Anchorage at Rubh’ Ardalanish


It is straightforward, coming from the east, to find the point of Rubh’ Ardalanish from Carsaig Bay–I set a waypoint and the GPS directed me there–although today with a short swell and no wind to steady the boat, it is a rather uncomfortable little journey. The pilot book instructions seem pretty straightforward too: do not cross the 20 metre line until you have identified the rock Sgeir an Fheidh–which at most states of tide appears as two rocks. Then line up the western edge of the rock with the bottom of the valley on Mull until the opening to the anchorage on the east side opens clear.

But it is quite a performance, with Coral rolling around in the swell, to get the mainsail down and stowed, to lift the anchor onto the bow roller ready for dropping, to make sure the chain is running free. All that done, I approach the bay cautiously, keeping an eye on the depth sounder (I decide to take 20 meters as ten fathoms). Coral rolls in the cross swell extravagantly as I brace my feet each side of the cockpit, holding the pilot book in one hand and the tiller in the other. Which rock is that Sgeir an Fheidh? That one? It looks much bigger than I imagined. Ah, there is the stream tumbling down a little valley, yes, that all makes sense with the chartlet. There are rocks all around so I take her in steady, but if I throttle back too much she won’t have enough steerage way. Is that the opening to starboard, it looks very narrow!

But the way into the anchorage opens up as I approach the shore, a wider entrance than I imagined–indeed, the whole bay is bigger than I imagined–and I steer Coral through the passage between the rocks. Plenty of depth, the water is suddenly quite smooth and plenty of room for a little boat like Coral to swing. I circle round to check depths and soon have her anchored in 25 feet of water.

Then I look around. The anchorage is landlocked in all directions except due west, and that is protected by the rocks and reefs outside. The shoreline all around is a tumble of granite boulders, most of them showing clearly in the pink tint they carry at this westerly end of the Ross of Mull.

This is the kind of place that immediately feels like a blessing: safe, quite cosy, and even in the drizzle that starts to fall as soon as we are settled, breathtakingly beautiful. Just astern of Coral on the shore, a line of boulders, their pink faces crisscrossed with fissures in a way presumably set by the stresses created when the granite spewed molten out of the earth. They show no identifiable pattern, but I remember how my old friend Brian Goodwin used to describe these as following a mathematically chaotic form. As I watch this chaotic fissured tumbling I feel my mind come into a sense of peace and quiet.

Is that the right rock
To line up with the stream ashore?
Safe anchorage.


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Rain on Arrakis

I'm Franklin Ginn, a cultural geographer at the Unviersity of Bristol. My research interests are in multispecies landscapes, plant politics, environment-society relations, Anthroposcenes/ Chthulucenes and philosophical questions concerning the nonhuman.


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