Monday, February 19, 2018

Clear waters and clear skies in the Sound of Arisaig.

On the second day of our trip to the sun drenched Sound of Arisaig,  David, Mike, Phil and myself got our kayaks ready on the beach by the Glenuig Inn.

Meanwhile, Donald got the Guppy ready and was on the water before us. The Guppy is an F-Rib 275 with a  6HP Yamaha 4 stroke outboard. Donald set off and within...

...minutes was literally a dot on the horizon. He was going to try and get as far west as he could along the Ardnamurchan peninsula and then return to meet us at Ardtoe at the eastern end of the peninsula.

 The waters of Glenuig Bay were crystal clear and we set off...

 ...towards the mouth of the bay in high spirits which soared even higher... we emerged into the open waters of the Sound beyond and caught sight of the Cuillin mountains of Rum rising above the long ridge of Eigg. The clear March air meant we could even make out details on the distant mountain ridges.

David had fallen behind as he had agreed to help test the P&H Scorpio HV in CLX and he wanted to get a perfect fit. David has had a bad back for decades but has found this kayak to be the most comfortable ever.

 What a glorious morning to be...

...setting off on a new adventure beyond...

 ...the mouth of the Sound of Arisaig.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Total silence in the Sound of Arisaig at sunset.

On our return across the Sound of Arisaig we initially had a decent breeze to assist our progress but the sun sank in the west and Rois-Bheinn took on a warm glow, the...

 ...wind dropped to nothing. Donald's little F-Rib had long since landed, leaving Mike and myself in total silence in the middle of the Sound.

We were in no hurry and reflected on what a great afternoon we had just enjoyed. Our reverie was broken by the sound of a naturally aspirated 3 litre straight six petrol engine rising and falling along the twisty road from Loch Ailort. It could only be David and Phil arriving from Ayrshire so..

..we pressed on and pulled the boats up from low tide in Glenuig Bay to the Inn where we...

 ...wasted no time in ordering a round of sports recovery drinks. David and Phil were of course very disappointed to have missed the dolphins....

It may have only been a short afternoon trip but it turned out to be one of the most memorable days on the water, ever!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The economics of going on a safari adventure.

After our first luncheon it was time to return to the boats. This is the P&H Scorpio HV Mk2 in CoreLite X. It is very large but supremely comfortable and as can be seen from the previous post, made an excellent stable platform for photographing bottlenose dolphins. Talking of which... sooner had we launched than we were pounced upon by the pod which had been lying in ambush just offshore.

The tide had turned and the wind had got up, creating some wonderful kayaking conditions off the headlands. The flying spray, the sunshine the motion of the boats and leaping dolphins made for a simply unforgettable experience.

Unfortunately I did not risk taking my SLR out  and my little Olympus TG4 camera had so much shutter lag that I  ended up with a lot of photos of splashes where the dolphins had been. Despite the lack of photos this was an even more intense experience as the dolphins were also revelling in the rough water. They would suddenly appear out of our wave and flash across our bows before reappearing just ahead of us. It seemed that they were leading us to the shelter...

...of Port nam Murrach. Once we were safe in the calm of the bay, the dolphins disappeared for good.

Back on dry land we could hardly believe how lucky we had been to experience such a wild life safari and spectacle. You could spend thousands of pounds travelling across the world for such experiences. We had woken in our own beds that morning and so far it had just cost 13 litres of diesel fuel (£17) on the drive up. Donald had spent maybe another £2 to put petrol in his 6hp outboard.

Pleased with our economical adventuring, we wandered round this delightful spot at the edge of the Sound of Arisaig. I have in the past travelled the World and been lucky to get to many amazing places off the beaten tourist track but sometimes you do not need to go far, especially if you live on the west coast of Scotland. Another factor for me is the cost of health insurance to travel out with the UK. Last year it was £1,100!

In the distance the long finger of Ardnamurchan stretched away to the west, beyond the sparkling waters of the Sound of Arisaig to the Sea of the Hebrides beyond.

 It was with some reluctance that we made our way back to the turquoise waters of the bay but...

 ..our friends would be shortly arriving and so we set off...

