Right now I am slowly recovering from a 2 day sea kayaking trip paddling from Arasaig bay to Eigg, then Muck, around Muck, back to Eigg, across to Rhum and up the coast to Kinloch. All in about 60km, 30km of crossings and about 35km into a head wind!
Myself, John and Craig set off from Arasaig with low cloud and a north-west wind blowing, someone had told me it was going to be sunny and still! After working out that my left-handed paddle was actually a right-handed paddle upside down, we were off on the first crossing to Eigg of 15km. The wind made the paddling more interesting with a constant force 3/4 blowing from about 2 o’clock (20mph to land people). After about an hour in, the enjoyment of the wind in our faces turned to hoping that this wasn’t the weather for the rest of the day. After 2.5 hours we were in the shelter of Eigg harbour. After a quick break to see the sights of the pier we were off again round the south coast, where Craig putting his lasered eyes to good use, spotted a whale jumping, we think a Minke whale.
Getting some shelter from the wind on the southern end of the island we made a break for it to Muck 5km away, covered by low cloud and still more wind. Another hour of paddling into the wind and we were at Port Mor on Muck in the drizzle and wind. We saw the sights again of the harbour building and made the decision to go south round the island to get a break from the north-west wind.
Although the wind had changed and was now blowing west, into our faces. Paddling across the south and west coast of Muck was a battle, with force 4 head wind, and the reflection of the waves off the coast made for a very torrid time. With the swell slightly larger on the west coast we had to go the extra distance around Eilean nan Each on the north-west of Muck where we were all at the end of our energy. With 1km to go to camp I saw Craig a few meters away rising up on a wave above my head and then disappear down the back, only then to be completely covered by the breaking wave over the top of my head.
At 6pm after 8 hours of paddling and 35km later we made camp at Arid nan Uan, with the order of the evening being camp, food, sleep. My over-riding memory of Muck is HVS (hard very salty), with about 40 people on the island it is a very remote place.
Up at 6.30am on Wednesday to find it dry but Rhum and Eigg were nowhere to be seen due to the low cloud. After setting the GPS ‘to Eigg’ we were off again, only this time with a south-westerly wind pushing us along. Each stroke felt half the effort of the day before and the sea didn’t fell like treacle. Within an hour we were at Eigg and another we were in the Bay of Laig on the north-west for a rest. Still with a south-west wind we set off on our last crossing of 8km to Rhum, somewhere to the west. At about halfway across it finally came into view and the wind decreased, so that by the time we were at the coastline it was a mill-pond.
With time on our hands before the 4pm ferry to Mallaig we slowly made our way up the coast and into Kinloch. We had done it, 25km with the wind helping us in 5 hours. A quick change into dry clothes and we were off for tea and cake and a quick sleep.
Off the south tip of Sleat Craig spotted a dolphin cruising past the ferry with great views to the Cuillin, Eigg and Muck, the ferry ride is a trip in itself.