Janet Jones' Diary
A first sea cruise by outrigger sailing canoe from Loch Duich, through Kyle Rhea and around the Sound of Sleat.2005
Loch Duich to Knoydart
March 1st Thinking about joining Dave & Co. for their annual expedition in the Hebrides. Must get fit though!
April 1st Sound of Sleat this year. They admit trip would be different; have to take into account my lack of cruising experience. Really must get fitter.
May 1st Trip getting nearer, thinking about food and gear. Must go for a run.
May 17th Bought gas adaptor for Trangia. Went for fast walk up Hampsfell.
May 25th Whole house piled with gear, dry-bags and food. Have to get four outrigger canoes ready by Friday night. Daves are still doing orders. No time for a run.
Thurs 26th Forecast very cold but settled with light winds. Doesn't sound too bad but will need warm gear.
Sat 28th 9AM Whew! We're packed and off.
Sat 28th 9PM 11 hours to get here, jams on M8. Found campsite at Ardelve with beach access near Eileen Donan Castle, Loch Duich.
Sun 29th 11AM Frenzied activity while we put outriggers on canoes, rigged up and got everything to the water over boulders. Sore feet now.
On the sea! Bit fraught getting launched as didn't want to hold everyone up. Had to wait for Steve in the end. Some discussion about time of high water due to different info from tides website. Important - as current sets north through Kyle on flood, against us if we get it wrong. Didn't take sides.
Sun 12.40AM At entrance to Kyle Rhea at right time so should have tide with us.
1.30PM Stopped for lunch just past Kylerhea ferry crossing. Plenty of tide with us, had to paddle hard to get in, never mind running - should have done press ups. Steve making some adjustments.
3.30PM Ahh... this is the life! Sunshine, light westerly breeze taking us easily towards the Sound of Sleat, horizon full of mountains and seals popping their heads up all around us.
5.00PM Landed on Knoydart, v. remote. Short shower and freshening breeze sent us past lighthouse and entrance to Loch Hourn, got here in no time. Place called Camas Garbh, means Rough Bay - can say that again, pebbles get bigger as you go up the beach. Wellies too soft, really sore feet now. Had to carry canoes out of reach of tide and put out anchors. Why did I pack all those tins of tomatoes?
10.30PM Fantastic place this though! Steve's pitched his tent on pebbles ours are higher up on grass. Dave S made a driftwood fire and we ate pancakes while the sun went down over Skye.
2.10AM Quiet night, just woke up as a quad bike roared past. Not such a remote place after all. Wonder if we put our tepee on the path?
Knoydart - Camusdarach - Point of Sleat
Mon 30th 10.30AM Hardly any wind this morning so paddling this stretch of coast. More houses than I thought. So quiet we heard the quad bike again. Hope he has a hangover.
3.30PM Having lunch in a cafe and writing postcards. Thank goodness that nice breeze sprang up taking us comfortably past Mallaig into that rocky bay or we would still be paddling. Had forgotten its Bank Holiday and bound to be busy here.By the time we got back to the boats after lunch wind increased making getting out of bay quite tricky. Had to paddle out, anchor, then put up rig. Didn't do that very well, let out too much warp, drifted ontorocks and got shouted at! Must practice that.
4.30PM Wow, that was terrific! Very exciting beat south to Camusdarach. Got a bit bouncy though so I'm glad I heard the yell "It's the third beach along". Wonderful white sand, rocky offshore islands and kite flying in progress. Just like postcard. On nearing beach was warned by Steve, "I'm getting ready to land" which unaccountably seemed to involve stripping down to his swimming trunks. Still v. cold so declined to join in. Preparation took usual form of looking out for bottom, raising leeboard and letting the sheets go, before running gently onto soft sand. Realised later Steve was preparing to jump into waist deep surf to fend off boats. V. noble but totally unnecessary.
Know this place from fieldwork. Had to bury bags of oily sand just behind the dunes there, then come back seven times to dig them up one at a time. Things I've done in the name of science!
6.00PM Carried boats up above tide line and laid out anchors again. Transpires Steve had trolley - why we didn't use it? Some macho thing no doubt. Back ache now.
