Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Grey Dogs were salivating, while awaiting our arrival.

It was a cold, grey, January day but the promise of spring tides took us to Ellenabeich on the Island of Seil. David, Jennifer, Jim, Phil and I launched our kayaks in the little harbour of this former slate mining centre.

The harbour at Ellenabeich is sheltered from the open Firth of Lorn by the island of Easdale which lies just over 100m across the Sound of Easdale. A little passenger ferry runs back and forwards for most of the day to serve the community that has grown up in the former quarrymens' cottages on the island.

Setting off down the Sound of Luing with Luing and Scarba on the horizon.

Our plan was to circumnavigate Luing using the ebb in the Sound of Luing then the flood in the Cuan Sound. It was spring tides with HW Oban at 0749 and 2011. Peak rate in the channels would be 9knots. So I calculated that in the significant channels the ebb (S and E going) would run until 1225 when the flood would start. Sunset was 1633. I wanted to get to the Grey Dogs for about 1130, which would allow for an hour's play before slack water. Because we were finishing in the Cuan Sound, I wanted to get back to Seil by dark (I also wanted to hit the Cuan at full belt at about 1530!) That meant leaving Seil at 1000. David and Phil arrived at my house in Glasgow bang on time at 0600 and we were on the water by 1000 sharp!

 It did not take long to reach the tiny island of Fladda, which sits right in the middle of the fairway of the Sound of Luing. Beyond Fladda, the bold outline of Scarba rose above Lunga and distant Jura.

Fladda lighthouse was built in 1860 by David and Thomas Stevenson. The wall surrounding the raised part of the island was built to give shelter to the keepers' vegetable garden!

We hardly had time to look at Fladda before the tides whisked us away at  15km/hr!

We continued at this rate down the Sound of Luing, towards the great bulk of Scarba under which the Grey Dogs were salivating, while awaiting our arrival......!