2014 Event Report

Easdale RIB Rendezvous

As the meeting day drew closer the weather forecast steadily
improved. For many arriving Friday there would have been thoughts of 2013 as
both sea and cloud looked angry. The waves were short, sharp with a white
crests.  RIBs were safely tied up in
Easdale’s sheltered harbour. The local community trust Eilean Eisdeal had once
again generously waived charges for the weekend.

Acquaintances renewed and new faces to greet overnight the
heavens opened and bilge pumps worked overtime. The morning started heavily overcast
but the wind had gone and the forecast was for the sun to break out.

By 0930 the group had been joined by a number of local RIBs
and by 0940 the fleet was ‘off’ By 0940 all boats were on stop as a large pod
of Bottlenose Dolphin blocked the route ahead. Scotland has strict regulations
for wildlife harassment and a classic boat management/ wildlife experience was
developing. Thanks to everyone for being so understanding. Reducing speed to 4
knots and keeping a straight course allows the dolphin to engage at their
discretion. One has to avoid any situations of boats herding the dolphin by
encircling them. What a display for us all.

At this point there was a quick count up. We had gathered 25
RIBs, some (Nigel) had left early. There was a rear guard group of RIBs so we
estimate there were 30 plus RIBs out with us for the day. Next stop was West
Loch Tarbert, Jura via the Gulf of Corryvreckan. The run down the west side of
Jura is always spectacular scenery with its barren landscape of rock pinnacles,
raised beaches and sparse vegetation. West Loch Tarbert is an ideal refuge.
Entering the main Loch is fairly straight forward. Entering the Upper Loch via
the first set of narrows requires careful navigation. A coffee stop was called
for in spectacular scenery with the Paps of Jura as a backdrop.

Then the navigational challenge to take the very narrow
channel of approximately 1 mile via 7 sets of transits to the inner loch. Some
of the early boats who hadn’t done sufficient homework didn’t realise such a channel
existed. Some skippers didn’t fancy the challenge. One of the most
disconcerting aspects of entering the narrows is your chart plotter clearly
shows one going over the shore some 50+m to the east. At noon Seafari’s 11m
cabin RIB escorted a small fleet through the narrows to the Inner Loch Tarbert
for a lunch stop.

On returning down the narrows the circumnavigation
continued. Some tried to turn the event into a distillery tour but Bunnahabhain
and Caol Ila only offer tours Monday to Friday. Port Askaig’s hotel made amends
before heading on to Craighouse, Jura where the Jura Distillery made a few quick
sales as did the Craighouse Hotel. By 1800 RIBs were back at Easdale.

Sunday was to dawn fair again. The usual plan is to visit an
island locally and Belnahua, the most remote of the 4 Scottish Slate Islands.
Abandoned during the First World War the ruins indicate the harsh life of a
slate quarries in the 19
th century. An added bonus was to meet and
chat to the island’s owners who were out working on one of the old ruins.

Back at Easdale for a late lunch the rain arrived.
Recovering boats in the rain did not spoil what had been an excellent weekend
RIB Experience. Thanks to all who came from far and wide. We hope you enjoyed
yourselves and look forwards to seeing you at Easdale throughout the season. Do
come back, stay for a week. We would be grateful if you would help us promote
Easdale as a RIB friendly tourism destination/centre for a holiday

Team ERR