2017 – a season to forget… Sahona going nowhere.
During our vague perambulations in the Clyde over the years we had spent a fair amount of time on Bute, predominantly in Rothesay, having radioed for ‘bridge requests’ and dealt with Davy the rent man.
We had previously looked at the then ‘new’ Port Bannatyne marina and having failed to make radio contact and not being impressed by the general ambiance, dismissed it.
However, for some now-forgotten reason (it’s an age thing!) we did make our way there after dark one night and have vivid memories of coming across unlit moorings outside and an equally invisible breakwater inside. It’s just as well Sahona is fitted with a searchlight on the wheelhouse roof – it’s there to confirm or deny that indescribable sixth sense warning which has saved us from embarrassment many times in the past.
Back to the present. We decided to book a couple of months in Port Bannatyne this year as it was quieter and prettier than Rothesay, with the intention of nicking up to Wreck Bay or the Kames Hotel for lunch, or maybe going round to Tarbert if we really wanted to pay three times for the same night’s berthing… The idea being that Troon is (for us) more or less a day-sail away from everywhere and our boat doesn’t do wrinkly sea very well, AND it’s always wrinkly from the wrong direction isn’t it!
2017 is a big year for us – golden wedding, Kath’s 70th, commodore, lots of plans for celebration, so we finally got Sahona up to PB a bit later than originally planned due to a holiday in Italy and ongoing business.
It took a long time to get there and boat speed was limited so we obviously had a foul bottom in spite of my efforts with the big brush in Troon. A lift and clean at PB confirmed this and revealed a huge amount of weed where the boat had been sitting on the cradle. I knew I should have gone on the scrubbing grid but could not muster the enthusiasm earlier.
The cloud base around Bute and especially up the Kyles seems to be MLWS for days on end, and annoyingly, it appeared to be clear to the South East where we’d come from. Also the breakwater was there for a reason, there is a ‘private wind’ created by a funnel through a gap in the hills, which isn’t felt once you’re out in the bay, but is locally noisy. This phenomenon tends to keep you from sailing as it leads to a false sense of “blowin’ a hooley out there” when in fact it’s perfectly fine for a wee dauner doon the watter.
Your commodore’s yacht has an aft stateroom (ha ha) and if the wind is behind, there can be annoying water noises, so with this in mind we decided to turn the boat round as it was a long term arrangement. What a fiasco, the space between the breakwater and pontoon is not really tight, but tight enough to limit manoeuvrability for a long keeler with no bowthruster in a reasonable breeze. The solution was to let Nature take over and have plenty of people around to fend off or heave on as required. Normally this stern-to arrangement would rob one of privacy, but with a dinghy in davits across the back and a generator on the aft coachouse roof, this was not a problem in our case, and bows-on to the weather is definitely the way to go.
Port Bannatyne has limited high street facilities but is a (free!) bus ride or reasonable walk from Rothesay. As we were to be there for a while, Kath brought the car over on the ferry which made the shopping trips quick and easy and gave us an opportunity to see more of the island, It also gave me a rare opportunity to do a single-handed delivery trip.
One thing that does thrive in PB is the Port Inn which has a reasonable restaurant menu. On Thursday evenings there is a music session where anyone can bring an instrument and make a noise. It’s not really a jam session which I prefer, more a series of individuals performing sometimes obscure pieces which others can’t easily join in with. I don’t know anything much after skiffle ceased to be popular, so I feel a bit out of it and hate performing solo, so the novelty has worn off a bit. The Beeswing Lewis’s sailed in and we practiced a few tunes with guitar mandolin and fiddle, but we misunderstood the arrangements and didn’t get together on the night… Ho hum.
In fact TCC boats came and went – I think the most on any one day was five which beats the previous year’s muster figures by a long chalk.
You can’t help stopping to admire a ‘different’ boat whether it’s an outrageous inelegant plastic racing machine or a blast from the past. I came across a traditional dayboat while meandering aimlessly round the pontoons. It had a boom that stuck out over the neat transom and was obviously from the days when the mainsail was the Main sail. It was being rigged in preparation for the Round Bute Race and a chat with the owner revealed that it was a Scottish Islands class from the thirties and in near original condition.
My “new best friend” as Kath describes him mentioned there may be a crew place up for grabs as seven of the class were expected to be participating. In the end this did not materialise but there was an opportunity to drive the RIB for the photographer as there is a brochure for a new charity in preparation.
The weather on the day was brisk to say the least, and only three S.I. boats made it to the start. There was a debate as to which way round the island the competitors would go, with the result the SIs went anticlock and everyone else went the other way. We followed the fleet as far as Colintraive, soaked to the skin and freezing before returning to Sahona for towels and hot soup.
