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The Gurnard 20 December 2014 02:45

SIBing some Small Isles by The Gurnard
With the warm winds of summer now a long distant memory, I sit in my house huddled over a little electric heater. Outside... the winter gales try their best to rip the tarpaulin off my SIB which is stored in its winter berth, on a trailer beside my house. As torrential rain and sleet slide across the glass of my single glazed windows .. I have to remind myself that summer will return.
I guess Im one of those SAD bar stewards (Seasonal Adjustment Disorder) so to cheer myself up a little.. I turned my thoughts back to last summer ... and although it was not the best SIB year for me ... I did manage a couple of epic journeys.
Without doubt my fondest memories of last summer SIBing was of a 100 mile journey taking in Loch Nevis and two of the Small Isles.. the Islands of Eigg and Muck. It consisted of a three day wild camp adventure.

Below is a small map and beyond the map.. the start of my wittering prose and photographs of the journey. I hope they help bring a little summer SIBing inspiration to you too.


My adventure started at a campsite just north of Arisaig. Although I often wild camp ..if Im going to be SIBing for a few days.. I prefer leaving the car and trailer in a campsite . .rather than abandoning it beside the road. It gives peace of mind the car will still be there on my return. Besides..I like Portnadoran Campsite.


There is lots to do at Arisaig.. it is famous for its seals and skerries ..and the water is always crystal clear. The island of Eigg is off shore and under cloud.. in this photo.


Because it is very tidal and has lovely sandy shores..its easy to set up a mooring when the tide is out. I have a large galvanised cork screw which I sink into the sand .. and attach a buoy and rope to the screw with a suitable length of chain. I have been known to moor at the end of this sheltered bay.


However I was not parking my SIB up on this adventure ...so shoved SIB and trailer down the grass bank beside my camp pitch.. hauled it across the rocky shore .. wrestled SIB off the trailer .. then went to set up camp as I awaited the returning tide.


After pitching tent.. having a coffee ..and the predictable after coffee pee.. the tide was soon lapping at the back of the boat.


Moments later I was cruising happily along the coast towards the town of Mallaig ..which sits at the entrance to Loch Nevis.. arguably one of the remotest and most beautiful sea lochs in Scotland.


To be continued...

Chris Caton 20 December 2014 03:35

great pics n a great part of the world, worth a touch of sleet :thumbs:

The Gurnard 20 December 2014 04:32

Thanks for looking in Chris... and I agree .. the Arisaig Area is a truly magical land. :thumbs:
As I neared Mallaig, I was delighted to see a long column of smoke and steam .. chugging and chuffing its way along the seafront.


I instantly knew it was “The Jacobite” steam train which runs herds of tourists between Fort William and Mallaig...and back again.


Many nickname the train the “Hogwart Express” after the Harry Potter movie which featured the train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.


The train was taking Harry and his mates to the magic school which featured in his movies.


I wasn’t going to a magic school.. but I knew I was about to embark on a magical journey ..into an enchanted land.
To be continued ....

Boatnomad 20 December 2014 13:30

Fascinating as always :thumbs:

kerny 20 December 2014 13:55

I never ever get bored with your posts Gurnard they are all just awesome mate .

Thank you.... and I wish you many, many more adventures for the coming year. All the very best to you Gurnard :thumbs:

Olly570 20 December 2014 16:06

Great pics and good read, I'm originally from that area and spent my first 15 or so years SIB-ing about up there - great to see 👍

Wozizname 20 December 2014 16:57

As ever your threads are always a great read with fantastic photos which us fellow SIBers find inspiring :thumbs:
Not doing my 'Itch' any good at all though to get back out on the water very soon!
Just mentioned a trip up the Thames from Putney Bridge to the Barrier and take in the sights over the Xmas/New Year to the Mrs and :hide:
Looks like trip on my own then :lol:

The Gurnard 21 December 2014 02:05

Hey ...thanks for all the kind comments guys.I get a lot of fun reliving my adventures and posting about them.. so only too happy to know you enjoy them.

Perhaps I should add that a SIB adventure into Loch Nevis is not to be taken lightly. I had been planning this journey for a while ... waiting patiently for a three of four day weather window with calm seas. It was the last week in June when the high pressure area finally arrived and I made my way past Mallaig. It was just a pity the calm seas didn’t coincide with sunny sky ..but I couldn’t have everything.


I momentarily poked my nose into Mallaig Harbour ...but the eight foot high cement sculptured fisherman and daughter who guard the pier .. seemed to beacon me on my way. They were conceived by a local sculptor who lives on the remote Knoydart peninsula


Leaving the fishing port.. I turned right..and looked straight into the wide mouth of Loch Nevis. Brooding clouds capped the summits of the majestic mountains surrounding this remote loch, however they didn’t distract from the atmosphere of the area


I decided to savour the moment by first crossing the mouth of the loch to the far side and then exploring Sandaig Bay. It is a sheltered sandy beach surrounded by some rocky islands. Even in a calm sea, there was still a considerable swell which reminded me how things can quickly change if a wind started to blow. I love the feeling of acceleration as a large wave picks up the SIB by its rear end and starts to hurl the boat towards the shore. I try to stay on its crest for as long as I can by adjusting the outboard speed.


Landing on a small sandy beach near Sandaig Bay, I quickly turned the SIBs nose into the oncoming swell and anchored it by the bow. The tide was now on the turn and my boat is too heavy to move on my own if left high and dry by a falling tide.


I wanted to investigate a small hut that I had noticed from the sea. It seemed strange to see such a man made structure in the barren landscape. When I got closer..I realised what it was. It was the cable hut where the submarine telephone cable came ashore to feed the remote Knoydart community. From a distance..it looked like it needed more than a lick of paint to freshen it up.


Closer inspection proved it was still working. I spent twenty years of my youth repairing BT lines so smiled when I saw the state of this cable hut. It is the best example of BT neglect that I have ever seen.


However ..it didn’t surprise me. Knoydart communications are almost non existent. The community is not connected to the road network of Scotland. .. and to reach the village of Inverie involves a seven mile boat journey ..or a twenty mile hike over the mountains.
I also knew that shortly.. my handheld VHF would be as much use as a chocolate telephone. When SIBing in remote Loch Nevis.. you are entirely on your own. Only the stags and eagles will hear you scream if things go wrong.

To be continued...

SteveHall 21 December 2014 02:18

SIBing some Small Isles by The Gurnard
This is brilliant. Thank you

Sent from my iPad using RIB Net

Olly570 21 December 2014 02:34

Another great read 👍

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