Friday, May 4, 2007

A Day for Tides and Currents


Today we got an early start for a launch at the ferry landing of An t-Ob on the Sound of Harris. The Sound separates Harris from the Hebridean islands to the south (starting with North Uist). Our plan was to paddle around the islands called Easaigh and Ceileagraigh which are situated approximately in the center of the Harris Sound, then return to our launch spot at the ferry landing.

Tides and currents were critical to our success as the channels we had to cross have currents up to 5 knots during the spring tides which are now occurring. So we were up early, fed and on the road at 7AM. We launched to catch the ebb tide (in this case the Hebridean sea emptying into the Atlantic), setting a ferry angle over to the east side of Easaigh, zipping down the coast with the current and wind at our backs and swinging around the Atlantic exposed north side then using the eddies to sneak up the west side setting up a ferry angle across Caolas Sdairidh channel to Ceileagraigh.

Even though Caolas Sdairidh channel had more current than I expected we had left a big margin of safety and made the crossing with no problems swinging then around the west side of Ceileagraigh, stopping on a broad sandy beach for lunch, and again sneaking up along the eddies on the south side to clear the east end and set up for a crossing back to our starting point. We had timed it well and rode the last of the ebb tide down the channel crossing (~2 miles) with the wind to our backs on a mirror smooth water surface under a bright cloudless sky.

The whole trip took ~4 hours and got us off the water in time to get back up to An Tairbeart to catch the 4 PM ferry over to Uig on Skye. It was luxury to have a few extra hours to write and relax but once again maddening not to have internet access. Now on the ferry we have reviewed our plans for Thursday’s paddle around the exposed north end of Skye from Staffin Island to Duntulm, one of the classic paddles in Scotland.

But will we be paddling Skye or Eilean a’ Cheo?

Regards - Thom

No comments: