Jura circumnavigation advice.^

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Hamish
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Jura circumnavigation advice.^

Post by Hamish » Sun May 25, 2008 1:00 pm

Excuse the lazy questions but....

Circumnavigating Jura; most people seem to go clockwise. Would there be any reason that going anticlockwise would be better or worse? The reason I was wondering because if you set off with settled weather you could go through the Corryvreckan and down the exposed side knowing you were to have good weather.

Any advice on the practicalities of paddling south from the west coast of Scarba down to Jura across the mouth of the Corryvreckan would also be appreciated.

Thanks

Hamish

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Post by Chris Bolton » Sun May 25, 2008 4:20 pm

We went clockwise, but in different circumstances all our reasons could work the other way:

- As you say, a good forecast suggests anticlockwise. We had a bad forecast, so went clockwise (starting from L Melfort) and hoped for improvement.

- The tides for the middle of the trip were running West in the sound of Islay at the right time of day.

- Doing the West coast last meant we had a better idea of how much time we had left, so could enjoy the good bits more and take time to go into W Loch Tarbet, etc.

Crossing the Corrie from Scarba, I did it many years ago and it was no problem, but I don't remember the tide. I'd guess slack, or the start of the ebb would be best, and keep out West if you want to go down the coast.

Chris

PS - off topic but I've just done it - hitting control+W when you meant to type shift+W closes Firefox without warning and you have to retype your whole post.

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Post by Sgian Dubh » Sun May 25, 2008 8:04 pm

Anti-clockwise facing North or South?

Sorry - couldn't resist :o)
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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Mon May 26, 2008 12:07 pm

I'd strongly advise against trying to cross the Corry on anything other than slack water (such as it is) or the very start of the ebb unless you want to end up in it.

Mike.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue May 27, 2008 9:25 pm

We were heading anticlockwise a couple of years ago but strong westerlies mutilated our plans.

Confirm the below with the admiralty pilot.
We paddled the east side of Scarba, arriving at the last headland just before LW (predicted), based on roughly 20 mins of slack and approx 1km crossing. In reality slack is a changeover period and nowhere is really totally slack, it should still be ebbing slightly as you kick off on a ferry glide, using transits. The waves in the race you are heading for will probably die down before you get there, this is a clue that it has switched direction, you need the transits to be sure. There may be eddies along some bits of the Jura north coast as you reach it, so keep aware of your position. Once you get over half way you should be safe from the whirlpool, but don't hang about! As you paddle out to the west a race builds between the small islands heading SW and can produce some pretty big waves if you are hanging about in the gulf. Watch out for an isolated rock, if you are landing a narrow passage on the inside goes but requires confidence, the outside route requires a good paddle out to sea apparently (500m or more) or you can end up back on the rock before you know it.

If you were going from West Scarba to West Jura, check the Pilot but the whirlpool will have eased or maybe disappeared by the end of the flood and the great race should have calmed down a bit. It might then be possible to make a dash from the eddy and cross before the inexorable draw into the gulf sucks you in There are possible landing places both sides of the northern most point if you don't quite make it and need the start of the next flood to complete. You could also do it at the end of the ebb same as we did, again check if the whirlpool will be active at your required kick off time and how soon the great race comes on line. In one respect it is safer because you won't be accidentally sucked into the whirlpool, but in another if the great race builds quickly, note that it can extend for 3 miles out to sea - either your ferry glide will leave you 3 miles out at the tail of a big eddy, or you will have to bail out, run the race and visit the Garvellachs instead. Instinct tells me that you can make it accross the race before it builds, but note the other races and directions that come and go - that SW race between the small islands might stop you getting into the coast for a couple of km, possibly preventing you getting into a couple of bays and making you go further before stopping. Did I mention how big the waves in the great race looked from the top of Jura at mid-flood? Must have been at least 20 feet and breaking, mind you, I had hit an 8' green wave in the little race a couple of hours earlier...

The western end of the gulf is wider than the eastern, our route was not chosen at random and is probably the easiest way out to the west coast (shortest crossing, close to land most of the time).

