Updated: May 27, 2022
Awaiting the off. Scottish Islands Peaks Race 2022 on Yemaya.
Team ‘Rustic Haggis’ Chartered Yemaya for the 2022 SIPR. We finished creditably and won a prize for the team with the most life experience having accumulated around 272 years of wisdom
amongst the 5 of us.
Team at pre race brief
The SIPR hadn’t run for a couple of years due to Covid and is a combined running and sailing race starting with a short run around Oban before sailing to Salen, half way up the Sound of Mull, for a run up Ben More, then onto Craighouse for a run up the Paps of Jura before sailing to Lamlash, Arran for a run up Goat Fell with a final sailing leg to Troon to finish. Each run is beyond most mortals being close to marathon length with mountains, mist, night, dodgy magnetic anomalies and navigation thrown in for good measure and the sailing can be feisty because, with racing, one can’t necessarily arrive at places like the Sound of Luing and Mull of Kintyre at favourable times.
As the train drivers had been revolting, Adrian, (navigation) Harry and Edward (runners) arrived
later than anticipated at 2130 and Charles (quietly running everything) and I (chief cook and bottle washer) rudely bundled them off to the club for registration before we gathered in Yemaya’s beautiful and, oh so charterable, cabin for a quiet drink at the Transit marina.
Runners departing for the start
The following morning, after Harry and Edward had sniffed a bit at the paltry amount of porridge on offer and some faffing about we all gathered at the clubhouse for the pre race brief then headed back to Yemaya for some more faffing and heading out to the start area. Seeing a conveniently placed mooring on the outside we picked this up saving ourselves the hassle of avoiding other boats whilst awaiting the return of our runners. 1200 and the off came and the runners went. Runners started arriving back after about half an hour. By the time we had picked ours up we were were not necessarily in the lead (all other boats having already set off). We had light winds initially and after we’d exited the harbour began to overtake a few others. We went too close to Lady Rock where a strong adverse current was in evidence but then bore away from it and, having no spinnaker, sailed with the pole up and the genoa goosewinged whenever possible. About a mile from Salen the wind died and some rowing saw us pass Taeping, a clipper 60 whose paddling seemed less efficient than our mighty efforts with 8ft dinghy oars.
Some rowing into Salen
Arriving at Salen with the dinghy prematurely deployed some pandemonium ensued but the runners managed away at almost the appropriate moment with Charles providing motive power whilst Adrian and I anchored. Harry was nursing a leg injury and was trying to not push himself too hard so as not to conk out before the end of the race so was estimating 6-7 hours on Ben More.
At anchor Salen
Once anchored we sailors enjoyed a large venison pie with mash and broccoli and a nice claret and managed some sleep. Thinking about the pick up there was room for error with other boats dodging around looking for runners in the dark. There was quite a wind blowing so getting close to the beach was good whilst running aground less so. We opted for putting on tri, anchor and steaming lights to try to make our boat look different to the others for Charles, our rower, and
gave him a red flashing light so we could spot him. By the time we came to pick them up there were only 2 or 3 other boats in the area and the pick up went without trouble, though I suspect I was closer to the beach than I’d intended. With the runners tucking into re heated venison pie we sailors had a good reach down the sound before heading out into the Firth of Lorne for a beat to the narrows at Luing. I was keen to be around for these so went to bed for a couple of hours leaving Yemaya in Charles and Adrian’s capable hands. We arrived, after a couple of tacks at the Sound of Luing with the tide just turning against us at around 0400. The tide here can run at 5 to 6 knots so having a full foul tide is not so good. We managed to sneak through, overtaking a Pogo 36 as we did. I believe that we were the last through on this tide with others getting stuck for some hours.
The Sailing team
From here we had a beat down to Craighouse in a SWly wind. We came closer than intended to being sucked into the Corryvreckan when the wind went light for a time and we, whilst sailing South at 2 knots through the water were being swept NW at 2 knots over the ground, however the wind picked up again and embarrassment avoided. Bacon sarnies fuelled the sailors.
