Out of bed at 4:15am to check the wind forecast I saw that the cloudbase was below 500ft on Goatfell! Not a promising start to the day. Luckily as we got Seabhag ready for launching the sun rose and the cloud began to burn off.
The first stage crew set off from Lamlash slip at 5:32am, just a couple of minutes late. As they headed off towards Kings Cross Point it seemed quite calm in Lamlash Bay, however as they got into open water in Whiting Bay, a strong Easterly wind picked up and they had a really hard slog South to Largybeg and then to Dippin Head. After rounding Dippin Head and catching the tailwind from the East they almost surfed along to Kildonan arriving about 15 minutes early.
The second crew were ready at Kildonan and after a quick changeover were off to Blackwaterfoot. They did have the longest stage at 19.5km, but started off with the Easterly wind behind them so were soon through the Pladda tiderace and away out of sight around Bennan Head. After passing Shannochie they had some shelter from the wind and were able to row the whole stage in exactly three hours.
The third crew arrived on time but the skiff was early so there was a short break on Blackwaterfoot beach. When the stage three crew set off from Blackwaterfoot the wind had turned to the North and they were quite sheltered until rounding Drumadoon when quite a big swell came up. It was another hard slog past King’s Cave up to Tormore, but probably not quite as hard as the first stage crew had in Whiting Bay. Passing Machrie Golf links the swell began to drop away and the second half of the stage was easier.
On arrival in Dougarie we were almost back on schedule and the fourth stage crew were raring to go. The wind had now dropped away to nothing and the water was like glass. This was the second longest stage of the relay at 18km. The road support team had brought a substantial picnic, thanks to Little Rock Cafe, and waited at Pirnmill to gorge themselves whilst the rowers battled North in the building heat. They didn’t have to wait long before Seabhag arrived at the halfway point of the relay and the crew took a well deserved refreshment break, then she was away North again to Lochranza. The road support crew, having nothing better to do, sloped off to the Sandwich Station in Lochranza for coffee. Seabhag arrived in Lochranza 15 minutes ahead of schedule in perfect rowing conditions.
The changeover in Lochranza was at the pontoons rather than the beach, which made for a nice easy transfer. After a minor change of crew for stage five, special thanks go to Dave for stepping in after having just rowed up from Dougarie, Seabhag was off again on the way to Sannox. By this time we were running well ahead and arrangements were made for the last crew to arrive early at Sannox. We are lucky that mobile phones actually work in Lochranza! A short row to the North and Seabhag passed the Cock of Arran to turn South and head for home. Ossian’s Cave, Laggan Cottage and Fallen Rocks were all passed in quick succession and the start of the Measured Mile could be seen a short distance ahead. Only a mile to go guys! Seabhag touched down at Sannox beach in short order, knocking another 10 minutes off the expected arrival time.
The last stage crew were ready and a very quick changeover saw Seabhag setting off on the last stage over an hour early. Heading out from Sannox Beach, Clauchlands Point was clearly visible with Holy Isle just behind. After passing Corrie and Carlo it was time to move away from the shore and head directly to Clauchlands Point. With the RIB in close attendance we set off on a straight course across Brodick Bay. Hamilton Rock was quickly reached and, after another change of cox, we were in Lamlash Bay on the last 3km home.
Seabhag arrived at the Lamlash slip at 8:24pm, a full hour and a half before our anticipated return, to a great reception from the rowers who were all waiting for her. The amazing crews had rowed a total of 93.5km in just under 15 hours including the changeovers. ACRC now holds the World Record for rowing a St. Ayles skiff around Arran, any challengers? 😉
The Arran Coastal Rowing Club raised money for Health in Mind’s Men’s SHARE Project in Midlothian, helping men suffering from depression. £600 has already been raised and if you’d like to contribute please go to the Just Giving page. Thank you.
Particular thanks must go to Gavin and Helen for the use of their RIB as the support boat and producing all the detailed landing point maps which were a great help. Also thanks to Alastair for the use of his van and assisting in the RIB, Angus for assisting in the RIB and his invaluable advice on all sorts of matters and finally Jim, Isobel and Donald for moving people around the island to the changeover points. Finally, thanks to the Master of Caledonian Isles on the 7:20pm sailing for giving way to the skiff and heading out of Brodick on a more northerly course than usual.
Text by John Baraclough
And an enormous thank you from the whole club to John Baraclough, whose tremendous efforts over many months made the day possible and so enjoyable for all. Thank you, John!
The actual route
Videos – thanks to Dave Ingham, Karen Haggarty and Caroline McGinlay.