Remember the west coast is exposed, you will want a settled forecast for a few days ahead. We didn't get it and crossed back through on the start of the ebb and mooched down the east coast instead (40 miles in one day, you get great tidal assistance) - the Corry was much smoother on the start of the ebb, but we didn't linger to see how it built up. I seem to recall the tides along the west coast once clear of the sounds are only about 1/2 knot, maybe 1 knot, still worth going with.

Also don't forget you need to work the tide at the sound of Islay into your favour. Get it right, and I'm told you can paddle in, through, and round to probably Craighouse in one moderate day, get it wrong and you probably won't make any progress against it.

Whatever you choose, judge your speed accurately, too fast or too slow might cause you to go out of your way and bite off more than is necessary. And then make sure people understand the importance of maintaining that pace all the way once they have left the eddy - there is no turning back and stopping is highly inadvisable.

Of course my experience is on Springs against a strong westerly, I'd love to back and get more experience in different conditions - please bear that in mind when reading my notes - I've only been once each way and any or all of the above could be wrong, or at least different with the tide and wind you get.

Jim

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tpage
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Post by tpage » Thu May 29, 2008 12:30 pm

Just time it with the tides. You'll get a fantastic push in the Sound of JURA AND SOUND OF ISLAY. Tides weaken alot on the West Coast of Jura.
We did this trip from Carsaig on the mainland down the SOund of Jura, through the Sound of Islay an on up to West Loch Tarbet in one day all with tidal assistance- worked out that it gave us 20 of the 66km paddled that day. I would also say that if in any doubt it would be safer to transit the corry from West to East along the coast of Jura. Enjoy- it really is a magical Island. Watch out for the ticks!

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu May 29, 2008 4:00 pm

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The west coast of Jura is magnificent. Don't miss out West Loch Tarbert and its raised beaches.

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Make sure you know where you are going before you enter the Corryvreckan.

Douglas

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Helen M
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Post by Helen M » Sat May 31, 2008 8:52 pm

Make sure you know where you are going before you enter the Corryvreckan.


Ummm - Yep - going straight across is NOT a good move unless you know what you are doing! Me! I'd be 'sneaking'! But then I am a scaredy cat.

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Post by Skerryvore » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:33 am

"Scotch on the Rocks" bay of Pigs, Gulf of Corry
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______________Too much of this may cause Zig-Zag course!
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Hamish
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Post by Hamish » Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:53 am

Thanks for the help and advice.

In the end we paddled south from Kilmory at the mouth of Loch Sween, round the bottom of Jura and up to the mouth of West Loch Tarbert. We then had a bad forcast so opted for paddling up the Loch and portaging over to the east coast.... It turned out that the day was good so we could have continued up the west coast but the forecasts were all over the place that day.

Anyway, when on the east side of the island we paddled up to the north and camped before going through the Corryvreckan and back down the West coast to camp back at West Loch Tarbert. We paddled home the next day via the Sound of Isla finishing with a very good crossing from the southern tip of Jura back to Kilmory.

So we paddled Jura on a figure of eight! We had a brilliant week there- it is a really fantastic island. The Corryvreckan was fine even though we were on springs.

Hamish

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Post by Skerryvore » Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:05 am

Hi Hamish sounds a great trip, did you have trolleys with you or just empty and carry the boats? How long does this portaging take ?
I went round last weekend without having time to paddle Loch tarbet so will return and do next time, and would like to try portage this way.The west coast is truly a wilderness experience with great raised beaches and deer watching down on you, Eagles and Whales seen.
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Hamish
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Post by Hamish » Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:55 am

There were five of us. We had three trolleys (Ekla) and did it in two trips. Plastic boats full and the composites half full with the rest in a big dry bag with rucsac straps. I think you could empty and carry but it is a fairly long way - about 1.5 kms I guess. The Loch is worth exploring but the best bits are, in my opinion, in the seaward half of the loch. The narrows are nice too. Those raised beaches are fantastic.

By way of comparison, if you have done the Loch Nevis to Loch Morar portage near Mallaig, you would find this one easier. I think Douglas Wilcox has photos and info on the portage on his blog.

Hamish

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Post by richard b » Sun Jun 08, 2008 6:59 pm

Hi Hamish,

Can you give a bit more detail about passing through the Corryvreckan? Did you just wait for high/low tide and nose your way along the shore? I'm thinking of paddling around Jura in August and that's the part I'm least clear about.

