Friday, December 29, 2006

Gimme Shelter

Oh, a storm is threatning
My very life today
If I dont get some shelter
Oh yeah, Im gonna fade away
-"Gimme Shelter", Rolling Stones

These snails had gathered for shelter under an overhanging brick on the outer wall of the Mull of Galloway lighthouse vegetable garden. The wall is exposed to the prevailing wind and is perched on the cliff edge 80 metres above the surging tides below.

Lighthouses were built to guide mariners away from treacherous coasts to safe haven. I am not sure why we were attracted there on such a day as yesterday. The Mull of Galloway lighthouse was finished in 1830 and was built by George Stephenson. It flashes white every 20 seconds. Supplies originally came by sea and were landed at the tidal jetty at East Tarbert. It has been unmanned since 1988.

Like the snails, we did not brave the weather but sought shelter in the Crown Hotel in nearby Portpatrick. We will return to sea kayak the Mull of Galloway another day.

We mulled it over and went to the pub.

The Mull of Galloway lighthouse.

Kenny, Richard, Cailean and myself assembled above the Mull of Galloway tidal race. This is where the flood tide from the Atlantic is compressed as it rushes round the Mull to fill the Solway Firth and the north Irish Sea. When we arrived on 28/12/06, a force 5 SE wind was blowing against the tide. The inshore waters forecast was SE 3 to 4 increasing 6 to 8. It was 4 days after springs. The tidal constant at the Mull is +00:15 Dover. Slack water (close in) is about is about -01:30 Dover.

Dover times were: HW 04:28 LW 11:48 HW 17:11. The Admiralty tidal stream atlas predicted SE flood flows of: 0.5 knots at 11:11; 1.2 knots at 12:11; 2.8 knots at 13:11; and 3.5 knots at 14:11.





The cliffs are 80 metres high which gives some idea of the scale of the water disturbance.

As the flood progressed it swung round from flowing to the SE to a more easterly direction. As it did so, the race came in closer to the foot of the cliffs at the east end of the Mull.

It looked nothing like the sunny, calm conditions shown in Scottish Sea Kayaking fifty great sea kayak voyages. We beat a retreat to the pub. Kenny was very disappointed.