Watersport

Kentra as a small boat base.

Situated on the north shore at the east “corner” of the Ardnamurchan peninsular, Kentra Bay has a unique appeal for the owners of small boats. The entire bay drains to sand at low water.

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But at high tide the sands become a huge lagoon where beginners could safely learn the use of sea kayaks, rowing boats

or small sailing dinghies. Just a short sail out of the narrows, past the sandy beaches at Ardtoe, and the famous Singing Sands east of Gortenfern, the back drop of the small Isles of Eigg Muck and Rum lie in the distance across the sound of Arisaig. Rock strewn entrances to Loch Moidart lead to peaceful channels between wooded islands with Castle Tioram standing proud on a rocky islet.

Owners with a sea kayak will find that Kentra is an excellent starting point for testing paddles along a challenging and remote piece of unspoilt coastline one of the best paddling areas in Europe. The bay can also serve as base for gentle pottering between sandy beaches.

For all owners of small boats, who choose to take fixed accommodation here, other opportunities lie nearby, all within easy reach of normal ‘home comforts’. The long and remote freshwater loch, Loch Shiel can be accessed 1 /1/2 miles away, over the gravel shore near the jetty by the hotel in Acharacle. Beyond, another mile or so further on, Salen is an excellent launching place for trips on Loch Sunart – just a 3 mile drive over the hill south of Kentra. Going on north, 8 miles, the tidal upper reaches of Loch Moidart can be reached direct from the A 861 roadside. While just a couple of miles further north from there, access to the whole of Loch Ailort and Loch Nan Uamb is possible from Glenuig or nearby from the sandy bay at Smirisary.

A shallow draft boat on a trailer could be launched over the shore into Kentra Bay, when the tide is high. There is also the possibility to launch over the sand beach at Ardtoe, or from the estate pier nearby. Care must be taken not to obstruct this pier ….it is used every day by commercial fishing craft and other locals. The boating possibilities of this region can always be checked out on www.boatlaunch.co.uk

 

 

Ardnamurchan’s Sailing Waters.

The seas around Ardnamurchan are a magnificent small boat cruising area. With waters extending from the most enclosed sealoch to the open Atlantic within a few hours sail of each other, experienced owners of small sailing boats will find all sorts of challenges and opportunities for enjoyment.

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Loch Sunart is one of the least spoilt of all the West Highland sealochs. Recently designated as a Special Area of Conservation, this loch is a haven for wildlife. From its junction

with the north end of the Sound of Mull, opposite the famous port of Tobermory, on Mull, the loch snakes 22 miles inland to its head near Strontian. The north side of the loch is the most inhabited: the southern shore the most wild. A voyage up the loch passes both inhabited and uninhabited islands. Narrow and complex rocky channels lead through behind some islands to the secluded anchorages in Loch Drumbuie and Loch Teacuis. Further inland, the famous native Sunart Oak Woodlands clad the lower slopes of the hills, while offshore skerries and islets provide habitat for a huge range of native species.

The Sunart coastline has history of settlement dating back to the Iron age. Local guidebooks will introduce the visitor to destinations on both shores of the loch: places for a quiet picnic or a landing spot as a base for more serious exploration.

There are many places suitable for the launching of small sailing dingies and trailer based cruising boats between Strontian and Kilchoan. Some holiday cottages do provide private access to the shore. Otherwise there are several slipways along the loch. At one or two there may be a small charge, at others an honesty box…but enquiries are always free!

Visitor moorings have been laid at Salen and Kilchoan . Elsewhere small craft can lie to anchor. Again, local people will advise the best spots.

Inland it is possible to launch a small boat on Loch Shiel, from a landing spot near the hotel in Acharacle. Other fresh water lochs are restricted for fishing: managed by the local land owners.

 

DSC05296The north coast of Ardnamurchan is much less hospitable for the owner of a small sailing boat. But on the right day, perhaps when the prevailing west and northerly winds fall calm, the sandy bays at Sanna, in the west, and Loch Kentra in the east could provide the more experienced sailor with new horizons.

South from Ardnamurchan the Sound of Mull has become a major route for cruising yachtsmen who voyage the western islands. For a small boat the Sound is a serious piece of water, but with the correct weather, overnight stops at Tobermory, further south at Salen on Mull, or in Loch Aline on the Morvern shore, could well be within a small cruiser’s range.

beach_Ardtoe_2The Small Isles to the north of Ardnamurchan represent a much more serious challenge for any small cruiser. It is important to bear in mind that this is the North Atlantic. Tidal streams are strong. The clear air on a sunny day, and lack of man made features to give scale, make the distances seem shorter than they are. Weather conditions frequently change quite fast too.

As a cruising area the waters surrounding Ardnamurchan remain a serious place, even in summer. Inshore, safely within the shelter of a sealoch, on a good day an experienced small boat owner should find a lot to enjoy.

 

The Choice is yours….