Hey Thom, don't put your cold weather clothes away yet! We had our first day on the water along with our first taste of what the weather CAN be around here. Lively to say the least.
We launched from a ferry dock in Gills Bay and did a mile and a half crossing to the Island of Stroma. The tide was flowing at a tolerable two or three knots enough to give me a good lesson on finding good ranges and navigating in moving water. We did go up coast (West) a bit to take a quick look at the "Merry Men of May" tidal race and even with a relatively mild tidal flow it was already lively. The crossing was good and we tucked into a tiny breakwater (harbor) on the south end of the island and pulled our boats out for a break. After walking a few hundred yards (looking for a spot free of sheep droppings to sit down) we make quick work of our PBJ sandwiches and tea. In fair skies and a pleasant breeze we entertained the idea of working our way down the East side of the island to it's Northern end just to scout things out. About then the wind started to build and we decided it would be a good idea to just head back. Considering the conditions of the water on the way back (2-3 foot sloppy seas) I think we made the right choice. Upon reaching shore we headed down wind and up current past our put-in back up to the Merry Men of May to re-scout some rock hopping areas in the now deeper water with the rising tide. It was when we turned around to paddle back that the wind really started to howl. I can't remember a time when I worked harder to paddle into the wind. We earned every foot of headway we made, The waves weren't big but the chop and slop sent spray after spray into our faces to add to the drizzly rain that was starting to fall. We made it back really no worse for wear, just very hungry and very glad we didn't screw around on the island any longer than we had.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we plan on getting a much earlier start to do a re-crossing and circumnavigation of the island.
We'll let you know how it goes.