What is BIBOA?

BIBOA Ltd is the UK RIB club for those who like to cruise and socialise in Rigid Inflatable Boats. Read more.

Why BIBOA?

To take part in any BIBOA sea-going event the skipper of the boat must be a paid up BIBOA member and there must be valid 3rd party insurance for the vessel. Non BIBOA Members are very welcome indeed as crew accompanying a BIBOA skipper. 

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Saturday
May122012

Lochs, rocks & woks in a (very) sunny Scotland

By Mike Deacon

Many hundreds of photos of the Scottish Cruise 2012 can be found in the Cruising Photo Gallery, or  in the articles following this one!

BIBOA’s annual pilgrimage to the land of spectacular scenery, amazingly clear water, adventures in isolated harbours and your choice of friendly chat or deafening silence.

 In 2012 the Great British Summer had its weather map turned upside down thanks to something called the Jet Stream. Instead of the familiar Scottish ‘soft days’ we were treated to fourteen days of almost constant sunshine whilst the wind and rain took root over the Sassenachs. Our cruise organisers Dougie Crockett (Arriba) and Peter Zurrer (Highlander) treated us to a marvellous selection of cruises ranging from gentle, easy wanderings in Lochs Sween, Craignish, Etive, Linnhe, Leven, Tuath (Ulva) and the Sound of Iona, and to rather more ‘adventurous’ RIBing in the Sound of Mull and the Sound of Sleat.

Thursday night & Friday morning 26th & 27th April

Starting at 23.00hrs, Chris and Andy tow Seahound from Lymington with Mike following behind towing Hot Lemon; an eventful night for Mike as his newly serviced trailer brakes lock up several times on the motorway but he’s going again at 03.00hrs after assistance from Marc Lyne and the AA. Chris & Mike arrive in Dunstaffnage Marina mid-morning Friday and exchange ‘towing stories’ (*1). Several are staying in our usual haunt The Wide Mouthed Frog which has first class accommodation and an excellent restaurant (*2)

Saturday 28th

More RIBsters arrive from Switzerland, Germany, London, Cheshire, the Midlands and Scotland, each with an interesting variety of their own towing stories, getting there is half the fun … not!  Seahound heads off to the music festival in Tobermory whilst the others catch up on the year since they last met. Marc and son Lucas arrive after car/flight/car, their gear was brought up by Chris with Seahound after they met in the wee small hours somewhere on the road by Winchester where Marc also slackened off Mike’s trailer brakes (wet, very cold and dark, thanks Marc!).

Sunday 29th

The cruise starts with Dougie leading us through the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool between Jura and Scarba and on down the east side of Jura for morning coffee and cakes rafted up to Arriba whilst watching seals lazing on sunny rocks. We then head off to a truly magical place, the uninhabited island of Eilean Mor in the MacCormaig Isles (*3). 

There is a very narrow, hidden inlet with one small stone pier and the most unusual Tourist Information Office we have ever seen; it is an old stone bothy with a ‘living roof’ and heavy bolts on the outside of the door against the elements. The building is maintained by occasional volunteer work parties with the inside fitted out with photographs and information, do carry out your own research and be certain to visit if you can. We then run up Loch Sween to Tayvallich (*4) for an excellent lunch in the Tayvallich Inn before the 30nm run back for tea on Easdale Island by Seil (*5)

Monday 30th

The start of this day was the wettest and roughest time of the entire cruise, torrential rain to mid morning and 2m breaking seas as we headed towards Tobermory; we stopped for bacon rolls and hot chocolates outside the Loch Aline Snack Bar where we drained much of the Sound of Mull from our boots, pockets, hoods and underwear, we were WET!  Peter from Highlander was heard to remark, “I’m very glad I brought my helmet, it’s a pity it is in my console… “. The rain stopped and it was onwards to Tobermory and the Mishnish Public House with a lunch of ultra fresh fish and chips on the quayside (*6)

We then headed further north to pass the awesome Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point on the mainland - next stop USA. The sea changes as we clear the top of Mull and although we can feel the deep, long, rolling, slightly malevolent swell from the Atlantic, today is calm enough for us to explore the crystal clear pools and steep sided inlets which millennia of storms have carved in the granite cliffs. Adventure now calls and although we face a strengthening wind over tide we’re determined to reach Eigg for tea in the quayside community café (*7). A slightly arduous bouncy run sees the fleet either picking up mooring buoys or alongside the slipway and we spend a memorable early evening looking over the Sound of Sleat, playing in rock pools and exchanging nautical yarns; Dougie has one more adventure for us as we run back towards base, he diverts to the island of Muck for a quick tie alongside the stone pier for us to ‘bag’ the island before we hastily clear away whilst we’re still floating (*8). Then it’s a pleasant run back down the Sound of Mull, some head for Dunstaffnage whilst others tie alongside in Oban to watch a special footie match in a tavern and yet more enjoy an excellent dinner in the China Restaurant in Stafford Street. We meet later and have an informal race in the moonlight back to Dunstaffnage, a fantastic day.

