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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Two kayakers are almost halfway through an epic round-Ireland journey right now

Irish Rail isn’t that bad, lads.

Image: Jon Hynes

TWO LIFELONG KAYAKERS with almost 60 years’ experience between them are currently in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime trip around Ireland.

Jon Hynes from Cork and Clare man Sean Cahill are over two weeks into the voyage and when contacted by earlier today they were huddled for shelter somewhere off the Mayo coast.

The adventure began for the pair on 16 June  not far from Hynes’ home near the Old Head of Kinsale and all going well, they’ll complete the expedition by the middle of the month. It’s the first time they’ve attempted it and to date, less than 50 people have ever finished it.

Dreadful weather, choppy seas and heavy fog are just some of the challenges Hynes and Cahill are currently facing. When we spoke earlier they were in Broadhaven Bay, Co. Mayo en route for Donegal.

“It’s pretty bad out there now, we’ve got a bit of shelter so hopefully it’ll pass in the next couple of hours,” says Hynes from a dodgy phone line.

They camp out most nights, taking turns to cook and set up shelter

“90% of the time we’re camping but last night we got the offer of a bed in Belmullet which was nice as we put down a pretty big day and covered over 80 kilometres in pretty bad weather.

“That was a nice bonus to get at the end of a hard day’s kayaking.”

Their progress can be tracked online at where a GPS device logs their every movement.

“We’ve got this far in two weeks and are very happy with that,” continued Hynes. ”We’ve had some bad weather to contend with; there were two days where we couldn’t get on the water at all it was so strong and we had four days where we were navigating in complete fog, using our GPS and compass all the time so to get as far as we have we’re pretty proud.

“Both of us are experienced kayakers but from time to time we’ve had to make decisions that would break with the normal protocol in order to achieve our objective each day.

“We’re both family men and have never been disrespectful with our own personal safety, but we’ve been out in big seas being hammered for seven and a half hours.

“Its definitely the pinnacle of expedition kayaking when you’re trying to get around Ireland in this type of weather!

They’ve an 18-foot kayak each which are used to transport their tents, gas-powered stoves and other assorted items (like food). Certainly no picnic.

“Our biggest day was probably 14 hours’ kayaking. We take breaks along the way for food but we’ll do at least eight or sometimes 10 and 12 hours a day.

“Its been hard on the body and hard on the mind but we’re two passionate kayakers and its the trip of a lifetime for people like us.”

Now, the plan is to take advantage of the supposed good weather due in the next few days, get into Donegal, take four or five days to clear around the top of the north coast and that’ll represent the halfway point.

“Then, hopefully, if the weather is kind to us on the east coast we’d motor along quickly so maybe another two to three weeks to get home.

“But our approach is always one day at a time and at the end of each day, we try to put ourselves in a position where we can take full advantage of conditions the next day.

“There’s tidal calculations and wind and weather to factor, its a constant process of analysing and making decisions. But with the weather being so changeable those decisions have to happen very quickly some times and it’s very satisfying to get those right.”

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