Gigha (they’re all called after Scottish islands…) came first as usual (that’s my new friend) and there was only one retiral due to a broken spreader – remember everything is wooden, the mast stayed up thank goodness. Later Gigha was pranged while on her mooring in Port Bannatyne and had to go to the mainland for repairs, made all the more interesting because there is no engine – everything is done under sail including marina and canal work, and the weather needs to be at least half-right. She was repaired successfully and back afloat in Bute very quickly, I guess Scott (the owner) has contacts.
The picture below shows Gigha in the lead in deceptively pleasant looking conditions. It took a lot of work from an 8-horse outboard to actually catch up and overtake the yachts –they go like stink!
See what I mean about the mainsail?
Apart from this new acquaintance, there is not much to add. We came and went by ferry and car as commodore’s duties and family pressures decreed. Often the best weather was when we were away from the boat –or is that just the view of a disgruntled enforced landlubber?
Even the Indian Summer we were promised in September has not materialised. One good day is bookended by two murky grey ones. If this is climate change due to man-made Global warming then we definitely do have to fix it for our descendents.
Now back home after another single-hander where the engine overheated and a sail onto the pontoon was required –Thanks to George Hunter for coming out to escort me and stop the skiff rowers from T-boning Sahona as she came slowly through the gut.
I thought I’d fixed the problem, but the same thing happened on a later trip from Bute to Troon with Kath on board. This time the Troon Harbour guys (thanks Paul) alerted TYH by phone and a man in a bright yellow jacket was patiently waiting on the first hammerhead to take our lines (Thanks John).
I believe the problem is fixed but I will review the complete system once out on the hard and replace some parts with modern materials. Meanwhile all we have to look forward to is mast stations and lift out. What a year!
Moody Blue’s Log 2017
MOODY BLUE LOG 2017 ALL SOLO SAILING
19/05 TROON TO SANDA 35 MILES
20/05 SANDA TO GIGHA 33 MILES
22/05 GIGHA TO PUILLADOBHRAIN 44 MILES
23/05 PUILLADOBHRAIN TO TOBERMORY 28 MILES
24/05 TOBERMORY TO COLL 19 MILES
25/05 COLL TO CANNA 32 MILES
26/05 CANNA TO VATERSAY BAY 40 MILES
27/05 VATERSAY TO SANDRAY, MINGULAY, ERISKAY 32 MILES
28/05 ERISKAY TO WIZARDS POOL 20 MILES
29/05 WIZARDS POOL TO LOCH MADDY 20 MILES
30/05 LOCH MADDY TARANSAY LOCH LEOSAVAY 34 MILES
31/05 LOCH LEOSAVAY TO WEST LOCH TARBET BACK TO TARANSAY 17 MILES
01/06 TARANSAY TO HERMETRAY VACCASAY CALM BAY 21 MILES
02/06 BAGH A CHAISE TO BERNERAY 9 MILES
03/06 BERNERAY TO STORNOWAY 52 MILES
05/06 STORNOWAY TO LOCHINVER 38 MILES
06/06 LOCHINVER TO BADACHRO 41 MILES
07/06 BADACHRO TO PLOCKTON 35 MILES
08/06 PLOCKTON TO LOCHALINE 78 MILES
12/06 LOCHALINE TO KERRERA 14 MILES
13/06 KERRERA TO ARDFERN 28 MILES
14/06 ARDFERN GIGHA 34 MILES
15/06 GIGHA TO PORT ELLEN 21 MILES
16/06 PORT ELLEN TO GLENARM 42 MILES
17/06 GLENARM TO CARRICKFERGUS 24 MILES
20/06 CARRICKFERGUS TO COPELAND ISLES TO PEEL 52 MILES
25/06 PEEL ISLE OF MAN TO STRANRAER THE WIG 63 MILES
26/06 THE WIG LOCH RYAN TO TROON 42 MILES
12/07 TROON TO GIGHA 68 MILES
13/07 GIGHA TO LOCHALINE 57 MILES
16/07 LOCHALINE TO TOBERMORY 15 MILES
17/07 TOBERMORY TO RUM 31 MILES
18/07 RUM TO INVERIE LOCH NEVIS 22 MILES
20/07 INVERIE TO CARBOST LOCH HARPORT 43MILES
22/07 LOCH HARPORT TO DUNVEGAN 33 MILES
24/07 DUNVEGAN TO PORTREE 50 MILES
30/07 PORTREE TO LOCH ALSH TOTAIG 27 MILES
01/08 TOTAIG TO RUM 33 MILES
02/08 RUM TO LOCH DRUMBUIE 38 MILES
03/08 LOCH DRUMBUIE TO LOCHALINE 17 MILES
04/08 LOCHALINE TO OBAN TRANSIT MARINA TO CARSAIG ISLAND 41 MILES
05/08 CARSAIG ISLAND TO SANDA 58 MILES
06/08 SANDA TO TROON 36 MILES
21/08 TROON TO OTTER FERRY 40 MILES
01/09 OTTER FERRY TO LOCH GAIR TO LOCHRANZA 25 MILES
02/09 LOCHRANZA TO TROON 25 MILES
Arlil’s Log – Summer 2017
Voyage 1: Solo Circumnavigation of the Kintyre Peninsula
27 June: Troon to Tarbert, Loch Fyne [31.8 nautical miles]
Bought fuel from Troon Marina. £35.52 for 35 litres.
