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Old 16 June 2015, 14:52   #11
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Thanks for your balanced observation on transom wheels Kaman ..on with the show

Although I like company on my adventures..I also like my solitude. It gives me the peace to look both inwards at myself..and outwards towards ... times gone by.. as I try to find what made me the person I am.

Although the Corryvrechan.. and the Grey dogs were exciting.. the highlight of this adventure.. for me.. was exploring Belnahua.

It was once a very busy Island.. with a population of nearly 200 people. The men folks quarried the slate.. used for roof tiles on many Scottish homes .. the women manned the pumps that kept the sea water out the deep quarry pits their men folks dug.. as well as attending to family needs.

Life was hard..there is no supply of fresh drinking water on the island..it had to come by boat.. across dangerous tide races. I imagined there were many days..the work force went without water. During winter storms..the savage seas would break over the slate built levees and flood the pits..causing the women folks to work long cold hours emptying them again ...so the slate could be quarried.

At the start of World War one.. the men folks left the island to build ships in the Clyde ..or fight in the war. Not long after..the women and children left too. The island has been uninhabited ever since..except for passing adventurers like ourselves who camp the occasional day away.
We had pitched tents in the industrial part of the Island.. among the warehouses and offices.



Not far.. rusting on the beach..was an old boiler..Presumably to produce steam to drive..



The pistons that turned the water pumps that helped keep the sea from the slate pits.



In my mind..I heard the women laughing and joking with each other as they stoked the fire that heated the water ..that made the steam..to turn pistons ..that pumped the water. I thought of their children who helped bring the coals for the fire. I heard the muffled explosions as the men blasted the rock..chiselling it out.. cutting it to shape.. cursing and swearing.. laughing and joking. I could smell the fires.. the steam..oil..and sweat.

But now..it is all but gone..only rusting memories remain... of a hard life gone by. We often complain about work conditions.. but I suspect ..we know little about how hard life was..not so long ago.
I left the industrial area and walked along the slate levee wall. I had to be careful where I stood..as I was not completely alone with my thoughts.



I then clambered onto the highest point on the Island and looked to the north.. up the Firth of Lorne. As I looked at the reefs... semi submerged of the north of the island.. I thought of the Latvian ship.. Helena Faulbaums.. that was driven onto the rocks in a winter storm 1936. Sixteen sailors died there that night. I thought of the four survivors who managed to make land on Belnahua..and the relief as well as grief..they felt for loosing companions..but being saved themselves.



I turned and looked over the southern part of the island.. from my high seagull perch..



I saw ships arriving and men folks leaving crying wives and children.. as they left to help the war effort. I imagine many were killed fighting for Queen and country..never to see their families again.
I then passed the school house where I heard the ghost voice of a teacher and children.. Repeating aloud and in unison ... the two times table. I saw another boiler lying in a pit outside the school playground.



I presume it produced the steam to power the derrick that lifted the heavy lumps of rock from the deep pits. Even the derrick was left where it was last used .. rusting to ruin..in this unattended and abandoned museum of a past life.



I walked between the rows of cottages were the workers lived. I heard meals being served and could smell fish cooking. I heard conversations between family members..and even the odd argument. I heard beds squeek.. moans and groans ..late at night as the children slept in the same small room.



I stood in front of a roaring fire.. while freezing waves and bitter winds fought with each other on the tide races running around the island. I thought of children sending Santa their letters of Xmas wishes .. up the chimney of this fire place. I saw sad faces when their toys didnít appear.



Then I though.. that was a good tin of Guinness I had.. I better get back to the lads.. light our own fire..enjoy their company.. but most of all..be glad that Im alive .. healthy .. and enjoying life !!!

To be continued...
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Old 16 June 2015, 18:03   #12
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Awesome. I'm so annoyed / jealous / determined to get there by Sib or by Rib.

The puking one seems interested in history, so who knows......

Can't wait for the next instalment.
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Old 17 June 2015, 04:08   #13
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You missed a great time 9D280..but Im sure there will be others.


