to get round he asks: "going

round in a kaaaaayak whaa faaa?"

The answer: " for pleasure"

The reaction: "ooooh ..."

… mist covering Hare island

the ferry already passed by in the direction of Clear island,

a lonely house in the calm of a rainy sunday afternoon,

a soaked person knocking in full gear,

a dog barking,

a man in his mid-seventies getting up,

opening the door.

"sorry to disturb you Sir - is that hare island?"

"yaaah weah yeah camming fraam?"*


"Baaaltemaare? aah jeeesus. tjaat is thaat waay"

"We intend to go to Schull, Sir"

"Aaah jeesus. thaat is thaat waay take care aaf thiie swall"

"Thank you sir for your help"

The kayakers get back into their boats and disappeared through the rain into the

direction of long island. You change times a lot! Do you always want to be in the

present when you are talking about what happened with a person?

* you did not understood everything ? neither did we ;-)

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


People who are interested – they keep on asking

Other people seemed to be more interested. They were wondering about the kayaks or how

we were dressed. Once we were getting to the point that we were kayaking, they started

asking questions. A typical conversation:

+ how long have you been in Ireland?

- 6 weeks

+ Where did you start?

- In Wicklow

+ Where will you finish?

- In Wicklow. We go the whole way round by Kayak

+ By kayak?


+ How long have you been paddling?

- 6 weeks (we said that already)

+ So you are paddling round the coast in the kayak?

- Yes (we said that already)

+ You are circumnavigating the whole way round Ireland?

- Yes

+ Jeeeeesus! and where did you start?

- In Wicklow (we said that already ...)


and so on and so on.

It seems ridiculous, but it seemed that kayaking round Ireland is so far beyond their normal

ways of thinking that, they ended up asking almost the same questions several times till

they really understood what we were doing. It was quite difficult for them to understand the

actual situation we were in: so these kind of talks happened either, when we just landed and

simply wanted to pitch up the tent or change into dry clothes or when we just wanted to

leave to catch the tide. Sometimes I felt like an animal in the zoo being watched, but the

people were just fascinated and kept on asking. Sometimes they even started following us

on Facebook and became understanding.

So with these kind of people we were never sure wether they asked out of real interest or

simple curiosity.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


People who understand – they “put the kettle on”

A warm welcome – a woman we met before on the beach expected us at the pier in Courtown with tomato soup

and hot water for our flasks – she just put the kettle on..

And there are the other “strange” kind of people, mostly “marine” or others having seen the

world. They know and understand. The only things they ask for, is for decisions like “ you

want a shower after or before dinner? When do you want your clothes to be washed? Which

kind of chart do you need? Was the information we gave you about our kayaking area

helpful or not? Do you need any more food? …”

How to recognize them? They just appear, for example, after a long tough day at a pier at a

quarter past ten in dusk, “order” you into their car, to sleep at their house and to “eat what

you can find”. You might see a VHF-Radio in the car, where others would have their mobile

phone or you find it (the VHF), when reaching the bathroom, after having passed the hall

where often sea charts replace ordinary pictures. And if they offer “putting the kettle on for

some water for the flask” do not be surprised, if they also pile up all sorts of food on the table

and expect you to eat it, or they pick you up at 6 o´clock on a Sunday morning from the ferry

explaining, “it is not really early for me because it is summer anyway” (in May!). Or they visit

you twice a day in your camp, where you are weather-bound and huddled away from a force

8/9 wind. Even if you are more than three hours late for an appointment, there is no

complaint, although it must have spoiled their whole daily plan. This completely unselfish

way of helping and supporting, sometimes left us almost speechless. It became one of the

most surprising and touching parts of the journey.

We felt these people were travelling with us in a way: They either had already experienced,

what we were experiencing or would have liked to experience what we did: So they became

an important part of our journey. Perhaps we were fulfilling a dream they would not have the

time to make real for themselves? Our journey became their journey and for them we went

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


on battering into headwinds and nasty weather, and that made us feel obliged to go on. For

us alone we could have given up, but we completed the journey for them. So on some of our

really bad days feeling responsible for our “co- travelers “, turned out to be the driving force

and motivation to complete the circumnav.

A ViP (Very important Paddler) at our campsite – Mick O´Meara (future record holder of going round Ireland)

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Experiences and lessons Learned: Ups and Downs

It was the longest (and toughest) trip we ever did so far. So at least with me it

left some traces to reflect. Each learning is followed by an example or

experience to make this more understandable.

The Heart of Ireland is stony but full of good humour and sympathy

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Ups – achievements


I knew we were not bad in finding our ways and chasing the weather, but this

was another level …

Trust your nav-skills from eastern Frisia

Navigating for more than 3 hours on compass course and hitting the island

We left Knightstown on Valentia Island in complete mist. The visibility dropped down

to 50 m. The sea was flat. And paddling was rather boring. I almost fell into the water

“dozing of” after more than three and a half hours of paddling into nowhere, the

visibility got better up to almost three hundred meters and we hit the eastern shore of

great blasket.

