Scottish Islands Peaks Row 2010 21st
of May – indeterminate date Sam Hesling
How we have made it
so far without motoring is nothing short of a muscle powered miracle.
It’s 10am on Sunday morning and Canna has become a familiar
sight, as has the infinitesimally slow speed of the anemometer spinning
on the mast. There was much talk from the marshals of motoring during
the kit check on Jura last night , much or which we didn’t
take in properly in the usual five minute kit check panic, and something
which the crew of Blue Chip have busted a gut to avoid.
around Oban went well with Lochaber and HBT vying for pole position
with David Riach and I bowling along behind with
Brendan and Angela. David and I made good progress to finish third,
just ahead of Brendan and Angela, before diving into our dinghy
and being rowed to the boat by one of our heroic sailors, Scott.
sail out of the bay was non existent, the rowing full pelt with
the two main oars and two paddles going at it full pelt. Once
at sea we sailed to Salen, well almost, with the final half mile
or so being oar propelled by the sailors in ship shape fashion
racing (and beating) another boat in.
Mull went well with the first
8 or so miles being dispatched in quick time. The initial climb
up the Ben was stodgy and slow but
once over we were able to fly round a gradually rising contour
before heading directly round on the 580m contour below the scree.
passed a pair on the first climb, and having another pair started
only five minutes behind at Salen we were pleased to look back
and see no-one behind but up on the horizon, only twelve or so mins
ahead were Jon Morgan and Al Powel having set off about fifteen
mins ahead after sailing into Salen on Playing FTSE – we
Some brilliant navigation by David
took us straight off the top
and down to the second checkpoint with no fuss, and we sped on around
the corrie to cp three. After a debate on the way round we decided
to drop down the far side of the col directly and take the left
side of the valley floor to avoid the plethora of burns which incise
the steep side. The route paid off and it wasn’t long before
we were back on the track passing lots of pairs heading on up clearly
psyching themselves up for a nigh time up and down of the mountain.
We were back at the boat just after ten PM knackered after the long
road run but fit for large quantities of food which were duly guzzled.
More rowing saw us out of Salen and chugging slowly south west under
sail towards Duart.
Eerie silence, mist and zero wind,
we were floating down the middle of the channel still a couple of
miles shy of Duart
with nill visibility
and every chance of being smashed by anything big making its way
through the night. One thing for it, row to the Mull shore and
drop anchor for a few hours to give the sailors a chance for some
and to avoid a visit to the sea bed.
Five am Saturday morning and
there is a sniff of a breeze. We got going again and rounded Duart
and headed south. Much debate ensued
as to the best line – the eastern line down the Jura Coast
or the western line through the Corryvreckan. Option two was chosen
and after several hours of rowing by our heroic crew the boat powered
through and was spat out into the Sound of Jura at a fair lick (the
best yet). But it wasn’t to last. Hours and hours of rowing
was necessary to get the boat into Craighouse, the final couple
of hundred meters being neck and neck with another tri – Memec.
passed two pairs on the hill, and held off a third, getting
some excellent banter, bizarrely the midnight
chat on the second
pap was all about Olly and his PB attempt. Some excellent navigation
by David saw us dispatch the three hills in good style and we
ran back along the road and jumped on board Blue Chip for the
row out to sea. Sleep ensued, and the skippers son had somehow
coaxed us south to Canna where we are still sitting at what
is now 11am.
But the tide has turned and we are standing still (actually going
backwards) in zero wind. The sea is like glass and the sun shining.
It’s been awesome…
... we had a call to make. The boat was still adrift and there
was no way to tell for how long. We figured that with the best
will in the world we would be pushing it to get to Arran - Goatfell
- Troon before work (and exam revision) would beckon at 9am
on Monday. All five of us debated the decision at length and come
11.30am on Sunday we chucked it, hit the motor and sped towards
Once around, as if from nowhere, there was wind. The boat was
soon powered up and hitting 15 knots on our way to Tarbert where
we had chosen to retire to. Sailing this fast was totally new
for me and amazing fun, especially under a glorious sun. The
rapid journey continued up Loch Fyne and we berthed at about
tanned and already plotting another crack at it next year.
In the absence of finishing I reckon the Blue Chip crew deserve
David (runner and the man with the plan) - the prize for navigation
and route finding of the highest order which contributed big
time to our speed on the hills;
Steve (skipper par excellence) - twenty out of ten for providing
the awesome boat and rowing it solidly for hours on end;
Graham (the human wind vane) - top marks for sniffing out
mere breaths of a breeze on an otherwise mirror like sea;
Scott (pasta in a flask dude) - for rowing the dinghy like
The top class banter (and the experience in general) is summed