After several sails in August and September Aros More is now on the pontoons for the winter. Most notable sails were down to Eyemouth and also a first for me to anchor overnight at Holy Island. A very nice spot and worthy of a return trip! I hope to get lots of jobs done over the winter along with a few sails here and there.
The weather in Stornoway got better and better with blue skies and warm sunshine. Jimmy and Alwyn arrived on Friday night and we spent the weekend listening to the music, having long lunches on deck and having lots of laughs.
Alwyn and Jim looking very cool!
Close to the Venue
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers from an ear friendly distance!
The music was very good with a variety of bands watched by an audience of various ages with lots way older than us ...........honest. It is very worth a visit if you are up that way next year.
Jimmy and Alwyn left for their flight about 10.30 Sunday morning and we headed out in warm sunshine to cross the Minch. We motored all the way in calm conditions until rounding Cape Wrath where a stiff headwind came up against a strong flood tide. This made it very lumpy all the way to to Loch Erribol. The normal anchorage at Rispond was not good in an east wind so we motored into Ard Neackie north harbour. Twice we dropped the anchor without getting hold. As it was getting dark as we went round to the south harbour and secured in the mud there first time.
Approaching Cape Wrath
We left for Scrabster next morning with a stiff easterly slowing us down a bit but arrived about 3.30. I was disappointed after all the investment in the harbour with pontoons etc none were available to visiting boats as they were all taken up with workboats. Instead you have to tie alongside the sheet piling which requires a good board if you are being blown on. The harbour team though are fantastic being there to catch ropes and even John coming down from the control room at 5 am to let go ropes and give good advice on the mood of the firth!
South of Stroma
We left with light easterlies forecast but a very big tide. We timed it to arrive at Duncansby head before the full flood had come through. Despite this we still had over 10 knots approaching south of Stroma. A bit lumpy as we were spat out through the Boars of Duncansby but no problems.
A light south east wind did not let us head straight for Peterhead so we headed down to MacDuff arriving at 6pm. Nicely tied up we had a chinese aboard and planned to rendezvouz next night with Peter Sherlock who, helped by Jim Glass was bringing his new LM 32 back from the west through the canal.
Looking forward to an easy day we went to leave and no go from the starter. It had been a bit temperamental on one or two occasions. I stripped the solenoid and cleaned the terminals but no joy it had to come off. Susan gave me a hand and we soon had it removed. I enquired with the harbourmaster who directed me to a man in Turrif who was a starter expert. Inside it looked very sorry and a new one was ordered. It would not arrive till Friday afternoon so we settled ourselves for 2 days in MacDuff which were quite enjoyable. We watched the big fishing boats being hauled very effectively up the slip for repairs, walked to Banff and even went to the aquarium. The harbourmaster John and his assistant Alan were great giving me a lift to and from Turrif to get the starter. It was back and fitted in an hour on Friday and we left right away for home.
Awaiting our starter in the boat hospital!
Susan chatting to the fish
Friday evening was very pleasant with no wind and bright skies. I headed as close to Rattray Head as Ive ever been to escape the foul spring tide. It worked as we managed over 5 knots close in and 2.5 further out.
Rattray Head as close as I dared!
We carried on in flat calm doing 2 hour watches and arrived back in Granton at 4pm Saturday 23 hours from MacDuff.
So the big cruise of 2013 is over. It was a great proving sail after the "big repair". 1150 miles in 6 weeks with a mix of weather in the company of old friends and new ones made along the way. The west coast still has many places we have not visited but always good to leave an excuse to return.
Susan arrived after a pleasant train journey on 3rd July. The weather was a bit blowy so we spent the night on the mooring and indeed the next night. It was still a bit driech and breezy but we left at 6am and had a good sail with the tide up to Tobermory. We met up with a friend Ian Meechan and his pal Raymond in Ian's new Benny 41 very smart it is too! The wind was forecast to be 4 or 5 southerly so perfect for a run up round Ardnamuchan to Isle Ornsay.
Ian's boat flying along past Ardnamuchan. Thats the last time we had a view of the bows!
We had a blast round Ardnamuchan with gusts to 30 knts. It eased a little towards Eigg but as it did it started to rain. I told Susan it was only a shower, which it was but it lasted about 5 hours. We were drookit when we anchored in IsleOrnsay. We ate on board and slept well. Next day was beautiful with warm sun and no wind. We decided to stay a day while Ian went up to Plockton. We enjoyed a walk and a meal ashore at night.
Next morning was again sunny and windless so we headed up slowly to go through Kyle Rhea with a view to staying in Kyle for the night. We saw Bill Simsons Conserver against the pier so lay alongside him overnight. I enjoyed a dram and a yarn with Bill and his friends.
Bills Conserver in Kyle
Next day we headed through the bridge in glorious weather and up to Ardban to spend a couple of days in our old haunts. It was great to see that both owners of the cottages were there so we caught up on a few years of life's passing. Tom Wilson came in on Smithereen and came aboard for a beer. We also went ashore to the Applecross Inn for tea..excellent as always.
We left after 2 days in beautiful weather again and headed ever northwards. Having never had time to explore a bit of Loch Torridon we decided to go in and anchor in Loch Shieldaig, Torridon. A very pretty spot and a good spot to hide from adverse weather if required.
A bonny boat in a bonny spot "Loch Shieldaig Torridon"
From Torridon we headed up to Gairloch, just another short hop but that was our intention to go very slowly towards Stornoway. We had 2 nights here with walks into the village and up to the waterfalls. A boiling of some of the best prawns ever from fisherman Donald made it a very pleasant stop indeed.
