I’m home from spending last week on the Isle of Mull, most of it being spent on the island, not paddling round it. I had gone to do some homework for guiding I’m doing there later this summer so had lots to occupy me looking at possible routes, launching and landing sites, even if it was from the shore line. But after 3 days of strong south and southwesterly winds a small weather window seemed to be opening mid week, and I was desperate to take my new Tiderace Pace 17 Tour on a maiden voyage.
A trip plan for paddling from Tobermory to Fidden at the South end of the Sound of Iona via the west coast began to come together in my mind and it went something like this. Given Tuesdays overnight forecast it seemed likely that the wind swinging into the Northwest would begin to flatten the seas caused by the previous days strong southerlies.
The forecast indicated the swell would drop from 3 to 1.5 meters and this combined with neap tides made think I would be able to get round Caliach Point at the Northwest corner of Mull, a headland and tidal overfalls I had the utmost respect for.
The weather window was not playing ball with the tide times so it was a case of going for the route when the wind was manageable but knowing the tide would be against wind, on my north south route, or not going at all. I decided to go, push as far south as I could in the lighter winds of Wednesday and sit out the strong winds forecast to arrive over Wed night and for Thursday morning finishing the route Thursday afternoon.
I wanted to find out what the Pace felt like fully packed so loaded her up with 10 times 24 hour food packs, 10 litres of water, Hilleberg Allak tent, all my expedition kit and a first for me, a trolley which was stowed inside the back compartment. At 0730 hrs on Wednesday I left Tobermory and had two 15min breaks that day, one at Port na Ba on the north west coast east of Caliach Point and the next at Traigh Bhan on the south coast of Ulva. I landed on Inch Kenneth at 1630 hrs and made camp leaving on Thursday at mid day when the wind began to drop.
Fidden at the south end of the Sound of Iona was journeys end at 1900 hrs on Thursday.
The boat behaved impeccably in some fairly chunky seas off both Calaich and Treshnish points and again on Thursday when some strong localised winds set about at the headland on the North side of Loch Scridan. The area was somewhat alarming named “The Wilderness” on the OS Sheet. It was my first trip in a kayak with a rudder and I found it very effective for altering heading while also needing little attention when set on and holding a course. All in all I found the Pace Tour to be an excellent load carrying platform, fast, efficient and stable. I did a lot if exploring in and out around the coast line looking for camp sites for use later this summer and covered a distance of 91 kilometres over one long and one shorter days paddle.
A short but sweet maiden voyage for my Pace 17 Tour with a big thanks to the forecast for being accurate and to the sea eagles and otters for their company along the way.