Due to lots of non kayaking family related issues (its been a bit of a year!), this was going to be my first trip on the sea since the Isle of Wight circumnavigation in July! Despite hitting my local stretch of canal hard, you really cannot beat a good sea trip for upping the fitness level. Consequently, my plan for the Oban Sea Kayak Race weekend, was to drive up on the Thursday, do a decent paddle on the Friday, have a bit of a rest, non paddle day on the Saturday, before racing on the Sunday. The only question I had before heading North, was what would constitute a decent paddle. My preferred option would be to do a circumnavigation of Lismore. Not only would it be a decent length, but it would clock up some extra points on the Performance Sea Kayak 1000 Island challenge. But there were some logistic problems, such as access, parking, tides, timings and weather. Having arrived in good time in Oban late on Thursday afternoon, I decided to drive up to Port Appin and take a look at the parking/launching options for Lismore, before heading to the Oban Caravan and Camping site. Having had a good look at Port Appin, it was a simple decision not do Lismore. Its a good 40+ minute drive to Port Appin from Oban, with the Oban caravan and camping park on the other side of the town. This would mean a super early start, with no guarantee I'd get my van parked, and if I did how close to the sea would it be to launch my boat. Not only that, the weather wasn't looking too great. So my second option of doing an easy trip from the campsite to Seil Island, it was going to be.
Friday morning was wet and dull, with a constant wetting drizzle. I decided to trolley my boat down the hill at the campsite and launch from the rocks immediately adjacent to the campsite. I hid my trolley in the rocks and bushes as I didn't fancy carting that about with me all day. The tide was ebbing so it was an easy paddle down passed Kerrera, before aiming for some dark shapes in the mirk. Approaching Seil Island I briefly could see the "Bridge over the Atlantic", Clachan Bridge in the Clachan sound before I decided to circumnavigate Eileen Duin and gain some point for the 1000 Island Challenge. Having accumulated quite a few points circumnavigating the IOW on the Performance Sea Kayak 1000 Islands Challenge, it had been my intention to bag as many of these little islands around Seil island as possible, but having taken in a lap around Eileen Duin, with the damp, dull conditions, I lost my appetite for getting any further points. So it was onto Seil Island, passing down the West side of the island and ignoring Inch Island.
Soon I was entering Easdale Sound. Should I go for the Easdale Island circumnavigation? Na! I really couldn't be arsed! It was that kind of day. I stopped for a chat with a guy on a commercial rib and admired the rather large 4.2l V6 engines mounted on the back of the rib. He was waiting for his group to arrive for a trip out to Corryvreckan. Hence the need for the big engines. So we talked about the weather, engines and tides... until his group appeared. I headed off to Cuan Sound via Easdale Bay. For a moment or two, the light lifted a little and the Slate Islands appeared out of the gloom. In Cuan Sound, the tide was against me as it was still ebbing, despite the flood having started at Easdale. I guess there is a large body of water still to escape around the islands of Seil, Luing and Torsa. So picking my way up the sound using all the eddies I could find I slowly made my way passed the Luing Ferry and into Seil sound. I am pretty sure that the drizzle had actually stopped by this point. And once again I could see the "Bridge over the Atlantic", Clachan Bridge in the distance.
Stopping for some lunch at the bridge, I stretched the legs and took some photos. Back in the boat and refuelled, I started up the Clachan Sound, which was a bit of a scrape in places. Exiting the sound, I wanted to close the loop of Seil Island, as soon as possible, for the 1000 Island Challenge. Luckily there was just enough water to sneak through a gap next to Eilean nam Beathach and another island, before making my way over to a bouy I had passed earlier off Eileen Duin. So just two islands circumnavigated in the end, which considering the weather on the day was not too bad. The paddle back to the campsite was without much to note, except it went fairly quickly. I was enjoying just plodding along.
20.2 Nautical Miles in 5 Hours 12 minutes. A nice little warm up.
Having found my trolley where I had hidden it, it was just a case of dragging a very wet and damp me along with my boat back up the steep hill in the Caravan park.
GPS track on OpenSeaMap