Try the apps and trust the locals

Catching the right weather window and moving to Inish Turk

The navigational forecasts were o.k. for daily planning, but what would we have done

without modern apps and experts like Dermot from Inishbofin and Brian from

Galway?: We had already been weather-bound on Inishbofin for two days (due to

force 8 to 9 winds) with the prospect of being stuck for another day, However, we

discovered on Windfinder a tiny weather window between 5 and 9 o´clock in the

morning (confirmed by Windguru and Magic Seaweed). But only when Brian and

Dermot confirmed this we decided to go. At 5 o´clock on the water we made our way

to Inish Turk. The swell was still big but the wind had really decreased. We were

even tempted to proceed to Clare Island, but then tried to be sensible. So we “just”

went to Inishturk and arrived at about 8 o´clock. When we looked out to sea one hour

later it, was white with foam and spray again. The weather window which had

allowed us crossing the sea had closed. So the combination of modern apps with

“old-school-knowledge” from locals allowed us to sneak through tiny weather

windows …

Any mile is a good mile

The Annestown break-out

We had already been weather-bound at Annestown for two days, well looked after

by Ewen MacMahon and Stewar. Even Mick O´Meara, the future record-breaker of

going round Ireland popped in. However being stuck after just one week of paddling

really got on my nerves. So when the wind was supposed to drop down, I urged poor

Mirco to break out in a force 6 Wind sneaking through breaking waves of

Annestowns “sheltered Beach”, according to Oilean. After 3 hours of paddling we

pushed in for a break in a lovely rocky cove. Mirco did not feel well and had a long

nap. Later on he felt better , even the wind had dropped and we continued. Mirco

was in his normal high spirits again, longing for any rockhopping occasion possible. I

for myself was happy that I had coped with the most challenging conditions ever for

me. Good that I did not know that for me there were going to be many more

challenging conditions ahead … Anyway on that day I learnt – I can cope.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


In high waves keep your spirits high

Aproaching Ross Port (North Mayo) and having some fun close to the cliffs

The Ross Port break-out

Of many conditions we coped with later on – the Rossport-break-out might be worth

to mention. Being stuck again for around 2 days but well looked after by Ray and his

family in Ross Port, the wind was supposed to drop down. From the garden of Ray´s

house, where we were allowed to camp, we could see the “white horses” raging into

Ross Port Bay. What seemed to be a sheltered harbour turned out to be a

mousetrap. The strong westerly force 8 to 9 winds, in combination with the catabatic

winds of the mountain nearby had caused a big surf zone, tricky but manageable.

Anyway, the wind had dropped down to force 6 and we left for a “short afternoon”

paddle, quite windy still, but sunny. When we passed the surf zone, we turned right

towards Kid Island and found ourselves not only in a stunning landscape, but in a sea

with rather big swells – Mirco although being less than 6 m away, sometimes seemed

rather small when I looked up or down to him. We later learned the swell was meant

to be about 4,20 m and found out that this was “one of the most challenging paddles

ever”. A phrase which seemed to accompany us for almost the whole journey. After

having turned round Kid Island our struggle was rewarded by the sight of the Stacks

of Broad Haven. The waves were still really big. For me the challenge was not to get

impressed by their height. So I tried to stay calm by cracking “funny” jokes. For

example I asked Mirco: “How would you call the strong wind combined with big seas

in North Mayo?” The answer: “mayonnaise” – not that funny, but for us it was worth a

laugh and allowed us to cope with the conditions.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Mental Skills

While coping with sea and weather conditions we not only improved our

paddling but also our mental skills …

While paddling think yourself over to the other headland

Before I went to Ireland my maximum time in a boat was limited by the fact of not

being forced to wee into a bottle. i.e. I needed to get out after max. 3 hours. Going

round Ireland however, especially meant going from headland to headland with

distances longer than 15 km. So “shoveling water” for 4 to 5 hours, focusing on a tiny

dot on the horizon, was a new experience as well. For me neither the wee, nor the

boring continuous paddling turned to be a big problem. Being used to the watery

desert in eastern Frisia (North West Coast of Germany), I went on “autopilot” and

paddled, keeping my mind busy with thoughts how the next headland might look like

or looking forward to the next RiZ. (=Riegelzeit / Break to eat a chocolate bar). Mirco

being the rough water playboy and being used to workout sessions in the tidal races

of Anglesey, got a bit slow on the first bigger crossings. Only later on he found his

own way how to deal with long crossings mentally.

Going on means matching expectations with conditions

For me the paddling itself was a challenge, as the skills I needed were so

completely differently from my paddling at home. Although the weather, as stated

many times before, was not always fine, giving up for such reasons never was an

option. For Mirco going on in these conditions or leaving people and places where we

both would have liked to stay, meant doing the trip completely differently to what he

had expected. Making the best out of it was an issue for him for quite a while. When

we finally did a 3-hour crossing to Newcastle with a headwind force 4 picking up to

force 5, he shouted into the wind “Oh come on, just give me more. That will make me

even stronger”. So he finally made his peace with the way we had to do our journey

due to the weather.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Downs – learnings

A German saying goes “the sum of difficulties we got through without getting

totally bust – that is what we call experience”. So we had some experiences,

luckily nothing too dangerous …

Daily life is the true threat to expeditions.

The PPD (= Porridge Pot disaster)

I was lying on my back groaning with pain. My shoulder hurt so much, that in the first

moment I could hardly move. Still the porridge pot in my left hand I already saw an

imaginary newspaper headline in front of my inner eye: “Circumnav attempt of Ireland

ended, while one team-member fell on a slippery slope with a porridge pot in his

hand …”. Really ridiculous, I thought, having passed the heaviest seas in my

paddling life and then just falling on my “a…-levels” in the morning. After the first pain

passed a bit, I could think about what had happened: It had rained quite a lot that

night. I made my porridge as always and wanted to go down to the beach to have

breakfast looking at the sea, as always. When I went down a slope, I slipped on the

wet ground, fell backwards and landed on my elbow which gave a hard push to my

shoulder in the end. The height of the slope was 20 – 20 m or 2 m? No 20cm! The

situation could not have been less ridiculous and annoying at the same time. After a

few minutes I managed to get up and after some minutes more and a 600 mg of

Ibuprofen we could go back to business as usual. Of course I could not use my europaddle

– too much strain on the shoulder. But with my greenland-paddle (or stick

how, some paddlers call it) I could go on. We even managed to cover 40 km that day,

reaching the Old Head of Kinsale and Jon Hynes and family. The night was awfully

painful and I discovered that the absurdity of the accident had not only bruised my

body but my mind and motivation to go on. I really was not sure if I should continue

and Jon gave me the nicest kick in the a.. I ever got. “If nothing is broken, it is going

to hurt anyway. So you can go on paddling anyway …”, he said.

