Easdale RIB Rendezvous 2018
With the forecasts swinging wildly throughout the week prior to ERR a number of those registered thought better of this and decided to stay at home. What a weekend of RIBBING was missed.
Most launched or gathered on Friday. Acquaintances old were rekindled and new acquaintances formed. By Saturday morning everyone was ready for the 0930 off.
The most difficult decision was whether to follow the initial route or succumb to the doom and gloom of whatever the poorest weather forecast could predict. This is where all information and knowledge can be of benefit. Having sent Blue Raven and Sula out for a recce south of the Garvellachs Friday pm their comment was sea conditions were rather rough. They had been airborne for most of the time.  By contrast Seafari skippers who were operating only as far west as The Great Race were of the opinion that the sea would be rather lumpy but the event was possible. Hence the dilemma for the organisers.
Saturday 5th May
Decision made Saturday am, it was to be Plan A. Head for Scalasaig, Colonsay and over to Oronsay. It has to be said it was a typical start to any ERR. Seafari’s Celtic Voyager was first away from Easdale Sound hotly pursued by those with smaller boats and powerful engines. There was fairly swift acceptance by all that slow and steady was the order of the day and the fleet speed settled at circa 18 knots. Boats large and small coped admirably on the 26 nautical mile open sea passage to Scalasaig, Colonsay. The jetty and harbour access is sufficient but not for 24 RIBs simultaneously. The yacht berthing to this island’s ferry pier allowed all to tie up alongside for a 90 minute coffee break and quick leg stretch.
Safely mustered at 1300 the fleet headed south to Oronsay hoping to land at Seal Bay. The wind however was not in a favourable direction. It was to be landing site B. This meant heading around the southern tip of the island with its notorious big seas and outlying rocks. This did present the challenge of the day to many. Again it was to be slow and steady with a great deal of attention to the chart plotter.
The proposed landing at site B was a deep inlet which thankfully was well sheltered from those prevailing winds. All that wished to got ashore safely to be greeted by the RSPB Warden Andrew. He apologised he could not offer a guided tour but he had to get across The Strand soonest or Oronsay would be an island once again and grocery supplies were running low. He had to visit the local shop. Many wondered what they had actually landed to view. The approach was really to the RSPB farm however behind the farm buildings stands the old Priory and instantly the cameras were out and everyone accepted the effort of landing was more than made up by this historical site. The sun split the sky. A group gathered on the grass near the Celtic Cross. The human remains from past centuries, the story of the stonemasons who disagreed with the monks from Iona and the sculptures remaining on display a highlight.
Too soon it was back to the RIBs and time to return to sea and the exposed west coat of Colonsay with its outlying reefs and high sea cliffs teeming with black and common guillemots and other seabirds. What a sight and noise. North past Kiloran Bay before taking a direct route back to Easdale via The Garvellaechs.  A thoroughly excellent day of challenging RIB cruising.
Sunday 6th May
The destination had been Loch Buie and Carsaig but following the rather tired and occasionally bruised participants a quieter route was sought. Tobermory was the coffee break destination before heading off to Loch Drom Buidhe (Loch Drambuie to the locals) and Loch Sunart. The latter is an extensive sea loch with many islands but in true style of the event we needed to find somewhere to get ashore. Ardnamurchan, the north shore of Loch Sunart, is the UK’s most westerly peninsula. It has some fantastic oak woods. Salen was the easy get ashore pontoon option but the more adventurous took to Glenbeg Bay, anchored up to visit the new Ardnamurchn Distillery. A splendid walk, Whiskeys sampled, bottles purchased, RIBs reboarded and a relatively calm cruise back to Easdale in the sunshine.  Another splendid day demonstrating the best of Scottish RIB Cruising.
Post ERR
Some had such a great weekend’s cruising they stayed on for a few days to cruise to other local highlights which included Iona, Staffa, Jura and much more. All RIBs are welcome at ERR. It has developed into both a social and practical RIB Cruising weekend.