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Old 23 April 2015, 03:46   #1
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Ganavan to the Garvellachs and back again

Perhaps it was my little jaunt into Loch Leven that inspired me... or possibly the continuing good spell of settled weather we are enjoying ... but this week I thought it time to get my sea going SIB on the water as well as my small Seago SIB.

With the Scottish SIB outing fast approaching.. I thought it fitting that my first journey of the year was along the proposed “fair weather” suggested route. This would hopefully give others an idea of the location..iron out and possible difficulties.. and give rough ideas of transit times and fuel requirements. Im sure this adventure will answer most questions.

It was a 5 am start for myself and my youngest daughter. Unusually..she asked if she could come along and as I don’t see as much of my daughters as perhaps I would like...or should ..I agreed. We reversed down the huge slipway at Ganavan Bay to the north of Oban town at 7am. There was not another soul is sight. The sea was perfect..with an early morning har ..burning off the water ..in the heat of the rising sun.



It has some hidden benefits having my daughter along. She kindly snapped my launch process so you can follow how a frail pensioner launches a 150kg SIB and 50kg of 25HP engine. I reverse the trailer to the waters edge and pull the boat off..it slides easily on the long carpet bunks of the trailer.



I transport the engine in my car.. it sits on a sack trolley and easily slides in and out my car without having to lift the full weight.



I wheel the sack trolley and engine into the sea to around one foot in depth. Reverse the SIB back into the engine mounts.





I push down on the SIB transom and float it under the engine mounts...then release the transom and it floats up into position. Mounts are then tightened... and 25HP 2 stroke engine is now on the SIB and I have not lifted the engine once..Im still hernia free at 60 years old.





The sack trolley is then untied from the engine and slid out by pushing the floating boat. Of course..it does help when there are no huge waves hitting the shore.




Finally.. after attaching the Aux engine and loading the boat.. I top up the tubes to working pressure with the hand pump.





Moments later.. and we are off ... silhouetted by the low morning sun .. and another adventure begins.... the Gurnard way ....





To be continued ...
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Old 23 April 2015, 04:11   #2
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Ahh! brings back memories, we used to camp at Ganavan many moons ago when it was a camp site, & before they built the horrendous yuppie housing estate. Our daughter was a toddler then, she's 24 & living in Manchester now, how time flies.
Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old 23 April 2015, 04:12   #3
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hi gurnard

perfect conditions know that slip very well we used to dive the BREDA years ago just round the corner in ardmucknish bay.

jeff
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Old 23 April 2015, 06:14   #4
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Thanks for looking in guys..and Im glad it brings back memories. Ganavan Bay is my first choice launch point for Oban..it costs £2 to park in the car park for the day..and there are well kept toilets in the car park .. which my daughter certainly appreciated.

Some facts and figures of my latest journey.

My daughter baulked at the thought of wild camping for a two day adventure.. it was to be a one day trip.. we arrived on the slipway at 7am and landed again at 4pm in the afternoon.

Distance travelled was 54 miles and I did an average speed of 13 mph on the calm water..and slowed to around 9 mph in the tide races and choppy parts to save my daughter getting soaked. She sat in the bow box up front .. so the boat was a bit nose heavy for going much faster. I don’t like prolonged WOT anyway.. I prefer my engines to last.



I used somewhere between 20-25 litres of fuel in the 25Hp two stroke. I carried 50 litres as I was not sure how far or where I was going to go..until I went there. In other words..I was following my nose and instinct with sea conditions. I had half planned on going through the Grey Dogs..but a slight increase in wind and swell put that notion out my head.

Forecast for the day was Sunny.. Metoffice and XCweather consulted
Winds at 7am 3mph gusting to 5mph : at 10am 3mph gusting to 6mph : at 1pm 4mph gusting to 9mph : at 4pm 6mph gusting to 11mph.
I had comfort knowing the following day was forecast light winds again..so if things changed en route..I would land and wait for calm conditions to return.

In truth..the winds were not far from that although I suspect around 6mph and gusting to 11 mph as I was negotiating the tide races and exposed Garvellach crossing..dropping to 3mph gusting to 5mph in the afternoon.

Low Tide at Oban 3am and again 15.30pm : High water at Oban 8.50 and again 20.58

I knew that once past Easdale....I was entering a sea of fast flowing tides ...and occasionally unpredictable tidal surges. I knew where to meet the worst of the tide races so they would not be unexpected. Depending on tide times..you can sometimes cross them in calm waters..then when the tide changes and flows fast ..they can seem a bit daunting to a newbie if you have to re cross them on your return journey.

Although I was open to my actual route.. I had all the above information before contemplating this adventure. This map shows my GPS tracks of the actual route we took.



We both wore buoyancy type waistcoat life jackets at all times...I prefer that type as it helps keep the wind chill down. I realise that in the water..they lack some of the advantages of other types.

I had an Aux engine in case of breakdown of the main engine. I carried a hand held VHF radio for emergency ... a couple of hand Flairs and a Rocket Flair.

I printed paper OS maps at 1:25 and used the boat compass. The plotter is my android phone. I use the fish finder to keep an eye on depths. My daughter’s friends knew of our journey and she text them of progress .. including photos.. and when we expected to arrive back.

