Thursday 27 May 2010

SIPR 3: Corryvreckan

Click here for the previous installment

Late on Saturday morning I climbed up to the cockpit to see where we were. We'd been gybing like mad and seemed to be moving at a respectable lick. My eyes screwed up in the daylight and picked out a small Calmac ferry... a ruined castle... some white houses... Lochaline! We'd only gone a few miles. Saturday was a long hard sail for the crew: not because of high winds, but the opposite. The field was highly scattered, a bunch of sails in front of us and half a dozen behind, everyone else out of sight, no one moving particularly fast. By the Firth of Lorn, The Blue Pearl was closest.

The Blue Pearl:

We were moving - slowly - and it looked like we would get to Craighouse at some point in the night, ten o'clock or midnight. If so, we were still in the race. But the wind died completely, and after being spat through the tidal race on Lunga Sound the tide slackened too, and we were left adrift for a couple of frustrating, but pleasant hours, watching seabirds and seals.

Sail approaching Lunga Sound:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Tidal race in Lunga Sound:

Snorts of exhaled breath on the glassy sea heralded the arrival of a pod of porpoises, swimming uncharacteristically close, within six feet of the boat. A touch of magic.

As the tide changed we started to drift backwards from the north end of Jura into Corryvreckan. Decision time: we motored into Kinuachdrachd Bay and laid anchor. If the wind picked up by the time the tide turned, we'd motor back to where the engine was switched on and continue the race. If it didn't pick up, we couldn't make Troon for our self-imposed late-Monday afternoon deadline. We watched The Blue Pearl - under oar - being pulled backwards into the Corryvreckan as dusk settled. We hoped to see them again.

Anchorage in Kinuachdrachd Bay:

Read on for the next installment...

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