Having left the Mull of Kintyre behind us, we ended up just north of Oban, near the airport. The weather was not looking great, with stronger winds and heavier rain forecast well into next week. If I was going to get a final Scottish paddle in, this holiday, I had to make the most of the weather and time we had left, before the bad weather arrived. It was time to leave now! The only problem I had was which way to go. Should I head north up towards Castle Stalker, West out to Lismore or South towards Oban. The wind was blowing fairly strongly down Loch Linnhe, and I didn't really fancy heading into the tide and wind, so heading up towards was ruled out. As for heading out to Lismore, it looked rather exposed. So, my only option really was to head down towards Oban and maybe go around Maiden Island, before heading back. Hopefully the tide will have tailed off a bit, so I wouldn't have so bad coming back. I would also have the coast to handrail along, if I needed to.
Heading south towards Oban was rather pleasant, if a little hot. Traveling with the wind (and tide) provided a good pace but not much cooling. I really enjoyed passing the various landmarks along the way. As I approached Maiden Island I could see a little tidal race, just off the island, formed as water from the Bay tried to pass around the island. As I passed through the tidal race it turned out to be very weak and of no consequence. I did think about maybe heading into town, but I was little concerned how long it would take me to get back, into the wind and the remaining ebbing tide. So I did a circuit of the island and set course to go back. I decided to stick out a bit more on the return leg and hit the swell full on!
By now the wind, and swell had increased a fair bit. Instantly I realised getting back was going to be a good long slog. At least I was cooler now. Looking at my GPS speed I was struggling to manage 3.5kts. I normally reckon on 4.6kts as a cruising speed in my Tiderace Pace 17 Tour, often by putting a bit more effort in I can do 5+ kts fairly easily. 3.5kts is slow, but does give you an idea of the strength of the wind, the swell which I was heading directly into and the dying ebb tide. It may have been hard going, but the views were stunning. I could do this over and over again. Such a beautiful place to paddle.
9.3 Nm in 2hours 14 minutes
GPS track on OpenSeaMap