I’d first been to Luskentyre on a south-to-north road trip of the Outer Hebrides in 2016. Like many others, I was captivated by the scale and beauty of the place. The white sand and turquoise sea wasn’t in keeping with my preconceived ideas of barren greyness and bog, and the allure of Taransay 2km offshore meant a return trip would one day be in order.
Little did I know that 2 years later, I would be living just behind the sand dunes of Seilebost, only a short hop across the Sound to that very island. Not only was the location fantastic for sea kayaking (on calm days), it also offered some of the best kitesurfing in the world, with incredibly consistent wind from the W or NW and the option of waves off the beach or flat water behind the sand bar. I enjoyed many sessions here through summer and autumn, often without another person to be seen!
I’d kayaked out to Taransay a few times before but had never travelled by wind power alone. Kitesurfing had always struck me as being a very elegant way to travel, and this would be the first time I had actually headed out with a destination in mind (rather than playing about by the beach). With a perfect forecast of 16-22 kt blowing from the SW, I packed up the car and made the short drive around to Luskentyre to launch.
I was planning to cross at the shortest point, from Luskentyre beach to Corran Ra – the distinctive sand spit on the sheltered east side of the island. With a bit more west in the wind than forecast, I made a number of tacks upwind before I was able to line up the spit. Coming in on the leeward (downwind) side of the sand bar, I was alarmed to see my kite fall straight out of the sky; the dunes were disrupting the air flow and causing a ‘hole’ in the wind just off the beach! Fortunately, I managed to relaunch and set foot on the dry land soon after – my first crossing of a body of water!
I dared not land the kite in case I had difficulty relaunching, so after a few ‘Whoopee!’s and a bit of flat water fun behind the spit, I went racing back across the sound. With the wind in my favour, it was a matter of minutes before I was safely back on Harris!