Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Retreat from the Mull of Oa

From Texa to the Mull of Oa is 14km and then another 10km from there to the camp site at Kintra on Laggan Bay. The wind was still light but by the time we got to the Mull of Oa, the ebb tide (SE going) would be at its maximum against us. Billy and Mair decided to stay on the east of the Mull and go and explore Port Ellen. Tony, David and I thought we might be able to eddy hop round the rocks before the forecast wind picked up... so off we went.

On the way to Rubha nan Leacan, the most SE point on the Oa, we passed this basalt dyke, evidence of past volcanic activity. Unfortunately the sky began to cloud over and the wind picked up with the approaching front. David's back was giving him problems and we had to land to give him a rest on a steep cleft in the rocks just before the point.

On relaunching, the MSI weather forecast came over the VHF: force 5-6 SW winds tonight and 6-7 SW winds for the following day with similar for the next few days. The west coast of the Oa is not a place you can easily escape from if you have several days of winds of that strength. Not only that, as we rounded Rubha nan Leacan, it was obvious that the race was much closer to the rocks than we had hoped for. A red and white workboat was rolling wildly as it came round the Mull with the tide race. Tony and I looked at one another and shook our heads. We turned back towards Port Ellen, the Mull would always be there another day.

In the meantime, the wind and waves had picked up so we made very rapid progress back along the Oa peninsula. David had got a new lease of life and forged ahead. We had warned him about landing on the attractive, steep little beach but the back of the surf looked so innocent.... Here he is recovering his things after a good trashing and a bail out landing. Tony and I were not going to risk the same, so we stayed out beyond the surf zone shouting instructions on how to do a surf launch. Determined not to be left on the beach, David proved to be a quick learner, well after another five or so trashings, he learned!

All safely at sea again, we approached another sandy beach which was sheltered by some offshore stacks and reefs.

This proved to be a good spot to land and more importantly to be able to launch again in the following day's predicted strong SW winds. Billy and Mair had already found the same spot and had set up camp on the machair behind the beach. Tony, David and I reckoned we were thirsty enough to warrant a cross country jaunt into Port Ellen to seek some refreshment....