Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Rhum, part 3

In the morning, the wind had eased and it was time to get moving. The coast running north west from Harris is fine and rugged, with some wonderful names- Wreck Bay, Schooner Point and Bloodstone Hill. I've made some attempt to learn to understand Gaelic place names, but they always seem to translate into "rough mountain", "big white hill" or something equally dull.

From the westerly point of A'Bhrideanach ( I don't know what that one means), I struck out across the Sound of Canna. First landfall was the adjacent island of Sanday, which I skirted round to Tarbert Bay, for lunch.

It looks idyllic, but the temperature was arctic and it would have no surprise if an iceberg had floated past. I was paddling wearing gloves and pogies together.
The coast of Canna is steep and rocky, resembling the ramparts of a castle. There were otters playing about on the sunnier south side.
Before reaching the west end of Canna I had noticed next to no effect of the spring tides. Here, however, was a substantial tide race heading into the Minch. It extended as far as I could see- breaking waves as it churned along into the wind. Keeping close to the rocks I could avoid getting pulled into it.

The north shore was quite tiring going thanks to mild but fairly unrelenting clapotis. I was glad to pull into the quiet waters of Canna Harbour.

Since I'd been out of VHF contact for some time, I paddled over to a moored yacht to ask if they knew the weather forecast. The captain simply said "lovely", then turned away and went below. Not only was the forecast a bit unseamanlike, it also seemed a bit rude. I later took a self portrait on my camera, which maybe explained why he didn't want to speak to me. A few days in the wild take their toll. I'm not going to publish it!
At this point I had been thinking of crossing back across to Rhum for the night. Leaving the harbour, however, I spotted a patch of flat turf only 5 yards from the water. I stopped to camp on the shores of Sanday. Behind the tent, a short walk took me to some lovely view points.

I settled down for another peaceful night.

In the morning, a gang of Sanday youths had surrounded me. After a bit of stand off they finally left me in peace for my breakfast, not before kicking my boat about.

I headed back to the Rhum coast to investigate something I had spotted the day before.

It is the wreck of Jack Abry 2, a French trawler which ran aground on a winter night in 2011. Curiously, it's predecessor Jack Abry 1 had come to grief in the Uists.
On the day of the wreck, the captain had travelled out from France to join her at Lochinver- a long journey. He'd been having some domestic problems and spent some time on the phone home. At the end of his tiring day he had been alone in the wheelhouse. He fell fast asleep, probably thinking that at least his day couldn't get any worse...

It was a short step to Kilmory bay for a quick pit stop before the big crossing back to Skye.

The less said about the crossing, the better. On the way out it had been the start of an adventure, on the way back it was just a pain. I'm sure I'll be back to Rhum again, but next time I'll take the ferry to get there.

1 comment: