Thursday, 25 June 2009

Drambuie - day 2

After a night disturbed by the wind and the clanking of anchor chain, caused by the crew of the ketch having to up-anchor to change position at least once during the night to seek better shelter, dawn came with the low sun and mist gradually moving from sea level up the hills as it was burnt off by the rising temperature.

The plan was to pack up quickly, get on the water and continue heading west towards Mull, possibly getting to Tobermory or thereabouts and then seeing how things were. Oh for the best laid plans..... The reality was a little different. My multi-fuel stove was playing up and while it would cook food and heat water, it was taking a long time and ultimately I had to strip it down, thoroughly clean and then re-assemble it...... twice. A filthy job that wasted a lot of time. The other niggle at the back of my mind was the way the northerly wind had been getting up in the afternoon for the last couple of days and blowing a real hooley at F5 in the relative shelter of Loch Sunart. What if I got across to Mull and was then stuck on a north facing shore, unable to move due to the high wind, with a stove that was playing up? When you are alone your mind can start to play these wonderful games.

So after a later then intended start I pressed on to Auliston Point, the entrance to Loch Sunart and the turning point in to the Sound of Mull. I arrived there as the tide turned to the flood, so any crossing would be against the tidal flow and if the wind got up, then the wind would be against the tide. It's funny how these things gang up on you. Although I was seemingly miles from anywhere, the picture above shows Mull, the lighthouse at Rubha nan Gall and some aerials on the hills behind. For the first time for a couple of days I had a mobile phone signal! So I phoned the management to let her know I was alive and kicking and watched the tide rise towards my beached kayak.

Yachts were taking advantage of the switch in tidal flow and were coming in to Loch Sunart on the flood tide.

Under foot the ground was covered with the insectivorous butterwort (above), cotton grass and marsh orchids (left). En route I had paddled around a headland only to spook an otter, which launched itself from 6 feet up on rocks, in to the air, landing with quite a splash in to the sea by the side of my kayak. My first flying otter!
Given all the circumstances I decided to retreat back to Loch na Droma Buidhe, a well known anchorage to the yachting world and therefore suffering a name corruption to Loch Drambuie. I passed these rather wonderful rock formations en-route. The loch lies between the Sunart Peninsula and Oronsay with a navigable entrance on the west but a severely constricted and tidal dependant outflow to the east. I just made it through the rocks and kelp beds in my kayak on the risng tide. I enjoyed the loch with its inlets and creeks so much I totally failed to take any pictures of reasonable quality! Breeding terns are on some of the islands in the loch and seals haul out on the rocks near the eastern entrance.

I was now nearly back to where I camped the night before, but not wanting to camp in or near the same place twice, I set about searching for another suitable location. I circled around Oronsay and crossed over to the Ardnamurchan shore in a rising northerly wind searching for a suitable camp site. What looked like attractive beaches from the distant Sunart shore turned out to be steep boulder beaches with no where to pitch a tent, or reasonable beaches with sodden ground behind, that would be a real midge fest in the morning if the wind dropped. I wasn't that desperate so retreated to Oronsay where I had identified a suitable spot when passing in the morning. The wind was well and truly up and waves were breaking over the back of my kayak in the loch. Time to go and do battle with the stove again.

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