A local man has become the first person to complete all five kingdom crossings in a kayak.
The kingdom crossings include the Isle of Man to Scotland, Northern Ireland, North Wales, England, and Ireland.
George Shaw is the owner of Sea Kayaking Isle of Man and moved here in 2000 after falling in love with island life.
A keen footballer, he broke his knee in 2005 which led him to seek a new direction in sport.
He had always enjoyed board surfing and open water swimming, so decided to give sea kayaking a try.
‘Once I put the paddle into my hands and pushed off from the shore, which was Douglas beach, I knew then that I had found exactly what I had been looking for,’ George said.
He most enjoys paddling with other Isle of Man-based paddlers and has developed many great friendships through his experiences.
As his skills strengthened, George, who has described himself as a family man, wanted to challenge himself.
He decided to do an open crossing, which is a journey by sea from one coast to another.
George said: ‘It was a very personal goal and was never about feeding my ego.’
His first crossing was from the northern tip of the Isle of Man to Isle of Whithorn in Scotland with a friend.
It took about four hours to get there, George had an ice cream, then returned within four-and-a-half hours.
The journey was 20 miles each way.
George was keen to point out that open crossings take careful planning and the person taking them on needs to be at a good fitness level and ready to meet all the safety criteria.
It was after his trip to Isle of Whithorn, that George decided that he would like to take on the challenge of paddling to all five kingdoms from the Isle of Man.
Next up was Northern Ireland, which was his first solo experience.
He travelled from Peel to Kearney Point in Northern Ireland, which is around 37 miles each way.
George kayaked for over six-and-a-half hours, slept on the beach and returned to the Isle of Man the following morning.
He did that in a time of seven hours and 20 minutes.
George did this with no safety boat in tow.
The kayaker then took on the second largest crossing, which was the Isle of Man to Langness to Cemaes bay in North Wales.
This was also a solo trip, with the plan being to be greeted on the other side and catch the ferry home.
The crossing was 45 miles and took just under 10 hours to complete.
Next up was the crossing to Whitehaven in England.
George was joined by two friends for this trip, which was around 28 miles.
It was a one way trip with beer and a Sunday lunch at the finish.
George said he saved the best to the last for his final crossing.
He was joined by his paddling partner and good friend Dan Shimmin, who is the fastest Manxman to kayak round the Isle of Man.
He beat George’s time by 15 minutes, which George said ‘still hurts a little’.
Dan pushed George to get this final crossing done, so they started to prepare before Covid-19 struck.
Like everything else, the world stopped for a while.
With new resolve, they decided at the beginning of this year to get the final crossing done.
On April 25 at 6am they set off from Port Erin and paddled the 58 miles to Carlingford Lough, on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Norhern Ireland.
That took them 12 hours 28 minutes.
They arrived in Ireland ‘happy and exhausted’.
The crossing offered a range of conditions, including winds that blew the paddlers off course and bouncy seas, but they had the ‘beautiful Irish coastline to keep spirits high’.
Dan and George were collected at the other end and taken to a pub for a cold pint of Guinness.
George says that he doesn’t plan to do anymore crossings but has plenty of enjoyable sea kayaking planned. He added that anyone using the ocean as their playground should make sure they play by the rules and stay safe.
George paid ‘massive thanks’ to the long list of people who have helped him over the years.