In what is becoming a major feature of the marine leisure year in Argyll waters, Easdale is getting ready to welcome all RIB [Rigid Inflatable Boat] owners for the 2013 RIB Rendezvous.
For those who are not familiar with this cruise-in-company event, it is open to RIBs of all sizes. Those attending are responsible for the seaworthiness of their RIB and for the safety of all aboard.
Easdale is just south of Oban and has one of the most sheltered harbours on Scotland’s west coast and the event has a new and updated website here (thanks to Eug at Island Shuttle). They say it’s not the full banana yet but only needs a couple more tweaks – and all the necessary info is there, waiting for you.
The event organisers are asking all those considering attending to register via the website as soon as possible so that they can put the final shape the plans that is best tuned to the likely numbers.
Here is a brief outline of the programme for the 2013 RRev up.
Friday 3rd May 2013
For those arriving ‘early’ there’s a short shakedown cruise to some of the local islands.
Meet at Easdale Postcode PA34 4TB – which takes you to the mainland harbour.
RIBs up to around 6.5m: please organise your boat ready to launch before accessing the beach. Once launched do not tie to the ferry slip, use the beach, end wall of the pier – or better still, head to the harbour at Easdale Island 200m away.
RIBs over 6.5m: we suggest you use the Cuan ferry slipway 2 miles away.
Then there’s an evening ‘gathering at The Oyster Bar. Meals available [1800 – 2100]. Meals also available at The Puffer Bar on Easdale Island [1800 – 2100]. Booking advised for both venues.
Saturday 4th May 2013
This will see a Day Cruise to or around the Isle of Jura, followed by a Rendezvous Supper at The Puffer Bar and Restaurant on Easdale Island. [Late ferries back to 'The Mainland' - 3 min crossing.
There will be early morning launching for those not able to arrive on the Friday. Participants should be able to launch at Cuan until around 09.00.
For those wishing to cruise in company and in the interests of safety the organisers are suggesting RIBs should be grouped (min 3 RIBs) prior to departure.
For safety, they offer RIBs the opportunity to check out prior to departure on Channel 77. Departures from 09.30.
The jaunt to or around Jura
Subject to weather, the intention is to head south from Easdale down the west - Atlantic - side of Jura. Some RIBs will certainly complete a circumnavigation. Some may steep themselves in the remoteness and ruggedness of Loch Tarbert. Some will go positively landside for the attractions of the hotels, coffee shops and whisky distillery.
Always keen to set a challenge, this year the event is offering another navigational challenge - to Inner West Loch Tarbert. So they expect folk to get the chart out now and get a sense of the place – yes, it’s into that basin which virtually cuts Jura in half via the narrow 100m wide channel and with 7 sets of transits. No doddle.
Loch Tarbert is an amazing place - the highest raised beaches in Europe with the Paps of Jura bordering the southern shore. The west side of Jura is littered with deep caves but the west coast of Jura can be very unforgiving in places, so care is required. There are 2 jetties within Loch Tarbert. The event is now approaching the owner for permission to use both.
They expect many participants in the Rendezvous to be awestruck by the remoteness and beauty of this place and, if the weather is good, RIBs will just stay within the confines of the Loch and forego all other options.
The estimated travel time to the entrance of Loch Tarbert from Easdale is 75 mins. There are no facilities here so it’s bring your picnic/BBQ if you intend to spend the day there. In good weather there is nowhere better.
Two choices for ‘supplies and sustenance’ are to head west to the Isle of Colonsay for the Colonsay Hotel, the Pantry café and fuel – as the 2011 event as a whole did - or carry on south, keeping Jura to port. A circumnavigation is around 100 miles so make sure of plenty of fuel and a spare can.
This option brings you to the entrance of the Sound of Islay. You can’t miss it. There's a large lighthouse at the entrance on the Islay side.
It's a personal choice to stop at or pass by the Caol Ila Distillery.
At the ferry port of Port Askaig, in the Sound on the Islay side, there's an inner harbour which takes you to within 100m of both the hotel and petrol station. Face the ferry terminal, keep what appears to be the outer wall to starboard - and just as you think you are about to hit the mainland a narrow entrance will appear.
Next stop is Craighouse, to port and just around the southern tip of Jura. Great entrance but caution – there's a wreck off the southernmost islet and a very shallow rock on the seaward side of the middle of this narrow islet about 200m off.
Tie up at the pontoons. The shop is at the top of the jetty; The Antlers Café/Restaurant across the road, the Hotel 100m to your left near the Jura Distillery which is almost straight ahead.. Petrol is a further 150m away - call at the Hotel..
The March/April issue of RIB International is to carry a detailed article on Jura, which will be great familiarisation with the possibilities..
The organisers of the RIB Rendezvous will send full cruising notes to all those who register to attend, well before the event.
The back up plan
As in previous years with anything exposed to a westerly wind the organisers are aware they need a backup plan.
This year’s back up is to explore the area between Jura and the mainland. Places like Crinan, the MacCormick Isles, Craighouse etc.
Saturday Night at the Puffer Bar
Keren Cafferty of The Puffer will put on a meal – the menu will be emailed to all registering for the Rendezvous.. She is aware that as many may take a BBQ to Loch Tarbert, a different sort of meal will be necessary.
Sunday 5th May 2013
This is a more relaxed day, with a visit to Belnahua – the most remote of the four recognised slate isles.
Providing the wind plays ball, somewhere will be organised for RIBs to tie up easily for people to get ashore. Kedge anchor stuff again.
Some may slip to Crinan for lunch - a circumnavigation of Seil stopping at the Tigh an Truish, or Carsaig on Mull are all also possible.
For those still waiting for Spring, Carsiaig was the setting for the classic 1950’s Michael Powell film 'I know where I’m going'. On a windy night between now and the Rendezvous, why not settle down in front of the fire with a bottle of red wine and watch it.
TIDES are NEAP. Times are Oban
- Friday 3rd May: HW 1346 2.8m, LW 1924 1.4m
- Saturday 4th May: LW 0818 1.5m, HW 1512 2.9m, LW 2050 1.3m
- Sunday 5th May: LW 0928 1.4m, HW 1609 3.0m
Please note changes to Coastguard Areas
Clyde has now closed.
All VHF traffic from the northernmost point of Jura (including the Corryvreckan [photo above] heading north, is now STORNOWAY Coastguard.
All VHF traffic from the north tip of Jura southwards is BELFAST Coastguard.
NOTE for non-sailors who aren’t up for heavy duty walking on Jura but who would like to see the magical and hidden west coast of Jura – there is a way.
CalMac ferries do a weekly return on Wednesdays between Oban, Colonsay, Islay and Kennacraig. This service – because it’s going out to Colonsay, the 0utermost of the Islay/Jura/Colonsay chain, goes round the back of Jura to get there.
These ferries give you the option of doing it both ways in a day, either from Kennacraig or from Port Askaig; of staying over in Islay or in Oban; or of having half a day on Colonsay, if you leave from either Kennacraig or Port Askaig. Seafari Adventures do a round Colonsay trip so if you choose a few hours on Colonsay, this would be an additional fun experience.
Take the CalMac summer schedule ferry out of Kennacraig at 07.45 on Wednesdays, into Port Askaig on Islay at 09.50, leaving for Colonsay at 10.15, arriving there at 11.35, departing again for Oban at 11.45 and arriving there at 14.10.
Or take the summer schedule ferry out of Oban on Wednesday at 15.40, for Colonsay at 17.55, departing there at 18.15 for Port Askaig at 19.25, leaving at 20.15 for Kennacraig and arriving there at 20.10.