A couple of crossings and a bit of clapotis - around Iona and on to Staffa

It has been almost four years since Tim, Chris and I paddled the south coast of Mull. It was a trip that ended at Fionnphort - our long weekend not quite long enough to take in Iona.
And so, a return long overdue, Chris and I set out from Fidden, to head out around Iona and on to Staffa, an island which has been on my list for longer still. The fresh wind that morning had given rise to some deliberation though as it happened, it died away almost completely by early afternoon.
The swell however remained a constant companion - the small islands south of Iona disappearing from view repeatedly as we crossed the sound.
Looking back on Erraid, shortly before passing inside Eilean Musimul.
Here the sea state picked up notably. I managed few pictures, a wave drenching the camera immediately after this image was taken.
The channel inside Stac an Aoineidh - with the bigger sets breaking right across the gap we timed the passage with some care...
...and paddled on to the less chaotic, foam covered bay beyond. Spouting Cave lived up to it's name - the spout easily clearing the height of the cliffs as we rose and fell on the swells below.
A sheltered landing inside the skerries north of Stac Liath where I cleaned the camera up properly before walking above the immaculate beaches on this beautiful coastline.
Turnstones watched as launched once more...
...returning rapidly to the swell as we worked our way north.
A  distant view of the Dutchman's Cap - one for another day though Chris had paddled here previously on a circumnav. of Mull at the same time Tim and I completed our trip around Skye in 2011.
Passing outside Eilean Chalbha near the northern tip of Iona. Beyond the island in an area littered with reefs, I was caught on the crest of a breaking wave as a larger set touched bottom and found myself staring down its face at the rapidly emerging kelp, before being surfed on and away from the shallows at a speed I'm not sure I've experienced before in a loaded boat.
Beyond Findlay's Rock, looking ahead to the distant shape of Staffa and the crossing to come. In fact we had planned to camp at the northern end of the Sound of Iona but with clearing skies, beautiful late afternoon light, a following sea and barely a breath of wind, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass...

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