Cheers,

Richard

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Jun 08, 2008 7:29 pm

Image
The portage is 2km with 37m of ascent. We took 1 hour 15 mins but that included having to return to the summit to rescue a boat because its Ekla trolley had broken.

The Corryvreckan can be benign, if there is no wind, but otherwise can be the place to meet your doom! A useful skill (if going against the end of a tide) is to be able to enter a tidal flow coming round a headland at a very high angle, as near parallel to the flow as you can get. If you just stick your bow in at 45 degrees the tide will grab you and carry you back from whence you came!

Great trip. More about the Corryvreckan here.

Douglas

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 08, 2008 7:34 pm

I have read so much about the horrors of the Corryvreckan ... yet have never yet seen any natural tidal rapid on the sea that can't be paddled through with ease, in good weather.

Seriously ... what exactly is there? What will happen to me if I pick spring tides and paddle through the middle at the peak?
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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:54 pm

Given no swell and no wind it will just be a big easy river but add in these two variables and you have a very unpredictable mixture including freak waves in certain locations.

Mike Murray's (he probably knowws the Corryvreckan as well as anyone) website has some good info here and also here.

His DVD has footage of conditions in the Corryvreckan which I hope never to meet at sea.

I approach the Corryvreckan with great deal of respect and a dry mouth.

Douglas

Hamish
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Post by Hamish » Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:17 pm

Can you give a bit more detail about passing through the Corryvreckan? Did you just wait for high/low tide and nose your way along the shore? I'm thinking of paddling around Jura in August and that's the part I'm least clear about.
Richard

I have only paddled it this once so am not sure I am best placed to give advice! However... we paddled it from E to W on a spring. There was only a small swell and no wind. We started a few KMs south about an hour before the west flowing stream was due to begin and followed the back eddy along the Jura side until it ran out at Carraig Mhor- at the narrowest part. We then sat in the last of the eddy until the flow eased and when we felt we could make headway, we went for it and paddled through without any problems.

I think that this worked well but it would have been a different matter if there had been more swell as the eddy would have been a difficult place to hang out. Sitting the eddy was great as you could watch the water running past and see it slowing as the change over approached. There was no slack water as far as I could see.

I am no expert paddler and I would be reluctant to mess about there in big swell or wind. It was worth doing though as the paddle down the NW coast was fantastic.

Hope that helps

Hamish

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Post by richard b » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:44 pm

Thanks Hamish,

Richard

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:50 pm

Mark R wrote:I have read so much about the horrors of the Corryvreckan ... yet have never yet seen any natural tidal rapid on the sea that can't be paddled through with ease, in good weather.
Quite so, which is why it is important to read the pilotage info so you can determine when those conditions will be :-)
When we went through eastbound at the start of the ebb with just a light tailwind, it was moving at a good rate, but flat calm.
Mark R wrote:Seriously ... what exactly is there? What will happen to me if I pick spring tides and paddle through the middle at the peak?
For you?
Assuming you do it on peak flood, I _think_ the whirlpool will barely be whirling, or at least not sucking just whirling so you can probably stay left of it or slingshot off it without too much trouble. After that you have 3 miles of heavy grade 5+ (you might backloop a couple of times)* before breaking out at at the Garvellachs probably about 20 minutes after you entered the gulf. I believe it has been done, and I know at least one person who wants to do it (or may have by now).

Like so much in kayaking it depends on the individual, reading the above may scare the bejesus out of most people, but you would probably read it as a good challenge? It will probably be worse than Morecambe bay, but over much more quickly.

*The above based on our transit against F5 and later view from the clifftop at approx. mid flood. I think someone posted video footage from the clifftop here somewhere - you can see a medium sized power boat playing around the northern eddyline some of the time, I definitely posted a panoramic photo, but the distance is hard to gauge.

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Post by tpage » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:58 pm

Mark R wrote:I have read so much about the horrors of the Corryvreckan ... yet have never yet seen any natural tidal rapid on the sea that can't be paddled through with ease, in good weather.

Seriously ... what exactly is there? What will happen to me if I pick spring tides and paddle through the middle at the peak?

