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Race to Opisay, 1910

Race to Opisay, 1910

An account of the race can be found in the book An Ribheid Chiuil, written by Alick Morrison:

A race apart are the boat owners in Berneray; they have the means to conquer the geographical isolation of the island. They can read the submarine depths of the Sound of Harris and its lurking dangers like the leaves of an open book. They thrill to a trial of strength.

In this respect the classic race in the Sound of Harris took place about the year 1910. Malcolm Morrison, with his son Donald and his daughter-in-law, was sailing in his boat, the Aobhac, to lift peats in the island of Opisay. He became involved in a race with a boat belonging to Lachlan Munro. Neck-and-neck both boats raced to secure the best landing place on the little heath-covered island of Opisay. Malcolm Morrison, with the rudder in one hand and the sheet in the other, found it impossible not to look backwards at Munro's boat cleaving the waters behind him.

All of a sudden there was a grinding noise, and the Aobhac in full sail, stuck on flat Sgeir Chaluim. Quick as lightning, Donald lowered the sail to enable the boat to steady herself. At the same time Munro's boat raced past. Donald Morrison meanwhile tied a stout rope round his body, jumped overboard to the rock, and with a mighty heave shoved the Aobhac off the rock. In a moment he was dragged on board by his impatient father and anxious wife. The race was now resumed in deadly earnest and no quarter was given or asked.

This time misfortune struck at Lachlan Munro, for his boat crashed on to Cnag a' Bhata and stuck fast. "Sheall Lachlainn air a' sgeir," jubilantly shouted Malcolm Morrison. "Cuireadh e as a nis ì. Cum oirre, a bhalaich." Desperately Munro hurled the ballast out of the boat to lighten her sufficiently to float off the rock. Meanwhile, blithely and triumphantly, the Aobhac sped over the waves and secured the coveted landing stage.

 

 

Title: Race to Opisay, 1910
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Report
Date: 1910
Record Maintained By: CEBH
Subject Id: 75791