Posted by: wildswimmers | August 23, 2017

Danna Dooker conquers the Corryvreckan – guest post

We had a great swim last week from Jura to Scarba, across the fabled Gulf of Corryvreckan. There were five swimmers: Melanie, Rebecca, John, Martin W and me, (the Danna Dooker). Ali and Tony skippered Quack and Moon Raker respectively, and Rebecca’s son Joe was third in command.

Wednesday/Thursday of last week was the second window for the swim that Ali had earmarked for this “summer”. Earlier in August was not a goer, and last Wednesday the weather was also pretty awful with a depression bringing rain and high winds. The forecast for Thursday was touch and go, but Ali was prepared to give it a try, with the proviso that we might turn back. You have to get the tides spot on to swim across the Gulf at slack water, preferably during neap tides to maximise the 30 to 40 minute window of opportunity and to avoid getting drawn sideways before reaching the opposite shore.

Loch Craignish was pretty rough as we went out from Ardfern against the wind, and the Dorus Mor was also exciting. We almost turned back then because Moon Raker, the smaller of the two fast boats, was struggling.  Tony said that she was doing a lot of flying on the way down Loch Craignish because she doesn’t like short steep seas.

But, mid sea (and carefully!), we transferred one bod from Moon Raker to Quack and then went for it. Once at the Corryvreckan, the swell was pretty big, but steady, and with the tide slackening off Ali gave the nod to indicate that we were on. All very exciting, especially because we had auspicious porpoise sightings as we reached the Gulf.

The water was relatively warm as we leaped off the side of Quack and swam to the Jura shore for the start. To touch this side of the Gulf it was best to wait for the swell to take you up above the rocks and to then majestically land (standing hopefully) and wait for the next swell to lift you back off again to swim northwards towards the Scarba side… not so majestic for me as I scratched my ankle against the barnacle-covered rock.

There were no jellies to start and then singletons quite deep down, but a few more were seen nearer the surface on the Scarba side, including a pride (what is the collective noun for lion’s mane jellyfish?) of half a dozen or so at one point. The water got quite jabbly for the last third of the swim, making progress slow. And then I had to do a sudden 90 degree turn to avoid swimming into a jelly, but got to the other side in the end.

And just then the heavens opened. So it was a “dry” swim, but then we got drenched once back on the boats racing across to a sheltered bay on Jura for a well earned snack and chat. I was the only Corryvreckan newby, and am very pleased not to have been dragged down by the Hag Goddess of Winter (maybe a little too early in the year for her). Instead, the sightings of porpoise before and after the swim meant that we were in good company.

Thanks Martin for this great post and congratulations on your crossing!


  1. Oh. My goodness, you were at the big C!! Sooo jealous but fantastic you were out there:)

    Sent from my iPad



    • No, I wasn’t this time! It was my friend and fellow swimmer Martin who wrote the guest post! The time I swam it was so perfect that it could never be bettered and so I shall not be doing it again.


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