Ardfern to Craobh Havn – Section 4 | Day 3

It is a very early start today. Selkie and Latimer Ledja row 8km along the islands outside the lagoon on the eastern side of Loch Craignish to reach Craignish Point and the Dorus Mor at slack water. We are relieved to see Porpoise II, a wildlife tour boat from Sealife Adventures on the Isle of Seil, which made a rendezvous with us just off the point to make sure that we got safely round. Andy Rendle, RowAround’s safety officer, was also on board for the ride having dropped the Spirit baton off on the CalMac ferry to Barra in Oban yesterday.

The Dorus Mor, ‘great door’, is a tidal race, with tides running at up to 8 knots at springs, like today. It’s reputation is akin to the Correyvreckan Whirlpool just across the way, so it is important to get the passage planning bang on.

A benign Dorus Mor, off Craignish Point: photo by Clive Brown

Our crack crew today included Jean, Mrs Sealife Adventures, and Claire, recently moved to the island and a seasoned slidey-seat rower; she is a Scotrail driver based in Oban and has managed to negotiate a day off. Now, of course, she is constrained to her garden, overlooking Cuan Sound – a body of water with a similar reputation to the Dorus Mor.

Porpoise II, Sealife Adventure’s wildlife tour boat
Claire at work and on her ergo in the following video

James & Angus. Photo by David Ingham, Arran Photography
Jerome K Jerome’s classic lockdown read, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) needs to be retitled for coastal rowing purposes. Selkie’s usual cox, for instance, (to say nothing of The Dog) is often the only male for miles around. Angus, as assistant cox, achieved notoriety in the very first Castle to Crane race. He usually rows bow wow, but has now gone over to the bark side.

What James has to say about Coastal Rowing

How do you feel when you are out on the water?
The freedom of the seas! Skiffs can go anywhere in our sheltered waters and, being cox, I get to decide where we go! It’s just great being out on the water, although I’m not sure about all the gossiping that goes on (but, having said that, I do find out what is going on in the community). On some days, though, I’m wondering why I’m sitting still in the wind and rain for an hour or so: I wouldn’t do this on a deckchair in my garden, so why in a boat?

Who got you into Coastal Rowing?

What do you love about these coasts & waters?
An infinitely variable shoreline, lots to explore and great scenery.

Photo from walkhighlands; looking acoss to Scarba, Jura and the Corryvreckan. Our friends Phil & Alison are flying their drone from the point, capturing the moment for posterity (and BBC Landward)

A rare haar on the west coast – during a Seil regatta
Rounding Craignish Point, we head north, using the northerly tidal stream to help with the 11km row. There are very few exit points along this exposed stretch of the coast, so we are relieved that conditions are (virtually) benign. But we did have extra days in hand, and also a plan B – to take the baton cross country on tracks via Lunga to Craobh Havn.

We duck into Craobh Havn Marina for a well-earned late brunch at the Lord of the Isles, and then say goodbye to our Whitburn crew mates, who are heading back to north east England. Serendipitously, a rower from Kilmelford CR works at the marina so we can use the slip and leave Selkie safely overnight.

Craobh Havn marina from the air. Eilean Arsa to the west and Loch Shuna to the north.
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