Back in the sunny Summer Isles

Here we are back in the Summer Isles for the duration. Temptingly calm and sparkly out there right now, and we’re told it’s been fabulous weather these last few weeks.
On his blog, this chap reported 28°C a couple of weeks ago near Lochinver just north of here. Check out his pics, because through all the windy days you get up here, seemingly lit by a 25-watt bulb, when it’s fine and calm and bright you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, in or out of a boat.
As you may know the south of the UK is getting a hammering – storms in Cornwall, floods in Wales then Sussex, and the wettest April plus coldest May since EMI set up shop in a Kilburn garage. On the drive in to the Coigach, streams like the Osgaig looked distinctly boney, the adjacent lochs failed to join up like they used to, revealing instead hitherto unseen sandbars, and the moors are the colour of bark not rotting lettuce – terrible news for midge lovers. There was even a bushfire on Tanera Mor island (left).

And as you’ll read on here soon, on his second attempt, French aventure-gonflateur Gael A successfully completed Stage Two of his run up the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail, from Skye to Ullapool via the Summer Isles in his Incept K40 (the same one featured here) – and he did so it seems without any dramas.
 Left, the commitment-requiring Rubha Reid headland which he didn’t even reach in 2011, and right, Tanera Mor ablaze in sunshine, as opposed to burning peat.
It seems this prolonged spell of reversed weather in the UK could be down to the jet stream which, according to a BBC report, has flipped and is talking a southern course along the England Channel, instead of straight above here on its way to Murmansk (right). As a consequence (and as HMtQ found last week) that translates to a low pressure  over England which I do believe results in the top end of that low drawing in hot and dry continental air westwards across Scotland, not the usual southwesterly Atlantic mush that’s fit only for wind farms. Can’t be at all sure I’ve interpreted that correctly, but Scotland’s been getting it good for weeks, so here’s to the jet stream continuing to water the shires of England while we live it up here in the far northwest.
While schroling through the backposts at …kayak.fr I spotted this semi-interesting slideshow of the history of Zodiac dinghies. Well over a century old they are, and they even made a super-wide IK just before WWII. What was interesting is that they didn’t give a mention to our old friend Bombard’s Atlantic crossing in the early 50s, something he managed while relying almost entirely on seafood, seawater and rainwater. Instead, golden boy Jacques Cousteau gets a shot with what I believe is a huge, 20-metre hyper-Zodiac causing a traffic jam en ville. It dwarfs the 8-metre Grand Canyon support rafts we saw at Lees Ferry the other week. Apparently the hyper-Z took so much air to inflate it that locally, asphyxiated birds would drop out of the sky. Here’s another still of a sleeping croc with its paws affectionately draped over the Zodiac which probably finished him off.
I read also that at one stage Zodiac Marine bought out (or perhaps produced?) the execrable Sea Hawk slackrafts with which a mate and I paddled the Chassezac river last year. It’s no exaggeration to say his survived undamaged for about five minutes.
Back to the Isles, I’m told that sea kayaking has really kicked off so far this year, with weekenders regularly putting in at the new Port Beag campsite, right opposite Isle Ristol.
Meanwhile, my flaccid K40 is sunning itself on the lawn, easing out its creases after being rolled up and shoved in a dark cupboard since its not-so-successful Ningaloo outing in Australia last September. Amazingly it still looks pretty fresh and hasn’t been eaten alive by microbes. Time soon to pump it up, see if it holds air, and take it out for a spin.

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