 ...across the Sound of Arisaig again with the ...

...sun rapidly dipping in the west.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Bottlenose dolphins in the Sound of Arisaig.

At first Mike was oblivious to the pod of...

 ...bottlenose dolphins which had been playing in Donald's wake.

 What a spectacle they made against the backdrop of the Eigg and Rum mountains.

They were much more interested in Donald's boat than the kayaks but he obliged us by motoring back...

...and forward across...

...our bows, with the pod in tow, so that we could get a better view of their antics.

 It is difficult to resist being anthropomorphic but these guys...

 ...were having a whale of a time (if that is not an oxymoron) as they alternately lolled in the water beside us before...

 ...exploding into action again.

 They only let us be when we paddled into shallow water to take a break...

 ..on the shell sand beach of Port Eilean a' Ghaill for a delayed first luncheon.

After the excitement Donald and I reviewed our photos and could hardly believe that we had managed to capture the action. I even went for a quick swim which rather quickly pulled me back to reality!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Looks like trouble at the Isle of Tears, Sound of Arisaig.

Last March Mike, Donald (AKA The Gurnard) and I arrived at the Glenuig Inn on the south coast of the Sound of Arisaig. Our friends were not due to arrive until the evening but as we had arrived at midday, we wasted no time on getting on the water. I was keen to try out the new P&H Scorpio HV mk2 in CoreLite X.

Donald soon had the little F-RIB 275 on the plane and he disappeared towards the north side of the Sound...

 Leaving Mike and I to make the crossing at a more relaxed pace. As we left Glenuig Bay the mountains of Rum lay ahead while we left...

 ...the bulk of mighty Roshven 882m in our wakes.

 Soon we were alone in the silence of the middle of the Sound but as we...

..approached the lonely isles and reefs of Eilean an t-Snidhe (Isle of tears) we heard the sound of Donald's...

 ...outboard approaching at speed. He zoomed past us...

...and circled right round us gesticulating madly at the water.

 Mike and I really did not know what was going on but suspected there must be trouble ahead.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

In the wake of the dead: a sea kayaking pilgrimage to Oronsay and Colonsay via Jura.

For those who would like to follow the thread of this great trip to Oronsay and Colonsay via Jura from start to finish, I hope this index will be useful. We launched from Carsaig Bay NR735877. We paddled 136km over four days. On the outward trip we portaged the 2km over the Jura isthmus from Tarbert Bay in the east to Loch Tarbert in the west. We returned through the Corryvreckan.

Read Ian's trip summary here.

Day 1 Carsaig Bay, Argyll mainland to Glenbatrick Bay, Jura: 26km

Blog 1 Paddling and portaging in the wake of the dead.

Blog 2 Enchanted again by the remote west coast of Jura.

Day 2 Glenbatrick Bay, Jura to Kiloran Bay, Colonsay: 41km.

Blog 4 Landfall in an Oronsay midden.

Blog 5 Why sea kayakers should consider carrying a PLB, unless they are full sibling to an ostrich.

Blog 6 Our sea kayaking pilgrimage comes to a peaceful end in Oronsay Priory.

Day 3 Kiloran Bay, Colondsay to Shian Bay Jura: 30km.

Day 4 Shian Bay, Jura to Carsaig Bay, Argyll mainland: 40km.


If you would prefer not to paddle the Corryvreckan in the conditions in this photo, you can time your traverse for slack water:

The west going flood begins +0430 HW Oban (-0100 HW Dover)  at 7 to 8 knots at springs and +0515 HW Oban (-0015 HW Dover) at neaps.

The east going ebb begins -0145 HW Oban (+0515 HW Dover) up to 8 knots at springs and -0100 HW Oban (+0600 HW Dover) at neaps.

The time changes by 6.5 minutes each day between springs and neaps. The constant between HW Dover and HW Oban does vary, so most accurate times are calculated by using HW Oban times (though not if you have calculated HW Oban indirectly from HW Dover!!).

Slack water lasts up to 30 minutes at neaps. At springs there is no real slack, there is always water moving about somewhere in the Corry. These times are pretty good as long as there is high pressure. Low pressure and wind can alter timing considerably.