Last weekend I decided I would try and push myself outside my comfort zone. Anyone who knows me well will probably know that the idea of being in open water is something I find completely terrifying. I can swim, but would be strictly average and that would only be in a pool. The ocean is a whole other ball game. As soon as I find I can’t put my feet on the ground, I panic. So, what better way to try and conquer that but to put myself in a currach in the sea!
I’ll back track slightly. A friend from work, who is heavily involved in rowing, had been speaking about her experiences. It sounded like hard work but great fun at the same time. She managed to convince me to try it. It seemed like a good idea, especially as there was a slot on Saturday mornings for novice rowers to try it out. Unfortunately, the session was cancelled but instead I decided to go along with her to the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival. I thought, this will be a nice relaxing way to spend my Sunday. I hadn’t been to Baltimore before and had only ever heard good things about it so off we set at 8 am Sunday morning.
We arrived down about 10 am and the weather could not have been better. Before I knew what was what I was told I was going to be a pilot in a pilot race. I had absolutely no idea what this entailed but from the descriptions I figured it had to be something somewhat dangerous. I was given a life jacket for good measure though and was assured I would be fine. A pilot race involves a number of currachs racing out to a number of sail boats. Each currach has a pilot which has to jump from the currach to the sail boat. The sail boats then sail out to a certain point while the currachs race back to shore and out again to collect their pilot. My long jump skills came into good use and it was actually very enjoyable. Although, I did nearly get a smack of an oar in the head in the excitement of it all but just about avoided it 🙂 Happy to see dry land again, I thought well that was a good start to getting over my fear of water. However, what awaited me next was far and beyond my comfort zone!
Sherkin Island is about thirty minutes away from Baltimore and as the day was so beautiful it was decided that is where we would head. I think I would have just about managed that journey without too much panic until I found out we were going out to the harbour to see if we could spot some Baskan sharks that were around. Of course, in theory I thought, lovely idea, until I was floating in the currach in what to me seemed like the middle of the ocean. Terror was plastered on my face. My friend’s daughter will certainly vouch for that. I tried to hide the fear by looking calmly at the foot of the boat but I couldn’t stop myself from clinging to the side. The bobbing ocean reminded me all too well of my fear, how vast the the sea is and how vulnerable I feel in open water. Shortly after we decided to head back towards Sherkin having not caught any glimpse of the Baskan sharks but much too our delight, we spotted three on our way back. We had gone out to find them but it seemed they had come in further. It was an incredible experience to see them and that alone made my fear of the water worthwhile. Having watched them for some time we headed to Sherkin for lunch and some much needed relaxation. The views were incredible and with the sun shining it was hard to leave.
Back at Baltimore, there was still crowds of people enjoying the festival and the good weather. We were the first boat back and managed to sit and relax for a while as the others returned. Shortly after, the boats were loaded and we made our way back home. It was a great day with plenty of firsts. First time in a currach, first time jumping from a currach to a sail boat and back again, first time seeing Baskan sharks in their natural habitat and first time stepping foot on Sherkin. It certainly was a fantastic day but whether or not I will get back into a currach remains to be seen. Watch this space!