Well I reckon that’s the pleasantest Oban/Campbeltown trip I’ve ever done, normally ‘The Mull’ as the Mull of Kintyre is called was very kind to us. Normally the very mention of ‘The Mull’ has me thinking the worst, even on a calm day it can be quite ‘interesting’ and many is the ‘Loch Class’ that has tried and failed to get around it. CalMac small vessel skippers all have a ‘Mull tale’ that usually involves a perilous four hour journey around it, some even talk of going backwards or being in the same place for three hours without making headway. I kid you not, the Mull of Kintyre is not kind to flat bottomed steel boxes with a square bow!
That was five years ago on a reasonable day on a scabby day you can’t take pictures
Anyway, after a fine night at the North Pier in Oban last night we departed South around 8:00am
and headed down the sound of Kerrera.
This is always one of my favourite parts of the journey to dry dock as it’s an area I frequented much in my yoof.
The Ross of Mull and the Slate Islands were always popular diving sites. The area between Loch Spelve and Loch Buie being full of them. The hospital ship Maine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFA_Maine_(1887) HMS Barcombe https://canmore.org.uk/site/117125/hms-barcombe-lord-lovats-bay-mull-firth-of-lorn and the SS Meldon
to name just a few. Somewhere I’ve got a ‘bill of sale’ from the ‘Board of Trade’ as it was then. Me and five mates bought her in the 1970’s Got her steam whistle in my garden
and the letters from the bow of the Maine too,
OK, it’s missing the I and part of the E but there it is.
Here she is aground and it’s the first time ever I’ve seen that picture, the Internet is truly amazing
She was in fact the very first RFA hospital ship and even had a medal struck in her honour as she was funded by public donations, many from America if I recall.
Another first! that’ll be HMS Barcombe aground in 1958 http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?5056 She was a ‘Bar Class boom defence vessel, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar-class_boom_defence_vessel those ‘horns’ are for heavy lifting of anti submarine nets. They made 74 of them over the years apparently, must have had an awful lot of booms to lift at one time!
That’ll be Easdale island on the left and Mull on the right, if you look carefully you can see surf on Frank Lockwood’s Isle, the Main’s final resting place.
Change of scene
With the weather good and the tides in our favour the skipper decided to take us through the Sound of Jura between Islay and Jura. It is a little longer but we’d catch the south going stream at it’s strongest and that would more than make up for the extra distance.
Sure enough, once entering the Sound we ‘hitched a ride’ and were carried along at up to 14.4 Knots a good 50% increase on our so far leisurely pace of around 8.5 knots. Sure the Hallaig will do 10 knots no problem but at that speed she needs to be running 3 generators so why bother. We were in no great hurry and wanted to get the tide right for going round ‘The Mull’.
The MV Hebridean Isles at Port Askaig https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Hebridean_Isles
The Caol Ila Distillery https://www.discovering-distilleries.com/caolila/ and the Jura ferry.
A healthy lunch
followed by a not so healthy chicken curry for dinner
The Mull of Kintyre lighthouse
and us snugly berthed ahead of the MV Gripfisk in ‘The Toon’