Thursday, 28 June 2012

Out West

After sitting out the wind in Gairloch Joe and I headed south. The plan was very flexible and found us at Applecross for a night then on under the Skye bridge the next day. A lunch and re-supply stop in Kyleakin the weather was so good we went on through Kyle Rhea. Heading for Isleornsy  the evening weather was very settled so we dropped the hook in Sandaig bay. The only other boat turned out to be RFYC “Tarka” so we went over and had a dram with Ron who was before that, enjoying perfect solitude!

Ron on Tarka

Tarka was an appropriate boat name for that location as this is where Gavin Maxwell lived with his otter and led to the much loved book “Ring of Bright Water”.

After an enjoyable morning stroll ashore  we headed down to Loch Nevis. We tried a few likely spots for fishing but only had limited success. I fear we have been spoiled forever by the Faroese fishing! Another fine evening and we found ourselves in Tarbet and directed onto excellent free moorings provided very kindly by the estate owner.

Tarbet Loch Nevis

An early start to Mallaig as we had to be there so Joe could collect his railway ticket for Wednesday morning. Mallaig has its new marina facility and provides excellent pontoons moorings with a very helpful marina manager. Not cheap of course but a handy place to change crews or leave the boat for a while. Joe headed off on the early train and I prepared for my fire service colleagues to arrive on the 21st.

Bob Jim and Graeme

Arrive they did and we headed off to Inverie for tea in the “Old Forge”. A busy little place but handy for a first night. After a bit of rain at night we headed north and ended up again at Ardban for 2 nights. A walk of 8 miles round trip for lunch at the famous “Applecross Inn” and showers at the campsite was most enjoyed by some and endured by others.

A short sail next day to Plockton was very relaxing. I had not been there for years and found it very nice but perhaps just a bit too perfect. Good moorings though and a good shower and a pint at the Plockton Hotel.

A forecast of settled weather for a few days meant a motor south in glorious sunshine and round to Loch Scavaig on Skye.

The crew go mad in the midday sun!

We were chased by a pod of about 40 dolphins which leapt all round the boat and played in the wash from the prop. It was very difficult to get photos as they were not airborne for long!

They are there..honest

 Well that is an impressive anchorage with the Cuillins coming straight down to the shore. I would recommend anyone up that way to stay there given suitable weather.

Loch Scavaig

A trip over to Rum was looked forward to but somehow did not quite meet our expectations. Perhaps it was the rain but the place seemed a little bleak. We were too late to go round the castle which would have been interesting but instead waited and wandered for an hour or so until the shop opened at 5pm (more whisky I guess). A great week for us though with fine weather beautiful places and many laughs 

So back to Mallaig on Wednesday morning where we left the boat on a mooring
until Sunday when Susan and I return for a few weeks and perhaps St Kilda!

More Faroe Photos

The Windpilot my new best friend

Unusual Waterfall

Can Opener Coast
Remote Village of Gjov

50 knots of Wind

Farewell Faroes

Friday, 15 June 2012

North to Faroe

The day arrived
Well the departure day arrived on Monday 28th May with beautiful sunshine and no wind. Eddie North, George McKay and myself left around 0900 for the first leg of the trip to Orkney. A motor down the firth in glorious sunshine was followed 25knots of wind on the nose from Fife Ness to Aberdeen. This proved a challenge to the sea legs but we managed a hearty shepherds pie for tea! A slow plodding motor sail got us up the east coast where conditions moderated the further north we went. We kept going with a favourable tide past Rattray head and finally got the headsail out for an airing! Our timing would mean crossing the Pentland firth in the dark but as everyone looked forward to it we chose not to do so in the dark and tied up at Wick about 19.00 on the 29th. A nice meal, a shower and a good sleep was much enjoyed.
Out at 7am in glorious sunshine to be at the skerries by 09.30 to get a lift on the ebb tide all the way to Scapa flow. Even in these flat calm conditions we went through several areas of overfalls.We did though make great speed and went went south of Flotta enjoying  a glorious sail in the sun to Stromness.
Off to the Pentland Firth

Stromness has a nice marina with good facilities run by a very helpful harbour master. Stromness was the centre for the annual folk festival which was much enjoyed by all. Great music was played by both amateur and professional musicians.
George and Eddie chill out in Stromness

Eddie and George headed back by ferry and bus and Joe Ramsay and John McLaren joined the boat despite A9 holdups.
Off to the Faroes

