Sound of Iona

A ketch, Corryvrecken, joined me overnight in the anchorage. At breakfast time, with a fresh southerly wind, the swell was coming into the anchorage and we were both rolling around rather a lot. I watched Corryvrecken leave and decided to follow her. After some turbulence on the way out, Coral settled down westward, close hauled, Aries in charge, following in her wake. I was surprised how easy it was to pass them, for even though they had a reef in the main they were still much bigger than Coral. Coral romped past all the rocks at the south west corner of Mull and was into the Sound of Iona quicker than I expected. It was murky, but I was able to line up the cathedral tower on the leading line, but then, looking around to see where Corryvrecken was, I realized that fog was blowing up from the south.

I caught sight of the first green buoy, but soon fog closed around Coral and I could see nothing ahead of me except the blur of a ferry boat crossing the sound. Then the two buoys that mark the south side of the sandbank emerged, and I set a compass course for the entrance to the next landmark at Bull Hole. The fog cleared for a few moments, but before I could properly rejoice it closed in again. No way was I going to cross back across the sound to my planned anchorage, so I went up Bull Hole. With the fresh wind against tide it was a horrible place, stream rushing through making standing waves. Nowhere, it seemed, to anchor, rocks and moorings everywhere. I turned back and managed to drop the anchor amongst the fishing buoys at the ruined peer.

With wind against tide, Coral would not settle, and I had an uncomfortable long wait. Then the fog suddenly lifted. I was relieved that the anchor was not fouled on a fishing buoy and soon was across the sound by the beach north of the village on Iona. It took several attempts to find the right depth, then to find a place where the anchor would hold in sand rather than drag through weed. By the time I was settled I had hauled the anchor up and down five times that day.

That evening I took the dinghy ashore and walked along the beach. It is bliss! pink pebbles, a field of buttercups, Jacobs sheep. The gulls and oystercatchers screeching their objection to my presence on their beach. I walked right to the end, where there is a sound between Iona and the north rocks, looking along the coast of Mull, to Staffa and the Treshish Isles. Yellow sand, turquoise water. Silence except for birdsong. What could be better?

Iona in June
Buttercup meadow
Six oystercatchers screeching

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