Tuesday 4th October
The forecast for Tuesday had been revised down to S 4 or 5 occasionally 6 and I set off again at 1000ish with a similar plan to Monday. With a good sailing breeze from the south I could hold a course straight down the Firth of Lorne and began to think about a circumnavigation of Kerrera. I?ve never managed to sail all the way through Kerrera Sound (in either direction, in any boat) and the southerly would give me a sporting chance on taking the ?inside passage? back north.
Regular readers of this nonsense will know that I have only started single-handing this season and that my attitude to reefing has been strictly ?.. when you first think of it.? There was a subtle change in my priorities on this occasion and though I have given it some considerable consideration since, I?m still not sure why. Anyway, we hung on as the wind increased until the argument for a reef could be ignored no longer and I decided to heave-to to reduce sail. This worked well.
I hadn?t wanted to go east of Bach island since this would take us very close to the south coast of Kerrera, a lee shore on the day. The story of Classic Wave, wrecked on this very spot (albeit through engine failure) in similar conditions only a couple of weeks earlier was fresh in my mind. My intention was to pass west of Bach Island and continue south for perhaps a mile before tacking to head for the southern entrance to Kerrera Sound.
I must have sailed over this little patch of sea (to the west and north of Bach Island) at least a half-dozen times without noticing anything unusual. However, the bottom rises from over 120 to 20-odd metres in less than a quarter of a mile and I was now riding the spring ebb up this slope into the teeth of a F5. The waves weren?t particularly high (not much over a metre) but they were very close together and spectacularly steep on both faces. We continued to make some headway but were probably travelling considerably further in the vertical plane than the horizontal. Poor wee Silkie was taking a hammering and it didn?t take long for me to make up my mind. ?We sail for pleasure!? I quoted, again.
I pressed the pause button (this heaving-to is great!) briefly to think things through before bearing away on a broad reach NE. Immediate 7+ knot surfing set the scene for a rerr terr back up the Firth of Lorne. I even had the cheek to raise the whole main again in a brief lull when the speed dropped below 5 knots! What a blast!
The end result was that we arrived back at Dunstaffnage hours earlier than I had expected, at a very similar tidal height to our Sunday departure and with a very similar result. I reversed off and pootled round the moorings for 15 minutes before successfully negotiating the shoal at the second attempt.
Another great weekend! Learned loads again but still seem to have a long way to go before I can lay claim to even a modicum of sea sense.
Miles this trip 48
Miles this season 838 (s/h 213)