Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Skye and Tarner Island

I headed straight across loch Bracadale, aiming for the southern tip of Tarner Island. I could see an interesting rock structure right at the point and wanted to get closer to examine it in more detail.

The passage across the loch proved uneventful although I kept a close eye on the waves as they approached the boat. They were striking parallel to the boat’s length, causing it to rock a bit. This is the angle when the boat has least stability. When I saw a bigger wave approaching, that looked as if it could start breaking, I turned bow into it which gives the boat most stability, then turned back on course after it passed.

A photo of the rock formation that I was heading for.

It was a huge slab of rock that looked as if it had broken free from the 150 foot hight cliffs and stood on end forming a natural arch.

As I rounded the point the cliffs loomed high above me. I realised that if the waves got too much for the boat then there was little chance of landing safely and even if I do, zero chance of scaling the cliffs to safety. I though of the five miles of almost continuous cliffs that I had to follow if I wanted to visit MacLeod’s maidens.

I toured round the east side of Tarner island then cut engines and went into a drift along the sheltered north end of the island. I lowered a set of mackerel flies and started “jinking” them along the bottom but had little luck. It was cold and I had to put on my windproof trousers and jacket to stop me shivering. I wondered what had happened to the high pressure area that was forecast for today ? Over on the mainland on west side of Harlosh Island, the cloud started to clear from MacLeod’s table which is the flat top in this photo.

I then started to head up the west side of Tarner Island to complete a circumnavigation of the island. The west coast looked very rugged and exposed.

I passed a huge cave that I could easily fit the boat into, except the wind was now starting to gust and the waves were beginning to rise again. I didn’t want to damage the boat by hitting rocks so just took my photograph as I bounced past its opening.

Approaching the south western tip again, the wind was still rising and the waves started to have white horses most of the way to the horizon. The boat's bow was throwing up clouds of spray as it hit them head on. That’s when I decided to turn and run for shelter.

Photographs never seem to show the true height of the waves and when they are at their worst, I don’t try to take photos as there is clouds of spray flying around. However it proved to be a very interesting run for shelter. I can only describe the feeling as being similar to a rock climb on a mountain. Adrenalin starts to flow and you become totally immersed in the situation.

The waves were now coming at the boat from 45 degrees astern. Many of them were breaking into white water and trying to get over the low back corner of the boat when it dipped into a trough. I was worried that if one did, the boat would quickly swamp and then be at the mercy of the sea. I watched every single wave as it approached the boat and if it looked like breaking, then I turned the stern parallel with the wave so the boats length offered the most stability and didn’t rock side ways.

This method worked and fifteen minutes later I was in the shelter of the northern coast of Harlosh Island. I found a lovely sandy bay to land on and wait until the squall had passed.

That’s when I realised how cold I had become and how hungry I was. It was time for a coffee and then cook some breakfast. Moments later I scoffed the two mackerel that I caught off the southern tip of this very island. Fried in hot olive oil with some ground sea salt and Cajun pepper.. they were delicious.


David A said...

Hi Donny, what an adventure.
David A

Donny Wilcox said...

Hi again David..I hope you had some good adventures at Oban too. And a fish or three :-D

It was a little hairy trying to get back to Harlosh in the small boat. A Kayak is far more suited to the sea..but I survived and still have plenty of adventure left

A faint heart never won a MacLeod's maiden either :-D

David A said...

Hi Donny, I have managed to catch a few fish in the past few kayaking trips. There are a few pictures in the posts on my blog. Have a look at Arisaig to Ardnish, Arisaig and Skye, Scalpy and Raasay Part 4. Hope the weather is kind for you. Tight Lines.

David A