The last day of our short trip and our plan was to leave early, head north (hopefully on forecast westerlies), round the Garvellachs and down the Sound of Luing riding the end of the ebb tide. We left on time at 7am but the winds were a little more southerly than forecast and too light for much speed. However, we moved along nicely in the sunshine on a deep reach keeping close to Jura to benefit from some north going tide. The whole experience was so pleasing that we kept doing it for rather too long, through a relaxed breakfast and cappuccinos. When the wind started to disappear altogether we were going to be pushed to get down the Sound of Luing before the flood tide started. As we were in the middle of springs and the tide would be running at 6-7 kts in places, this was important and we were thinking of engaging Plan B of anchoring up for a few hours at the Garvellachs to allow the unhelpful tides to pass.
But Plan C (for Corryvreckan) then started to look appealing. Our gentle northwards progress meant that we would be well through the ebb tide, there was no swell to speak off and winds were both modest and with the tide. So it looked like a good time to take the big short cut. The only negative was that with full springs the tidal stream would be running at almost 8 kts with us - but that just added to the appeal. It was also starting to cloud up so a long day waiting for fair tides seemed less attractive today than yesterday.
So into the Gulf of Corryvreckan
it was. We took a track just south of the centre and as we came within range of the Great Race you could almost hear the sucking noise and our SOG started rising steadily. With 5 kts of boat speed we were soon at 10 over ground and then racing along at 12.5 kts. Lots of eddies and whirly bits and patches of rough water, but generally smooth and very controlled.
As we came through the Gulf we could see several boats heading south towards Dorus Mor as the ebb tide started to fade - and one boat heading towards us. Although largely clear of Corryvreckan we still had 6 kts of tide pushing us forward and the other boat motoring just out the tide came to an almost dead stop as it hit the tidal stream. It turned out to be another Ardfern based Hallberg-Rassy - 'Quintet '- a 2010 vintage HR40. The tide was near to turning and they were taking the more difficult passage west where it is critical to hit slack water. At springs this only lasts some 15 minutes, so Quintet was basically sitting in the last of ebb at the mouth of the Gulf waiting for it to ease enough to motor through before the flood began.
Having seen only a handful of yachts since we departed we were suddenly in a traffic jam in the approach to Dorus Mor. As we came between Reisa an t-Struith and Reise Mhic Phaidean we had a dozen boats in close proximity. Slack water at Dorus Mor, the tidal gate in and out of Loch Craignish, meant that boats were heading both north and south at the same time. The wind had picked up dramatically as soon has we emerged from Corryvreckan, and from the south as forecast. So we took a broad reach through Dorus Mor as far as Eilean Macaskin and then rigged a preventer and gybed the headsail to goose-wing all the way up the loch to Ardfern. Very serene and a pleasing way to end our Jura circumnavigation.