10.30PM No wild camping tonight, v. luxurious campsite - shower like bathroom at home, herbs in flowerbeds round building and a midge eater. Wonder if it works. Some talk of doing a 6 mile crossing to Point of Sleat on Skye tomorrow. Hope wind is with us.
Tuesday 31st 2.30PM Wind wasn't with us. Have had to beat in v. light SW breeze all way across. Is beautiful though, talked of heading to Rhum, didn't look far but would take too long in light wind and nowhere to land at north end.
Boats well spread out despite caution of having same sail area (66 sq ft Bermudan ketch rigs). Lying in the bottom of boat (or stretched out on top) enjoying v lazy day, chuffed not to be at the back though.
Now having lunch at Camus Darach, (bay of the oak) on Skye, same name, different spelling. Still the same white sand, rocks and sunshine, beautiful! Could stay here all day. No chance though, have been reminded we're on trip so must get on.
Camus Darach - Ornsay - Loch Duich
4.30PM Don't mind this at all. Same light SW breeze but running back north with it now along east coast of Skye, goose winged, relaxed and stretched out in sun.
5.30PM Have just disturbed the most enormous whale! (Was basking shark really) Sailed around while it swam under us several times until Steve said "Er.. is it me, or is it really chasing my boat?"
Decided 30ft of shark was a little unnerving so left it to feed in peace. Talked excitedly about it for ages. "Its mouth was open and it was this big." Demonstrating with hands wide apart. "Did you get a picture Dave?" "No."
Wind dying now.
6.30PM Wind strengthening again from NW where we're heading! Just our luck. No wind all day then in comes from the wrong direction! Getting late now, awfully rocky everywhere, tried one bay - too difficult to carry boats up and no room to anchor.
Set off again - hope we can land soon, wind getting stronger. Strange how we always seem to be beating into it.
Getting hungry now, need to land.
10.30PM Found somewhere at last, came in behind Isle Ornsay near Camus Croise.
Left the men to play with anchors in mud while I put up tepee and got meal underway (boiled water for b-in-bag). Just sailed into harbour at low water, hence mud, round Ornsay Lighthouse, near Camuscroise. V tired! In for nasty day tomorrow apparently, so might stay here. Lots of houses, could be worse, looks like hotel by pier.
Weds 1st 9.30AM Yup, v. wet and v. windy. Ugh! Damp sleeping bag, damp clothes. Shall I brave knee deep mud for clean clothes bag? No, think I'll manage, no-one will notice.
8.30PM Had superb meal (pan fried bream) by log fire. In hotel all day except for walk to art gallery (1 mile in rain) and whiskey sampling at distillery next door. Not sure which was biggest attraction, whiskey or girl handing it out. Left them to it.
Nice photo exhibition in village hall. Miserably wet all day but bit warmer; glad to be ashore though in for another damp night.
Must press on tomorrow as expected back at campsite Thursday evening latest.
Thurs 3.30PM Saw another basking shark in Kyle Rhea, not so close though. Shot through there so quickly with 4½ knot current with us. Bit alarmed in breaking waves caused by wind over tide on other side of Kyle. 65 miles in three days (didn't count Wed) quite good for a first trip. Have enjoyed it but v relieved to be back at Ardelve. Thought the castle would never come into view. Beating into strong wind and rain for last few hours. Why is that? Wherever you have to sail its always to windward. Hate to admit it but D may be right about learning to sail well to windward by racing. Last few miles into Loch Duich awful, no wind this morning, expected to paddle so didn't put much on. Wind got up from NE - not enough clothes on.
Physical discomfort extreme! Wet, cold etc. Didn't sail well, got behind, got fed up, got worried. Encouraging noises from Dave (who stayed behind) didn't help. Got cross but seemed to sail better - eventually made it back to beach. Hands wouldn't work, couldn't even wind sail round mast.
4.30PM Fine now after Steve's great cup of tea, few trips to car with gear and some dry clothes. Realise they were all in same state. Had to keep going while tide was with us. Not much said as we packed up, eager to get on road home. Looking back, great trip, wouldn't have missed any of it for the world.
- Have warm clothes in accessible bag (not down watertight hatch).
- Insist on stopping for lunch.
- Wear reliable waterproofs.
- Don't take excess baggage.
- Buy smaller tent (teepee wonderfully roomy but heavy especially when wet).
- Get fitter.