As Craig is reading a rather long book (only 690 pages to go), and he has neglected the blog for some time, I have been invited as a "guest writer". So here goes:
We finally left the Crinan, where we had become quite comfortable and lazy, and sailed gently in to the maze of islands, sounds and lochs beyond. We headed up to Dorus Mor. This is a deep and narrow channel which is noted for its strength of tidal streams, small whirlpools and patchs of deceptive calm. This is nothing compared to what lays further to the west: the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan, (Speckled Couldron in Galllic) where the currents of the Atlantic force themselves through a gap half a mile wide. An early writers' (Martin Martin, whose mother had a stutter) description sets the scene quite nicely: "The sea begins to boil and ferment with the tide of flood, and resembles the boiling of a pot; and then increases gradually until it appears in many whirlpools which form themselves in sort of pyramids and immediatley after spout up as high as the mast of a little vessel and at the same time make a loud report". This "loud report" can be heard for miles around, or maybe it is the wails of the lost souls in the depths of the menacing maelstrom.......
Needless to say it was our intention to avoid this area, however it can't be completely avoided. The swift tidal currents spat us through Dorus Mor, and as Sod's Law would have it, the wind vanished. We were left drifting in the currents which funnel their waters and those who travel on them to the unremitting grip of the Corryvecken which waited three miles to the west. The engine was started and carried us safely to the north. Like a door opening, the wind reappeared and the fresh breeze carried us up to the Sound of Luing on a reach. We had been monitoring the radio for the past couple of hours as a May-Day was called in to the coastguard. A yacht had run around on rocks on a falling tide to the south of Luing. We recognised this boat as having shared a pontoon with us in Brighton. In the end he had managed to free himself somehow and was long gone by the time we reached the position. As quickly as the door opened it was closed again; from 20kt of wind down to nothing in a blink. We could see yachts ahead of us on all sorts of points of sail and within 10min we were sailing down wind in the same direction.
Sailing in these parts is tricky. Suddenly, out of the sky there was a deafening explosion and Craig started shouting excitedly. A fighter jet had been flying low over the water, so low that it was shielded by the sails. The jet approached in silence and you cannot hear them until they pass over you when the phenonmenal sound of their jet engines in close proximity hits you - you can feel it vibrating through the air, your body and the boat. It would seem that jet planes often do this. They choose walkers, sailors etc. and 'buzz' them - training for the next Iraq I suppose.. ummmm.
The day was moving fast and we chose to anchor in a place called Puilladobhrain ('Pool of the Otter' in Gallic). It is a beautiful sheltered anchorage. As the wind had become a little more reliable we decided to beat up the narrow rocky channel which is less than 90m wide and about 750m in length. It took ages and once the anchor was dropped we had a well-earned tasty beer.
I have read many a time in tourist brochures that Scottish waters are teeming with fish. We have trawled a line on most days and tried fishing at anchor and we haven't had even a nibble, until now.... The water came alive, fish were jumping out of the water and it was positively teeming. You could see the progress of the shoal as it made its way around the culdesac anchorage. That evening we enjoyed 4 sweet mackerel fillets with fresh wild garlic. I have to say for me that this was one of the best days of the whole trip so far.
The next morning we explored the Islands and made our way to the Bridge over the Atlantic that was built in 1792. We didn't have any money so we couldn't go to the lovely looking pub for pint.
That evening we decided to change our plans. We have been moving slower than we expected and we wanted to get up the the Orkney Islands ASAP. We also thought that there might be some more Scandanavians up there, who might be younger than 50. Craig didn't seem to offer much resistance to the prospect of meeting young Scandanavian women and the next day we headed back down the Sound of Mull and up what seemed to be the never ending Loch Linnhe to the entrance to the Caledonian Canal which is a short cut to the north of Scotland at Fort William. Loch Linnhe is like a corridor, with mountains on each side, including Ben Nevis. We tried sailing, but it was pathetic, the fresh wet wind was on the nose and the tide was running against us. The motor went on and we drove in to it for hours until it was dark in the middle of the night. We arrived in Corpach and dropped the anchor and fell in to a deep happy sleep.
Anchorage at Corpach (Fort William) and Ben Nevis in cloud.