So I stuck to the stick, my daily dose of Ibuprofen (+homeopathic globuli of Arnica)

and to Jon´s helpful words for the next two weeks.

Hey Jon, this is for you, perhaps you did not realize: You saved the trip for me and

some of the best experiences in my life. Thanks for that.

Mirco later on suggested to call the porridge-pot-disaster “PPD”. That really sounds

more professional and dangerous. Instead of falling on your buttocks with a porridge

pot in your hand, you could fascinate your audience by telling them that you finally

recovered from a severe attack of PPD.

If you do not find yourself as a team – you lose yourself, sooner or later:

First Navigation of the Muingtreana Creek

Yes, it was not easy getting used to the situation, that due to the weather our trip was

more like using weather windows and eating miles instead of exploring areas and

landscapes. Not known to each other very well we had to learn it the hard way how

to become a team. Apart from going round we had many discussions that “everything

could have been easier and more relaxed”… So after 800 km of paddling and some

really good proofs of seamanship we made some bullshit due to these little quarrels.

After an evening full of discussions we really did not focus on the next day´s

paddling. “Just easy paddling north through an inlet to Belmullet”, we thought. It

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


started being easy going north and we believed we made good progress until we

ended up - fully geared seakayakers as we were - in a tiny little creek less than 1,20

m wide. So it was time to ask for the way again. Leaving the kayaks behind,

stumbling through the wet swampy area of the creek, climbing up a slope, walking up

a small road then arriving at a farm still fully geared up. First Mark Leneghan, the

farmer we met, wondered if we were parachutists. When we told our story he showed

us on his smartphone where we really were: Due to the spring tide we had moved

north to Muingtreana parallel to the inlet into the Belmullet direction. Mark even tried

to find us a trailer for the boats because the right inlet was less than 2 km down the

road. But no way we had to go back the way we came (another 15 km), because the

tide had turned already and we risked getting stuck in the mud for the next six hours

at least. So Mark even accompanied us back to our boats (perhaps making sure that

we really were no parachutists) and took some

photos of sea kayakers in one of the weirdest

situations ever. Then we hurried through the last

drops of receding water. When we were safely back

into deeper areas I just started laughing. The whole

story was too funny and too absurd to start

quarrelling again. After we finally reached Belmullet

we had a long break waiting for the tide to turn. And

with our usual amounts of coffee and cake we

managed to talk it over, matching our expectations

to the circumstances of the trip and thus becoming

a team. Just before we left Belmullet a white van

stopped at the pier: “Oh, so you found it finally”, said

the man. “Who are you?” asked Mirco “I am the

postman. Just talked to Mark Leneghan today. So

stay safe and good luck”. Now, it was really time to

leave before our “fame” as first navigators of the

Muingtreana Creek would have spread in the whole

region. However, we left as a team - finally.

If it goes well - never go too far:

The Kilkee-Trip

After a choppy passage round Kerry Head, the crossing of the “feared” River

Shannon was almost easy going. So we landed quite early at Kilbaha celebrating the

crossing as usual with coffee and cake. “Just another 15 km”, we thought, “round

Loop Head than into Goleen Bay.” I could have asked at the pub if Goleen was a

safe landing, but I did not. We just “made” the Shannon. Why ask? We know what we

were doing, at least that is what we thought. So we turned round Loop Head into

crossing seas. There was no way getting closer to the shore less than 800m and no

way of exactly making sure where we were. So we paddled on and on, looking for a

sheltered beach and Gholeen Bay or the Bridges of Ross as a safe landing. It got

dusk and finally we saw a bay and the tiny blinking lights of a town. The bay was

sheltered, but it was sheltered by a big reef blocking the swell to get in and almost

blocking us as well with huge 2 m breaking waves to get through as well.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Finally we found a way through the surf zone and landed at the pier of a town which

turned out to be Kilkee. What had happened?: In spite of the crossing seas the tide

had pushed us faster than we thought and not finding any landing we paddled “out of

the map” we had on our Kayak decks. Marty who picked us up from the pier at Kilkee

later on told us that there in fact is no save landing between Kilbaha and Kilkee in

those conditions. I really should have asked at Kilbaha before …

To sum it up – the one lesson learned with all ups and downs

Every cloud has a silver lining

Yes we had a lot of clouds, but for me it still seems incredible and far beyond coincidence:

Whenever things weren´t funny at all we met people who helped us and helped us to go on.

For me this Victorian saying (originally derived from John Milton) turned from a more or less

pathetic worn out pseudo positive wisdom into a mere fact. So once returning to Ireland I will

be looking forward to any cloud, and of course it´s silver linings …

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Mental Splash Zone

While paddling some ideas and thoughts are splashing up and some seemed

to me to be worth to fish out of the mental flow of the trip


For others they are just geographical features, for me experiences gave them

a meaning, which will always pop up in my mind when I pass them …

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



I do not like headlands. Especially those with a little building on top. A small sort of

one-room-apartment with two windows looking out, looking down to us paddlers

trying to get around it. Me looking up to these ”eyes” almost telling me “ do you really

want to pass me? Well let´s see…”

In our first week we tried to go round Kilmichaels Point: we had already pitched up

the tents. When wind and rain dropped, we loaded the kayaks again to make some

miles for an afternoon paddle. And we paddled and paddled and paddled always

looking up to the headland with the tiny building and it´s window eyes watching us.