We left in a dull and breezy morning to go to Aultbea in Loch Ewe with the intention of visiting an aunt of mine who we had not seen for years. We picked up a huge mooring off the pier where it was blowing about 25knts and not nice at all. We would have gone elsewhere but this was the only place to get ashore for the visit. It settled a bit and we had an interesting dingy run ashore for our visit. We stayed the night on the mooring windy as it was and left early next morning for crossing the Minch.
The forecast was for SW 4 or 5 occ 6 which made for a fast though damp crossing. The windpilot was on though and we crossed in 5 1/2 hours. Fuelled up before berthing the weather has improved with every day. We joined the company of the "Sail Stornoway" group who organise this week for boats to come along meet up and do a few races. Aros More did not race but I crewed a few times and met some very nice people. Last night the music festival started and Van Morrison was in fine tune. Jim and Alwyn are flying up tonight to take in some music then Susan and I will start the trip home on Sunday. Weather looks fine for a trip along the north coast so fingers crossed.
On a pleasant Wednesday 26th June I was joined at Oban by Bob Jim and Graeme for our "summer" cruise. With lots of food and fine malts we headed southwest with a fairwind hoping for Iona, not to be as the wind fell away so we went over into Puilladobhrain and anchored with another 17 yachts in this fine little spot. A pleasant walk to the pub for tea in fine weather and high spirits was enjoyed by all.
This is the last time the sunglasses came out!
Next morning it was raining as we motored into a headwind with thick fog coming in as we neared Iona. It did clear and fair up as we went through the sound though and on to Bunessan. A pleasant night aboard with a delicious meal prepared by Jan and brought along by Graeme washed down with a glass or two of the good stuff. We had planned next day to spend some time exploring ashore then head up to Coll but the weather put paid to that. Strong winds and rain kept us at anchor all next day. Jim and Graeme ventured ashore for a walk and a trip to the local shop where they procured some excellent local produce.
Saturday morning the wind had eased so we headed up to Staffa. We had hoped to land but with the previous days wind the anchorage and landing stage were as expected untennable. We did venture in for a look but a visit to the cave will have to wait for another day.
The frown lines show as I check the chart again at the rocky Staffa shore
We headed on to Tobermory where it brightened a bit. The highlight was a trip out to the Cafe Fish restaurant which was outstanding and the best seafood Ive seen anywhere. Next morning the wind was blowing hard from the south with lashing rain so the crew sensibly decided rather than punch all the way to Oban they would get the bus and ferry home. They got home from Tobermry to Edinburgh in 5 hours which was good going. Overall the weather was very disappointing but it was still great fun with everyone staying upbeat and amazingly talking about next year.
Bob gets a turn at being Skipper at last
I had a good trip down to Oban next day where Ive sat in the rain waiting on Susan to arrive for the slow trip home.
At 1900 on the Thursday evening we had a perfect wind with 20knts westerly to take us out the Forth and a forecast of southerlies for the rest of the trip. We shot off on a broad reach round Inchkeith then goosewinged and cleared Fife Ness in 4 hours. The wind fell light and around 4am we put up, the first time for me, the spinnaker which had resided in my attic since buying the boat. With much trepidation up went the snuffer and she flew like a dream in the new day!
A spinnaker dawn
We carried the spinnaker in freshening southerly winds until off Rattray head it became quite strong with a fairtide we hit 10knots over the ground. Discretion overcame valour and we goosewinged in towards Wick to maintain best speed. As the evening came the wind lightened so up she went again. We ended up reaching at great pace up towards Copinsay and over the line just past Mull head at 04.24 on Saturday morning. A motor into Kirkwall for a breakfast drink and sleep.
The serious business of helming
The prizegiving previously planned for Monday night was brought forward to the Saturday and we were shown great hospitality by Kirkwall sailing club where we spent a good evening with the other crews. The results were announced and it turned out we were second in class second over the line and second overall. The winning boat being "Sulumar" from Fisherrow. Well done them for hanging on to that kite all the way!
We were very pleased to have a repectable second place as Aros More does not and will not wear her race kit very often!
Thanks to the race organisers, the other boats and Kirwall sailing club for making it such a memorable event. Thanks also to Joe, Brian and Eddie (the spinnaker brothers) for their commitment and patience.
The crew in Kirkwall enjoy a beer
All the competitors at Kirkwall
On Sunday morning light northerlies were forecast which was too good to miss for our trip west so we left in foggy conditions through Einhallow sound for the west coast. We had to motor on a flat sea all night and arrived at Gairloch early on Monday morning. A days rest with beautiful weather was enjoyed before leaving on Tuesday. Initially planning Plockton we met strong headwinds so headed off the wind and down the sound of Rassay to Portree. A pleasant place for a stop but we pushed on next day in headwinds and rain to Isle Ornsay which has good shelter and a good pub.
Next day a short trip to Mallaig where Eddie and brian left by train for home.
Joe and I left for Tobermory again in rain but lighter winds. From there we headed next day down to Oban marina where I am now safely tucked up as a gale is blowing through.
I had a great visit from David Bushby the previous owner-builder with whom I enjoyed discussing his past and still ongoing adventures.
Paul Lough joined us later for a run ashore for tea and giving Joe a lift home next day for a well earned rest.
A great trip round and hopefully the start of a great long slow trip home.
On Thursday evening Joe, Eddie, Brian and myself are off on a race to Kirkwall. From there we will head west and down to Oban. After a few visits from friends, Susan and I will start slowly working our back via Stornoway taking in the HebCelt music festival on the way. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it has been the last few days but I have my doubts!