Journey’s end

I sailed on from Lussa Bay in the afternoon, pushing up the Sound of Jura against the last of the tide so as to pass through the Sound of Luing with a favourable stream. I am not sure if I got the timings right, there is a lot for a newcomer to learn about how the tides work around the Western Isles.There was a rather fickle westerly wind that one moment drove Coral along at over 5 knots and the next would suddenly change direction or fade away. I was reminded of learning to sail a dinghy in Loch Earne, where the wind was channelled through the gullies between the surrounding peaks and shifting direction suddenly to catch you unawares, and like as not tip you in the (very cold) water. Yet I was also reminded of sailing in the Morbihan in southern Brittany, where tidal streams are so strong that they partly create their own wind as they carry the boat forward.

Past the top of the Sound of Jura I passed the entrance to the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan (pictured), well known for its dangerously fierce tides and whirlpools. It is said that George Orwell, when he lived on Jura, would come to the cliffs and gaze down at its chaotic wildness. But I passed at slack water and watched a yacht sailing through quite calm waters. Clearly you need to pick your moment.

The tide carried me fast through the Sound of Luing, water swirling Coral around as we rushed past the Fladda lighthouse. There were many places to stop–indeed, all the way from Clifden there have been places I would have liked to linger–but by this time I was tired and just wanted to get to Oban, so I pushed on picking up a buoy early evening.

The following day I took Coral a few miles round to Dunstaffnage Marina, where Coral is to stay over the winter Harbourmaster Twig Olsen and his team were welcoming, and I spent the afternoon tidying things away and taking off the sails and running rigging in preparation for lifting out–a busy and tiring few hours mostly in heavy rain. Sometime pilgrimage is just about doing the practical things that are needed

And so this morning I left her on the pontoon and got my taxi to the rail station. I am writing on the Cross Country train, still just in Scotland, but moving fast home to the West Country. I think I am writing mainly for myself, to mark this important point of closure. It has been a long trip, well over 1,000 miles. Much of it great, much challenging, some bits horrible, others awesome. That is the way it is


  1. This world of ours,
    To what shall I compare it?
    To the white wake of a boat
    That rows away in the early dawn.

    Shami Mansei, 8th century Japan, trans. Kenneth Rexroth

  2. Peter, I have loved reading your posts. They have made me yearn for the west of Ireland again. You are not just writing to, or for, yourself.

  3. Christine Bone says:

    No doubt you are now safe and sound back home. It’s been really interesting to read but I have been a bit scared for you too! Beautiful and thougthful writing xxx

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