Archive for the ‘Isle of Mull’ Category

Scottish Islands Peaks Race

Friday, May 27th, 2016
Sailing from Oban to Mull

Sailing from Oban to Mull

This is no normal race and it is well to remember that!

For sailors it is a demanding race which takes in some tricky tidal areas. Unusually for a race picking up the crew or dropping the anchor has to take place under sail.

Equally it is a demanding race for runners. Running up mountains over loose boulders and then across hummocked bog land back to the boats is not easy going.

However it is the combination of the two that turns this into a very challenging race.

Normally before I go for a sail, I take a look at the weather and work out the tides. I then decide the best time to go to catch the all important tidal gateway. I also prefer to sail during the day. Equally, before I enter a half marathon or suchlike I’ll make sure I get a good nights sleep and a decent breakfast with a large dollop of coffee inside me about an hour before the start. The start is generally at a civilised time, about 9 or 10 in the morning.

Well forget all that!

To be fair, the first race around the hills near Oban does start at a predictable noon but after that anything can happen.

Simon and I had a reasonable first run near Oban finishing in about 38 minutes. We then jumped in the little inflatable to row out to Brimble. Our prediction of a slackish tide was not to be correct and I had to row like stink to counter the current. Once clear of the moored boats we were picked up by Brimble and a few seconds later we were in a near collision with a navigational buoy and a catamaran bearing down on us while another yacht tried to squeeze between.

We then had a lovely sail to Salen. It is important to get to the first anchorage quickly because Scottish Power turn off the wind at about 6pm to save energy. Our runners, Grit, Simon and Rob, were landed and running by 5pm on Mull. This allowed them to reach the summit of Ben Mor before dark. The really fast fell runners can get there and back while it is light but that is crazy fast. Sadly the weather was awful and it poured with chilly rain. The summit was apparently freezing cold. Our poor runners managed to get back onboard by 0245 having made the wet descent in the dark. It was a tough 22 miles and they were glad to be back on Brimble for some nosh and a rest.

John and I sailed the good ship towards the Sound of Luing before waking the Mull Runners to take over the watch. Craftily we handed over our watch just as the tide was about to turn foul in the narrow straits. Feeling slightly smug we crawled into our bunks. Sadly our cunning plan backfired as the constant tacking meant I couldn’t get to sleep. We got up as the tide turned again and Jura gradually approached. As Craighouse neared the wind began to drop and we decided to enter the northern approach to the harbour. At this point the wind died completely and Simon, John and I got into the little Seago dinghy to row ashore. The problem was it was about a mile and a half to row. By the time we reached the check point at about midnight I was virtually asleep. We were greeted by “You know you are last – you had better take your Yellow Brick tracker on the Paps” which was a bit unnerving!

However, I would hate this to sound like a moan about the marshals who are basically the most generous kind helpful and wonderful people you can imagine. There is no way an event like this could exist without their dedicated help. As we were the last to start the run, they basically had to wait overnight in the Community Hall until we arrived back safely. And they had to wait over 8 hours!

It was my fault. I was basically too tired to even start the run yet alone complete it. Along the roads and tracks I could slowly jog along but I couldn’t conjure the energy to cope with the foot placement needed for the scree slopes. I was falling asleep as I ran and fell over at least twenty times.  I was wearing a heart monitor and ironically it only registered an average of 131 and a max of 157. My normal running heart rates average about 167 and peak around 190. I never really got going. It was such a shame as I had been looking forward to the Paps for a long time but I can’t say this was an enjoyable experience at all.

The one thing that kept me going was Rob had promised to make a big dahl curry for our breakfast and indeed he kept his word. We arrived back on the boat and tucked into a most wonderful creation. There were seconds too! Then I fell into deep sleep as the crew sailed Brimble towards the Mull of Kintyre.

