I had a very peaceful night at anchor by Goat Island in Loch Craignish. Moderately early the next morning I got underway heading for Corryvrechan. That’s a name that can strike fear into many yachtsmen.
The Gulf of Corrvrechan is the passage between Jura to the south and Scarba to the north. About half a mile wide and almost two miles long, it’s mostly very deep. But there’s a large shelf of rock with a sheer side to the east. When the very strong tide hits this underwater obstruction, whirlpools and overfalls result. So any prudent mariner goes through in calm weather, at or near slack water.
Being the prudent soul that I am, I got there at just the right moment to get the beginning of the favourable tide. Just as I was wondering what all the fuss was about, I found the boat being swirled off course and back again. Even at near slack water, the whirlpools were impressive in their effect. The calm weather meant I could easily see them on the surface. Fascinating!
As I exited on the western side, I was surprised to find a yacht heading the other way into the passage - against the increasing tide. Although a rather bigger yacht, I thought that was a bit bold! However, they must have known what they were about, since when I checked on AIS later they were making 6 knots over the ground - they must have known of a favourable reverse eddy to help them.
I continued motoring down the west coast of Jura and thus into Loch Tarbert. Note that there are three Loch Tarberts: East and West Loch Tarbert almost meet across the peninsula of Kintyre, and then there’s Loch Tarbert on Jura. This last is the one I was going to. In turn, Loch Tarbert Jura divides into three: outer, inner and top.
In Outer Loch Tarbert, I foudn several anchored boats, including a three masted square rigger Tenacious. She’s a sail training vessel - find out more here
. Quite an impressive site to see! Moving past them, I navigated through the very narrow passage Cumhann Mor into Inner Loch Tarbert. Here I anchored for a while, waiting for nearly high water. I then headed up to Cumhann Beag - the VERY tricky passage up to the Top Loch Tarbert.
Cumhann Beag is about the width of a narrow canal, but with several sharp twists and turns, and many isolated rocks. The passage is only really possible with the aid of the detailed amateur survey provided by Antares Charts
. Even with this on the plotter, it was tricky! Once at the Top Loch, there’s not much to see or do. The whole top loch dries out, except for a small pool that’s too deep to anchor in, and which is almost full of moorings for local small day fishing boats. So after a quick circuit of the “Hole”, it was back out the way way I came, before the tide trapped me there and the fearsome 8kt ebb tide started.
Back out on the inner loch and my original spot was now occupied by two other boats - how dare they?! But plenty of room to anchor well away from them for a peaceful night.
The picture shows the approach to Corryvrechan. Be sure to check out my photo album (link below right) for others of this spectacular location.
Log of the first passage
Log of the excursion to Top Loch