The north coast seemed to fly by. Tidal assistance was great and progress was marked by a quick succession of mice, approximately forty minutes from West to Middle Mouse and a further forty from Middle to East Mouse. At Point Lynas, I thought I was paddling well offshore in order to keep out of the eddy that forms behind the point. The GPS track shows that I was nowhere near as far out as I had planned. Still, I think I avoided the eddy.
The section from Point Lynas to Puffin Island was hard. It took me two and a half hours to cover the twenty kilometres and it was unremittingly boring. I was half way across before I could even see Puffin, so most of this section was paddled on a bearing. With no coastline close by to change the view I had to resort to crazy tactics to maintain some form of mental stimulation. First of all I tried counting paddle strokes. That was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Then I measured how far I moved in 100 strokes and calculated how many strokes to Puffin Island. The result, 4000 was depressing. Then I tried guessing when I had covered a kilometre. To start with I was fairly accurate but as I got more tired my guesstimates got shorter and shorter. For a while I used my tried and tested technique of self-coaching my forward paddling style; ten minutes of concentrating on my feet, ten minutes getting the catch further forward, looser grip on the paddle, more movement on the seat, less splash and so on. Eventually, what had been a tiny pimple on the horizon turned into Penmon lighthouse and on the rocks beside I saw David, my boyfriend. This cheered me up no end as I sped past with just a few words exchanged.
Tide in Puffin Sound was against me, but the high water level meant there was a big eddy close to shore and I was able to blast through into the relative calm of the Menai Straight. At long last the easterly wind was now in my favour. The tide was fairly slack but the wind made some good waves to surf me along the way. As I approached the swellies I felt like I was on an ever accelerating conveyor belt. The speed was exhillarating as the GPS touched 19km/hr, I was flying!
Speed remained good all the way down the Straights. The proximity of the shore and changing view was enough to relieve tired arms and my only real suffering was a huge blister on my left hand. This was all to change as I emerged from Abermenai Point and directed my bow towards Llanddwyn Island. I came to realise how sheltered the Straights had been as a sharp NE wind hit me from the side. With skeg down and gritted teeth I continued the mission.
The last twenty kilometres were unremittingly tough. The strong wind forcing a closer inshore route than I wanted, adding a couple of kilometres to the total. Finally the finish beach was in sight, and I even managed a bit of a sprint to the end, and a very welcome stopping of the watch at thirteen hours and eight minutes.
David was there with my portage trolley, and gallantly trailed the boat up the beach for me as I staggered along behind. I was very pleased to see him.