Articles

THE GREAT SCOTTISH DRASCOMBE CRUISE, 1995

Extracts from the report by Peter Duggan in DAN 38 with photos by Jim Hopwood

Peter Duggan. Read the full report on Peter's website. Thanks to Peter for his kind permission to reproduce these extracts here.

(Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version).

Scottish Cruise Map At first it looked like being just another wet and windy Scottish rally. No-one could have known that the most amazing spell of summer weather was lurking just around the corner.... [leading to] .... the abandonment of the original plan in favour of a considerably more ambitious programme.
On the Saturday of the rally we had a lively reach over to Easdale Harbour where we rafted up for lunch beside an old puffer and explored the disused slate quarries and charming museum ashore.
Sunday was one of those far-to-windy-Scottish-rally-disaster-movie sort of days, but Monday was more moderate and seven boats enjoyed a brisk sail south, through the Dorus Mòr and Crinan to Sàilean Mòr for the night.
Tuesday saw the fleet fighting the tide southwards, with Colin reporting mother and baby otters - and rocks! - on a passage inshore of the islands, towards the historic island of Eilean Mòr. Like many things "mòr" (big) in Gaeldom, the term is purely relative and this, the largest of the McCormaig Isles is barely a half mile long. We just about filled the tiny harbour. After a visit to the cave inhabited by the hermit St Cormac, even a Drascombe cabin seemed luxurious!
For me, Jim, Wednesday started with a magical early morning crossing to Craighouse to catch up with the others. The mirror smooth water was cut by several groups of dolphins - I heard them breathing before I saw them - in brilliant light and perfect peace. Once there I made a diversion to photograph the seals, to the amusement of Scottish colleagues.
Wednesday evening found us in the equally magical Ardmore Islands. "This amazing complex of low-lying jagged reefs and shallow water, teeming with wildlife had left an indelible impression from an earlier visit .... I was relieved to see that nothing had changed. Jim saw an otter here and tells me that we Scots take our birds and beasts far too much for granted".
Two days later we reached Scalasaig on the island of Colonsay. The anchorage is notoriously cramped and uncomfortable so I introduced Peter to the strange southern habit of drying out in the boat harbour. This nearly misfired when we came back from the pub at low tide to find a sheep trying to get into Peter's boat.
"We left Scalasaig early on Saturday morning and enjoyed superb reaching conditions up the coast of Colonsay" and across to Mull.
"We spent the rest of the day pottering about the Sound of Iona, blithely ignoring the marked channel and trying not to run into any submerged rocks, of which there are many".
"Sunday took us to Staffa, where it was calm enough for a change to land and take a proper look at Fingal's Cave."
"Then eastwards to explore the 'interesting' sounding channel of Ulva Ferry. The promised rock hopping never really materialised and it proved to be a charming place with tomatoes growing in the phone box and a horse making the passage from Mull in a landing craft pushed by a small launch."
The wind died and the sun shone allowing Magic III to dry the washing on the way from Ulva Ferry to Acairseid Mhòr.
Evening approaching Gometra with Lunga in the background.
"On Monday we stopped for while at Lunga in the Treshnish Isles, unfortunately too late to see all but the last of the puffins."
"Coll was as delightful as ever, with hot showers and excellent food at the hotel followed by a long, hot, thirsty walk to Torastan and on to the west coast to get Jim enthusing about that quintessentially Hebridean combination of rock, sand water, Machair and light." (I had foolishly worn old shoes which started to cause blisters, walking barefoot on the short spring turf, thick with flowers was yet another 'magical' experience.
"Thursday brought the first really good breeze in days and some fine blustery racing at the Western Ardnamurchan Regatta, Kilchoan. The wind was fairly howling down off Sròn Bheag although there were some amazing holes in it elsewhere. I'm pleased to be able to report that Magic Ill came home at the front of the fleet to retain the New Zealand Cup for the first Drascombe. Friday's race was a complete non-event for most of us as barely a breath of wind reached the water."
The prize giving. Colin Sherriffs receives his tankard for second place overall. The magnificent New Zealand Cup, stands in the foreground. (Sorry Peter, I ran out of film at just the wrong moment!)


Back to main Articles page