Refreshed after a good snooze on a calm sea I got up just as the tide had turned ready to sweep us around the Mull at 9 kn. John managed to arrange for Wings to be playing at the moment of the rounding! In perfect conditions we sailed towards Arran only to be caught out in the traditional manner by Scottish Power once again turning off the wind in the evening. The good news was that the run would now take place in daylight!

Grit, John, Simon and Rob ran the route to Goat Fell in fine weather and they made it back in good time ready for the final sail. After a slow start the wind gradually built up and we were sailing at 4-5 kn towards the finish. Grit and Simon rowed ashore and ran to the finish. We all retired to Scotts for a few too many beers and a lovely meal.

It was a great pleasure to be part of the race and to sail on a fine ship with such lovely crew. Thanks everyone!

Check Point on Mull

Check Point on Mull

John doesn't like to get cold!

John doesn’t like to get cold!

The secret weapon - Beetroot Juice. Sadly it didn't work!

The secret weapon – Beetroot Juice. Sadly it didn’t work!

View from a Pap in the morning

View from a Pap in the morning

Rough under foot

Rough under foot

Passing the Mull of Kintyre

Passing the Mull of Kintyre

Rowing the boat when the wind dropped

Rowing the boat when the wind dropped

The Goat Fell Runners return

The Goat Fell Runners return

Simon collects the finishing certificates

Simon collects the finishing certificates

 

 

 

The Mighty Ben More

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Charlotte Kit Check Salen

Grit and Charlotte on Ben More

Grit on the run in to Ben More

(Written by Grit Eckert)

Our team set off in good spirit to complete the run that out of all of them was the longest. On studying the map we learnt that it ll be 22 miles.
Charlotte, Rick and I were defiantly up for it. Half an hour into the run we bumped into the first team but they were on their way back.

We were quite lucky with the weather only a little drizzle when we landed.
After about four miles we left the main road to enter the rougher paths that would lead us up the summit. One must always be cautious not to fall into the trap of following other teams however tempting that might be. On that note we made the right decision not to follow a team that had been ahead of us and seemed to be heading up the wrong way.

The higher up ones gets the better the view and on a clear sunny day it is quite breathtaking. However, there is always that risk of danger and as we ascended we made out a loud noise in the distant which turned out to be a mountain rescue helicopter that had to rescue a runner who cracked his ribs while trying to get to the top…oh dear.

As we progressed we were slowly running out of day light, luckily we did made it to the summit with a little left. On descending night fall and we switched on our head torches and another chapter began as navigating became a little harder. We weren’t the only ones struggling, there were other teams in a very similar position. The good thing about darkness is one can see these little ray of lights wondering around in the wild which gives an indicator on the general direction. We struggled on and luckily Rick was brilliant at finding the check points in the dark.

After almost thirteen hours we made it back to Salen where we were greeted by the rest of the team…and for the record we weren’t the last ones to leave the island.

Oban to Salen on the Isle of Mull

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Salen Anchorage on the Isle of Mull

We weren’t last in the running race but we were almost the last boat over the sailing start line. We had a fair wind and the tide was with us and it was a lovely day so everyone was very happy. The main fleet were pulling ahead but still in sight, albeit they were at Lismore and we were just leaving Oban. The problem with being a bit slower is the tide starts to slack off and then wind dies in the evening so it took us 5hrs 20min 29 seconds to get our runners to Salen, the anchorage on Mull. We arrived at 1720 already second to last. Oh dear! The runners rowed ashore in the dingy and Sarah and I anchored Sumara on a relatively short scope of chain with a 15kg Rocna on the end. The anchor bit in well. We kept the scope short so we didn’t range around the anchorage. Some of the yachts anchored on long rope warps were blowing about in the light wind at slack tide but otherwise we had a quiet time and set our alarm for 11pm and grabbed a few hours sleep. This was a bit of an error as it happened………………

“I think that I shall never see,………..

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The Home Run

Ray on Watch

A Lovely Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Position N56,37 x W006,03 Wind: Who cares, we are snugged up in Tobermory!