After 20 minutes I had to admit – the tide turned and we had to turn back – pitching

up the tents again – having another go the next day.

Baginbun Head: We had a fantastic run with a force 5 to 6 tailwind through the mist

and rain on a 90 degree course crossing from Kilmore Key in a visibility of less than

300 m. We saw the grayish outlines of the headland and the building with its windows

watching us. Some ten minutes paddling in the Hook Head direction only to be just

staying on one spot. The headland told as again “no way today”. The tide had turned

and we turned to the southern beach finding a wee patch of grass to camp on.

Whenever we passed a headland later on, I got nervous always doubting whether the

headland would allow us to pass.


I like beacons. These big white cones saying “Hello … come in, not so far now, than

you are safe”. They do not exist in the area I am paddling in – so the first one I

noticed was when we entered Baltimore Bay. White, straight, big, like guardians they

seemed to offer shelter from the Atlantic swells. Whenever struggling with the winds

and weather and I saw a Beacon round the corner, I became sure that we would

soon reach a save spot.

Save Landings / Piers

Another new experience. Living in an area where you can land almost anywhere you

want, not being able to get out was very new to me. Swells blocking the way and

beaches with big surf and breaking waves were new to me, as well. So whenever we

turned around the corner and could see the big concrete and stone walls keeping out

breaking waves and swells I relaxed and was looking forward to an easy exit and a

friendly chat to local fishermen.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Thinking / Self Reflexions: what I learned about myself

Some things I realized. Things which won´t change the course of the universe

but will influence future trips. The small things make the difference to me. It is

comforting that you need not change your life for changing your mind.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Campsite – Diva

Poor Mirco – he just wanted a place to pitch up the tent – I wanted a nice place with a nice

view. When looking out of my tent I liked to see the sea. The sea we came from and the sea

we were going to. So finding a campsite which corresponded to my expectations was not

easy, especially for Mirco, who just wanted a place to camp. Eventually he realized he was

travelling with a “campsite-diva”.

Campsite at Finish Island – Life could be worse …

Being Connected

I love nature. I love being in the wild – but I love contact to my other world as well. Talking to

Dagmar, my wife, in the evening. Updating our Facebook-Page sending and receiving

emails. So the link to the world and to the most recent weather forecast on the apps meant a

lot to me and still does. To sum it up: I love it wild and rough, as long as there is free wifi.


This is one of the revelations of my inner self that you have to suffer throug as well – I

discovered that I like writing. But if I like writing this that does not mean that you like what I

am writing. This I can´t and won´t expect, although it would be nice. However, whenever I

was disconnected I missed putting down what I experienced and thus sort of reliving it and

leaving it behind (on the facebook-page). That is the reason why I decided to write the

circumnavigation experience down: how I saw it and see it. So there will be at least one

person who enjoyed this piece of paper (better pdf). If you don’t like it it is up to you – be

sure I had fun in writing it. So feel free to delete it.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Coffee and Cake

good humour.

Happy well-fed Mirco at Great Blasket

The highlight of a sometimes rather dim day. The feeling

of being soaked, coming into a pub or a coffee shop

feeling the warm atmosphere and the promise of tasty

food and lots of calories.

A typical dialogue: “Hi, what´s this pie?” – “It is rhubarbpie”

– “Looks great – we´d like to have one” – “one

piece?”- “Oh no, no, no.. one pie” – “You want to take it

away? – “No we (two) eat it here – you can cut it into four

pieces, if you like”

What we did not tell her at that point of the talk that we

were just planning to have the pie as the starter: we

already had focused on a big chocolate cake with ice

cream as a second course …

So the most expensive part of the journey was buying the

cake, the latte for mirco and the cappuccino for me. But it

was worth it – allowing us to keep our spirits high and our

Asking the way

Another, for Mirco, a bit embarrassing habit of mine. He himself followed the ideal of a

foolproof seakayaker. He never liked me knocking on doors and asking the way. “We need

not do that – I know where we are …”. Of course we knew –more or less most of the time.

But for me it turned out to be a means of contact, getting in touch with people even if it only

was at their door-step. Knocking on doors and talking about the weather or other “small-talk”

would be less authentic than asking for the way, wouldn´t it?

Returning from asking the way – Roaring Water Bay

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Pier and Beer – Being semi civilized or semi-wild?

Pier for me turned out to be shelter for me. A pier always saved checking a safe landing

spot. It was safe in itself. It often meant that there would be a pub as well and being

connected. Many times we came soaked from the sea dripping into a pub or coffee-shop

clutching something warm like a coffee at first (Guiness later of course) and got as close as

possible to the fire pit – feeling a home, at least for a few beers and chats. So with pier and

beer some basic demands of the campsite-diva were fulfilled. If the weather would have

been better, there would have been less need to search for civilized landing spots. But I am

not sure if I did not like it more that way. I am not sure if I would have likde the complete

wilderness and the need to be completely self-sufficient for weeks.

