deveron paddlers

facebook you tubegoogle plus

Thurso 2008

The RAV4 chugged North. Neil and I were on our annual trip to Thurso - Scotland's world class surfing area - we just needed the swell. September can be good, and the sea is still warm. Checking out Thurso East, it all seemed flat, but by the time we crested the dunes at Strathy, we knew we were in for a good time. Sun, a light offshore wind and a nice friendly 2-3 foot swell. Perfect! And only 2 boardies to share it with. Strathy is a beach break, and as the tide moved in, we ranged around to find the best wave. It was a great start. After a good night's rest, we checked out Thurso East again. It was huge, scary, and the high wind drove us along the coast looking for something we could handle. Farr Bay looked fine. The high cliffs gave some shelter from the wind, but the waves were big, 4-6 feet. And lots of surfers - boarders, body boarders and another kayaker, up from Wales for a holiday. Quick change. Down to the beach. A strong rip along the left cliff offered an escalator out beyond the break. In no time we were in the line up, waiting our turn, watching for the big one that might force us to turn and run. But the waves were big and even. I watched the Welshman line up to the next peak, but he backed off, and I was away. I put in a burst of 3-4 paddle strokes, to get the kayak moving....the tail of my kayak lurched upwards, and I was falling down the wave-face! A quick check confirmed I was on a left-hander, and I bottom turned away from the shoulder. I edged and my kayak climbed back up the face, running diagonally. I turned beach-ward again, and as the kayak accelerated it bounced and ran ahead of the shoulder. I stalled the boat, allowing the shoulder to catch up. 3 boat lengths ahead, the wave began to rear and break - no way through. Time to turn and run, as the wave jacked up behind me, I boofed straight down the wave-face, blinded by spray, I steered by feel, keeping the nose as low as I dared to maintain forward speed. Now in the broken wave, I carved right, and regained the rip. Ready for another go. Eventually the escalator stopped working, and we just couldn't get past the break. A great day. Our last day. Clear blue sky, calm, and those big waves had shrunk. We checked out the Shitpipe by Thurso Beach. Not big but clean. We were short of time, and didn't want to drive around looking for a better break. In the middle of the bay, the waves feel the reef, break and carry us towards the seafront. We can see walkers stopping to watch. No pressure! The waves seem a bit small after yesterday, but they are beautifully formed, and break quickly enough to catch us out regularly. A fisherman's float marks the best place to wait for the best waves. Each good run is a long run, and the paddle out gets tiring - no escalator today. Near the end, I capsize, and miss my roll. Too tired, I settle for a short swim back to the beach. I watch Neil make a final run, or 2, and it feels like we need to do this again, soon. We gather up our gear, and chat to a fisherman who complains about the storms that have prevented him from pulling up his lobster pots on the reef. His float i guess. Then its a quick cappucino at the surf shack cafe on the waterfront, and the road home.