….A poem as lovely as a tree”.
Paul Robeson

We arrived safely in Tobermory Harbour yesterday afternoon after a really fast down wind sail through the Sea of the Hebrides. Once we were safely tied to the visitors buoy we rowed ashore for a desperately needed 7 minute £2.00 shower (Heaven), a couple of pints (Heaven) and a curry (Heaven). It was a good feeling being on land again after a week at sea but it is sad that the big journey is nearly over now. Ray needed to get back to work as he had a production fit up on Tuesday morning. Ray began to accidently call his watches scene changes – a bad sign. He caught the bus this morning to Oban while Gudrun and I went for a walk through the trees along the cliffs to the lake. I always miss the trees when I sail north.
Early tomorrow morning we will sail on to our final stop, Dunstaffnage. It is a spring tide so it may get bumpy around the south end of Lismore Island. There is some uncertainty as to whether the gearbox will grip to get us into Dunstaffnage and with the strong tide a maybe light wind it could be interesting.

Posted in Isle of Mull, Scotland, The Jan Mayen Expedition | 2 Comments »

“Land Ahoy”

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Position N56,41 x W006,41 Wind F4 Westerly rather unstable.

Now we are sailing downwind through the Sea of theHebrides with Coll on our starboard bow. We hit some rough seas as the depth dropped from 1000m to about 100m but it is more peaceful now except for the occasional viscous squall which drives through with heavy rain and violent winds. But they are quick to go. Gudrun and Ray have been great crew. Gudrun has only been sailing a few times with Peter Mercer on the East England coast and once with me on the Limfjord in Denmark and up to Skagen.This was her first
offshore passage so it was a pretty tough choice but she has been great, not a moan – even when hurled across the cabin, and no signs of seasickness. Ray has a strange sailing CV. His first long passage was after a handshake with me that we would sail the Atlantic. He did a short course on the Clyde then crossed the Biscay on Sumara and then the Atlantic to Barbados. He sailed back from Spitzbergen to the Faroes, Iceland to Scotland (2006), Scotland to Bergan and England  to Denmark. All on Sumara!

Ray is a hugely practical person with great knot skills and can stow things away like no one else.

We are hoping to arrive in Tobermory early this evening for a desperately needed shower and a beer. Opps here comes a squall best get on the helm!

Sent at 11.06GMT 14th August 2001

Posted in Crew and Friends, Iceland, Isle of Mull, The Jan Mayen Expedition | No Comments »

Ardnamurchan and Kyle Rhea

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Portree. Still sunny and light SW wind.
We stayed for a day in Tobermory because there was very little wind. The following morning it blew old boots from the west and we had to beat into a rough sea for four hours before finally clearing ‘ard n murcky point. Once we came off the wind Sumara romped along in the strong wind towards the Sound of Sleat. We abandonned the idea of going to Britain’s remotest pub at Inverie because of a forecast for a Southerly Gale and the mooring there may have been exposed. Instead we anchored at Isleornsay in 5m. The day had been sunny but just as the anchor bit there was a huge downpour which we sneakily missed. Today we caught the north going stream in Kyle Rhea at 7am GMT and were surprised to see a yacht heading south along the shore. After it passed us we noticed it was being swept westwards towards some rocks which it eventually hit and was stuck fast for fifteen minutes before seemingly freeing itself. The water there was teaming with life – seals, fish and birds and we thought something bigger and altogether more exciting.
After debating going to Pluckton we finally opted for Portree where we are now moored. I’m still have a few engine concerns as I noticed fumes coming from a breather pipe. I phoned Jim at Dunstaffnage who suggested it is probably not too serious and that by cliping the breather pipe near to the engine air intake should solve the fume problem. I’ll keep a check on it.
It is going to be an early night tonight as tomorrow I need to get back into some serious training.

Posted in Expeditions, Isle of Mull, Pilotage, Places, Scotland, The Jan Mayen Expedition | 4 Comments »