Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Loch Etive and the mutant mussels

I had been looking forward to the long weekend off work and heading for the wide open spaces of the north west but alas, it was not to be. The forecast was for wall to wall sunshine but with strong easterly winds. That put a scupper to my boating plans, except for the Friday. It looked the most promising day with winds of force three and gusts up to force six later in the afternoon. After Loch Leven, I knew the boat could handle a force three with ease and I could too ? I had no idea what a force six gust was like but I was prepared to find out ... if it came to that.

My plan was to head for Taynuilt and go boating on Loch Etive. I would head in an easterly direction to the head of the loch at Glen Etive and by the time the wind started to gust, I would either be off the water or heading with the wind behind me back to Tanyuilt. Its always a bit easier running with the wind behind the boat that having to pound into the waves head on.

I arrived at 6am at Kelly’s Pier in Taynuilt. The tide was full in, the wind was quiet and although it was still cold in the early morning air, blue sky ensured the sun would soon warm the air. The launch site beside the pier is the easiest I have put the boat in the water yet. I reversed onto the top on the hard packed shore, unhitched the trailer and pushed the boat down the gentle slope to the waters edge.

It didn’t take long to park the trailer on the beach above high water, park the car on the grassy area well clear of the pier car park and get the boat ready for my third journey by rigid boat.

The wind was blowing down through the narrows at Bonawe and the water was a little choppy but the boat took it easily, sending a little spray flying off the sides of its bow as it nodded into the waves. I didn’t take many photos as I didn’t want the spray to go on the camera lens but here is a shot looking back as I went through the narrows.

A little further on I passed the quarry site at Bonawe. Its a favourite spot for the fishermen, producing dog fish, thornback rays, conger eels etc and is around four hundred feet deep. I couldn’t anchor here if I wanted to as I only have one hundred and fifty feet of decent anchor rope. Perhaps I will try deep fishing for doggies and thornies once I learn to catch some fresh bait :-D

After the quarry I came to the start of the many mussel farms in Loch Etive. They are all closed down this year as a new species of mussel have been found growing alongside the standard blue mussel farmed in Loch Etive. This new species has a soft shell that tends to break open when harvesting the mussels and there is little meat inside the shell. Its unknown where the mussels came from but they are threatening the mussel farm industry of Loch Etive, hence the reason the farms have closed.

Needless to say, I didn't eat any mussels from Loch Etive either ...

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