Sailing Rime Western Isles of Scotland

by David Wilson May. 09, 2017 1536 views

The weather was set fair. A large anticyclone sitting over Norway in Spring  often brings fantastic weather to the North West Highlands of Scotland. A good week then to join the sail training yacht 'Aquila' in Oban harbour for a weeks tour of the Islands to the south and west.

Intially, all was set fair and were driven south past the Isle of Kerrera, past the 'Bridge over the Atlantic' across the spewing tidal mouth of the Corryvrekan maelstrom to hug the coastline of Jura with its towering 'Paps'

Turning west -The Sound of Islay, dappled with the Whisky distilleries of Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin and Laphroaig absolutely filled the air of our sails with the aspiration and anticipation of a glorious consumption of the 'water of life' But alas our Skipper was a sober sole, a man of righteousness and determination that we should reach our goal in a cognisant state.

The rime ' Whisky, whisky everywhere, nor any drop to drink' came to mind

We were rewarded  however for our abstinence by the most perfect of remote fjord moorings surrounded by emptiness, of mountains, of sea and sunset.

Onwards: the new day brought us past Colonsay Island and to Iona the birthplace of Christianity in these fair isles. Turning north now into a rising sea, we approached the towering bastion that is the Isle of Staffa, with the scar of Fingals Cave seemingly sucking us towards its gaping mouth.  For a while it seemed as if we were to be consumed, smashed to bits on the gigantic Basalt columns which looked as if carved by some gigantic force of nature too great to even contemplate for a feeble human mind.  

As our mood darkened, if by some miracle, a strange guide presented us a way out of this dark place - a single Puffin - a crazy bird -  all beak and coloured feet, a body to big for its tiny wings was showing us a way out. Its cry seemed to say 'follow me' Immediately we followed escaping from Fingal's deadly grasp.

The land to the north of us is the Treshnish Isles. A group of islands famed for its birdlife. We decided to follow our little Puffin to its lovely home, to land there and to see for ourselves if the stories of these legendary birds were true.

Sure enough the island of Lunga is the home of the Puffin and we were all captivated by these crazy, mad birds who live in holes in the ground. 

This is where our tale turns bad for no sooner had we landed we had shot a Puffin -with our camera. 

As the story goes now all sorts of bad things followed. We ran out of Rum. The guy with the Whisky wasn't keen on sharing his personal stash and then to add insult to injury the good Captain banned alcohol consumption altogether!!! and made us sail at night!  The crew said it was my fault for shooting the Puffin so

Enough was enough and I was forced to wear the camera which shot the Puffin around my neck for the remainder of the trip. 

The moral of this rime is don't shoot Puffins whilst sailing if you want to have a good time drinking and sailing in the sun and choose your companions carefully as some may be drink averse....


The ancient mariner

Sailing South on the Yacht Aquilla

Sailing South on the doomed Yacht Aquila


The beautiful bumpy sea


Fingal's Cave Isle of Staffa


The shot Puffin - the cause of all the bad luck to follow


Two very serious sober sailors


The end

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