I first tried stand up paddleboarding (SUP) a few years ago on a trip to visit family in Australia. I fell off. A lot. So I naturally thought it would be a great idea to sign up to a 6 hour paddleboard journey up the River Foyle in September.
My friend, Lawrence McBride who runs Far and Wild an outdoor company pushing the frontiers of environmental learning in the North West, came up with the idea of the Wave Sweepers SUP Challenge. The concept is that you have six hours to get as far as possible on your board, before the tide turns on Lough Foyle. The challenge will start at the Derry City marina, and the furthest paddle point is Greencastle in Co. Donegal. Just a little further up the coast from Greencastle is the Warren Point Lighthouse (it’s a little confusing that it’s on the River Foyle and not actually anywhere near the town of Warrenpoint but it’s been there since 1861, so who am I to argue?!). I’m Trustee andmember of the Board of Directors for Lighthouse, a charity that works to prevent suicide and provides a beacon of hope to those affected by suicide.
I’ve decided to see if I can paddle to this Lighthouse for Lighthouse as part of the Wave Sweepers event on the 7th September. Wave Sweeper is the name given to Manannán Mac Lir’s boat. Manannán Mac Lir was the greatest sea-god in Irish Mythology. His name means ‘son of the sea’ and he is regarded as the Overlord of the mighty Tuatha de Danann. His famous boat was named Scuabtuinne (‘the wave sweeper’), and was a chariot drawn by the powerful horse ‘Enbarr of the Flowing Mane’, who could travel easily both on sea and land. He used this chariot to transport beings from the mortal world to the Otherworld, of which he was Guardian. Manannán’s son Feabhail actually gives the Foyle its historic name.
It’s going to be a challenge dealing with a range of environmental factors such as: wind; tide; not to mention trying to actually stay up on the paddleboard for six hours (considering I haven’t managed more than a few minutes so far!). I’ll be using a iRocker Cruiser board so I’ll have a review of this of kit coming soon. I’ve briefly been out on the water getting some pratice in on the River Bann and on the North Coast under the stunning Mussenden Temple.
If you’d like to find out more about the fantastic work of Lighthouse you can visit their website here and contact them directly. I also know how much every penny raised for Lighthouse makes a genuine difference, so I’m trying to raise some funds for them on a Just Giving page, which you can visit here.
All and any support is much appreciated. Now for some SUP practice….