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Kayaker back on track after unscheduled Clonakilty stop

August 23rd, 2017 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Ger O'Reilly, who is kayaking around Ireland to raise funds for Childline, landed in Ballinglanna, near Clonakilty after he was blown off course. He is hoping to complete the journey before the end of the month. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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By Martin Walsh

A KAYAKER has resumed his attempt to kayak solo around Ireland, after being blown off course last week near Clonakilty.

Dubliner Ger O'Reilly (36) is kayaking in aid of the ISPCC/Childline. But last week he was hit by strong south-westerly winds near Ballinglanna.  

Belgian Xavier Dubuisson and his son Malachy, who had been sitting on a wall checking the weather, came to Ger's aid and kindly transported and stored the kayak at their house.

They then took Ger to a nearby camping site where he waited for the winds to abate before resuming his voyage last weekend.

An outdoor education instructor in Ballyfermot, Ger began the 1500km journey from Howth harbour on Sunday July 30th. He is hoping to arrive back in Howth before the end of this month.  

Outlining his progress after his unscheduled arrival in Ballinglanna, he said: ‘The other day I did 80km, but some other days I only did about 20km as the weather was so bad – on average it's about 50km a day.' Various compartments in Ger's green kayak contain sleeping and cooking equipment, a tent, navigation tools, first aid equipment and food for up to five days. 

‘Depending on tide, wind and visibility, I go from headland to headland,' Ger told The Southern Star.

While the decision to select August for his voyage has backfired a little, it hasn't diminished his spirits.

But that's not surprising given that he has 20 years experience of kayaking. ‘I've had no issues with other traffic on the water, but I definitely had a few hairy moments. The waves have been huge since I left, all the way down the east coast was crazy. I was hiding in a cave for a while near Helvic Head as there was a thunderstorm and lightning.  Each day has been a battle, timing each stroke with the wave and facing into the wind.”

He described how he ended up in Ballinglanna. ‘The south westerly wind was really strong and I got blown in here. The aim was to get to Galley Head by midnight and I would have been set up nicely for the night, but the wind was too strong.'  

Initially, Ger had hoped to get back in the water by Friday but the winds were too strong and, with no real improvement in the forecast, he opted to take a few days off for calmer weather before continuing last Tuesday.  Hoping to raise around €2,000 for his chosen charity, he explained why he chose ISPCC/Childline as the beneficiary of his voyage.  

‘I work for the Ballyfermot Youth Centre. It's an adventure centre and we are quite involved with young people and young people's issues so I felt it matched up well with what we do.'

Ger is travelling in his distinctive green kayak with ‘Solo Kayak Around Ireland' emblazoned on the side in white.


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