"Imagine you are at the edge of the sea on a day when it is difficult to say where the land ends and the sea begins and where the sea ends and the sky begins." I found these words on a Sea Kayaking website some time ago and they probably reflect the feelings one must have when kayaking or canoeing in Scotland's beautiful waters.
For most people the difference between kayaking and canoeing is not completely clear so here is an explanation: A canoe is a small and narrow boat and are, traditionally, knelt in. They usually are pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be covered. A kayak differs from a canoe in that the kayak typically has a covered deck (an extension of the hull), a cockpit covered by a water-tight spraydeck, and is propelled by a sitting paddler with a double-bladed (one on each end) paddle (most canoers use a single bladed paddle).
With 130 stunning miles of coastline and breathtaking scenery it comes as no surprise that Islay has its own Canoe Club. The Islay Canoe Club or Buidheann Churachan Ile (Gaelic) was started in April 2003 by Jeremy Hastings and a few others who decided to combine a challenging sport with stunning views of the island and a great opportunity to observe wildlife from a whole different perspective.
The Islay Canoe Club currently has about 40 to 45 members and has eight committee members with Dave Protherough as Chairman, Stephen Harrison as Secretary and Andrew Waterworth as Treasurer. The club has fortnightly training sessions, mostly fridays, in the pool at Bowmore. Their aim is to go outside at least every 1st Sunday of the month for a trip in Islay's waters, sometimes further out to sea and sometimes closer to home near Bowmore, depending on the weather conditions. The Canoe Club have run Scottish Canoe Association (SCA) touring calendar events for the last 3 Septembers, but this year they want to concentrate more on getting the club paddlers out and enjoying whats available on Islay's door step.
Images from Islay's Canoe Club at Carraig Fhada, Rhuvaal and Loch Indaal
For guided tours and kayaking instruction check out the website www.kayakwildislay.co.uk
Dave Protherough in action early December 2007 - Picture Mark Unsworth