We loaded my canoe and Sean's kayak onto my van then headed into Helensburgh to pickup some food before driving over to Aldochlay to put in.
I elected to head round the southern end of Inchtavannach based on what I could see of the water state from Aldochlay and on our drive over, it fairly quickly became obvious that this was a mistake. I had to land and deploy my double bladed kayak paddle to make any headway and Sean was struggling with his boat weathercocking. Eventually we turned onto a more northeasterly course and had the wind and swell running more behind us, this was good fun in the Pal which seems to like surfing! We decided to land on the western end of Inchmoan to check out a potential campsite I had in mind which would have the advantage of a ruined building and lots of big trees to provide our tents with shelter. The only slight fly in the ointment was that the final 10 metres of water before the beach were frozen solid with 3cm thick ice. It was quite good fun breaking through this to make a channel.
I woke around 9am to hear the wind roaring through the trees and waves smashing into the beach opposite our camp and started to worry that I might struggle to get back if conditions were much worse than the previous day. I knew Sean's kayak would be okay in a big swell but I also knew that once the waves become high enough to start coming over the top of an open canoe you're in serious trouble (particularly if solo as you can't paddle and bail at the same time). There was nothing for it but to stick my head out and have a look so I got up and fired up the Kelly for a brew. The wind was blowing but a lot of the noise was caused by all the broken up shards of ice smashing against each other and the shore in the waves. We had a leisurely breakfast watching the squalls blowing through and chatted about our options. We decided that any thoughts we'd had about having a decent paddle around the islands would have to be abandoned in favour of getting into a decent position to make a dash back to Aldochlay during any lulls in the wind.
It was great to finally get a trip with Sean and he thoroughly enjoyed it. The conditions were harsh but we coped okay. We were comfy in camp and it was good experience to paddle in more challenging conditions. I think I'll try to organise better weather for Sean next time though!