On my tour of the island.. I noticed that there was no litter.. no ugly fire pits.. and no wood.

I was certainly not going to scar this island of forgotten history by branding the green grass with the shape of a fire..nor leave an unsightly stone ring behind for others to find. I build the fire in a sheltered hollow of the slate levee .



Both the wood that I brought and the logs Poly donated burned brightly and gave a good heat.. but more important.. there were few ashes left in the morning. Half an charcoaled log was all..which I threw in the sea before leaving the island. I took only photographs and left only footprints.. although I do confess ... to using Kamanís shovel to catapult something I didnít want to keep... far out to sea. Better an empty house than a bad tenant !!

Once the fire had established itself.. everyone came across and enjoyed both the heat.. and the craic of a good company. I think we all got a little stone faced on the health drinks we brought with us in tins ..and the golden liquid Willk brought in a bottle.



The late evening sun illuminated Fladda lighthouse.. as if to warn incoming ships..of dangerous rocks in the middle of tide races



As the blazing fire turned to glowing embers.. and tinges of colour touched the clouds ... the guys bid each other a good night. Im an older guy..who doesnít need so much sleep now .. so enjoyed my solitude again.



I went for midnight stroll among the ruins of yesterday.



And watched the kaleidoscopic clouds morph into distant memories of my own past ...



I walked to the west..carefully avoiding the deep dark slate pits..because I wanted to see the last of the days sun.. set behind the Garvellachs



I was looking forward to revisiting them in the morning.. and perhaps meditating in the beehive prayer rooms ..of monks from an even older time. Slowly the sun sank into the dark sea somewhere far behind the islands.



Then I followed the sound of the big ZZZZZzzzzzz.. to guide me safely back to the campsite where everyone was sound asleep. The only other sound I could hear was the call of the sea. I looked over the slate levee before going into my tent. Through the dark..I could see white tops start to appear on the race. I knew the tide had turned and was now flooding against the north breeze.



I slept soundly that night.. but because Im an older guy.. I had to get up once again. I wanted to make sure the fire was out.... by pissing on it. As the embers hissed .. steamed and stank .. I recalled the days when I could go all night without getting up. More memories of a past life.

To be continued...
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Old 17 June 2015, 15:56   #14
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Although I donít sleep much at night.. I do like to get up early. During the long days of summer I am awake and ready to go.. at 6 am most mornings. Sunday was no different. I got up and went down to the shore to check the boats. I was pleased to see..that despite the Guinness and Whisky dinner ... my calculations of tides was correct. They were still afloat on the falling tide.. by 7 am they would start to dry out.



There was a fresh northerly breeze .. and although it was blowing with the tide.. I could see there was a good deal of confused water over the races.



I took a couple of last photos of the ruins in the golden early morning light... before heading back to camp



I called Poly to let him know his boat would be high and dry in half an hour. Soon everyone was awake and having breakfast. The wind was still freshening .. so we discussed the proposed visit to the Garvellachs.

To get there involved crossing a strong tide race..it looked ok at present..but I knew when the tide turned..and wind was against it.. it could liven up very quickly ... it would be a rough ride back to Oban. No one objected to not going to the exposed Garvellachs..and an hour later all SIBS were loaded and in the water.



There were now quite a few white caps appearing on the waves in the ever freshening wind. I suggested a 75 degree course to the waves and head for the mainland ..then zig zag towards Easdale ..to avoid a head on course into the waves. Poly headed off in a cloud of blown spume. It was the last photo I could take before reaching sheltered waters again.



When we hit mid channel..the size of the waves became ďinterestingĒ for lack of a better description. All SIBs managed to kept on the plane.. but there were a number of waves where I had to cut throttle to avoid flying into the air and slamming the boat when hitting water again. I was glad of the spray cover.. not only keeping the spray off.. but for keeping the loose camping gear in the boat.

The waves eased as we eased into the shelter of the Sound of Easdale..but when we left the Sound again..and hit the full force of the wind and full reach of the waves in the exposed Firth of Lorn.. if one or two of the waves were not 2 meters tall..they were not far off it. White caps were now regular occurrences .. horizon to horizon.

