Paddling all the way around Ireland is one of the hardest things you can do in a sea kayak.
It’s 1,500km (950 miles), through some of the roughest water and most rugged coastline in the North Atlantic. Hazards include massive waves, unpredictable weather and cold water. Sea cliffs that make landing impossible for long stretches.
Fewer than 100 people have done it, and only about 30 have done it solo.
This summer, with the goal of raising money and awareness for Parkinson’s research, I’m going for it!
Depending on the weather, it will take around six weeks. I'll camp on beaches and islands every night and spend 10 to 12 hours per day in the boat, often many miles from shore. I will be unsupported, carrying all the gear and food I need… Sometimes I’ll treat myself to fish and chips in a pub!
I'm dedicating this trip to the person who will worry the most while I'm out there: My mom.
Like a voyage at sea, mom’s Parkinson’s journey is full of uncertainty and the constant fear of any number of terrible outcomes. Like a solo adventurer, she finds the resolve to put all that fear aside and keep going in spite of the uncertainty.
She is my endurance hero. In the years since her diagnosis, she has refused to let her symptoms slow her down or keep her from enjoying life. She is as committed to her self-care routine and hobbies as I am to my training. She walks more miles than she used to. Her golf handicap has improved since the onset of Parkinson’s — adapting to her symptoms has brought new focus to her game and new appreciation of her time on the course.
She still plays the piano with a tremor in her hands. And dad still falls in love every time he hears her at the keys.
My mom will be in Ireland during my trip, and we’re arranging to get her out on the water with me for a half-day when conditions are calm enough. Those will be special miles.
Paddling for Team Fox is more than a fundraiser. It’s a source of purpose and a reminder that I’m doing this solo but not alone. When the rain and wind and waves make me wonder what I’m doing out there, I’ll think about my mom’s cheerfulness and never-quit attitude. Her heart, grit and hope will be with me all the way.
To learn more about my lap around Ireland and to donate, please visit my Team Fox page.
You can also follow the adventure weekly over at The Lap.
Charlie Daly is an Irish-American writer, sea kayaker and Lifeboat volunteer based in West Cork on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. He is the co-author of MAKE PEACE OR DIE: A LIFE OF SERVICE, LEADERSHIP, AND NIGHTMARES.