By Sunday 3rd June we had heard nearly every tune and tasted almost every beer and were suffering from harbour rot. We left in nice weather with a good NE breeze. The helter skelter of exiting Hoy sound was interesting with 13 knots over the ground and some spectacular overfalls. This was in good conditions it would be dangerous with a westerly sea running. We sailed well close hauled until nightfall when the wind went due north. We now had 20 knots on the nose so we did several long tacks to make the next 50 miles. By Monday evening we had sailed nearly 100 miles but the wind died so we motored in a pleasant big oily swell and sighted the south end of Suduroy around mid day Tuesday. ETA Torshavn 2200.
Safely in Thorshavn

We arrived in Thorshavn as predicted and made our way to a very pleasant pontoon in the town centre. We then poured  a celebratory dram before turning in for a good sleep. Next  morning we got showered and hired a car to tour round the islands. A very good deal was negotiated with the car hirer that seemed good even to me! The road network in Faroe is fantastic with well maintained fast roads linking most islands and towns through tunnels. The tunnels run under the fjords and through mountains. It must require an awful lot of mackerel to finance such infrastructure. We enjoyed our run out visiting some very remote and beautiful villages complete with grass roofs and stunning mountain views.
A house with a view

Pleasant as it was we didn’t want to stay all the time in Thorshavn and after receiving a kind gift of cod fillets from the skipper of a big traditional schooner  we set off  for Vestmanna. It was critical to time the tides in the fjords which we managed very well. A nice 9 knots over the ground. Amidst spectacular mountains we had gusts of wind to 50 knots. In the sheltered waters however it did not present any real problems. Interesting to see a wall of white spray heading your way though. Into Vestmanna and cooked the cod for a late tea. A walk round the pleasant village in glorious sunshine next day then catch the tide east round Myling head to Eidi with some fishing on the way. The forecast was for an easterly gale later so we cancelled fishing and made straight for the headland. We had a chat with a Danish warship who told us the gale was already in the east of the islands but thought we had time to sail the 8 or so miles to Eidi “wrong”. In the lee of the high cliffs it was flat calm but when we got to 1 mile of rounding the head we had 40 knots on the nose and were going nowhere. We decided to hang back and hope the wind would abate in the evening when we would have more push from the tide “wrong”! The next attempt met heavy overfalls before the headland so the sensible thing was to return to Vestmanna. We did though catch some nice cod in lovely sunshine.
Dramatic cliffs

Not wanting a repeat of the previous day we decided to head west to Soervagg on the west of Vagar. A pleasant trip under massive jagged mountains saw us welcomed and squeezed into the small harbour. We also caught some huge whiting on the way. We had a feast of fried cod, tatties, butter, lemon slices  and peas which was simple but magnificent. We had arrived on the annual country and western weekend which involved a stage for the bands to play unsusual tunes like ing gang gooli until 3 in the morning. We were going to go in for a beer but the £25 admission fee put us off.
The contented angler

A hearty meal
On Sunday lunchtime  forecast for NE 4 to 5 occ 6 made us choose to take advantage and head south. Joe could not resist a last “angle” and had several fish in an hour or so. 2 of them were about 9lb.

Just one last Cod
We had a great sail on a broad reach port tack all the way to Stornoway. My new best friend on the boat is the windpilot. It steered us safely all of the 250 miles without complaint. We ended with 2 reefs in the main and half the genny which kept her balanced and snug but still doing a steady 6 knots.
We arrived in Stornoway 45 hours later where we tied to a comfortable pontoon. John left for home and Joe and I headed south not fully certain of where as the weather was developing. The original plan had been Barra but easterly gales forecast and not fancying a slog from Barra to Mallaig we had a great sail over to  Gairloch where I am writing this and it is indeed howling outside.

Reflecting on the Faroes it was a fantastic trip. A wild and beautiful land with welcoming people who appear to enjoy a good standard of life despite the rugged and harsh environment.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Afloat again at last

After 6 months over the winter in the yard and many days spent scraping, polishing, varnishing etc, Aros More is thankfully afloat again. Masts are up sails are on so let the sailing year begin. After some local sailing at the end of  May I plan to head to the Faroe Islands taking in the Orkney folk festival en route.
A return from Faroe to the west coast to spend the summer there visiting old haunts and new ones before returning to Edinburgh in August