Thursday, 21 November 2013

Splashing around on Skye

Still dry, but not for long
Another week, another island, another SCA gathering.
Although it was the end of September, it was the start of our summer holidays! This time we were heading up to Skye for the development weekend. We had booked into our usual B & B - Otter's Lodge run by paddlers and comes complete with a dryroom - Brill!
Beginning the balances
Dave cooling down
Hubby dear with 4 other ladies!!!
15 of us met up on Saturday morning in Armadale, where we all jumped in our boats above the tide line! Gordon and Dave had us going through our paces, getting kit out of our hatches whilst in our boats. Makes you realise that you need to be careful what goes in your hatches first, leaving the important things til last, thus being at the top - like sweeties!
We then headed out into the water. It was a lovely sunny day with flat calm waters which was probably just as well as we were going to get wet, very wet!
We started off with a roll resulting in some rescues as well, then carried on with scoop rescues, before doing lots more balancing things, resulting in getting wetter (well for some of us!). Lunch was all the way to half way up the bay! We hadn't paddled very far, in fact I think it's the shortest trip I've ever done!
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Marion getting a lift
After lunch, we paired up with "bigger folk" to practise rescuing someone larger than yourselves. Lots of very useful hints and tips all along.
Next there were great discussions on how to empty a swamped cockpit and hatch which resulted in us all having a go at this, then onto sharing boats, sitting/standing on the backs before attempting to get back in your boat feet first on your back, shimmying in before falling out again (not too successful at that one!)

Captain going down with his boat?
Having a wee lie down
Anyone watching must have wondered what we were all doing. A bunch of adults having the time of their lives - playing! Considering this was such a short paddle, it was an exhausting one which left more than it's fair share of massive bruises!
That night a get together had been organised, meeting in Creelers restaurant, before heading over to the bar to rehydrate.
The Soay group heading off

Perfectly clear waters

Next morning we were meeting in glorious sunshine at Elgol. I felt I was going to be a boil in the bag in my drysuit. Some of the group opted for a paddle over to Soay, whilst Alice, Ansgar, Marion, Alice, Kirsty, Roddy, Me n He headed round the south of the peninsular to find the Spar cave via the small islands at the bottom where some of us spotted an otter sploshing around.

Lunch ledge

Alice making a quick getaway!

We all managed to squeeze onto a wee ledge for lunch, a lovely sunny spot.
We did eventually find the cave, not the easiest to find, thought they might have had a sign outside!
It was worth the clamber up the steep drippy wet rocks which looked like they should be slimy, but did thankfully give a good grip.
Spar entrance

Going up

Me n He

Ansgar in the dip pool

 Arriving back into Elgol was a bit of a race as the Soay group were trying to beat us back, we won!
Another fantastic weekend, bit jiggered. We got home at 11.00pm to hang up our kit and finish putting things together to be at the airport at 4am  the next morning. Needless to say, I managed to snooze most of the way to America.
If that seagull thinks it's getting my icecream!!!!!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Garvellachs this time!

Another SCA trip, another bar table! Honestly they don't all start like this, but it can be fun when they do!

Hubby dear and I finished work early and made our way up to Ellenabeich where we left the car, packed our boats and made the short trip over to Easdale. At least this time we knew where we were going and could actually see the island - see last years trip. It didn't take long before we were sitting in the Puffer bar with Andy, Alan, Ansgar and Alice (your name doesn't have to start with A to be on this trip!) As always a great natter and a good giggle ensued.
Next morning we made the open crossing back over to the mainland (must be about 200m) to meet up with the rest of the group. It's great meeting new friends, some we haven't seen since last years trip, some we have seen during the year and some we saw only last week, Ansgar and Alice, up at the Priest Island.
Mull in the background
Passing Fladda
Hubby dear and Ansgar
 It was decided the trip would be a day trip with the option of heading back to Andy's for a bit of a get together in the evening. The reason being a (very) strong wind was forecast for the Sunday.
We came out of Easdale Sound and headed down past Cullipool on Luing at great speed! We were hugging the coast as the tide out in the middle was still going against us. Further down Luing, we cut across to a little bay on Lunga for a breather. The pace we were going at, we were needing a breather! Next we cut through the Grey Dogs before making our way across to The Garvellachs. At least this year we made it out.
Time for nosh!
Alice and Ansgar on top of the world!
 We stopped in at a wee bay for lunch with time to explore what was left of the monastery and beehives. After that we had a clamber up the hill and what a view we got up there! In one direction, we could see all the way over to Easdale and beyond. In the other direction, the full length of the south of Mull. It was interesting to see that view, reminding me of a couple of years back when we did that whole stretch in one day.
In one direction - across the islands
The other direction - Mull (sorry for the poor stitching, happens when you can't see the lens with no glasses!)
Alan heading downhill

Ian and myself
 After lunch, we made our way up the west side of the islands where the clapotis made that part interesting. Some paddlers were a touch uncomfy here, so at the next gap in the islands we cut back through to the sheltered side before heading back up to Easdale in a sea which seemed to be getting more and more bumpy.
Heading home
Who needs boats!

