Saturday, 18 May 2013


Sunny Bute
 We recently signed up for an SCA trip round Bute. We were all packed up, boats on the roof ready to leave at the crack of dawn the next morning when word came through that the trip was cancelled. The forecast was for wind, rain and more wind! That was a pity as the Forth was looking particularly stunning, sparkling in the sun, I was really looking forward to a trip like that.

Niall came round early on the Saturday morning and the 3 of us headed over to Wemyss Bay to catch the ferry across to Rothesay. We set off from Ardbeg point to cross the bay in lovely sheltered water, only to get a feel of what was to come as we came out of the bay. We paddled into the wind, before having a breather in Kerrycroy Bay.
Breather at a very uniform Kerrycroy
 Niall had decided before we set off that the distance we were travelling, we would be round the bottom point in a couple of hours - HA! he forgot we were in boats and not the car!  We cut across a very breezy Kilchatten Bay. Whilst we were having yet another breather, we noticed another paddler paddling hard. We hung around to see who it was. Ramsay was another SCA trip paddler who had decided still to have a paddle. He was about to turn back at this point ( he had already paddled across from Wemyss Bay) but joined us to carry on round the island.
Last photo til after the bumpy water!
 The sea was beginning to pick up even more by the time we were passing the lighthouse at Glencallum Bay. We were heading towards Stravanan Bay for lunch - a late one! However as we were passing Barr Point, I was obliterated by a massive wave - no exaggeration! Of course it hit me from the "wrong" side meaning I set up on the wrong side and having had a couple of attempts at a roll and possibly taking in enough water to warrant declaring low tide, my deck had come off and I was out. I knew Hubby dear was right beside me for a rescue, but I just couldn't keep the boat "on" me anymore. It was literally pulled off me. Thanks to Niall for supporting me as I bailed out an oceans worth of water! Later on, Hubby dear was trying to "help" me analyse what had happened. I was somewhat happy with the fact it was such an impressive wave that got me and not a dinky ripple. However, thinking of it, I realised that I had coped with the wave in my mind reasonably well ( ! ). I had a very long, very fast side surf and had I been paying attention to the wave and not the wall of rocks that I was zoomed towards at alarming speed, I would have realised I had survived the wave and fallen off the back of it. It still wasn't into a dinky ripple, the water was a bit mashed up there with clapotis. Oh well, I was needing a stretch of the legs and it was good rescue practise for Hubby dear! We eventually got our much needed lunch/tea/almost supper.
Don't believe this pic, the seas were heaving!!!
Arran in the background
 We then carried on up to Ettrick Bay where we camped for the night.
That night the wind still blew, the rain sill chucked it down however at about 6 in the morning all went quiet. The morning was a bit grey and misty, but thankfully no wind, no rain. Roddy McDowell from Kayak Bute came over to walk his dog, have a chat and offer us coffee when we passed his house on the other side.
Looking down the Kyles of Bute
Passing Loch Ruel
 By the time we were out of the bay, the mist lifted and it was like a different day. What a gentle, peaceful paddle we had up the Kyles of Bute, just a gentle breeze which gave Ramsay a chance to use his sail. We stopped for a sunny lunch on Burnt Islands.
Lunch on Burnt Islands
 Ramsay was going to get the ferry back, but decided just to paddle. We watched his sail get smaller until it was just a dot.
We decided against taking Roddy up on his kind offer. I think if we had stopped, we might still be sitting there! When we got back to the car, the elderly man from the house across the road came out to check we were OK. It seems he gets concerned about paddlers going out and not coming back. It's good to know folks still care. He also recommended a good ice cream shop without us even asking. I must have had that "I'm desperate for an ice cream" look about me.
Back round to Loch Striven


  1. Great report Sarah, and a super trip

    I used to live right on Ardbeg Point :o)

    The south tip of Bute often seems to get rough water, particularly on an ebb tide when the tidal streams down each side meet up - even bumpier if there's a SW'ly wind!

    Kind Regards

  2. Thanks Ian, what a superb paddling place to move away from! and yes SW'ly winds were certainly the order of the day when we were there. Very wet but all great fun.

  3. I'm enjoying visiting your cool blog. Beautiful images! Gusty winds and rogue waves are such buggers! We never see them coming and they always take us by surprise. I'm glad you had a good outcome on this windy paddle.

    Cheers from Canada.

  4. Hi, thanks for that and yes I agree about rogue waves, but then life would be boring (and possibly much drier!)if everything was too predictable. A little bit excitement keeps you awake:)