Chapter 4: Aug 5 - Loch Craignish to Loch Spelve

August 5th (Bank Holiday) - Loch Craignish. I omitted to mention that Smab went fishing, that there were two swans seen two miles away and several seals and that while it was still and calm in our anchorage, the sea swirled up the centre of the Loch with considerable force.

We were under way at 7.30 and passing speedily down the loch with or perhaps without the tide we rounded the much castellated and turreted isle of Garreasar, on again, passed between it and Craignish point and then took all the tide up Scarba Sound and through the million eddied swirl to Fladda and making a fast passage were in the entrance to Loch Spelve at 10.30 and should have come to anchor by 11 had we not lost our water in the circulating system. Half an hours expert treatment by the Skipper put this right and we came to our old anchorage in the NW corner at the foot of Strath Choil and the mouth of the Lussa. A waterfall was singing gaily just abeam and the highlanders and other fine cattle were browsing on the saltings by the river's delta.

As a special favour we have 'elevenses', breakfast having occurred in early dawn. Lunch as usual was good and welcome. Further memories of food kept looming from the distant past. Where are the macaroons and mixed biscuits of yester year? Where are the plovers eggs and the caviare?

I put Maureen ashore for a hike. She went up Scuir Dearg, also known as Beinn Varnach, The Limpet, a sizeable and very shapely mountain thousands of feet high. The Basher would think nothing to it, he would do a score of such in a day. Meanwhile I booted across the saltings and sat me down by a pool on the Lussa

By the road to Iona,
I sat on a stone a
Beside a deep pool
In the island of Mull.

Far from home,
By the river's foam
Soft rushing and hushing
With gurgle and glocking
It swirls and it spumes,
And it foams.

Was that salmo ferox,
Or merely a sea trout
That leapt like quicksilver,
Down in the green eddy,
Where Lussa fast flows
To the Spelve?

The east murk has lifted
And south winds blow gifted,
With the scent of the myrtle and bracken;
And pale sunbeams kiss
The dark cheek of Scuir Dearg.

The Ash and the Rowan,
Red Oak and the Hazel,
They listen and whisper
Enchanted like me,
To the call of the curlew
The song of the whaup.

Grimalkin: Are you often taken like that?

Cat: Like what?

Grimalkin: I should take something for it if I were you.

Cat: But you are me. Take a warning; and don't do it again.

I woke up just in time. Smokes were running low. An empty pouch and midges sent me back incontinently. I was marooned. The dinghy was hanging by her painter to Pandora's stern. I recrossed the green saltings with their tidal pools, and gaining the south banks of the loch made my way up a burn to the waterfall. In fact I scrambled up the bed of the torrent, a circumstance my gum boots treated with despisery. The Mate thoughtfully collected me before the rain come down which it did with enthusiasm. It is fascinating to be afloat in a shower. I like to see as many raindrops as possible expending their futile efforts to make a sea loch wetter than it already is.

"Nighean Doon II" came sailing in under two lowers, trysail and jib towing a dinghy. When he had dropped his sails and his anchor about a cable's distance to our eastward, he sculled over in his dinghy and called on Pandora, speiring for an engineer. It was gently explained to him "We have no engineer, we have no tools, we frequent yacht yards". But the Skipper relented on hearing the tale. The lone sailorman had picked up the 'Nighean' up north in Lochinver perhaps and had sailed her a thousand miles on a voyage to the Clyde where he proposed to fish for herring. Yesterday off the Garvellochs his engine had failed him and he had put back into Spelve. 'Nighean' is a fishing yawl with a big boom amidships with nets hanging over it, it has a foc'sle cabin and a shed aft for the engine. The Skipper went off with the intrepid navigator, who wore little side whiskers. They spent a couple of hours wrestling with magneto and timing gear without success, so a tow to Oban was offered and gratefully accepted as well as some tobacco.

Most of the ship's company paid visits to our good friends the McInnes's at Ard a Choil. Catriona now a little over two years old is quite the tallest lady of that age I have ever seen and bonny with all. I took her my sweet ration, which is an acceptable compliment in the remoter parts of Mull. Mr. McInnes had spent the winter reading Macaulay and he also told me about Garnett's Travels in the Highlands about the year 1800. Garnett's account of the herring shoals is quaint. According to him they live and grow under the ice in the Polar regions. They grow fat and when spring and summer comes they make their escape and swim south, but in the high latitudes there lie in wait, first the dogfish who prey on a great number and after them the whales. The herring army as it starts to come south would cover an extent of sea equal to the whole of Scotland. After suffering their depredations in the battles with whales and dogfish the survivors come to the region of the Shetlands where the great shoal divides into two parts; one going down the North Sea and the other down the West Coast as far as the Isle of Man beyond which no more of them were seen. That seems to me a fact of great interest, but it does not explain why there is now never a herring nor a kipper to be seen.

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