Coll, Treshnish, Corryvreckan....or not!
We sailed round to the bay of Arinagour where there are moorings, a hotel/bar/restaurant, took the bikes ashore, cycled out to a perfect surfer's beach out on the west coast then back to the hotel for a couple of beers and dinner, starters of haggis wontons (chris), crab claws, (me) and mains of monkfish (me), crab linguine (chris), all locally sourced and absolutely delicious.
On Saturday we had an early start on our sail south to Colansay, we stopped of at the Treshnish Isles for a last puffin fix. Now, the puffins here have young, so they're working flat out catching sand-eels and often get ambushed by gulls before they can deliver the goods, so they have no objection to humans nearby who deter the gulls. Feel so privileged to have seen so many of these gorgeous, cheerful, extraordinary little birds close up.
On to Staffa to catch a glimpse of Fingal's Cave and all those amazing basalt columns, wow, this was turning out to be quite a day, but not over yet.....
Staffa, with it's basalt columns and Fingal's Cave
Corryvreckan Gulf is a fearsome place and we never imagined that we would be considering sailing through it, regarded as the sailing equivalent to white water rafting why would we? The Nautical Almanac simply tells you to "avoid it, there are perfectly good alternatives", but, despite it having the third biggest whirlpool in the world, with tidal flows running at up to eight knots, and a standing wave of up to eight metres, vessels being sucked down into it , well, why wouldn't you?
The Clyde Cruising Club, who sail these waters all the time and produce some really useful guides in their Sailing Directions and Anchorages are much more encouraging about it and suggest "if you temper the warnings with caution and judicious timing the gulf can beome placid and give no hint of it's ferocious nature". We have the perfect weather window, both Chris and I have done the tidal calculations, separately, before comparing notes, we agreed, 8.30am. Sunday morning, and then we changed our minds!! We made such good progress through the Sound of Iona, such a perfect sail, we thought that we may as well get it done with and go through with the evening ebb tide at 8pm, and then, the wind got up to a force six and we had to take refuge at anchor in a bay on Colonsay, back to plan A. The only worry I have, is that, for the first time in days we had a phone signal and spoke to both Doug and Joe, told them our plans, joked about being sucked down into the whirlpool without a trace. We're now anchored in a remote spot, no phone signal, having mysteriously vanished from AIS tracking, for some reason we seem to be, literally, off the radar!