Monday, 11 June 2007

Out on the water

The recent and ongoing good weather (does it ever rain in the Outer Hebrides?) has led to opportunities for doing things outdoors. The best of which was to have another go in the award-winning Mor Chaluim, which sails out of Berneray harbour.


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So one calm evening, where yet again there isn't a cloud in the sky, we piled into the ex-peat carrying boat, armed with digital cameras, and set off across Bays Loch and out tae sea.


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There is something very pleasing about being out on the open sea, with no motor running, and the boat is skimming along under the pull of the sail and wind only.

It didn't take long before the four of us (thankfully, two being experienced sailors) were a surprising way out to sea. There's nothing out here apart from views of islands, beaches and mountains, and a wide array of markers for the ferry and boats.


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Operation of the sail looks complicated at first, but there's an almost mathematical process in how it is raised, lowered and moved about. When fully up, it presents a surprisingly large amount of surface area for the wind to catch. The sail, which has a touch of the Viking about it (not surprising given that the ancestry of the local islands are Norse), pushes the boat at a heck of a speed. Though this may just seem very fast when you are literally inches from the sea, and the boat was lightly laden, as opposed to carrying a huge stack of peats.


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This is definitely one of the bonuses of living next to a fishing harbour. From my office, and most other rooms in the house, I watch the fishing boats, yachts and other sea-faring craft go in and out, and weave across Bays Loch to avoid scraping on the rocks. That's in addition to a large number of incredibly lazy seals (there are about 30 who wallow on nearby rocks) and frequent pairs of otters. Harbour life; definitely recommend it :-)

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