Mull of Galloway

Day 69 – Port Logan to Isle of Whithorn – 28th July – 28.7 nm

Another late finish is followed, all too soon, by another early start. The forecast is not ideal for the Isle of Man crossing so I'm going to procrastinate a little longer, something I'm very good at – when I can be arsed that is.

So the plan means an early start to round the Mull of Galloway at slack, wait there for the tide and then cross Luce Bay to finish the day at Whithorn. This will give either a shorter crossing to the IOM tomorrow, or be the first leg of the Irish Sea the-long-way-around.

The rain finally stops as I head out of Port Logan, the wind is north-ish and there is no swell, life could be worse - an easy start to the day. I follow the cliffs south-ward, while the rather accommodating flow means I get a 6 kts+ escalator to the end.

As I cruise MOG-ward, I grow slightly more nervous with each paddle stroke. The conditions are good and I'm (fairly) confident in my plan and the timings, but still, it’s hard not to let reputation have an effect once again.

Before I go around the corner I take a brief visit into West Tarbert, just so I can see where the odd sneaky portage has taken place over the years.

I've been on the water for an hour and a half when I round the end, the plan works and all is calm. Once again reputation doesn't, well, live up to the reputation somehow.  Even so, it’s a bit of a relief as the Mull of Galloway is ticked off the list too. 

Life on the north side of cliffs is a little breezy, but no hassle and I have an easy landing at East Tarbert, to the intrigue of the curious cows. It’s 07:00 as the boat touches the beach.

The next 7 ½ hrs is divided between the Visitor Centre cafe and snoozing in the van.  The forecast is for 15 mph from the North but there is a difference of opinion between the forecasts, I have a feeling that something is brewing, it might be worth waiting a while to watch for any developments.

Eventually it’s time to get on again and I head out from East Tarbert, the cows come down to see me off. The N breeze is there as forecast, but there seems to be a hint of swell coming around the end now and heading eastwards. I hope the Mull will shelter me from the worst of it.

Of course, it doesn't.

7 nm out now and I reach the rather appropriately named Scares. The wind has strengthened from the north and the swell has grown as I move further from the shelter of the headland. There’s probably 60 degrees or so between the swell and the chop waves and it’s all getting to be a bit of a handful. I'm tired and not really enjoying life too much.

As the 3 hr mark ticks by I run past Burrow Head, with 7 kts showing on the GPS. Normally this would put a smile on my face but I'm concerned that there will be an eddy behind the headland; I'm worried how this will affect the swell.

I cross the eddy line and the speed swiftly drops down to 4 kts, and then below as I start to work against the flow.  The swell lifts as it encounters the flow too. I look over to the side to see if I can go around, but life doesn't look too pleasant out there either. Here at least the headland shelters me from the wind, there is no chop now. Even so it’s all rather intimidating; I sneak through the rocks to avoid the worst of the waves, timing the gaps to match the swell. It’s a long time coming but finally the bay at Whithorn provides welcome relief, the little harbour is a pleasing sight.

As is the way, the stress and challenge of the day is soon subsumed into the mediocrity of post paddle daily life. The day ends with another scruffy campsite (‘please boil the drinking water’), with strange looks from even stranger people.  We don’t belong.

It’s a little strange how quickly the challenge and sometimes stress of the paddling day quickly morphs back into the 'real' world. Some days it is almost jarring. It’s hard to get excited about anything, emotions flat-line. Life is just one big 'Whatever...'

The GPS shows 28nm, but somehow we don’t seem to have got very far today.