Probably no tougher than your average Dorset tide race, just less ice cream shops in the vicinity. You'll be fine. :-)
Tony

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Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:27 pm

tpage wrote:Dorset
This Dorset thing seems to be quite a big deal for you. You really should come down and enjoy our coast sometime, see if there really is life outside Scotland.


BTW As it happens, we do have a number of significant tide races ...
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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:31 pm

Jim wrote:After that you have 3 miles of heavy grade 5+ (you might backloop a couple of times)
Good heavens, that's amazing!
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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:52 pm

Jim wrote: I think someone posted video footage from the clifftop here somewhere - you can see a medium sized power boat playing around the northern eddyline some of the time, I definitely posted a panoramic photo, but the distance is hard to gauge.
That'll be this then - the video takes a while to load, but gives an interesting perspective of the place.

I think the boat might be Farsein - which isn't exactly small - those waves are big tho.

I've love to make that run thro east to west in big lumpy seas, with a nice big power boat to haul me out of the water and take me home afterwards!

Mike

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Post by Helen M » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:10 pm

[quote="MikeB

I've love to make that run thro east to west in big lumpy seas, with a nice big power boat to haul me out of the water and take me home afterwards!

Mike[/quote]

We'd be right there with you Mike - ummm - on the big boat videoing it all! lol

H - x

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Post by Jim » Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:16 pm

tpage wrote:Probably no tougher than your average Dorset tide race, just less ice cream shops in the vicinity. You'll be fine. :-)
Tony
If you run Portland Bill East to West you would have a hell of a trip to the ice cream shop....

The difficulty with the Corry is getting the tide to take you to the ice cream shop - probably if you transit on the ebb you could stay left through Dorus Mor and get to the Crinan Hotel, or the cafe next to the lock for ice cream. On the flood you would need to bypass the Corry and get into the sound of Luing for a fast ride up to the pub/ice cream shop at Easdale. Neither are especially far, certainly not in terms of time to get there if you use the tide. Craighouse is much further but easily manageable in a day with the tide.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:34 pm

Jim wrote:If you run Portland Bill East to West you would have a hell of a trip to the ice cream shop....
On that theme ... did anyone else notice that the 'Our Journey 2008' team got turned back at Portland this weekend?
http://ourjourney.co.za/journey_diary/?p=33
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tpage
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Post by tpage » Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:23 am

Mark R wrote:
tpage wrote:Dorset
This Dorset thing seems to be quite a big deal for you. You really should come down and enjoy our coast sometime, see if there really is life outside Scotland.


BTW As it happens, we do have a number of significant tide races ...
Sorry Sir, I promise to refrain from such schoolboy humour in future...Dorset is indeed very nice, but Cornwall is even better.


http://southwestseakayaking.co.uk/2007/ ... nal-round/

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Post by Ando » Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:05 pm

Coming from primarily a river paddling background I'm intrigued by the mystery and sense of awe which seems to surround discusions of, or information relating to, the Corryvreckan.

Alot of the desciptions seem to talk of 'massive' waves. Are these really a problem? Surely 'stopper' type features which will retain and not allow escape either side are much more of an issue?

Anyone got a picture/ vid which really shows things kicking off?

I guess I'm echoing Mark R's question on this.

Thanks!

Ando

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Post by MikeB » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:21 pm

MikeB wrote:
Jim wrote: I think someone posted video footage from the clifftop here somewhere - you can see a medium sized power boat playing around the northern eddyline some of the time, I definitely posted a panoramic photo, but the distance is hard to gauge.
That'll be this then - the video takes a while to load, but gives an interesting perspective of the place.
If you find yourself on the outside of the Corry, in massive great seas, and with nowhere to go as you can't paddle against the flow, and the inabilty to make a landfall, then I'd guess the sense of awe might become apparant.

Therein lies the potential problem - once you're out there in those conditions, that's it - you can't just land and have a cup of tea.

Mike.

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Post by Mark R » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:10 pm

Ando wrote:I guess I'm echoing Mark R's question on this.
I'm getting more mystified about the Corryvreckan rather than less, through this thread. Jim's said it's a long Grade 5+ rapid ...

Image

Others have said it's a big easy river ...

Image

So ... assuming no swell or wind ... which one is it?
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