Monday, 11 July 2011

Summer storms on the West Coast of Scotland May 2011

We were meant to to be cycling on the Outer Isles but a vicious Atlantic depression was closing on the West Coast of Scotland with damaging winds forecast for the Monday. As a precaution we drove up to Oban and moved Shimshal from her temporary Cardingmel mooring (very open to the south and west) to a mooring tucked in close to the shore in Ardintrave Bay at the north end of Kerrera. As a further precaution we backed up the rope mooring strop with our own chain and then went back to Traighuaine leaving Shimshal  to her own devices. As the wind rose and the pressure fell we went to check on our new boathouse but it is very sturdy and all was secure. At high spring tide with a howling south westerly and intense low pressure we were interested to see just how close the sea came. All was fine.

An hour or two later the wind was gusting past 60 knots and the sea was a maelstrom at the end of the Craignish Peninsula.

By mid afternoon the trees were tumbling and the telegraph poles were snapping as the wind went off the scale. The power went off for 18 hours. The normally sheltered lagoon at Ardfern was a decidedly hostile place for yachts and at least a couple of yachts there dragged their moorings.

At Craobh the sea was breaking over the mole and those yachts that were beam onto the wind were pressed at impossible and damaging angles against the pontoon. One pontoon broke.

By 1600 the wind veered to the north west and began to ease and everyone began to count the cost. 240 boats damaged on the West Coast of Scotland with numerous boats dragged or broken from the moorings and dumped on the rocks. Shimshal was unscathed but her near neighbour, the illustrious Drum, broke her moorings and had to be towed off the rocks twice in the midst of the maelstrom. The boats near the Cardingmell moorings had been thrashed with several on the rocks and others with ripped out genoas. Kilmelford had seen the strongest storms in living memory and several boats lay stricken and sinking having broken their moorings and then been holed.

A storm to remember that left the spring trees scorched and autumnal after being seared by the salt laden storm force winds. We never got on our bikes once that week.

From now on I will only ever leave Shimshal on a chain strop as rope ones resulted in much damage during that storm.