Sunday, 15 August 2010

Loch Etive and the grey mist

I hate to admit that I have been struggling a bit with life lately. Nothing serious, just the day to day stresses of work and people, but sometimes everything gets on top of me and I feel like I am shrouded in a grey mist.

Friday had arrived and my work pressures had left me totally drained. I had no thoughts of where my next journey would be until the evening. I was surprised to see the forecast mention light winds and calm weather so I hurried and loaded the car with inflatable boat gear and went to bed early. The alarm was set for four in the morning and as I started to doze, I though of places where I could go.

It was at one minute past four that I finally decided to revisit Loch Etive. This time I going to go up the loch from a launch point at Taynuilt. It was new ground and I was interested to see how I would cope with the tidal flow through the narrows at Bonawe.

I was still a little lost in my grey depression when I arrived at Taynuilt and started to pump up the inflatable. The air was very still and the water as flat as could be, but everything was shrouded in a grey mist.

My ears strained to hear noises as I left the shore. Boats loomed out the mist with little colour and as silent as ghost ships.

I passed the last of the cottages at the narrows before anyone had stirred in bed. I was totally alone with my deep thoughts of the previous weeks stresses.

I went through the narrows and didn’t know they were there. There was no tidal flow, but it wasn’t surprising, the tide was full in and the flows wouldn’t start until it turned and the loch started emptying into the sea again. I kept close to the north shore so I didn’t get lost in the featureless mist. Abstract shapes and colours appeared and disappeared along the banks.

The soothing silence broken only by the regular purr of the little outboard soon slowed my racing mind. Work worries started to drift and clear. As if in sympathy, so did the mist around me. Landmarks started to take shape as I began to focus on my latest journey.

The calm waters helped calm my thought too. Was that an Island ahead or part of the mainland ? It didn’t really matter, at least I was starting to see again and that’s what really mattered most.

The only person I saw the whole day came into view. He was pounding the water with paddles harder than my little outboard motor could. He looked like a man with a mission, perhaps he was paddling from something too. Exercise is the best way to outrun a misty mood.

Farther up the loch, I though I spied someone else hanging about, but when I came closer I realised my mistake. If a farmer has a “scare crow” to protect his fields, I guess this is a “scare gull” to protect the mussel farm ?

It was slow motion magic watching the mist clear from the mountains that surround Loch Etive. My own mood cleared with the mist cleared mountains and I felt the sun starting to shine in my life again.

I was as happy as a sandboy when I finally reached little sandy bay at Rubha Bharr. I had landed at this bay on my maiden voyage and because I had come from the other direction, I had now travelled the full lenght of the loch.

I did a little fishing to while away an hour or two and caught a couple of Pollack which I returned safely. As I took this photo, I smiled as I though of the mackerel my daughter caught last weekend. She held it in the exact same position as I put the net out to land it into the boat. Suddenly a huge white shape loomed out the dark depths, snatched the mackerel and was off before we had time to scream. Then it dawn on us, it had not been “Jaws” but a very cheeky seal.

I motored over to some rocky islands on the far shore to see if there were any seals around this area. Yup..there they were. I pulling in my fishing line as I didn’t want a repeat performance of last weekend.

I started to motor back to Taynuilt and only a moment after I took this photo, the wind started to rise and within a couple more moments, the waves were a foot high and some had breaking with white tops. Where did it all come from ? Would it get rougher ?

I didn’t panic. I put my camera away in its waterproof case. Put on my waterproof jacket and kept close to the shore. I had to do a little bailing too.. to keep the bottom of the boat dry but it handled the waves well and so did I. Just as I approached the narrows again the wind dropped as quickly as it had risen. I passed through without noticing the tidal flows, but that’s because the tide was now fully out and the flows wouldn’t start until it turned again.

I though back to my day’s journey as I drove home. is like a journey..full of ups and downs. One moment its calm and the next moment you are struggling in the face of the wind. That is what life is all about.. learning how to handle the different experiences and being comfortable with them

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