Tuesday 1st May

A beautiful day dawned, smooth sea, light wind, no rain, great visibility and Dougie has a great plan. We’re off to the Island of Ulva on the west coast of Mull and then on to the world famous island of Staffa and, hopefully, right into Fingal’s Cave …

Ooooooooo ! Exciting.

The fleet ran gently down the Firth of Lorne, past the Ross of Mull, carefully through the Torran Rocks and on into the Sound of Iona where we stopped for coffee afloat and photo opportunities just off Iona Abbey and the Macleod centre (*9). We followed the adventurous Arriba very carefully out through Bull Hole and onwards to the Sound of Ulva where we secured alongside the slipway for a very fine lunch sitting in the sunshine outside The Boathouse (*10)

Hot Lemon left the fleet finishing their lunch and headed out to Staffa (*11) with a crew of John and Annie plus Marc & Lucas who needed to catch an evening flight in Glasgow. Conditions were superb and they were able to gently coast right into Fingal’s Cave, an eerie experience; as the tide was low they navigated very carefully into the small inlet with an old stone landing stage, tied alongside and scrambled along the narrow footpath which leads into the cave, more superb photo shots. The main fleet had left Ulva by the very rocky northern channel and upon reaching Staffa some RIBS carefully drifted right up to the end of Fingal’s Cave for some more superb pics.

Wednesday 2nd May

Yet another fine day. Many of the fleet re-fuelled at Puffin Divers in the Sound of Kerrera before heading down to Insh Island which is an uninhabited island just west of Seil Island although the private owner is thought to occasionally occupy the ‘cave house’ which is cut into the rock on the eastern side. We found great scenery in the Grey Dogs and the Gulf of Corryvreckan before running down the west coast of Jura and through the Sound of Islay into the small harbour of Port Askaig and a sunny lunch at the Port Askaig Hotel (*12).

Most of the fleet then went to Bunnahabhain (try saying that after a few wee drams) Distillery for a guided tour (and tasting) whilst Mike and Kevin went sightseeing to Gigha Island off the west coast of Kintyre (*13) where they encountered the Hebridean Princess, a ‘small’ luxurious cruise ship which is sometimes chartered by the Royal Family for holidays in Scottish waters. The duo also returned to Eilean Mor in the MacCormaig Isles to once again experience the wonderful isolation of this amazing place.

All RIBs safely returned to base at 19.00, weary but full of stories, photos and great experiences after 110 nm of glorious cruising.

Thursday 3rd May

The started with a run through the Falls of Lora beneath the Connell Bridge and on to Ballachulish and Kinlochleven; lunch was had at the Loch Leven Seafood Cafe´ after Trevor in Baby Blue Ray kindly ferried crews ashore to the rickety pier (*14). The fleet then split with Arriba and Seahound spending a glorious afternoon in the sunshine on the patio the Pierhouse Hotel at Port Appin overlooking the Lynn of Lorne and Lismore Island, heaven! (*15) Other RIBs (La Bamba, Baby Blue Ray, and Highlander) cruised to Corpach at the head of Loch Linnhe and walked a (small) part of the Caledonian Canal before returning to join the others at Port Appin. The run back to Oban was slightly tiresome in a strengthening wind and rising sea but ended with a thrilling following sea run into Dunstaffnage.

Dougie and Brian recovered Arriba to trail to our next venue at Holy Loch Marina; John and Annie with Venomous couldn’t start their motorhome, but all was well after Mercedes customer service came to the rescue late at night by driving from Glasgow to identify and fix a faulty starter motor voltage controller. Good stuff!

Friday 4th May

Only Highlander ventured out today in strong winds whilst Bernie and Richard from La Bamba made the most of a hearty breakfast and climbed Garbh Bheinn at 2844 feet and Corbett ( over 2750 ft).

Trevor towed his 4.7m Searider down to Seil Island to join in with the Easdale Rib Rendezvous – a rib gathering organised by one of the locals Tony Hill and Seafari (www.seafari.co.uk/oban/) .

Details of this can be found on their web site http://www.easdaleribrendezvous.org.uk/ .

Again the weather for Trevor’s trip was exceptionally good – but his luck wasn’t, and he ended up with a snapped driveshaft on the Searider’s 21 year old engine. Having omitted to pack a spare driveshaft in his repairs box, Baby Blue Ray had to spend the rest of the BIBOA Scotland cruise on its trailer.

