Paddlers: Jamie, David, Innes and Geoff
Weather: Very, very windy on Saturday. Sea Fog on Sunday.
Report: The forecast was perfect; Northerly force 4 to 5 to blow us down on the south flowing tide to the Garvellachs followed by a strong to gale force wind with rain when we were safely tucked up in bed. On Sunday a calm sea with a strong north flowing tide to take us back to Easdale. However nobody told Boreas and when we arrived at Easdale it was blowing 6 to 7 possibly 8. A strategic withdrawal was the only option and the new plan involved a sheltered trip down Seil Sound and then, with the wind forecast to strengthen (!), a paddle along Loch Melfort looking for the perfect sheltered camp site. And that is what we did
The site was almost perfect being flat, well sheltered and with an excellent wood supply. An excellent evening was had until the rain started at about 11.
Before turning in we had hatched a cunning plan to start early to catch the tide at Cuan Sound and at Belnahua and so at 5am we were up and by 6.15, having breakfasted we were afloat. The wind had completely disappeared and was replaced by a thick wet sea fog. The calm and quiet was ethereal.
The passage behind Torsa was deep and flowing and the tide shifted us on at 3 knots plus our own speed through Cuan Sound and out into the Sound of Luing. By keeping close into shore we were able to easily paddle in the eddy caused by the Cuan outfall down to Cullipool.
Visibility varied from poor to none and we were worried about missing Belnahua as we got into the strong tides, so we decided to head south behind the skerries and then follow the islands out NE. As we got towards Fladda we were all suprised at the size of the flow and the multiple directions as it past Fladda
Belnahua is one of the two Slate Islands. It was quarried until the First World War when demand and cost associated with continuous pumping to keep the pits dry from rampaging storms led to its evacuation. The legacy of ruined buildings, flooded quarries and slate waste combined with the mist provided an eery spectacle
From Belnahua we headed by compass course set to get close to land as quickly as possible but avoiding the tumble of water from Cuan Sound. As soon as we got visibility we turned and headed for Easdale, the second of the Slate Islands. Unlike Belnahua, Easdale Island has a thriving economy with a pub/restaurant, museum and village hall. On Easdale we met Andy Warrender who last year circumnavigated Tasmania and this year is attempting the crossing to Norway. He had offered us a lift to Clachan but advised paddling it round the west and north sides; advice that was taken.
As it turned out this was some of the best kayaking of the weekend with a substantial swell and superb cliff scenery with arches, caves and little inlets.
The time from Easdale back to Clachan was expected to be 1.5 hrs but we managed it in 70 minutes without any hurry.
By 4.00 we were packed up and in the pub for a well deserved drink after a super weekend.
Distances: Saturday 12km. Sunday 31km