With an increasing wind and sea and with the runners having been brought up from their slumbers earlier than they had expected, gallons of porridge were made and they tucked into this as a pre breakfast snackette. Edward was starting to look a little green around the gills at this stage and soon he decided the porridge would be better given to Davey Jones, this was achieved whilst Charles hung onto his legs to reduce slithering. Getting close to Craighouse with a good force 5 blowing Charles ensured that we’d thought of a suitable plan for arrival and it was decided that unless a mooring was looking attractive we’d go to anchor under sail and let Edward have time to refuel for a bit before dashing him ashore for the next run. An attractive mooring did present itself so we handily put ourselves on that with hardly any shouting ‘no, don’t pick it up, we’re going too fast’ luckily Charles and Adrian ignored me, our speed was fine and the mooring captured and sails dropped.
Edward was meanwhile refuelling and within a short time Charles had them rowed ashore and off they went.
`Harry on Jura, I think!
After catching some zs the sailors had a nourishing Haggis and neaps dinner with some fine Jura malt and this was stuck into the oven for the runners who we had heard were nearly back. They texted with a request for for fried eggs too, just to test us. Once Charles had radioed to say he had the runners, the eggs were put on, the mainsail raised and soon the runners were tucking into dinner whilst Adrian backed the genoa and we sailed slowly out into the sound of Jura with a misty island astern and Edward, memorably, performing ‘Address to a Haggis’. some boats, appeared becalmed ahead of us.
We avoided and any becalmingness and overtook them to windward. This was pleasing. We had a beautiful sunset sail, to windward trying to head for the Mull of Kintyre but not even making Gigha with a foul wind and tide.
Jura looking atmospheric
The wind increased, we put in a reef, we carried on beating South, the fair tide appeared to make no difference and we went closer inshore at Macrahanish in a desperate attempt to eek some more benefit from the tide. Heading out again with Rathlin on the nose another boat appeared from nowhere and we followed her to the separation scheme before tacking to make it around the Mull. By this time the wind was fairly enthusiastic and we had our toe rail constantly in the water but Yemaya took it in her stride straining at the leash without complaint, she is a very comfortable boat in the breeze / sea and she was as happy as any of us. The other boat turned out to be Bayonet and she’d ended up on our port quarter after we’d tacked, heading roughly for Sanda, passing about a mile South of the cliffs at the end of the Mull. The Mull of Kintyre light, that memorable light, duly disappeared behind the cliffs which in my experience normally meant the worst of the tidal swirls were over but soon the wind died and we ended up being sucked back out to the West again on a foul tide. This didn’t look good and I thought that a cup of tea might make matters better. With the kettle boiled a breeze duly picked up from the South. I suspected that the wind, being blown up the cliffs a mile to the North was leaving sea level just before arriving at us and this was why we had light winds, we came to starboard as much as possible and worked our way further offshore meanwhile in the banging and slatting of little wind Bayonet had snuck ahead of us. She opted for a spinnaker at this stage as the wind had veered a bit but she didn’t come further offshore. For whatever reason, we kept a fine breeze and Bayonet backed and filled in a rummelly sea going nowhere. We went outside Sanda, she inside and we didn’t see her again until Lamlash where she arrived about half an hour after us. We had a fine reach and broad reach up to Lamlash with a goosewinged poled out set up.
We put the runners off at Lamlash before having 5 attempts at picking up a mooring. This wasn’t working well because the buoy had no pick up, just a shackle, and our freeboard made if difficult to reach. Eventually we made it and settled down for the afternoon. We sailors had lunch and a snooze. The Yellow brick tracker that we were carrying and the runners had taken up Goat Fell now told us that they were back in town, a bit ahead of schedule, Charles rowed ashore and Adrian and I dodged in and out of moorings for some time waiting for them to appear.
The Runners Harry and Edward
It turned out to be a false alarm and they were still some time before arriving but, eventually arrive they did and were bundled aboard all happy and smiling at having achieved a remarkable feat. We had a splendid reach back to Troon with Lasagne in the oven, mostly, whilst a line squall greeted us just off Troon causing us to reef before the wind died right back causing us to unreef again. In the outer harbour the dinghy with Charles and Edward was dispatched to the finish line whilst the rest of us downed sails, prepared lines fenders etc. and went to our berth.
Serendipidous rainbow after finishing
A team Malt was drunk, lasagne and salad, consumed in our only team meal and we retired to the pub for a convivial drink with some other competitors.
Twice assembled Lasagne
The race is a fantastic event, very well organised and huge thanks to all the organisers, marshalls and safety teams without whom it would not happen.