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underneath ceann sybeal in west kerry stand up paddle boarding in the ocean

The hardest part of this journey so far has been the time I have spent not paddling.

I arrived on the Dingle Peninsula on May 23rd. I’m looking to continue my journey tomorrow on June 24th, but I may not get more than a day out of it. During that month on land, I have been able to paddle two mornings and one afternoon, making it through the Blasket Sound around the end of the peninsula. Progress to be sure, but only a total of about 60km covered.

Since I live on the Dingle Peninsula, I have been staying in my own house, sleeping in my own bed and generally slipping back into normal daily life. I spent days in the cheese shop. I helped run Wild SUP Tours, helping with tours and our camping trip. I have been doing the exact same things as I was doing last summer. It’s all things I enjoy, but it’s not what I’m meant to be doing right now.

I don’t even feel like I’m doing this epic paddle anymore. It’s become somewhat of an abstract idea. Whenever the expedition is mentioned to customers, I feel uncomfortable, like some sort of fraud. Because I’m not paddling the Wild Atlantic Way right now, am I? I certainly was. I have every intention of continuing, but right now, it feels like some sort of pipe dream. Certainly not my current reality, for I’m just living my normal life, aren’t I?

Looking at the distances left to cover, I’m not sure it’ll be possible to reach Derry by the end of July, when I’ll be needed in Dingle full time to help with Wild SUP Tour’s busiest month of the year. That makes it September before I can get back on the water. Can I even paddle the exposed northern headlands in Autumn? will the weather be suitable? Will it be too dangerous? I know that If I don’t complete the paddle this summer I won’t feel like I’ve done it at all. I do know that I paddled the Cork and Kerry coastlines in fewer days than I initially projected though. Who knows, maybe it is possible after all!

I can sit here and make excuses. The weather was poor and not suitable for paddling where I needed to. I had to work, because I can’t do this thing without money. Most recently, the van broke down and needs some major repairs. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get it fixed, we can’t operate in West Kerry without it. All of these things are true, but I don’t want to make excuses. Why am I not paddling the Wild Atlantic Way? Am I scared? I don’t think so. Am I just being lazy? Maybe. The 360km I have paddled so far have been an amazing experience. I’d truly love to continue. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it seems weird that I have been stuck for so long in the place where I live. Maybe it’s because it’s just too easy not to paddle when I have the comforts of home surrounding me.

I’m left at a bit of a loss. My head whirling around between wanting to paddling, feeling obligated to paddle, desire to help Ed with the business as it is a huge job for one person, needing to work and now concern for the burden being put on the only transport we have. If you’ve ever been to the west of Ireland you’ll know how necessary a car is. Do we have the time mid season to repair the van? It’s quite old at this point, would it be better just to replace it with a newer model? Are we willing to take on that responsibility? Would we convert a camper van like we want to? Or would be get a people carrier, which would be more useful for the business?

I trust that everything will work out OK. In my experience, it usually does. Therefore, I understand intellectually that this is simply a speed bump, but it all feels like a pretty big wall in my path. I know I’ll keep paddling. Just as I know that when I do, I’ll get back into the swing of it. Right now though, it’s hard to imagine being away up the country for that long.

All I can do is take it one day at a time. Make one paddle stroke after another. I know I’ll paddle around Brandon head tomorrow. After that, all we can do is see what happens next.

Oona tibbetts stand up paddle boarding in Tralee Bay

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