This info is mostly to assist those not so familiar with small boats going to exposed parts... everyone will have their own ideas.. but I have never gone wrong follow these kind of processes.


To be continued...
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Old 23 April 2015, 11:15   #5
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Not long after leaving Ganavan Bay we had to cross the North Channel coming from Oban Bay. It is plagued by the scourge of all small SIBbers in this area ...the mighty Cal Mac Car Ferry.

A quick look down the channel between Maiden’s Island and the Island of Kerrera proved that it was safe to cross. Of course ... I already knew it was safe ..even before I could see down the channel. Cal Mac always announce their arrival in Oban Bay on Channel 16 of the VHF...but best to visual check anyhow.




Then we were skimming our way smoothly down the west coast of the Island of Kerrera.





I felt a little guilty... leaving a long silvery scar across such a calm and peaceful blue sea. It was such a lovely morning...crisp clear air..and silence ..only broken by a noisy 2 stroke engine .. right beside my ear. Perhaps I should have rowed this stretch.





The boat danced on regardless the noise it was making..and I knew we were nearing the southern end of Kerrera when we saw Bach Island approaching. It is the small island to the right of my daughter in the following photo.





Because the sea was so calm..my plan was to head directly to Easdale.. by the most direct route ..which involved being off shore a little. Soon even Kerrera was being washed away in the distance by my wake.




As we approached Insh Island.. I told my daughter about the owner of the island..and how he must be a bit of a recluse like myself. He often spends time in the summer.. living in a cave on the island.. a castaway. I told her that I would show her the cave house on our way back. You too will have to wait for the return journey to see it.





Passing between Inch Island and the Isle of Seil .. we saw a large private cabin cruiser heading up the sound of Inch. I though.. if that belongs to the guy who lives in the cave house..then he is nothing like me at all.. I own three SIBS.





Soon we were pulling into Easdale Sound ..I wanted to show my daughter that there were still some normal houses inhabited by normal people on the Slate Islands.





I started to slow the chattering engine to displacement speed.. I didn’t want to disturb the sleepy village. It was still early.. it had taken us one hour to get from Ganavan to Easdale


To be continued....
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Old 23 April 2015, 11:33   #6
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Nice account thanks for taking the time to post in such detail
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Old 23 April 2015, 15:12   #7
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Been almost stuck launching on that beach at low tide a few times now. Well mainly trying to retrive.
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Old 23 April 2015, 15:44   #8
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Thanks for looking in guys..its appreciated.

The tide was almost full out when we landed West Coaster.. I have never had an issue recovering from there..however my SIB is put on inflatable rollerboats to get it the 50 yards or so back to the concrete slip. Even though I have four wheel drive.. I would never put my vehicle on any sandy shore... no matter how firm it looks. I have pulled a heavier boat up by either ... waiting for the tide to reach the ramp..or use a rope with the car always on concrete Thanks for pointing it out though.. just in case some tries taking a car onto the sand


The sound of Easdale was .. as expected .. a sheltered sleepy place. The little village of Ellenabeich looked very picturesque in the silence of the early morning sun.



On the other side of the sound is the Island of Easdale’s little harbour. I noticed there was some life there. Three or four people seemed to be getting into a large inflatable.. there were one or two RIBs moored there too.




I told my daughter to note the neat rows of cottages on the island. Easdale and Seil are two of a group of Islands known as the Slate Islands. The other islands in this group are Luing, Lunga, Torsa and Belnahua.





They are the Slate Islands because..surprise..surprise.. at one time ..they quarried huge amounts of Slate. You can still see the deep pits or quarries the slate came from..mostly filled with water now. This photo is of one at Ellenabeich.. which I took a few years back.. it shows an old slate quarry full of sea water.





I mentioned to my daughter that we were now going to visit Belnahua.. which was a busy slate island at one time too..but is now uninhabited. With a flick of the throttle..we were soon leaving Easdale and Seil islands in our wake too.



Far ahead we could see the white shape of Fladda Lighthouse which is to the left of Belnahua. My daughter is hiding Belnahua in this photo..but on the right of her you can also see the Garvellach Islands.




The sea was now beginning to form some swell as we crossed to Belnahua. Belnahua is just to the right of my daughter. Apologies for her getting in the way of the views .. but I enjoyed her company.. therefore you will just have to get used to seeing her back on this adventure.




Last week ..even though fair winds were forecast .. my brother abandoned a sea crossing in this area..due to heavy swell and a spring tide. He was hoping to paddle through the Corryvrechan in his sea kayak.. which he has done quite a few times in the past. A strong spring tide..heavy swell ..and some wind make this part of the world quite difficult for small boats.. sometimes you have to be prepared to turn back .. even in good forecast days.

Belnahua is surrounded by strong tidal flows.. however it was no problem for us. The small triangular waves generally indicate a strong current..it is when they start leaping higher and turning white ..that you know just how strong the flow can be.. and things can change quickly. They stayed little dancing darlings as we passed through them



Tomorrow I will post about landing on Belnahua ...to be continued
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Old 23 April 2015, 15:47   #9
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Old 23 April 2015, 16:39   #10
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Yeah my rib is 6.5 m so is very heavy. A BMW x5 isn't great on a sandy beach. A long rope is now my method aswell.
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