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The GOSSIP

Number 135 / July 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Sortie To Seil (SueB)

A small group of us spent the Spring Bank Holiday week having a glorious time exploring Seil Island, south of Oban. We walked, cycled and paddled, and I did a little sailing. I think it is probably the best area I have been to for messing about in canoes.

Our accommodation was a rather nice cottage (they have 3, on a farm) with private launching (see photo, near right) onto Clachan Sound, but there is plenty of rough camping available on the farm or down by the water. It is great to be able to leave canoes safely down by the shore, and Clachan Sound is

both safe and beautiful. The sound is narrow near Atlantic Bridge (photo, above right, of us paddling through against the wind and against the tide flow) but opens up into good sailing areas to the south and into a maze of little islands and a natural anchorage at Puilladobhrain to the north.

Down the coast Loch Melfort and Asknish Bay offer good areas to explore, keeping inshore. We did take boats to the west coast of Luing, exploring islets - and found the book to be absolutely correct about the tidal streams. River technique came in handy once or twice!

Seil Island also has the best fish and chip restaurant ever (I don't really like fish and chips - but their version was superb!). They even do a 70 cm fish fillet - and a T-shirt if you actually manage to eat it all! We shall certainly be going back to Seil - does anyone else fancy an informal meet?

 

Canoe Cruise In The Inner Sound (Part 1) (SteveR)

Following the convention established by the early canoe sailors in the 19th century, this account has been written using the names of the canoes in place of the names of the sailors. The sailors who took part in the cruise were:

• KeithM:

Explorer

• BernardO:

Water Gypsy

• IanN:

Sunart

• DaveS:

Lark

• DaveP:

Petrel

• SteveR:

Maatsuyker

Finding A Place To Begin
Maatsuyker, Lark and Petrel arrived at Plockton to find that the campsite they had intended to start the cruise from had closed. After consulting with the local shopkeeper an alternative starting point for the cruise was suggested in the form of Balmacara on the Kyle of Lockalsh. Maatsuyker muttered something about Balmacara being the wrong side of a tidal gate, and retreated into the back of the car with a tide table. After much scratching of his head, Maatsuyker, feeling rather pleased with himself for being able to do his sums, declared that the next day's tides were fair not foul for starting at Balmacara. Maatsuyker's smugness lasted until he forgot to listen to the shipping forecast.

Day 1
We awoke to light winds and killer midges. The latter, but fortunately not the former, were sadly to be a feature of most of the trip. We ran and reached together down the Kyle of Lockalsh, and under the controversial Skye Bridge. Predictably enough there was much humming of the Skye Boat Song, as we passed below. Such trivialities were soon forgotten however, as we began the five mile crossing to the Crowlin Islands. The wind rose as we got out into the Inner Sound and our arrival at the Crowlin Islands was accompanied by some exciting "Ben Ainslie" surfing on the following sea.

The Crowlin Islands are bisected by a narrow channel, which allows access from the north at all states of tide, but from the south only above half tide. Once again the tide was in our favour and we sailed from the south into the sheltered harbour that lies in the centre of the islands. This provided us with an ideal place to lunch and have a snooze, and our stay there was enlivened by some seals that appeared to have made the harbour their home.

We left by the channel to the north and passed some yachts on the way whose owners seemed astonished to see such small craft out on the sea. They took some photos and wished us well on the next part of our journey, a 6-mile crossing to Scalpay. The wind had quietened down by now, and much of the crossing was undertaken in light airs with some use of the paddle being called for. Excitement was provided at the end of the day's journey by a squall, which met us on the nose as we approached our intended campsite on the northern coast of Scalpay, the ruined croft of Camas

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