All SIBs still kept on the plane ..slowing only to cross the largest waves. .. all boats handled the conditions well... air floors .. aluminium floors ..wooden floors and poly floors.

We made the right decision not to go to the Garvellachs that morning.. conditions were tough enough..but in a couple of hours time..when tides turned to face the wind..travelling would be much worse. However.. the wind dropped as we reached the shelter of Kerrera..and by mid day it was flat calm again... such is the unpredictable wind.

It was still only mid morning ..so we landed at Kerrera Parrot Sanctuary..not to see the birds..but to walk over the hill for a cup of tea. Kaman.. Deano.. and Rab Rib decided to head off for an early start home.. so we said our good byes and parted ways.

Poly ... Willk and myself enjoyed the walk in the warm sun and headed over the hill ...



To the lovely tea cottage of Kerrera.. where we enjoyed homemade Lemon Drizzle cake and a pot of coffee.. and we scoffed every last crumb... delicious



At mid day..I followed the Cal Mac ferry out of Oban bay before landing at Ganavan Sands.



I arrived home at 4pm..a very happy man..and thoroughly enjoyed the first Ribnet Scottish SIB outing. I look forward to the next outing.

To finish this post.. Im going to give another observation..but keep in mind..its only my observation..otherís can add their thoughts if they wish.

Without doubt.. Polyís poly SIB was the fastest boat.. despite having a smaller 20hp engine than some of the SIBS. This didnít surprise me as PVC bottoms have much more drag than smooth hard hulled boats.

There appeared to be no significant difference in the performance between any of the SIBs. Air Floors.. Aluminium floors ..and wooden floors.. all handled the conditions very well. There was not a bad boat in the line up.

Thanks to all for reading this drivel..if you have enjoyed it..think of coming on the next one.. real life adventures are fun.

My thanks to Poly..Kaman.. Rab Rib .. Deano.. and last but certainly not least Willk.. it was a great weekend .. and I enjoyed the craic.... I hope we all meet again on another adventure.


Best regards ... The Gurnard


I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gullís way and the whaleís way where the windís like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trickís over.
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Old 17 June 2015, 16:24   #15
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Many thanks Gurnard
As always, your stories are great reads accompanied with fantastic photography
Woz
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Old 17 June 2015, 16:36   #16
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Take a bow Gurnard !
Really done the trip justice there.
There will be a few Sibbers salivating whilst reading your account and viewing those magnificent photos - I should know as I'm one of them and I was there.
Looking forward to similar trips in the future.
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Old 17 June 2015, 17:42   #17
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A good read with great pictures, well done to you all.
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Old 17 June 2015, 20:20   #18
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...and hit the full force of the wind and full reach of the waves in the exposed Firth of Lorn.. if one or two of the waves were not 2 meters tall..they were not far off it.
Just under 2m was my guesstimate too - half the length of the boats. The calm that came in late morning was sublime, shame we missed it but you have to call it when you see it, not afterwards. Good cake, but I shared mine with the sparrows...
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Old 18 June 2015, 05:51   #19
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brilliant read gurnard as always, one thing anyone can pick up from this is no matter what your budget is, so long as your boat is safe and fit for where you want to go great fun can be had.
added to a good set of lads, safety in numbers & fair weather perfect
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Old 18 June 2015, 06:43   #20
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brilliant read gurnard as always, one thing anyone can pick up from this is no matter what your budget is, so long as your boat is safe and fit for where you want to go great fun can be had.
added to a good set of lads, safety in numbers & fair weather perfect

A lot of the talk on here (understandably) is about which Plotter...Engine...Foul weather gear...Ect Ect Ect.
with a few IMO from time to time getting overly Anal with the minutiae.
Sometimes it seems easy to forget the main thing!
After you've settled on your kit..whatever the Budget..and with the right experience.
It's the LOCATION and MOST of all THE COMPANY that adds most to the Boating experience!...
Go Gurnard!...And Posse..enjoyable Thread.
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