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Oban to Ardfern (Loch Craignish) 23 June 2007

 I was up and ashore at 08:00, joining the queue waiting for Tesco to open. Most of the customers were workers waiting for breakfast at the cafe. I was quickly round the store, and decided to join the workers for breakfast, a good old greasy fry up, which I rarely have, Then it was back to Anita to decide what to do today. The weather was good as was the forecast, so I decided to have a sail, and probably return to Oban later.

11:31 I raised the main sail, and with the engine on, I went forward to let go the buoy. I thought I might take a look at Kerrera sound today, it looks interesting, and I haven't sailed between Kerrera and the mainland before, so I headed for the North cardinal buoy at the entrance to the channel, rounded the buoy, and then on towards Heather Island half a mile away. There were a few yachts sailing in the sound, and a Norwegian survey ship was following me through. She wasn't moving any faster than me, probably due to the narrow channel just past Rubha Tolmach ahead, where a sharp turn, first to Port and then to Starboard will be required by larger vessels. Once past the lights,  I kept well clear as the ship increased speed and went on her way. I unfurled the Genoa, and turned the engine off,  peace once again.

The wind was fluky in the sound, similar to Ullswater in the lake district, where I spent a lot of weekends in the seventies, camping with wife Linda and daughter Jayne.  By 12:40 I was leaving the sound of Kerrera and heading into the Firth of Lorn. The weather was good so I decided to have a look at Esdale off Seil, somewhere else I have only passed at a distance. This time I can sail between Esdale and Seil, and get a closer look at the pub/restaurant. There are a couple of boats moored up, but the tide is starting to run, and I can see the crews heading back to their boats before the current gets too strong. I decide to have a look at Cuan Sound (the back gardens) as I call it. This is the shortest passage to Ardfern, but I know I am already too late to go through. The tide will be rushing through too fast by now, and I am proved right as I approach the entrance, I can see the swirling water from my position, so I move away before I get pulled in. I might as well go on to Ardfern now so its on to the Sound of Luing between Fladda and Dubh Sgeir lights, I wait untill Fladda is 344deg before I turn to port keeping the light at 344deg astern to avoid a dangerous rock. The tide was now in full flow as I goose winged through the Sound of Luing, and doing 9.3Kn over the ground, with another yacht following me, but motoring.

By 16:30 I was through the Sound of Luing,  passing the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan http://www.whirlpool-scotland.co.uk where it's only safe to sail through on slack water. I head for Dorus Mor, another well known channel where caution is required, and into more unsettled waters, where tide rips and an uneven bottom causes the sea to swirl around somewhat. Once through Dorus Mhor I sail into Loch Craignish where the water is once again calm. Its a close reach up the loch but I am determined to sail all the way, there is another yacht astern slowly catching me, but as hard as I try I can't go any faster, I have to console myself that he is larger, with more sail, but as he passes on the opposite side of the loch I notice the water pumping out of the  exhaust at the stern, he has his engine running, giving him a little help I think, so now I feel happy with myself. This has been an exiting day, and at 19:00 I am alongside the pontoon at Ardfern and ready for food. The breakfast at Tesco has lasted all day, save for the odd nibble, so Steak & Kidney Pudding, Potatoes, Carrots, & Peas, for dinner, all done in the pressure cooker in  under fifteen minuits, then a shower, shave, and the laundry before  I turn in.


Links. www.ardfernyacht.co.uk