Knocking on Mizen´s Door: Mirco and Christian just before going round Mizen Head in front of Dermot

O´Sullivans Pub in Crookhaven

A book is …

“like a garden which you can carry in your pocket (or in your drybag?)” this Arabian saying I

learned from my wife Dagmar. And I learned for me, that this is true, especially when I am on

a longer trip. Every night before I went to sleep (or fell asleep)it became very important for

me to enter this “garden” even just for a length of a page, or being weather bound sharing

with Mark Twain “A life on the Mississippi” or watching together with Charles Dickens how

“David Copperfield” was growing up.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Questions asked

Some answers came up to questions I never asked myself but were asked by others when

we talked about our trip …


I was really lucky. It was rather easy to take a sabbatical in the company I am

working with, not like Mirco who had to give up his job and his flat to do the trip.

Nevertheless, the reactions of colleagues were a bit queer. They got this severe

pitiful look and after a pause gave the comment “… if you think you need it”.

Sabbatical seems to be a sort of disease which could be caused by midlife crisis or

burn out. Someone like me, who told them, that I would just like to experience

something different seemed to be not very convincing. Some even sort of expected I

would take the time to think things over and to search for meaning and sense in my

life. Perhaps they did not know that I even have difficulties finding my glasses and

house keys every morning. So for me looking for a sense in life while having a

sabbatical would have been absolutely ridiculous.

Being tough?

“Ye ahhre taff meen”, a landlady of a pub said to us, when she discovered what we

were doing. Of course being big boys we liked being called tough. But are we really

tough and did we really want to proof that we were tough on our trip? No. We just

tried to cope with the conditions we met.

Know what you need … on a trip

Talking about this subject many people would say ”well, we in our days have too

much things. If you want to be really independent and free you will need less and you

will be even more happy”. I am not sure whether this is really true for me. I am more

the double-glased type of character, enjoying central heating and the comfort and

security of a monthly salary.

What I know now is what I need on a trip: I hated packing my boat, and after a week I

was quite relieved when Ewen MacMahon helped me to send away a big bundle of

stuff. These things had annoyed me while packing every morning. I always moved

them from here to there without needing it. I felt so relieved when I “got rid of them”

and for the whole trip I never missed them.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Switching from …

although my command of English leaves at lot to desire, I chose the word “switch” instead of

“change” with care. For me with my double glased-background, really changing things, even

my life with my sabbatical or my trip, was never intended. And still, I do not intend to do this.

What I found interesting and still find interesting is switching from one mode, let´s call it the

“standard business executive”, to a mode you could characterize as the “paddler´s and

nomad´s mode”. Not changing but switching is what I enjoyed. It is for me like walking

through a door from one world to another. It is like enjoying each ones specific advantages

without neither preferring nor comparing the one style of living to the other:

Switching … from “next” to “now”

That was one of the hard bits. Something I had to learn. As written before I am

usually focused on timing and future planning when doing projects or achieving

goals. Having this attitude while paddling was of no use at all. The weather and the

sea taught me a lesson: I was no use to look ahead, as the conditions made long

term plans impossible. So I had to learn to concentrate on the wave, the situation

now, instead of thinking of the next day or the week after next. Thinking of the next

headland was the maximum of looking ahead we could do.

Switching … from I want to “I can”

Being a late developer concerning paddling I was never sure if I was good enough to

paddle the stuff I would like to. I know now I can paddle everything what I want to

paddle, because I do not want to paddle everything. So the fame for racing round

Australia, paddling South America or perhaps the rest of the Milky-Way will still be

left to Freya Hofmeister. I will be content paddling in Ireland and a bit beyond.

Switching … from Resident to nomad

Making the experience of nomadic life was one of the main purposes of my trip. How

would it feel not knowing where we were going to be the next day? Would the tent

feel like home? What would I need or not? How would it feel moving on every day?

The answer is simple: great. But not forever, for a limited time and then switching

back to the other normal life of enjoying an electric water kettle, a real bed and the

other little pleasures of the “double-glazed world”.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Learnings – wee “wisdoms” or touring mantras

a few sayings helped keeping my discipline and my gear in order

Land when you can

When chasing the weather windows I especially was tempted to push on for another

mile or going a “wee bit further on”. This sometimes led to some exhausting

situations, for example when we had to paddle as far as Kilkee due to crossing seas.

So stopping a bit earlier and leaving the next miles to the next day was something we

learned the rough way.

Wait and See

Patience is not exactly one of my virtues. In the beginning, I had difficulties to wait for

the conditions to settle a little. So I was the driving force for poor Mirco doing our

famous afternoon paddles in force 5- 6 and swells up to 4,20 m. Later on during the

trip I tried to wait a bit more … and sometimes it worked.

First the gear than the beer

“Look after your gear, and your gear will be looking after you” is the more politically

correct proverb …or the German “erst die Arbeit dann das Vergnügen (First work

than fun) is the even less joyless German equivalent. Anyway, I used to expect from

gear being made for outdoors to last in what it is designed for, but on a trip of this

length or longer nothings lasts if you do not care for it. This seems normal and

sensible and easy. However in daily life it was not as easy for me, as this meant

(although being cold and soaked in salty water) to pitch up the tent first, clean the

gear and my drysuit and then finally start cooking and to begin the more joyful part of

the evening. So this little mantra helped me stick to a certain discipline and still

helped me to let my gear last for the length of the trip. Just to give you an idea of

using up gear: I needed a new set of tent poles, my neoprene boots were completely

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


worn out with irreparable holes, my drysuit (just one year old) had a lot scratches and

a big hole in the foot, due to daily use. This was an amount of “damage” I never

calculated before. So caring for the gear meant for me being able to finish the trip

and paying for the trip in new gear afterwards.

