Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Skullomie and 'Orrible Eriboll

I spent a few idyllic days in Skullomie, taking in the scenery and enjoying the remoteness. I had mobile phone signal if I wandered off up the hill, but only the barest trickle of internet access enough for the odd mail home. I was getting t'internet withdrawal symptoms.

I had moored at the head of the harbour over a smooth mud & sand bottom, so at low water Ruach dried out while waiting to be lifted by the next tide. The winds came mainly from the South West which meant I was totally protected in the harbour. The raising and falling of the tides was done with such gentleness that it never once disturbed my sleep. I just woke occasionally with this strange sensation of my head being lower than my feet when I moored the boat with the bows were pointing North.

Oystercatchers combed the intertidal line just feet from my cockpit. Different types of small fish competed for food amongst the seaweed in the shadow of my keel. All fascinating to watch. Sheep bleated across the bay and cows gave a long low moo at milking time up the hill. It was like being a million miles from nowhere.

Today's Factoid - Skullomie, pretty as it is, was only built for one purpose. It was never built as a fishing harbour, or even a supply harbour for the old VIC boats. The purpose of the harbour was to load boats full of a human cargo as part of the Scottish clearances.

One evening, about five o'clock, I decided to take a sail over to Talmine where my wife Penny and I had spent a land-based holiday some years previous. I sailed out North East past the tip of the Rabbit Islands, it was a really nice wind, the sails were pulling well over the flat calm sea. Ruach egged me on to keep going North East and I egged Ruach on, although unplanned maybe, just maybe, we were going to round Whiten Head and get into Loch Eriboll instead of reaching Talmine. Eight miles out and just about peeping into the entrance of Loch Eriboll the tide turned with a strength that said NO. So I turned Ruach's head around and we romped back across a now rolling sea to Skullomie like two naughty school children. We averaged 3.5 knots out and 6.5 knots back on almost a reciprocal track.

While I've been out in the wilderness I've not been idle. I had said that I intend bringing Ruach back in a better condition than when I left. So see the before and after shots below and see what you think?

Just a start, plenty more to do!!

Today's Factoid 2 - In the eighteenth century the Kyle of Tongue was the scene of a sea battle between a French and a British battleship. It transpires that the British vessel won the skirmish and the French surrendered. But the irony of this is that both vessels were captained by the Irish Captains.

This leg of the trip over the North shore of this land has been remarkably remote with only one vessel spotted in the whole week since leaving Wick.

Ships that pass in the night day

The following day, the day I had originally set aside as the day to nip round to Loch Eriboll, or Loch 'Orrible as the seamen used to call it as they waited while mustering an Atlantic convoy in the war, the wind was fair so again I took the North East track past the Rabbit isles to Whiten Head and into the Loch. Once away from the Head and it's powerful tides I had a gentle run into the loch to Anchor on the South side of Ard Neckie. This Loch is quite spectacular for it's features. Pinnacle stacks of rock stand sentinel over the entrance, followed by caves on its north Eastern shore, then further in the shores widen with both high and low vistas. This was much different from the Loch 'Orrible I had imagined. I was very grateful in the security of the replacement anchor I had obtained in Wick as the main Danforth anchor I had brought with me had been bent in a blow way back in Elie which seems like years ago.

Whiten Head - Loch Eriboll
Caves - Loch Eriboll

My time in Eriboll was all to brief as the conditions the following day were perfect for an assult on Cape Wrath. 
        ........But more of that next time.

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David H.