Friday, May 7, 2021

2021 Virtual Cruise - Island #2 - Seil

Leaving Kerrera in our wake we set a course to the southwest. Our next island-fall is only four miles away, and so after a short half hour of motoring we drop the anchor near Puilladobhrain - the otter's pool - a sheltered spot on the northwest corner of Seil Island. Ships like Hjalmar Bjorge require deeper water than the Otter's Pool, so we have to drop anchor just west of Eilean Buidhe, which shelters the pool from the sea. Puilladobhrain itself is a popular anchorage for many reasons, but the main one is that a short path leads across the the island to Clachan Seil and the Tigh an Truish pub. As indicated in the following extract from the Pilot's Guide to the area, the anchorage at Puilladobhrain can be busy:

The name translates as Pool of the Otter, although any otters have long since been scared away by the yachts . . . this is one of the West Coast's most popular anchorages, and you will be lucky to find less than a dozen and a half yachts there on any evening in July.

And on those busy July evenings you can count on a steady stream of yotties braving the sometimes boggy half mile walk to the pub, then stumbling back in the dark after last call; all trying to remember where they stashed their tender, and which one of the forest of masts is their boat. Not that I've ever been in that exact situation, but I have had a few less-than-sober searches for a boat in the dark. Once, on a pitch-black rainy evening in Tobermory some 20 years ago, a group of us left the MacDonald Arms a bit inebriated. Our ship was 'double parked' at the ferry terminal; the Kilchoan RO-RO was moored directly to the pier, and ours was tied to its far side. Down the ladder into the slippy car deck we went, then back up the other side of the ferry to cross over to our boat. (I am lucky to be alive).

Once ashore on Seil we find the yottie's boat-boot-beaten path that leads to Clachan Bridge and Tigh an Truish. Clachan Bridge is often called the Bridge over the Atlantic, and dates to the 1790s. Its high arch rises 40 feet above the channel, and its single lane is a blind summit for drivers. In the summer those drivers need to be careful, as the bridge is often clogged with tourists who like to walk to the top.

The nexus of the village is Tigh an Truish, the house of trousers. As the story goes, in the 18th century cattle drovers on their way to the mainland stopped here to change out of the forbidden kilt and don a pair of pants. The Gaelic word for a pub is 'taigh-seinnse', which means change house. But instead of changing into trousers, the 'change' (in days or yore) was associated with changing out your tired nag for a fresh rental horse. (Would you like insurance? And please be sure to return it with a full bale of hay.)  Another translation of taigh-seinnse I've heard is 'house of singing', which makes more sense for an island pub.

After a pint (or two) our group stumbles back along the path to Puilladobhrain. There are a few boggy sections to tip-toe through where you can lose the path, but the fearless guide keeps them from going astray. He has all his wits about him, having faithfully followed the GGGGG (Good Guide's Guide to Good Guiding), which calls for abstaining from strong drink while on duty. (If you believe that I have a Bridge over the Atlantic for sale.)

The Otter's Pool is a beautiful sight, especially on a sunny May day before the summer onslaught of yachts arrive. After eating our packed lunches on its shore we board the tender and are soon back aboard Hjalmar Bjorge. The dual diesels are fired up and we set a course down the Sound of Insh to our next destination: the Isle of Luing. As we do the chef starts preparing the evening meal, and a cheer goes up from everyone aboard when they hear it's steak pie night. 

No comments:

Post a Comment