Saturday, 2 June 2012

Rockall landing

We finally got on the boat and left for Rockall at 0230 Friday morning.

We finally sighted Rockall at about 1430 hours from about 9 miles out, but it still look another half an hour to draw closer, during which time Bob, Nick, Pete (crew) and I were donning dry suits and making sure that all the gear was all in the tender.

Once we were close enough, the RIB was lowered off the back of Orca3 and we jumped aboard. My first attempt at landing was inauspicious, after pushing in as close as we could in the swell and picking a suitable landing point, I went to jump off the bow, only for the tender to drop away from me. With nothing to push off, I toppled head first into the drink, but my brilliant dry suit and PFD did their job and I quickly bobbed to the surface and kicked/was hauled back into the RIB.

Angus C decided we needed to bail out so we heading back to Orca3, where everyone thought we'd given up. But no! A quick turnabout saw us motoring back to Rockall and this time in was perfect timing as we headed straight into the rock, the swell dropped us but then on the next rise we were sucked into the wall which gave me the opportunity to launch and scramble as fast as possible to a safe point above the swell line.

After what seemed like ten minutes I was there, on the flat platform that marks the summit, just me, a few birds and the shell of the light beacon.

One of my objectives was to raise a flag in honour of the Queen as it was her jubilee weekend. Unfortunately, whilst hauling the flag pole up to the ledge a section was bent which meant that the pole could no be put together. In addition, the bag holding the poles and flags was damaged and the flags were lost to the sea.

Photos taken, and memories made, it was time to return to the boat. I'd been on Rockall for about an hour. I down climbed the route that I had taken up.

Once back on Orca 3, there was lots of congratulating and hand shaking before I took a seat and a moment to take in what I had achieved. Very few people have seen Rockall let alone set foot on it, and many of those didn't make it to the top. To have visited, landed and summited, albeit briefly was a great feeling.

We had to move quickly as the weather was turning, which was why I hadn't stayed on the rock overnight. Everything, including the tender, was pulled aboard and lashed down and we head East towards St.Kilda.

I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible: The Anguses for their expert boat and tender skills, Pete for hauling me back in the boat twice, Bob for sacrificing his own landing to make sure mine was a success, Pennie, Nick and Mike for covering the expedition and landing for the BBC and The Scottish Sun.
Nick Hancock FRGS
The Rockall Jubilee Expedition 2012

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