The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined coastal driving route in the world… and Oona is currently stand up paddle boarding all of it, shifting the perspective, exploring the land by sea.
On May 1, 2019, Oona launched from Kinsale Harbour in Co. Cork, the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, and began paddling North. Unlike those brave souls who have gone before her on currachs and kayaks, Oona will be hugging the coastline, following the peninsulas and bays.
During the first summer she covered 555km, paddling from Kinsale to Spanish Point in Co. Clare, just shy of the half way mark. The journey will continue! Come the calm seas of spring 2020, Oona will be back on the water, showing off what the northern part of the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.
This 2,500 km (1,553 miles) driving route will, in actual fact, end up being around 2,100 km (1,305 miles) by sea. She plans to paddle an average of 30 km (19 miles) per day and hopes t
o complete the journey in three months, knowing full well that this might not be achievable.
Although the official end to the Wild Atlantic Way is Muff, in Co. Donegal, Oona will be finishing her journey in Derry in Northern Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way is not called wild for just any old reason. The pounding waves, howling winds, and jagged rocks are all part of what makes this coastline so spectacular. These pose real challenges to SUPs. Sometimes though, the wind dies, the waves quiet and you can look up at the cliffs in perfect calm.
Along this route, Oona will encounter the very best of paddle conditions to the very worst. Sections of the coastline are extremely sheltered, while other portions are exposed to the wide open Atlantic. This has all been taken into consideration while planning the journey.
Ed Lacey will be there, supporting the voyage and making sure she is safe. Oona will be wearing a tracking device, allowing Ed to keep her in his sights. You can also track her progress in real time at the top of this page!
Safety is a key element in all such adventure paddling, and Wild SUP Tours is taking it seriously. Phones and VHF radios are at hand at all times, as is the constant use of a PFD and leash. Oona is in close contact with the coast guard and is looking forward to calling in when she reaches Valentia Island.
Packed onto the SUP in dry-bags is camping equipment, safety equipment, camera, notebook, and enough water and food to last a few days. Oona is camping most of the way, sleeping in the great outdoors. She is also accepting the generosity of local hosts when they graciously offer a bed for the night.
The coast of Ireland is filled with lively small villages, towns, and cities, each with their own personality and charm. These places host abundant events and festivals all summer long. Oona hopes that she can attend as many of these festivals as possible. The Irish culture is very much alive and thriving and is as important to the Wild Atlantic Way as the landscapes that define it.
The Wild Atlantic Way is all about the power of the Atlantic and the land that the ocean forms. However, most people only ever experience it from the land. That is only half the story. Changing that perspective can open up a whole range of new possibilities and truths, expanding the way we see and interact with our world.
Which is now more important than ever as our climate change goals are not being met and were weak, to begin with, and as our seas are on target to have more plastic than fish in them in the next 30 years. We are looking at experiencing real climate disasters in the coming decades unless we can mobilize in an extraordinary way, something humans are completely capable of when the time calls. Well, the time is now, we have reached a crisis point and must mobilize the way we did for World War II if we hope to slow this monster down.
As reported by the Climate Action Network Europe, Ireland is the second to worst in the EU on taking meaningful climate change action, meeting the Paris Agreement at only 21%. Ireland is also Europe’s top producer of plastic waste, according to a 2015 census. As a relatively sparsely populated country with stunning beauty, it could seem like it might almost get away with it.
However, slowly but surely the weather is becoming more and more extreme. Ireland saw the heaviest snowfall in over 30 years followed by the hottest summer in 40 years in 2018. These same stories were told in every community visited in both Europe and the US. The point is, we can no longer ignore it.
In terms of plastic pollution, over 90% of sea birds have been found to have plastic in their stomachs, including young chicks. 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales and 36% of seals studied were found to have consumed plastic. An estimated eight million tons of plastic enter our seas each day and this tide of plastic is anything but slowing down.
We are lucky enough to live on this spectacular planet and as the most innovative species around, it is our duty to do something about this mess we have created. Yes, the climate does naturally fluctuate, but this is a fluctuation caused by our actions. So, it must be our actions that return the planet to equilibrium.
It’s not just about Ireland. It’s about the entire world as a whole and people everywhere taking meaningful action. This paddle is about showing people how fortunate we are and hopefully inspiring them everywhere to start taking action. We still have beauty and biodiversity, but time is running out. If we take real action, and we take it now, we might just save our home for the next generation, and all generations to come.
That is what this paddle is about. It’s not about showing the devastating effects of climate change or marine pollution, there are other people out there doing a fantastic job showing us this and I highly recommend looking into the topic further. This paddle is about showing people what we have and why humanity should care for this planet. It’s about exulting in the beauty we have all around and inspiring people to take meaningful action to protect it. It’s about slowing down, fully experiencing the world in which we live and living in the world in a harmonious way, instead of a parasitic way. This is the only planet we have to call home, and it is a spectacular one. Meaningful change can take many different shapes. We all can, and must, do something, big or small, to make a difference. Our world is worth fighting for in any and every way possible!
This paddle is Oona’s journey to highlight the world’s beauty and the environmental issues that face us today. However, this is a global endeavor and requires the global community and communication to succeed. Oona can only do this with your help. There are many ways to get involved in this project and no matter how small or big your participation is, it means everything to the mission.
Fully dive in and join Oona on the water. Experience the beauty of the world first hand and see why it is worth fighting for. You can join her on the water for an hour, a day, or a week. Paddle, sail or swim, everyone is welcome! Any length of time spent in this environment will have a lasting impact. While paddling the Wild Atlantic Way, Oona will pass under some of the most spectacular sights Ireland has to offer. The Cliffs of Moher are amazing, but imagine looking up at them from below. If you want to join but need help getting on the water contact Wild SUP Tours for dates, rates, and details on how you can join in on this one of a kind paddle.
If you don’t fancy joining Oona in person, your presence virtually will also have an important lasting impact. Oona is blogging the entire journey, as well as Tweeting, Instagraming and posting on Facebook. Her Instagram stories have taken the place of a vlog and will take you there with her. Your presence on these sites will mean the message spreads. Share the news and give the story wings, help it to soar! “This planet is so awe inspiring! Let’s do what we can to keep it that way!” Shout it from the internet rooftops and let’s see what we can accomplish when we band together and make a stand. Human’s are capable of anything they put their minds to, so let’s put our collective minds together and start problem solving.
Oona will be sharing all she sees and experiences as she paddles north. Allowing you to get a taste of what this journey is all about and what it is truly like.
The third way to take action on this journey, and arguably the most important, is by sharing, liking, and commenting. The word can only spread with your help. It is you that will make the message capture the imagination of humans everywhere. And it is only through this that inspiring real change might just be possible.
How Far I Paddled in 2019
OONA GOES WILD
I was going to write this blog post about something else this week. It would have been on the topic of exploring the coast around Co Kerry or where we see Wild SUP Tours progressing to in the years to come. But something happened and it made writing about such things seem trivial and unnecessary…
June 27, 2020
You know summer is right around the corner when Lidl brings out an inflatable stand up paddle board for only €300. While being great exposure for the sport, it also means that anyone can buy a cheap board without having to speak to anyone who actually knows what they are doing. It sounds like a…
June 13, 2020
I recently read an article on how kayaking and paddle boarding were some of the best social distancing activities that you could do. You have a wide open area in which to play around and it is easy to stay 2 meters apart from everyone else. Another big advantage of being on a Kayak or…
June 5, 2020