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Sunday, 24 November 2013


So we have arrived and a long and lovely week stretches before us. The weather conditions have been amazing, windless days and dramatic skies, shafts of sunlight and changing perspectives. Perfect conditions for taking a boat out!

Beneath layers of thermal and down even to my icebreaker socks I was warm and cosy. Armed with additional layers of woolies and waterproofs I clambered across the deck of the Amy Harris, surprising myself with my agility and at last set my feet on the deck of Shemaron. It has been four months since I was last in Campbeltown and although I have enjoyed a beautiful and exciting summer I have missed Kintyre. Chris was already on board so the fire was alight and the fo’c’sule warm and dry. We had wondered about going over to the Ailsa Craig but thought that it was a little to far in the short winter day, so we decided to head towards Sanda Isle. I have seen Sanda often through “a morphing seascape” but I have never been close by.

We pulled gently away from the harbour watching the sun bounce off the fishing boats. The town receded until it seemed like I was looking at a photograph, then a painting as it appeared to loose its sense of reality. By the time we had rounded Davaar I was zipped into my waterproofs, protection against the fine drizzle that hung in the air. We headed out into the Straits of Moyle and toward the mini archipelago; which comprises Glunimore, Sheep Island and Sanda.  This can be a dangerous place for a boat and names such as Paterson’s Rock also known as the “ship catcher” helps to illustrate this fact. We pushed through the soft sea, behind us the sun caught the burnished hills on Arran and some miles ahead to the south, a break in the cloud caught the mull of Kintyre. Over the water between visibility was variable, the Ailsa Craig was sometimes there and sometimes not and the autumn colours on the land were subdued and depressed under the low cloud.
Approaching Sanda

There is something quite special about approaching an island by sea, it transforms gradually from a dark mass revealing nuances of its character as one gets closer. It is a gradual evolvement, and I found myself unable to break my gaze for fear I would miss some intimate maturation of the landscape, that would become lost forever as the transient weather continually altered the view. As we approached the bay the Ailsa Craig slowly moved around Sheep Island emerged on the other side with the sun shining on its rocky fa├žade. We put our engine into neutral and bobbed about for a while drinking in the atmosphere that soaked and shone around us.

The Ailsa Craig slowly moved around Sheep Isle

After a few moments we throttled up the engine and wheeled towards the Mull. Our propeller churned a bronze cascade in the turquoise deep. As we moved southward the lighthouse came into view but the island was growing smaller and more indistinct as the measure of sea between us increased. We said goodbye to the lovely lonely isle that the earth threw up and the sea did not claim and I went below deck to toast myself by the stove. I sat letting the heat from the fire chase away my chills while the flames danced warmth and light into the fo'c'sle and the Tilly lamp swung with the motion of the boat.

We turned for home and passed by Arransman’s Barrels the sight of some unfortunate shipwrecks, including the steam tug Rapid in 1852, I include this piece of information because she came from North Shields my native shore.
As we passed however the sea had calmed even more and pods of porpoise wheeled through the water heading south.

It is late November, to have such an enjoyably beautiful day this late in the year is such a bonus, it really shortens the winter. We savored it as much as our holiday on the Kibranan Sound  in the  early summer. The sun was shining on the loch as we returned gently sidling Shemaron up to the Amy Harris to lie securely for the night.

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