Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Giant Haystacks!

Early this morning I went to Haystacks Rock in the Firth of Forth to recce it as a potential marine testing site for the RockPod and my equipment prior to going to Rockall. It meant a very early start (0500hrs) in order to meet the boat at Granton Harbour, and although the tail end of a hurricane was forecast, the sea was flat and there was little wind. It was however raining pretty hard.

It took about 40 minutes to motor across the Firth to Inchcolm Island and then a quick RIB ride onto the rock. Landing was easy from the sloping western side, but having circumnavigated the rock prior to landing I noted that the eastern flank was near vertical, which should provide some experience of a scramble/climbing landing and somewhere to practice hauling the gear up from a boat.

Haystacks is similar in size at high tide (30m x 20m) to Rockall (25m x 22m), but is only 8 metres above sea level as opposed to 19.2 metres for Rockall. I think the extra space provided by Haystacks being much more level will be good for testing as it will enable me to spread stuff out a bit and get used to rigging before having to do it in a more restricted space.

There are some signs of nesting, although the four nests I could identify had all been vacated, and the build-up of guano means that there are a few level areas which could be suitable locations for the RockPod. One in particular I measured to be about 9‘ x 5‘6’’ (narrowing to 3‘2’’) and is right above the cliff, so this is the most likely candidate for mimicking Hall’s Ledge (11’ x 4’). There were also some signs of previous occupation, perhaps by “birdy people” to quote the skipper, in the form of a cairn and a concrete base and clasp, probably for an aerial. The latter is raised and suitably close to the level area that it could act as the summit of Rockall with its defunct navigation light, and would be a suitable spot for a wind generator.
In all, I spent just over an hour on Haystacks and I think it was worth the trip, getting wet and the early start. Unless something better comes along I’ll be using the rock as a testing ground at some point in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment