Tag Archives: swimming

Summer Holidays Swim

A chance encounter around a birthday barbeque at Hynish, a chat about achieving seemingly impossible things and 3 days later I was swimming from Tiree to Coll with someone I’d only just met.

Such is Tiree and the friends and people you meet. The next few days were spent planning. I thought I would be able to swim the distance but the sea can be very unforgiving around these islands. People have waited days if not weeks to swim across only for conditions not to be favourable. The water is cold and Tiree is often very windy and the currents can be strong.

We needed to know the tides, the swell and the direction of current and through various Apps and social media realised we might have a chance of making the 2 miles or so. The swell was set to drop later in the week which would help. We needed a support team and a helpful kayaker and the owner of a RIB volunteered; after all we had to return somehow and swimming back would not be an option!

I was staying in the Wee Cottage at Caolas at the eastern end of Tiree and so could check out potential starting points for the swim. The green lateral buoy in the Gunna Sound might be a useful navigation point. The tide and current suggested Tiree to Coll might be easier and we would be closer to a shore towards the end of the swim, but the predicted prevailing wind might cause some difficulty. Wednesday before high tide looked promising but the current direction meant we might still be in the water around the time of the weekly Barra to Tiree ferry, a definite no-go!

As it turned out fog was also a problem on Wednesday which might be a worry for our next opportunity before low tide the following day. However on the day, the Tiree weather did not disappoint: no fog, light winds and glorious sunshine. A trip to the Co-op for some Vaseline, a borrowed swim float, my wet suit, goggles, a swim cap and my new experienced swim buddy and we were ready, sun tan lotion already applied.

Our kayaker had been joined by a double kayak team but our RIB support was nowhere to be seen. It turns out the tides had left the RIB high and dry in Scarinish harbour and some effort was required to refloat the boat. With the team finally assembled and a last check on the various Apps and a visual of the sea conditions, we set off from the north end of the beach at Caolas in the lee of some skerries immediately offshore. Perhaps subconsciously drawn or perhaps pushed by the current we headed closer to the green lateral buoy and the western end of Gunna than expected which was fine from the prevailing northerly wind. However it meant that we were swimming against the current as we turned to swim along the southern shore of Gunna towards Coll. There was a moment when, despite being in the lee of Gunna, the wind picked up and current pushed against us and the seaweed was clearly trailing in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. With help from the support kayaker we were able to find an easier route and be reassured that the conditions were better further ahead. We were also joined by some curious seals whose dark shapes would occasionally loom into view underwater making it obvious who had really mastered open water swimming.

Fortunately, despite seeing several jellyfish, we did not come across any Lion’s mane jellyfish but it was too early this year to see any basking sharks and thankfully the pod of Orcas I subsequently heard about on the ferry home from Tiree were not in the area at the time of our swim.

The owner of Gunna was out in a dinghy and our kayak support team spent some time chatting with him which made negotiating the various skerries towards the south eastern tip of Gunna more of a challenge for us and the RIB. Suddenly we could distinguish between the sandy beaches of Gunna and those on Coll. After almost one and a half hours in the water we could see the finish and realised we had an excellent chance of making the passage.

As we approached the straight between Gunna and Coll we could feel the current pulling us northward and we had to re-calculate our landing point on Coll. At one point the water was so shallow we thought we might be able to walk across but the sand bank rapidly fell away much to the relief of the RIB skipper. We came ashore at the underwater cable markers on Coll 4.141kilometres and 1 hour 54 minutes from our starting point. What an amazing feeling, I had completed my first island to island swim adventure. The return to Tiree and friends and family was certainly quicker and easier.

Thank you to Alastair the Kayaker, Neil the RIB skipper and Meg my experienced swim buddy. Checklist: Wetsuit, goggles and cap. Swim float. Suncream. Currents, tides, wind and weather check. Experienced swim buddy Support team.

~Alex Jones

Tiree Community Development Trust

Tiree Trust LogoCommunity Open Day – Consultation Results

The Community Open Day was held on Saturday 15th June in An Talla, with over 200 people attending throughout the day.

The two main topics of consultation for the Trust were to gain a mandate to investigate the idea of a Community Shop and the idea of a Community Land Buy-Out. The results of the consultation were that 91 supported the study (90%) of a Community Shop and 10 were against it (10%), whilst 66 supported the study (73.5%) of a community land buyout and 24 opposed (26.5%).

The next steps for both projects will be:

1. To form a steering group (see separate advert for steering group members).

2. Form a brief for a feasibility study, with support from the Trust.

3. Present the key findings to the community.

4. Organise a ballot for the community to decide whether or not to proceed.

Update from the Swimming Pool Steering Committee

The Swimming Pool Feasibility Study is now complete and was presented by the Steering Committee at the Community Open Day on Saturday 15th June. The following recommendations will be the next steps that will be taken by the committee:

1. Applications to the Windfall Fund and others are being discussed with the Trust to raise funds to bring a swimming instructor over to Tiree for regular swimming lessons at Loch Bhasapol.

2. With the support of the Trust, we will lobby Argyll and Bute Council to be included in the Sports Pitches and Facilities Strategy (due to be revised in 2015).

3. With the support of the Trust, we will lobby Scottish Swimming to include a Tiree facility in their Facilities Strategy (due to be revised in 2014).

For those of you who were unable to get to the open day and for anyone who would like to read the study then you can access it on the Trust website www.tireetrust.org.uk and follow the link. Hard copies are available to read at the Trust Office. (Core office hours are 10.00 – 15.00 hours Monday to Friday, although there are usually staff in attendance outside of these hours.)

Should you wish to be part of the steering group for the next phase of the project then please contact Will Wright at will@tireefitness.co.uk or call 220421.

In the meantime, Tiree Windsurfing Club are developing a course of swimming lessons at Loch Bhasapol with applications to the Windfall Fund and others for funds to bring a swimming instructor over to Tiree for regular swimming lessons.

Tiree Regatta 2010 Review

Tiree regatta 2010

The morning of Sat 7th Aug, Regatta Day, was no different from most days this summer;
damp, grey and windy. Not very promising, but by noon, the skies had cleared with the wind easing back to a brisk northerly, giving Regatta Day glorious conditions for both sailing and shore events.

The start line was impressive with 13 boats jostling for position, the most Tiree Regatta has had for some years. The boats included the Tiree renovated lugs, Daisy and Morag Anne, and a stunning 26 ft gaff ketch Freya, which had sailed in from Iona the previous evening. Even more impressive was the actual start, with most of the boats making a perfect start. To the non sailors on the shore it was obvious that a very competitive race had begun.

At the 1st mark, a gybe, there was some very aggressive tactical sailing with Angus Maclean’s Catadh Mara taking the perfect inside line forcing Magnus Laird’s Soa to the outside. Spark, the catamaran, was revelling in the brisk conditions, and notwithstanding having to make an additional round of the course, won the Concise Cup.

Tiree regatta Lug boats

The Lugs battled it out with Morag Anne taking the Skippinish Cup just nudging the “all-lady” crewed Passing Cloud on the line. Regrettably 2 of the lugs were forced to retire with jammed rudders which had been caught in creel lines.

Shore-side, Anna Macdonald and Christine Macarthur were having a marathon pillow fight contest. The referee had to call a time-out for everyone, including spectators, to get their breath back, after which Anna and Christine slugged it out to an epic conclusion.

For the Raft Race, the Airport Fire team entered the most radical raft design Tiree had seen for many a day. It was a light alloy monocoque hull with asymmetric outriggers. Alas the conditions on the day did not favour such advanced technology, as on the mark, the raft’s windage caused a capsize, upending the crew, who then had to battle to prevent their raft sailing off, unmanned, to Mull.

The Regatta drew to a close with the traditional Trawler race being fought out in its unique colourful way, viewed closely by many visitors, and Tirisdich, from Skippinish Tour’s Rib, on a high speed cruise around the bay in the warm afternoon sun.

For full results see www.tireeregatta.org.uk


Tiree’s own Ironman

Will Wright

I’m sure many of you will have seen Will Wright whizzing around the island on his bike in recent months! Well all his hard work and dedicated training paid off last weekend when he completed an Ironman distance triathlon with an amazing time and competition placing.

The event was held in Nottingham at the National Water sports centre and consisted of a 2.4 mile Swim (I got very nervous when I couldn’t see the end of the lake!), a 112 mile Bike ride, and a 26.2 mile Run (marathon distance).

Will completed the event in 10 hours 35 minutes exceeding his own expectations of wanting to finish in under 12 hours and came a fantastic 56th out of 750 finishers (roughly a 1000 started but many didn’t complete.)

To add to the occasion the event was 3 days before Will’s 30th birthday and all of his family had made it from different parts of the UK to support and cheer him on including his 90 year old Grandad!

It was a really wonderful weekend and a massive achievement for Will. He had such determination and pushed himself so hard that I nearly burst with pride at the finish line. So I know he will hate me putting this in but I had to say Well Done Wills & a very Happy Birthday!

Becky Wright