That night at Andy's as we were looking through his Tasmanian circumnavigation photos (excellent)the wind fair picked up. Next day over breakfast, the wind was blowing an absolute hooley by now! We checked the weather to see when there might be a break in the wind for our paddle back - we were in the middle of the "calm" weather, forecast to pick up even more to F8, F9 in the Hebrides (thankfully we're not there!)
A mad dash followed, packing up, rushing over to the boats for our open crossing back over to Ellenabeich.
A,A,A & A. Still smiling, still standing despite the wind.
 Safely across, goodbyes were said. Another fantastic weekend!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Priest Island - worth the wait!

Heading over to Horse Island
It was way back in March that we (Me 'n' He) were looking forward to joining other paddlers for the SCA trip up to the Priest Island. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. The wind picked up, likely to blow hard in our face in whichever direction we were heading! Top that with the fact the white stuff was lying thick, blocking some of the main roads heading up north, so the chances are we wouldn't even have reached Ullapool to get a battering with the wind!
Thankfully Ansgar decided to postpone the trip til later in the year.
Fast forward to September, when the trip was rearranged for.

Ansgar and Maureen

Hubby dear and I made our way up to Ullapool on the Friday evening, set up the tent, then went off in search of the rest of the group in the Ceilidh Place. As often with trips, some paddlers had called off, but this left us with the perfect size of group - we all fitted round the pub table nicely, sorry, map nicely!  Plans were made to meet the next morning by the jetty in Dorney Bay. Plans set, socialising continued and what a good chat we got through, even though we didn't know each other (I'd only met Ansgar before) - it was going to be a good trip.

Next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed (?) we met at the jetty, well huddled beside Ansgar's van to get out of the wind. We decided to head down the coast a bit where we would (possibly) get a more sheltered paddle. Our new put in was next to a burial ground - Oh dear!
We set off for Horse Island, crept round the top and came across 2 otters, playing away, totally oblivious to us. They very nearly landed on Peter's boat. We carried on round the island before battling back across the bay to have lunch.
The coral beach in one direction

and the other direction.
 The forecast for the afternoon was dying winds and sunshine. Bang on 1pm the wind died and the sun came out - that's pretty good forecasting! We decided to carry on after lunch over to Tanera More before heading round to Tanera Beg, lovely islands and so glad we made it across. We had a breather on a pretty coral beach, watched by the seals. Coming back round the south of the island, the wind picked up again, of course into our face! Statement of the trip must go to Alice, who wasn't paddling this weekend. She spotted  us cutting back across  the bay, after a bit she noticed we hadn't moved much and decided - Oh it must be windy! Just slightly! It was a hard paddle back and I have to say I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see a burial ground.
Back in Ullapool after dinner, we met up again. Ansgar had checked the weather. It was due to calm down the next day, we should hopefully make it out to the Priest Island.
 Mellon Udrigle

Peter and Maureen
Keeking out

Keeking in

Fantastic rocks

That night the wind picked up, really picked up and I reckoned Asgar's forecast was a wee bit wrong. It was blowing a hooley. For a fair bit of the night, all that could be heard along with the wind was folks tent zips, then pegs being banged in, before the zips went again. Not exactly a peaceful nights sleep. About 3.30 the wind suddenly died. It was like it had been switched off.

Next morning was lovely. We met up at Mellon Udrigle with it's perfect beach in the sunshine. We soon set off for Priest Island. The views all around were breath taking. It didn't take too long to make it over to the island and we were soon exploring caves, cuts and arches. Quite a stunning place. Ansgar was on a mission here. His friend had left a throwline on the island during an earlier trip, he was going to try to find it. We landed in the bay  and straight away the throwline was found!
 After lunch, we had a wander over to the hut, a bird hide before setting off from the bay through the thickest red jellyfish "soup" I've ever seen. I'm not sure if they were all alive or not, but there were hundreds of them - yuck! Definitely a time for good supports! We carried on round the top of the island, more magnificent caves and cuts with terrific colours coming through the rocks worthy of any artist's palette.

All too soon we were heading back to the cars having had a fantastic days paddling. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend and well worth the wait.