Monday, 2 May 2016

Small sails and tall sails on the west coast of Jura

From Shian Bay we continued south along the coast towards the mouth of Loch Tarbert, the large west-facing sea loch which almost bisects the island of Jura

The light breeze helped us along a coast full of interest

Towards Rubh an t-Sailein (point of the inlet) at the northern side of the mouth of Loch Tarbert the hills recede and the shoreline is littered with remnant basalt dykes.  From a distance these looked like chortens built on a huge scale.

Ahead, the Paps of Jura were coming into view and would be our companions for the next two days.  There's a bothy near the point but it was still early and we had a different destination in mind. And anyway, the afternoon sun was high and warm, the sea sparkling.......

......and occasionally stunning aquamarine shades as variety to the blue.  What a place this was to sea kayak!

We passed small beaches squezzed between the walls of dry coves; pretty much inaccessible from the landward side.

Ours were not the only sails in use off Jura that day, a fine looking tall ship was emerging from the Sound of Islay on the flood tide, making good progress under a minimum of sail. 

She's the "Stavros S. Niarchos", a 60 metre, 635 tonne brig (a two masted sailing ship with square sails on each mast).  She can carry 18 sails with a total sail area of 1,162 square metres - slightly more area than our 0.8 square metre Flat Earth Kayak Sails!

The Stavros Niarchos is owned and operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust, and is used for sail training and also for voyages by fare-paying crew which help to subsidise the work of the trust.  Despite her very traditional looks, Stavros Niarchos is a comparatively new vessel, being completed and entering service in 2000.  She made a really fine sight on a sparkling sea against the Islay shore.

As we crossed the mouth of Loch Tarbert we could look over our shoulders to a huge raised beach on the northern shore of the outer loch.  We could clearly see what the coastline must have looked like at the end of the last Ice Age with pebble beaches and rocky inlets.

Once across the entrance to Loch Tarbert we could slow our pace.  The flood tide which had carried the Stavros Niarchos through the Sound of Islay had some time to run, and we planned to use the ebb to speed our own passage once the tide turned.  Time for a leg stretch on a little sandy beach which would be a stand-out spot in many places, but here on the coast of Jura was just one of many glorious beaches.

We'd enjoyed a superb paddle already, and it was still only early afternoon - explored the wild and lonely NW coast of Jura in superb weather; and if anything the features on this wonderful coast were about to get even better!


  1. It's easy to "feel" the movement of water in those pics, Ian. Simply lovely. We sometimes see the tall ships in Victoria harbour, and once awoke to one that had anchored in the cove where we were camping on Prevost Island (Canadian Southern Gulf Islands). The students came pouring ashore, in tiny boats, like young pirates! Warm wishes.

    1. Hi D & J, the water was certainly moving later on that day.... :o) Crewing a tall ship really must be a great life experience for the students

      Warm wishes

  2. Beautiful series, Ian! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    1. Thank you Linda, I'm glad you enjoyed them - more to come soon :o)

      Kind regards

  3. Hello Ian

    I´m about to refit my SeaDog sail on a new kayak (NorthShore Polar) and was wondering if there is any advantage/disadvantage in fixing the two side strays in the deck seem og just above it?, I can see that yours and Douglas is fixed this way, previously on the Xcite I had two deck rope fittings to do the fixation, but on the Polar this isn't an option as there will be to short distance to the mast.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Heine, apologies for the delay in responding- we've been away paddling :o)

      Douglas has probably fitted sails to more kayaks than anybody in the northern hemisphere and would be much better able to comment - I've asked him for his thoughts.....

      Best Regards


    2. Hello Heine, Ian has asked me to reply. I have not fitted a SeaDog sail but if it is the 1 batten version you have it is an almost identical copy of the Flat Earth sail. I have successfully fitted a Flat Earth sail to a friend's NS Polar and it sails very successfully. The Polar foredeck is quite thin/flexible and the mast foot is best fitted just in front of the compass recess which is the stiffest part of the deck. If your deck has any flex do not hesitate to reinforce it with a 10cm wide GRP bridge running across and under the deck from one seam to the other. To attach the side stays I now use surface deck line mounts with retaining bolts drilled through the seam of the kayak. See lateral photos of my red decked Cetus mv in Ian's photos above. Note I use two back stays instead of one. The best position for the side stays is at right angles to the mast foot so that you can draw a straight line between side stays and mast foot. The above mast foot position gives a good hull width for the side stays to offer support, fixes the foot in the strongest stiffest part of the fore deck, good sailing balance and allows you to easily fold the sail and retain it on deck in windy weather. However, it does overlap the cockpit. Some purists mount it further forward so it does not overlap the cockpit but you loose all the advantages above. More details of kayak paddle sailing on my blog:

      Have fun,
      Douglas :o)

    3. Hello Ian and Douglas I am very thankful for your help and advice, my SeaDog sail mast setup is similar to at FlatEarth CodeZero. I will change the setup to two back strays and do the mount as described.
      I will make an update on my own blog once I have mounted the sail again.
      Best regards.