Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Moidart and crossing the Sound of Arisaig

In truth, crossing the open space of the Sound of Arisaig wasn’t as daunting as I first feared. The wind had dropped quite considerably and the waves had lost their white tops. Although I was crossing parallel to the waves, the rolling swells were far enough apart not to rock the boat to much.

As we left the headlands of Arisaig behind, Douglas scooped large paddles full of water in an effort to keep up with the outboard engine of my boat.

The sun broke though a hole in the cloud, briefly illuminating the hills on the northern shores of Loch Nan Uamh. Although the water looks grey and uninviting, it wasn’t a cold wind. I guessed Douglas would be sweating a bit with all the exercise. I felt as cool as a cucumber as the outboard warmed nicely on tickover.

Once we cleared the islands of Eilean an t-Snidhe, it was open water all the way to Moidart. There was no turning back now.

Douglas hauled up his sail and made the most of the wind. It certainly seemed to work well as he didn’t have to paddle so hard. The wind and waves hitting from behind pushed him quickly along.

The swell was quite big in the middle of the Sound. There is a kayak somewhere under this mound of moving water. At times I could only see the sail with a hat following behind it.

I wondered about the stability of a kayak at sea with a sail, but it was no problem. Douglas dug his paddle blade into the water to assist his balance during the gusts. I guess the kayak can handle rougher water than my small boat because the larger waves pass over the kayak and cant swamp it. If a large wave came over the side of my boat, it would be full of water and start to wallow in the waves very quickly.

As we approached the hamlet of Smirisary, on the exposed headlands of Moidart, the waved began to get bigger due to wind against tide and also the shallower water.

I was glad to see the sandy beach of Port Achadh an Aonaich come into sight. Our plan was to land here and set up camp for the night.

The port is sheltered a little by the offshore island of Eilean Coille. The landing approach was in much smoother water.

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