The forecast is deciding what you can expect - not yourself

Another simple but sometimes bitter truth for us. The many “shades of Irish grey” (i.e.

mist and rain) first seemed to keep us away from seeing Ireland. We had to learn that

they gave us the chance of seeing Ireland and it´s people in a different way. So once

we found peace with this fact, we just started laughing when listening to another

headwind forecast from the VHF-Radio.

On tour

So the tiny things turned to be of importance to me

– sometimes really surprising


After some weeks I started having certain phantasies of which I told Mirco as well. Not what

you might think of and not what Mirco might have thought of. It was just me having a mug

with coffee-powder in my hand filling it with hot water from an electric water kettle, or me

going to bed being able to cover myself with a warm and dry blanket … and other phantasies

like these


Porridge time: sitting at the seashore watching the waves and listening to the silence.

Reading time: lying in the tent listening to the rain pour outside and diving into other

worlds and letters.

Talking time: sitting in a pub or in a kitchen or even in a campervan chatting with

people and getting insights into many different lifestyles.

After tour

After a tour is before a tour? I do not know …

What´s next?

Some asked me about my next trip plans of going round. My answer then was the only

circumnavigation I could imagine was going round the kitchen table with a coffee pot in my

hand. But now some weeks later – I am starting to get attracted by other islands – smaller

ones but islands still …

Do it again?

No, I do not think so. But parts of it, or being a kayaking nomad for some time, that I would


© Christian Dingenotto 2015



You might be interested in the food we ate and the gear we used, if you are

planning longer trip for yourself.

Food-Box insights

As stated many times food is essential. And for us it was essential that we ate what we liked.

We did not focus that much on the health aspect. In fact I was surprised that I literally was

not fed up by eating the same things for almost the whole trip:


My favourite was porridge – even at home it is my normal breakfast. That is not that

frequent for Germans. I prepared my porridge for the whole trip and mixed Oat wheat

with dried baby-milk powder (for the big boys older than 10 months. Each bag I

mixed with different “goodies” like raisins, or cranberries or cinnamon in order to

have a surprise with any bag.

Food breaks and RiZ (Riegelzeit or bar-break)

We either had a chocolate bar or fruits, like an apple or a banana, at least onces a



My lunchbox was filled every day with half a loaf of brown bread and cheese. In the

first two weeks we also had big salamis, I brought from Germany. Long and long

lasting and perfectly fitting into the skeg box. My thermos flask contained simple

black tea. I always left the teabag in the flask. In some cases we managed to get hot

water during the day so we could just fill up our tea.


That was the only warm meal for the day (apart from the porride in the morning).

I used a 0.7 l cooking pot and filled it almost every day with bulgur wheat or couscous

and a tin of tuna. Generally I added lots of garlic as well. Of course this does not

come up to a gourmet standard and might seem to be boring. However I liked it –

and still like it.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015




It was too cold and too windy to wear other things than the dry suit. I mostly wore everything

out of merino-wool (from icebreaker) under it. Two tops, one of the heavier 260 fabric. A

merino scarf or buff and merino socks as well. For trousers I wore an ordinary softshell

trouser from directalpine, a Czech brand producing their goods in Europe, with some well

thought details.


The 2-Person tent Forum 4.2 travel-line from Wechsel was really good value. Of course it

needed more time to be pitched up and was a bit bulkier in the boat, however it cost one

third of the Hilleberg tent Mirco used. It is of geodetic construction and has four entrances.

One of the features I liked most: I never had to turn the entrance when the wind turned – I

just used another entrance. Even when it was raining cats and dogs the inner tent never got

wet while I pitched up the tent.


The porridge pot disaster made it very clear that having an Euro-paddle and a Greenlandpaddle

was the right choice. The paddles themselves weren´t very fancy.The euroblade had

a carbon-shaft and the feather could be adjusted. I used it unfeathered to be able to use the

same technique as with the Greendland Paddle. The Greenland paddle was made out of red

cedar and a bargain offer from a dutch dealer.

Apart from the paddles, I would like to mention two other items from the Dutch

The trolly – simple, sturdy and small in comparison to the weight it can carry. The

best one I ever had.

The map-case or AxelPack – Justine Curgenven praised it a lot. So that I just have to

say she is absolutely right.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Lunch gear

I like my cooking and eating gear very much reduced. And it worked out very well. As

lunch-box I use a lock lock boxes and for flask I took a decathlon model with a lid to

be screwed up and not to be pressed. This principle proved to last longer than the

models with a button to be pressed.

Dinner Gear

The express stove set from primus proved to be the right choice. It has an integrated

wind shield. In combination with the cook pot (with a heat exchange system at the

bottom) it saves a lot of energy. So I needed just one and a half gas cartouches for

the whole trip. For eating I used a foldable metal spoon – I do not like the plastic

Spork: I always break it.

For washing up a small plastic bottle with outdoor soap (which can be used as

shower gel as well) was the only thing I needed. And if you use this soap together

with seaweed and wet sand from the beach it is almost as effective as a sponge or

even a dishwasher.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Repair and care

I got along with a comparatively limited amount of stuff. I needed it and und

used it (especially the different types of glue, the needle and tent-repair

equipment) but I did not miss anything.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


My Ouch Pouch (that´s how Roland Wolven is calling a first aid kit) is tiny as well – but

perfect for my needs:

Ibuprofen, 600 mg – in case you need

lesser dose you easily split in two halfs.

The combination of being painkilling

and anti-inflammatory helped me to

overcome the ppd.

Due to the continuous contact with

saltwater my bruised fingers would not

heal. The homeopathic Arnica globuli in

a high dose helped me to ward off a

serious infection, which might have

stopped the trip.