Saturday 5th May

Part of the enjoyment of these Scottish cruises is that the fleet ebbs and flows with folk joining/leaving every few days; today was a major change over as some headed home and others joined for a few days over the Bank Holiday. Whilst some took the highway, Seahound and Hot Lemon took the watery route and cruised 150 nm around the Mull of Kintyre and up into the Clyde after supper in Loch Ranza (*16).

Sunday 6th May

Highlander and Hot Lemon ran up Loch Fyne to Otter Ferry to one of BIBOA’s favourite hostelries, the Oystercatcher (*17) . After lunch, a quick run over to Ardrishaig for photos at the start of the Crinan Canal before a scenic trip along Loch Fyne down to the fishing harbour of West Loch Tarbert with its good pontoons, tea shops and working harbour sights; there were several historic sailing and motor vessels moored alongside, gleaming brasswork and acres of varnish, hmmm ! (*18)

We then cruised gently through the Burnt Isles at the Kyles of Bute, stopping to watch seals basking on the Gantocks just off Dunoon before joining an evening party in Holy Loch Marina aboard Dougie’s motorboat Dawn Shadow; another great day (*19).

Monday 7th May

Having blown his gearbox at Seil Island, Trevor re-joined the RIBs for a slightly rainy voyage to Millport on Great Cumbrae Island at the mouth of the Clyde (*20); we then took a look at the old coal fired lighthouse before cruising past the 19th century replica English village of Kerrycroy on Bute, and then visiting the scenic, and hidden, Caladh Harbour in Loch Riddon. Now came one of the regular highlights of our Scottish trips, a visit to Highlander’s favourite cafe´ the Burnside Bistro in Tignabruich; we’ve been visiting here for more than 15 years and it’s the home of the most gigantic and tasty meringues you’ll ever find, yummee! (*21)

After a tasty lunch we used our helmet visors for a run in light rain down to Rothsay, the ‘capital’ of the island of Bute where we did the tourist bit and paid to inspect the spectacular Victorian marble toilets, truly from a by-gone age. Then back to base with fish and chips from Dunoon.

Tuesday 8th May

This must have been another great day out – so good in fact that we can’t remember where we went, or take any photos! It must have been a Bermuda Triangle day!

Wednesday 9th May

One of our best days… the RIBs ran out into the Firth of Clyde and over to the east side of the Isle of Arran; we took in the iron sheep of Corrie (mooring bollards), Brodick Bay and on past Holy Isle which is a Buddhist retreat centre. Mooring to the stone pier we ‘brunched’ in a fantastic little village before Highlander and Hot Lemon took advantage of the calm seas with Highlander heading off to Sanda Island, off the Mull of Kintyre, and Hot Lemon cruising to Ailsa Craig, a now deserted but fascinating blue-hone granite volcano plug which rock was previously used to make curling stones; we secured to the dilapidated wooden pier and clambered over the old workings whilst taking in the beauty of the blue sky, mirror smooth sea and natural surroundings. Later in the afternoon the two boats came together at Sanda Island where the new owner made them most welcome with tea and refreshments; if you fancy a holiday break with quite a difference have a look at their website (22).

Thursday 10th May

And that was it, today was recover the RIB and trail home for most of us although Peter and his friends in Highlander had a few more days planned on Loch Lomond before heading back to the ferry and Switzerland, now that’s dedication to RIBing.

Links:

*1  Dunstaffnage Marina             www.dunstaffnagemarina.co.uk 

*2 The Wide Mouthed Frog          www.dunstaffnagemarina.co.uk/marina/bar  

*3 Eilean Mor MacCormaig Isles   www.southernhebrides.com/danna-mccormaig-isles

*4 Tayvallich                               www.tayvallich.com

*5 Easdale Island                        www.easdale.org  

*6 Tobermory                              www.tobermory.co.uk

*7 Isle of Eigg                              www.isleofeigg.org

*8 Isle of Muck                            www.isleofmuck.com

*9 Isle of                                     www.isle-of-iona.net

*10 Isle of Ulva                            www.isleofulva.com

*11 Staffa                                    www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staffa

*12 Port                                      www.islayinfo.com/portaskaig

*13 Gigha Island                          www.gigha.org.uk

*14 Loch Leven                           www.lochlevenseafoodcafe.co.uk

*15 Port                                      www.pierhousehotel.co.uk

*16 Loch Ranza                           www.castlekirk.co.uk/lochranza

*17 Otter FerryLoch Fyne             www.otterferry.co.uk

*18 Tarbert Loch Fyne                 www.tarbertlochfyne.com

*19 Holy Loch Marina                   www.holylochmarina.co.uk

*20 Great Cumbrae Island           www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Cumbrae

*21 Burnside Bistro                     www.burnsidebistro.co.uk

*22 Sanda Island                         www.sandaislanddreams.com 

By Mike Deacon

May 2012

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