The forecast was dodgy, but the bunkhouse was booked, so off we went. North to Caithness. Eight of us gathered at the compound to load up the surf kayaks, and we left Banff, with a flat sea. At least, no surf here! It was a fine day for driving and we made good time to rendezvous with Norman and Alice at Dunnet Bay. Magic Seaweed had promised 2-3 feet, but it was flat. Westward. Thurso flat, Melvich flat, Strathy flat. Farr Bay was good. Fantastic. 2-3 feet of blue water and white foam. After a quick bite, we hit the beach. Iain gave a safety talk, and Gary was first on the water. He quickly found the optimal spot on the east side, with Sandy, Mike and George close on his heels. While the experienced paddlers surfed on the green waves out the back, the less experienced stayed in the broken water, "the soup", close to the beach. Here the size and power were gentler, but the waves require constant paddling out. Quite a demanding environment. Lots of runs, and lots of capsizes, and lots of laughter.
The sun was out most of the time, though squalls of rain burst over us from time to time, followed by stunning rainbows!
Beginners practiced simple manoeuvres to develop balance. Once the "bongo slide" was mastered, there were fewer capsizes, and more smiles!
Iain shot some video. Good for coaching, good footage of the inshore group was gathered. The experienced group were harder to film, but Iain got some good video from the eastern cliff top. After 3 hours, folk tired, and came in for a break.
As dark approached we packed up and headed to Melvich and the CornMill bunkhouse. We settled in, and while George and Gonnie masterminded the evening meal, sorted out our gear. We had a look at video footage and identified some learning points for the next day. Ten of us settled down for a 3 course feast. And a wee drop of red wine. As the evening wore on, the surf got higher, and the exploits more fantastic. A grand evening.
The following morning, Ross, Charlie and Alan arrived just after breakfast. Unfortunately wind and rain was close on their heels. Back to Farr Bay. Nestled between high cliffs, it's fairly sheltered and a good swell was still running from the West. But it was a battle with wind, rain and cold. Hard to stay on the wave, with wind blowing hard out to sea. The rips were strong too, and Sandeep's Surfjet had to be retrieved from the rip at the east end of the Bay. Andy had a long swim from out the back. Folk tired fast, and called it a day by lunchtime. George and Iain were last to leave, and paid the price of changing in the heaviest rain shower of the day. Monsoon more like!