Compede plaster – a hint from a

German surfer couple from Kilcummin

is the only plaster which really works

when the bruised finger is constantly wet.

It is best to fix it with a good wrap of physiotape.

Due to my working at the computer for many hours, I got a carpal tunnel syndrome

(or mouse hand) some weeks befor we left. I wore a simple bandage at night and

after two weeks of healthy paddling on the trip I did not need it any longer.

Beauty case or duty case?

Just call it an attempt to be clean. To try to become a beauty at the age of 49 is effortless

anyway. So consider it rather a duty to keep a basic body hygiene. So here is the stuff I use

when I paddle for a longer time.

In case-case

Let it either be a case or a bag – it is always good

not to have too much spare kit. So my essentials

are a tiny head torch from Petzl and a small red

light from Vaude – just in case the standard lights

go down (in some cases I put in a small knive as


© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Good gear – sad gear

55 days on the road is a good test for the material so here is a quick overview

of the stuff I used, will use or never use again.

Good gear

• The Wechsel forum 4.2 tent stable sturdy & good value.

• Trolley from

• Cook set Express stove set from Primus, effective, small and fuelsaving (gas)

• Steel peg – a gift from Ewen MacMahon from Annestown. In windy Ireland it is

always good to have a peg at hand – one turned out to be sufficient.

• Zip lock bags from Melitta Toppits are my favourites. There are lots of zip lock bags

on the market – but the toppits were the only ones who survived the whole trip.

• Hat with broad rim from Decathlon. With all the rain pouring down it was very useful

and for that I deliberately took the risk of looking stupid.

• The AQUATHERM HOOD is Reed at it´s best simple, tight, light but warm.

• Palm´s Kaikoura Buoyancy Aid known to

be one of the best, proved by the trip, too.

• VHF-Radio eastern Horizon, the only one

with ipx-8. It can be charged by usp-port.

• Map Case AxelPack

• Sun-Glasses from Rudy Project. Perfect

for Kayakers who have to wear glasses.

When the sun is gone you just flip up the

dark glasses.

• Rain-Clothes from Decathlon – My spare

clothes – very cheep and thin. Wear them

over your drysuit and they will keep you

warm in a lunchbreak by protecting you

from the wind.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Sad gear

Some gear made a good first impression, however it really makes you sad

when the quality does not come up to your needs, when you have to use it

every day.

The spraydeck´s name never keeps the promise. The ocean the “HF- ocean skirt”

was made for must be really special. It is definitely not for the Atlantic. The neoprene

is not water resistant at all– even after paddling for just two hours with occasional

waves running over the spraydeck I always had least two liters of water in the


The open Palm Webbed Paddle Mitt from Reed is an excellent idea. However it is

just an idea. The stitching dissolved just after two day´s paddling and after two weeks

they looked like rags on my hands. I still had to use them, because the wind was too

cold just to paddle with bare hands.

The gasket of my one-year old Palm Aleutian dry suit ripped after one weak. First

traces of wear-out in the area of the armpits could be seen after one week. This got

worse and new bruises joined. I had constantly to fix these with Aquasure. After five

weeks I got a hole in one of the feet, as well.

The biggest disappointment was the boots from aquadesign – at the end of the trip

they had almost fallen apart.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



This is a section especially meant for paddlers new to Ireland. On our way

round we had a long “I-will-come-back-list”. Below you will find the attempt to

shape some of my favourite spots into tours. Take them as appetizers. But,

before really starting have a close look into Oilean (either book or website)

and do contact local paddlers. You will find for most of the sections a link of a

local paddle club.


The Current Playspot: Strangford Lough

7,5 knots in spring tides, islands, hundreds of seals … just to give you an idea that you

can spend weeks or at least a week exploring the area and playing in the strong

currents. My favourite playspot for rough-water handling.Better take a local with you or

contact the guys at Tollymore Lodge (outdoor training center) to take a course there.

The North-Side Tour: A Trip right in the north of Dublin

It is easy to reach by plane, and it is a good introduction for kayakers being the first time

in Ireland. You just have to organize a kayak. The Rush Campsite can be a good

basecamp to explore the area between Skerries and Howth and vice versa.

Possible for a nice week (arrival by plane).


Lambay: Going round is really nice. But take care, it is private property.

Skerries: Island hopping with Martello-towers experiencing some currents and


Ireland´s Eye – or Ireland´s gem?: A nice island so close to Dublin and easy to reach

from Howth.

Howth Peninsula: Almost incredible to find so much natural coastline so close to

Dublin. There even is a nice little tidal race close to the lighthouse on the Dublin bay


The South-Side Tour: A Trip just south of Dublin

Still a day left before flying back home? There are some nice spots to paddle, right in

the south of Dublin – surprisingly close to the capital.

Start at Bullock Harbour then turn south to Dalkey. Either have a break there or even

go further to Bray Head then turn back.

The Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire could also be an option of you are fed up

with paddling but want to get a maritime experience without getting wet.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Rathlin Island and the north-eastern corner of Ireland

The area where millions of litres of water are pushed in and out the Irish Sea. Tides go

mad in the area and Scotland seems to be so close, it just seems to be. The currents are

thT strong that a crossing to the Mull of Kintyre is either something for the well

experienced or for the mad kayaker. Geologic enthusiasts find some of the oldest rock

formations here. The giants causeway is a touristy hotspot but if you take a kayak you

find similar rock structures close by without any hustle and bustle. Just take three to four

days plus a kayak and enjoy the area.


Rathlin Island: Never got there. Looks interesting to be explored. If the crossing

seems too difficult – there is a ferry as well.

