In Search of Nature

The English channel and Western approaches had delivered a surprising amount of wildlife ; 3 species of dolphin including a pair of white beaked dolphin east of the Lizard – a first for us – and more puffin than we have ever seen in this area before. By contrast the Irish sea and North channel were devoid of interest if you dont count the large colony of black guillemots in Glenarm. We were therefore keen to visit the anchorage behind the Ardmore islands which has previously teemed with wildlife . Our wind gods however didn’t seem keen on the idea, giving us 25+  knots of wind which would have necessitated 2 anchors and a nervous night in this tight little place. It was however a wonderful opportunity to relax and in the event we postponed our plans by just 12 hours, used the anchorage the following morning to await the tide through the Sound of Islay, and were duly entertained  by a large colony of seals ,  with a few divers and eiders as a bonus for our effort.

Our next destination was Loch Tarbert , Jura : a grand, wild and completely isolated loch that I had visited 26 years ago when we delivered Polly from the South coast . I had however forgotten how narrow is the passage of Cumhann Mor into the middle loch , especially as we transitted the wiggely bit with the wind astern and at max flood. This of course is nothing compared to Cumhann Beg , the passage into the upper loch which we explored by dinghy all those years ago , but this was a step too far and we contented ourselves with a glorious sunset playing over the Paps of Jura  in what is a truly imposing anchorage.

The west coast of Mull  25 miles to the NW is a favourite playground of ours , containing as it does the Sound of Iona ( where we “always” see a particularly frisky troupe of bottle nosed dolphin) , the architectural splendour of Staffa with its wonderfull Fingals cave , and best of all the enormous puffin colony on the Treshnish isles. The wind blew us gently under spinnaker to Iona , but with a fresh NE wind forecast for the next day we retired to the easy and safe anchorage of Bunessan to await an opportunity to visit these wonders. Sadly there was no sign of our dolphins. Unusually for these days , Bunessan bay had no signal so we set off next day unsure if we would be able to land at any of these attractions , but lo and behold out in the middle by Staffa up popped a signal and it looked as if there would be a tempory lessening of the NE wind that would make anchoring at Tresnish feasable in the evening, although Staffa would have to wait . 

What a day! A fine sail with the glorious backdrop of Mull  took us into the anchorage at Treshnish just as the tripper boats were leaving , so we had the puffins almost to ourselves , with the exception of some serious birders who were camping there . Rain was due by 2000hrs so after glutting ourselves on the birdlife we fetched back to an anchorage on the south side of Ulva that we had never been to before , but not before seeing “our “ pod of bottle nosed dolphin leaping and cavorting under the cliffs . The anchor went down and we were all cleared away minutes before the rain fell . Somehow being snug inside whilst the rain fell made the perfect end to a brilliant day.

One Comments

  1. It all sounds wonderful. Keep it coming

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