Susan and I left on a windy 4th of April not getting far and waiting a few hours for the wind to ease in Holy Loch. It did ease and we made for the Kyles for a quiet night anchored in the Burnt Islands. The forecast was not promising so we did head south but kept in mind a quick run back to the Crinan canal if required. On a mooring in Lamlash the wind blew hard for 2 days. We did not get off the boat but had DVDs to watch and books to read. Before cabin fever set in we left on a lovely quiet morning at 6am for Sanda Island. We arrived in time for a 2 hour lunch stop before using the good weather and fair tide to go to Islay. We were glad to tie up in Port Ellen and a welcome walk and a meal ashore.
The sound of Islay and on to West Loch Tarbert in Jura was an easy hop. We spent 2 days anchored with beautiful weather in the Cumhann Mor which is half way up the loch. With only deer for company we explored for miles in the dinghy.
The raised beaches of Jura
Although reluctant to leave Jura we headed to Puilladobhrain where we went ashore and had tea in the "Tigh and Truish".
On next day to Oban where we met Davy Young for lunch then got fuelled and watered up. We headed to Dunstafannage where sadly Susan had to return home to work (poor lassie). I did though exchange her for 4 old salts named Joe, Brian, Peter and George and in no time we were off for Loch Drumbuie. We had a fine sail from the end of the Sound of Mull to the Loch. A dinghy run ashore exploring the only habitation and gathering a bucket of mussels for bait was a good end to the day.
The Old Salts
We left the loch and a short beat had us round Arnamurchan point. We now had the big genny poled out and goosewinged all the way to Loch Nevis at 7 knots. A trip ashore in Inverie to the pub for tea was enjoyed by all.
Next day was another good run up to Glenelg and a motor to Kyle for showers and some supplies. We continued on to Ardban south of Applecross which is a place dear to both Susan and myself with many holidays with the children at the remote cottage. It was always an ambition of mine to sail there so we did indeed. We anchored in the beautiful anchorage and went ashore to the beach for a BBQ. Yes a BBQ which was very successful (I thought) despite it being on the chilly side. Success I must add is due to Bear Grylls alias George MacKay who loved the boyhood challenge of getting the coals going with sheep dung and bits of bracken! A unique flavour to the chicken and burgers for sure.
A bonny spot for a barbie
The Anchorage Ardban
Sunday morning after a great walk by some of the crew we headed off for Gairloch. We stopped for a short while to fish but only managed a tiny Codling.
A good meal ashore in the evening then Peter and George (Bear) left on the bus for Edinburgh. All set to leave then click as we tried to start the engine. After much checking with the multi meter it was obvious we had to remove the starter, not an easy task. We did this and the harbour master kindly gave us a lift to a good engineer who confirmed our thoughts that it was goosed! By great good fortune we had a spare starter(thank you David) which was a modern replacement and required a bit of re routing wires but worked perfectly after 9 hours graft. Well done Joe and Brian for your expertise and perseverence. Another night in Gairloch then we cancelled our stop in Lochinver and headed straight to Kinlochbervie. An interesting entrance to a very secure port. A trip round the fish market to remind us how they look then tea aboard the boat and off for a few beers.
Round Cape Wrath next morning with a big swell and a very dramatic coastline made for a short and interesting trip to Loch Erribol for a stop on the north coast. We anchored off Smoo in a lovely spot with a white sand beach and spectacular views,
Who needs the Caribbean
Brian and I went ashore in the dinghy to try to visit Smoo cave but Joe was keen to try fishing. Smoo cave was very good and better than we both expected it to be. We headed back via the Smoo cave hotel where we were invited to a wedding but concerned the dinghy may float away we had to decline.
Brian and Smoo Cave
We returned to the boat where Joe had indeed been busy with Dab on the starters menu!
The contented angler
A lovely day but no wind took us to Scrabster and a meal ashore in the Thurso Chinese. We left in morning witha SE 3-4 pos 5 forecast but off Dunnet Head it was make your mind up time and we were getting 30 knts on the nose. This would be bad enough in the tides of the Pentland Firth but heading SE when we left the firth would be very slow. We returned to Scrabster for another night. A bit of winch servicing and a pleasant day in the sun was had by all. Next day was almost calm although it was boistrous in Duncansby race as the tide met the SE swell. I had planned to go to Wick for fuel and some last minute supplies but a phone call confirmed there was no fuel available at weekends. We had plenty so kept going for Edinburgh. A sail for a few hours but mostly motoring we arrived at Rattray Head about 0100 and fog descended. Peterhead was very busy and very foggy. The AIS along with the radar and careful watch keeping ensured our safety past Peterhead and Aberdeen. Light winds on the nose stayed with us all the way home and we arrived in Granton at 10pm 36 hours after leaving Scrabster. 3 weeks and over 650 miles after leaving Rhu!
We were met by Brians wife Linda who caught our ropes and made us fast. We sat and had a celebratory dram or 3.
It was a great 3 weeks made great by having great company, good weather and a great boat. Bring on the next trip!