Sunday, June 15, 2008

Landing Party

By way of rounding off a weekend of preparing a certain Mr. B to enter married life, I put to sea on a Sunday afternoon with a full crew - of my three brothers-in-law, plus Mr. B himself. Sailing in the lightest of airs, my crew made a neat job of tacking their way out the mouth of the inlet to open water, while I orbited them in Briongloid's dinghy, shouting helpful advice and snapping pictures.

With no particular object in mind, we wandered slowly out from the land... until a large rock - "Little Sovereign" - caught our collective imaginations. An excellence chance to demonstrate anchoring: the rode was flaked, the anchor laid, the sails dropped, and a landing party dispatched to claim the barren rock.

Three of us made a shore party: we picked a cove-in-miniature, then changed our minds at the last second when the suck and surge of the swell made our prospective landing spot seem more like a good place for a wrecking; instead, we chose a set of natural steps in the rock, as safe and easy a landing spot as any steep piece of rock covered in weeds and mussels could be. For all the times I've cursed the rowing characteristics of inflatables, sometimes it is very, very nice to have a hull that bounces instead of denting or splitting.

Briongloid lies at anchor, as seen from the summit of Little Sovereign

The island itself is shaped from a sedimentary rock with very well-defined planes. These are warped and bent from ancient pressures, and slope at about 30 degrees into the sea, so that the whole island, viewed end-on, appears to have developed a serious list. The summit lies on a dramatic ridge, with a very sheer drop to seaward, while the landward side is a little friendlier - a single uninterrupted sloping slab of smooth rock. I stood for a while at the summit precipice, drinking in the view - the dramatic cliffs of the mainland to my north, Briongloid toy-like at anchor below me, the great sweep of the open ocean to the south. Climbed carefully down again, back to the dinghy and my waiting friends, and tucked the memory away for safe-keeping.

We will return...

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