We have been travelling for one month. We left Bristol on 10 May, exactly a month ago today and in that time we have travelled up the west side of the British Isles and we have now reached the point at which we head east.
We are at Corpach sea lock about to travel along the Caledonian Canal towards Inverness on the other side of Scotland.
Andy and I have had 19 companions joining us on our route thus far. This is more than the number who sailed with either Columba (12 monks) or Brendan (14 monks). I was sad today to say farewell to David Mangles who left us at Oban.
The past two days have left me feeling deeply grateful to be alive as we have sailed our way through different sections of the Western Isles, many of which I have travelled in smaller chunks in a sea kayak or in a sailing dingy or in my Drascombe Lugger. The memories came flooding back as we went past the Island of Shuna yesterday, an island where Ruth and I spent many happy weeks with our young family on holiday. At low tide we crossed the famous Corrywreckan whirlpool that I taught my sons to avoid when we went sea kayaking.
In Adamnan’s ‘Life of Columba’ this dangerous stretch of water, where strong tides meet between two islands, is mentioned.
‘(He) is in great danger in the rolling tides of the whirlpool of Brecan, and sitting in the prow, holds up both hands to heaven and also blesses that stormy and threatening sea; and yet the Lord is thus frightening him not that he is to be overwhelmed in the waves by the wreck of the ship in which he is sitting, but rather that he may be roused to pray more earnestly that God, being propitious, he may pass over to us after the danger is over.’
Today we ended by sailing up Loch Linnhe. Last time I was here I was kayaking with my son Ben who had just earned his sea kayak instructor’s certificate. He coaxed me as we battled stormy waters to make landfall at Castle Stalker. On that day I was exhausted. Today the waters were as still as a millpond. Today I am relaxed.