Life at the end of the road

December 2, 2011

A fair passage :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:00 pm

Here at last on the Isle of Bute, where I thought I’d be on Tuesday night 🙂 That was before I discovered that the MV Loch Striven was actually stuck in Oban some 150 nautical miles to the north 😦


Map picture

Well, only around 40 ‘as the crow flies’ but we had to cope with the Mull of Kintyre, that large ‘dangler’ on Scotland’s nose that makes many a mariners heart tremble 🙂 The site of many a shipwreck and the meeting of tides from the Irish sea, Atlantic and Firth of Clyde. A place that even on a good day is not to be trifled with.

We left Oban around 6:30am after a fierce and squally night that had the mooring ropes singing, but the wind died away by early morning and we had a pleasant passage past the ‘slate islands’ of Seil, Luing, and Belnahua.


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Here’s the privately owned island of Fladda and its light house built by the Stevenson’s in 1860. As we sailed past it I couldn’t help thinking that it must be a serious ‘money pit’ to keep the sea at bay. Reading the blog it would seem I was right, and there have been no more entries since 2005, I hope he’s all right 🙂


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Just to the south of that, between Scarba and Jura lies the maelstrom of the ‘Corryvreckan’ the third largest whirlpool in the world.




From afar, on a good day with slack tides it looked peaceful enough but this is place that a couple of hundred years ago was described as ‘un navigable’ on admiralty charts. Formed by the Atlantic tides trying to squeeze through the narrow gap over an undulating sea bed it has to be seen to be believed. This website from which I lifted the images is worth a look for more info.

I visited it once many years ago after searching for a wreck called Helena Faulbaums in around 1982. We never found the wreck but did visit the Corryvreckan just for a ‘look see’, even from the safety of a 4m RIB and wearing a dry suit it was quite fearsome.

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Southwards we continued past Jura and the ‘Paps’ to the west, Gigha to the east, Islay in the distance and onwards towards the Mull of Kintyre. As we lost the shelter of Islay the sea increased, a remnant of last nights gale and not the result of any actual increase in wind. By the time we were abreast of Machrianish, it’s windmills and old army camp it was quite ‘rock and rolly’ in the westerly swell.


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But with work to do on board we were rounding the ‘Mull’ before I knew it, the pot of soup that had been bubbling away nicely on the cooker for hours was put in the sink for safe keeping and we rolled eastwards past the inhospitable ‘Mull’.


It was a pleasant enough passage with the tide helping us along and the sun setting over the ‘Emerald Isle’

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but one of our ‘sisters’, the MV Loch Buie was having a harder time of it as she fought wind and tide steaming westwards.



She being fresh out of dock and us heading for it.

We met just around the overfalls below the Mull of Kintyre light, completed in 1788 by Thomas Smith and  only second lighthouse to be commissioned by Northern Lighthouse board.

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Once in the shelter of the Firth of Clyde the soup went back on the stove, as did the beef stew that the skipper rustled up as the purser steered the boat and I peeled the spuds 🙂 By 20:00 we were alongside the pier at Campbeltown and safely tied up for the night.

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One of our much larger compatriots the 3040 ton MV Hebridean Isles being tied up on the opposite side of the pier. Fresh out of dry dock but a year older than the Loch Striven at 26 she looked in fine fettle.

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Once tied up and with the engines shut down we enjoyed the first proper meal of the day that wasn’t moving together before going for a wander ashore.

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It was funny to see one of JST’s cranes here, after leaving Raasay. JST had become part of the fabric of the island and the place kind of seemed empty without all their ‘hardware’ 🙂

Returning from our we wander past many Victorian buildings and a fine ‘art decco’ cinema we all turned in early, it wasn’t for an early start, it had just been a long day.


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A good sleep left us all well refreshed and we departed some time after 8:00 for, well, we weren’t quite sure where 🙂

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Though with a sky like that and bacon in the pan it hardly seemed to matter 🙂

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Just look at Ailsa Craig or ‘Paddy’s Milestone’ 🙂

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There was more, much more but it’s 23:00 now and the bed is calling so you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow 🙂



  1. That was a fantastic journey.. I really really enjoyed this sequence.. I will wait now until tomorrow.. c

    Comment by ceciliag — December 2, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

  2. You lucky thing, I would love to do that journey one day. I think the Waverley does the full route in summer, I really must do it one day. Would you mind stopping off at Ailsa Craig on the way back for me, I left a couple of rough cut curling stones outside of the bothy near the lighthouse when I was there in June. I am sure you wouldnt need a risk assessment or a crane to lift them! I suppose your week at work has been extended a little now you have arrived late.

    Comment by Simon — December 2, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

    • Morning Simon,

      aye, that would have been a fine sail on the Waverly and much quicker and quieter 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 4, 2011 @ 7:50 am

  3. Incredible skies, and what a superb journey – thanks for sharing!

    Comment by markp — December 3, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  4. Some fantastic images here, and a super journey..

    Comment by Gary — December 3, 2011 @ 2:13 am

  5. love the photos, safe journey.

    Comment by maggie. — December 3, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  6. Did you know that George Orwell almost drowned in the Corryvreckan. It was in 1948 when he was writing his novel “1984” . He had rented a house called Barnhill at the North End of Jura too finish the writing I think he wanted to live in a place that was not worth an Atomic Bomb. He went out with his adopted son and a friend, there outboard failed and they ended up on a small island and were rescued hours later by a lobster boat. He was very lucky otherwise we would not have had a great piece of literature.

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — December 3, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    • Hi Dave,

      I did hear that right enough, it was probably a ‘British Seagull’ outboard 🙂

      seagull outboard

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 4, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    • Morning Dave,

      I had heard the story right enough, probably he was using one of these 🙂


      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 5, 2011 @ 6:29 am

  7. Fantastic blog, have enjoyed your journey this week.
    . Delighted my book arrived from Amazon this morning. Calum’s Road, into the first 10 pages and have had to drop it for a while, hope to visit one day.

    Comment by K&T Mid Cornwall — December 3, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    • Hi K&T, have you finished the book yet 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 5, 2011 @ 6:32 am

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