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge: birds – birds – birds. And it is great fun watching all

the other tourists from below, when they take a selfie while standing on the rope


Ballycastle: A pretty tourist town. It has got a nice beach to surf on in northerly


Fair head – similar rocks to the giant´s causeway. Best to reach by kayak and

therefore less crowded. You might find some climbers there on of their most

favourite climbing spots.

Lighthouse-Trip: From Fanad Head via Malin Head to Stroove / Inishowen Head

It can be pretty rough in Ireland´s northernmost area – so wait for good weather. Then be

just impressed by the rugged coastline and the fantastic lighthouses “greeting” anybody

who comes the long way across the Atlantic Ocean. A long weekend might do see the

most of it, but you will not get bored for weeks as well if you have more time to take a

closer look at the area.


Sandrock Holiday Hostel at Portronan Pier has a homelike cosy atmosphere. It is

a perfect basecamp to explore the area.

Fanad Head – that´s how a lighthouse should be situated – just beautiful

Malin Head – lots to explore round the northernmost headland of Ireland. Always

a bit choppy.

Stroove, the lighthouse at Inishowen Head, is just beautiful. It has got a pretty

protected tiny beach.

The Northwestern tip and the Tory Sound Area

A good stable weather window for a week will help you really to enjoy this rather

exposed area.


Bloody foreland looks less spectacular than other headlands but the waves there

will really teach you a lesson.

Inishbofin – the second island with this name is a good base for exploring the

whole area.

Horn Head – big cliffs with thousands of birds, just impressive.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015



Malin Beg and Slieve Leage

If you focus on the top spots of these must-sees in Irelands two to three days will be

enough to get an idea of the area.


Malin Beg – do not miss the marvelous beach with the almost Caribbean feeling.

The area round the lighthouse is also nice to explore.

Slieve League – just stunning high cliffs with arches and tiny waterfalls close to

Malin Beg. There are almost no landing spots. So you need perfectly calm

weather. Take care and enjoy.

Inishmurray – stay, enjoy and chill

Just go there, have enough water and food for some days and enjoy the panoramic view

of Donegal Bay.

North Mayo Coast from Erris Head to Inish Murray

A two-week-trip with the best-of´s of North Mayo. Belmullet could be a starting point.

Move south through Blacksod Bay then take the outer way round Mullet Peninsula to

Erris Head. Cross over to Kid Island and camp at Portacloy. If the weather permits, you

even could go to the Stags of Broadhaven. Do not miss the caves at Downpatrick Head

on your way east. Kilcummin could be the turning point of your trip (or cross Killala Bay

and paddle via Easky to Inish Murray). Then enter the cliff and beach areas you might

have skipped before. Being back to Kid Island just enter Broad Haven. Perhaps you

might go even as far as Ross Port on your way back to Belmullet.

Achill and Inishbofin – The wild Wild West of Ireland

If you really want to experience entering the Atlantic start from Achill. Than go

southward. Follow the chain of islands from Clare Island ot Inish Turk and Inish Bofin.

Inish Shark and High Island could be an option as well. Then follow the coastline and

enjoy the hundreds of Islands in Clew Bay while returning to Achill after about two weeks

of glorious paddling – always calculate some two days for being weather bound in this



Achill Sound and it´s lighthouse mark the entrance to another world the Atlantic.

Clare Island – either a stopover to Inish Turk or an Island to be rounded and

explored for at least one day.

Inish Turk – famous to be one of the most remote Islands of the west, and this is


Inish Bofin – a good base camp to explore the area till High Island and a safe

spot to get back. There is a daily ferry to Cleggan.

Cleggan to Roonagh Quay (never been there) – the Coastline looks promising

and more sheltered. From Roonagh Quay you could either explore Clew Bay or

return to Achill via Clare Island.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


Kilkee and Aran Islands – a good introduction into the West of Ireland

A week and half should be enough to get an idea of the area – but a lifetime could work

as well.


The cliffs north of Kilkee - almost as spectacular as the cliffs of Moher –but more

remote and less visited.

Mutton Island – nice island to camp on with some seals in the neighbourhood. If

you are not afraid of big crossings you could leave out Spanish Point as a stop

and could paddle over directly to the cliffs of Moher and Doolin.

Cliffs of Moher – one of the must-sees, described thousands times. So check out

other sources to inform yourself.

Aran Island and Inish Oir – almost a trip in itself (some three days plus). I would

prefer the campsite at Inish Oir as basecamp. With Teach An tra

( you will find my most favourite coffee shop in the west plus

three good pubs. So lots of opportunities to get back the calories you wasted with


Spotlights and Headlands in the South-West and South

If you prefer to stick to an area to enjoy with more time and leasure here are some areas you

might like as much as I did.


Dingle and the Blaskets: Start and end the trip at Dingle. Move westwards and enjoy the

Blaskets. Take care of the currents in the Blasket´s Sound and have fun. There even is a

hostel on Great Blasket now. So good compromise of having some comfort and an

authentic experience in the same time.

Roaring Water Bay: Much more sheltered than it´s name. A good area to see a lot

without having the need to paddle long distances.

The South

The headland trip: Galley Head, Seven Heads and the Old Head of Kinsale stick out into

the sea. A good opportunity to gain first crossing experiences of two to three hours of

constant paddling. On each headland your effort is rewarded with great cliffs and long

caves. There is a fantastic description of Alaine Hynes about the Old Head of Kinsale.

Just to give you an idea how it is like.

The Saltees: Famous among paddlers. In good weater conditions it is an easy trip and a

great experience for a weekend-trip.

© Christian Dingenotto 2015


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