Friday, 9 September 2011

Arisaig and Loch Nan Ceall

Fortunately the following morning was neither so wet or windy as it had been the past couple of days. The wind was from the north west and forecast to drop to around 5 MPH during the afternoon. Douglas arrived mid morning and we were soon on the water heading for Loch Nan Ceall and the Arisaig skerries.

Leaving the campsite behind at Portnadoran which is north of Arisaig. Inland the clouds still bellowed grey but towards the west the sky was brightening and blue sky started appearing.

Douglas warming up in the first few hundred yards from shore. I still had choke engaged as my outboard engine warmed up.

There was still a good swell on the sea with the tide was still falling. While Douglas rock hopped close inshore to go round the rocky point to the entrance of Loch Nan Ceall, I had to go a fair distance to sea to avoid the semi submerged rocks in the area.

The sea was the roughest I have been in yet. With wind against the tide, the swell was now breaking in white water. Im certain some of the waves were well over five feet from peak to trough and several times the boat fell off the top of one wave with a sickening shudder as it hit the next wave. It felt like the boat was being dropped from a good height onto the water :-o

However the boat handled it well. I zig zagged my way round the point so the length of the boat was always either facing the waves or surfing with them. I admit that I dreaded the turns when the boat was at its most vulnerable in such a sea but I judged them between the worst waves and turned as quickly as I could. Sorry but there are no photos of this part of the journey..I had other things on my mind.

Soon we were in the shelter on the north channel of Loch Nan Ceall. The exposed skerries due to the low water offered shelter from the waves on the seaward side. I started to relax again and enjoy the scenery. Some poeple had landed and were walking on the exposed reefs looking for seashells. Douglas raised his sail and started to relaxed too.

Photographs from a boat don’t really do this part of the journey the justice it deserves because of the low view point but it really is an amazing experience moving through the many water channels between the rocks. Some flow like rivers as the tide empties the loch, other channels are easier to move through as they are not exposed to the currents.

It is like a maze trying to find a way through some of the channels and several times I had to backtrack to keep the outboard in water. Douglas slid through with ease with his shallow beam

The skerries are backdropped with the most magnificent views over to Eigg and Rhum.

Little sandy bays are everywhere among the seaweed strewn rocks.

Even the yachtie’s love this special place and moor in the sheltered waters at low tide.

However it is the many seals that add the icing on the cake for me.
Loch Nan Ceall boasts one of the biggest seal colonies in Scotland.

There are on the rocks.

They stand up in the water.

They lie down in the water

They are everywhere and follow the boats out of curiosity.
Look out Douglas that is a large grey behind you and he has his eye on you.

We then exited Loch Nan Ceall by the south channel.

I checked the map to see where we were going to go now.

You can follow Douglas's account of the journey on his web site too :-D

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