Monday, 27 June 2011

Lismore Skerries and Loch Linnhie Marina

I had wanted to explore the skerries around the island of Lismore for quite a while, but couldn’t decide where the best place to launch the boat would be. I “toured” round Loch Creran several times in Google map, looking for a possible place but found nothing. The two best options that I found were the public slipway at Ganavan bay just north of Oban or Loch Linnhie Marina opposite the Island of Shuna. I didn’t consider the slip at Port Appin because I know its a very popular place for visitors and parking is impossible for a car, never mind a car and trailer.

I was put off launching at Ganavan bay as its a fair stretch of open water over to Lismore and will be exposed if the wind started to whip the water up. I decided to try Loch Linnhie Marina as it was the closest one to the skerries around Port Ramsay on Lismore.

There are quiet strong tides in the area so I had to wait until both the weather was calm and the tides going in the right direction to assist the boat rather than try and fight with them.

I arrived at the Marina at 8am on the Thursday morning. The tide was full in and just on the turn. I knew the outgoing tide would carry me down the Sound of Shuna towards Lismore. My plan was to explore the skerries to the north of Lismore then head down the west side to Castle Coeffin, head back to Port Ramsay and have lunch before heading down the east side of Lismore at low water when little or no tide would be flowing through the narrows opposite Port Appin. The incoming tide would then carry me back to the launch point.

Loch Linnhie Marina at eight in the morning. It was mid week so not many people around. It was £10 to launch and recover and that included parking for the car and trailer. I didn’t complain at that price.

The excellent slipway meant that I could reverse down to the water’s edge and launch using the car. I was afloat and ready to go exploring in no time at all.

I headed north for a bit to give all the mooring buoys a wide berth. I suspected the ropes anchoring the buoys could snag my propeller if I went too close.

Then I turned down the channel towards Lismore. I had the fish finder switched on as the channel meandered a little and the water was quite shallow if I wandered off track. It would have been easy to follow the channel markers instead but I was more interested in watching the fish finder. It worked a treat although it didn’t show a single fish.

I headed towards castle Stalker to get some photos of it from the seaward side, however the fish finder put me off that idea quite quickly, when it started registering only five feet of water and I was still a long way off.

There were a few local boats around so I gave them a wide berth. It looks like they were keeping an eye on me too, just to make sure I gave them a wide berth. This one followed the channel markers and obviously knew which side the green ones were to be passed on and which side was red ones.

The wind was dropping away to nothing and the sea turning like a mirror so I headed straight offshore from Castle Stalker until the fish finder read 150ft deep.

I stopped the engine and let the boat drift in the tide. I then dropped a set of mackerel feathers over the side. There was no fish showing on the fish finder but I was certain they would appear shortly ? Next moment the finder showed bottom to be 24ft below the boat ? I knew this was impossible as I had hardly moved six feet so wound in the mackerel flies thinking it was a shoal of mackerel at 24ft. I jigged them up and down around that depth but nothing was biting. Next moment the fish finder showed bottom at 150ft again ? This happened several times and I was beginning to wonder if the fish finder was broken :(

Then all became clear. A seal surfaced its cheeky head about twenty feet from me. I presume it was playing under the boat at 24ft and that is what the finder was showing. I reeled in my line and moved off. I didn’t want to catch a seal for dinner.

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