Left Troon Cruising Club at 13:15, hoisted reefed main sail and staysail, and exited the outer harbour. Motor sailed to make reasonable speed into headwind. Held off at Ardrossan while the Arran Ferry came out. Passed close to south end of Bute, then Inchmarnock. Passed by Ardlamont point, then wind freed enough to put the engine off. Reached Tarbert harbour at 20:15 and tied up in usual place, on shore side of the east pontoon.
28 June: Tarbert, Loch Fyne to Ardrishaig [9.6 NM]
14:15: After a breezy morning (force 6) left Tarbert harbour with the wind abating. Saw PS Waverley arriving at Tarbert Pier. Hoisted sails, again main with one reef and the staysail, and kept the engine running to make 5 knots. Arrived Ardrishaig at 16:30, in time to enter Crinan Canal before lock closing time of 5 pm. Lock keeper was helpful when my warps were not secured. Berthed in canal basin beside French couple, one playing accordion. Calm and midges, so went for fish and chips in Yot Spot, a boat-friendly café bar.
29 June: Ardrishaig to Dunardry, Crinan Canal [4.4 NM]
Engine on at 08:50 and followed French couple on Clan through locks 2 to 4, then motored on to Cairn Baan at 11:05. Clan then paired up with another boat, and I waited for another west-bound boat to continue through the locks. Eventually set of alone at 14:10 up locks 5 to 8, which was slow but uneventful. Met lock-keeper at lock 8 who said I would have to wait overnight at Lock 9 (Dunardry) as they were adjusting water levels. Very wet today – soaked through, and no wind till late afternoon.
30 June: Dunardry to Ardminish Bay, Isle of Gigha [31.3 NM]
After a peaceful night at Dunardry, and slight delay until locks opened, set off at 09:45 through lock 9. Again travelling alone, with help from occasional lock keeper, so progress slow but not difficult. Through lock 13 by 11:30 and on to Crinan, where staff were on lunch break. Eventually exited sea lock at 13:15 and set sail for Gigha. Passed steam puffer Vic 32 off Ardnoe Point in a cloud of black smoke. Wind N-NW force 3-5, and tide assisted heading SW down sound of Jura. Passed MacCormaig Isles at 16:15 and South to Gigha. Approaching north end of Gigha with wind NW, F5, and waves 3-4 ft, but more sheltered in Sound of Gigha. Dropped sails off minister’s beach, and motored into Ardminish bay. Tied up to new Gigha pontoon at 19:15, where Catriona was waiting having driven round from Kirkmichael.
1-3 July: Stayed at Gigha
Stayed 3 nights on pontoon, then 1 night at anchor nearby.
Music festival weekend, with bands “Tide Lines”, “Elephant Sessions”, Fred Morrison and others. Acoustic session in the gallery on Saturday afternoon, with opening of art exhibition, and another session in Gigha hotel “Bistro bar” on Sunday evening.
Pontoon fees: £20/night including Wi-Fi. Showers £1, no electricity.
4 July: Ardminish Bay to Sanda, Mull of Kintyre [31.1 NM]
Engine on at 10:30 and tried to hoist anchor, but holding fast in strong NE wind, F5-6. Kept trying till 13:00, then waited for wind to ease off, which it did sufficiently by 14:00. Got anchor free and motored out of Ardminish bay moorings, then got anchor up and stowed. Raised stay sail once out of bay heading South. Passed Isle of Cara at 15:00 and wind decreased further, then came back from SW! Kept engine on to try and catch tide round the Mull. Rounded Mull of Kintyre at up to 8 knots with engine, stay sail and tide assistance. Went through one line of overfalls just after the lighthouse, close to shore. Wind then turned NE. Arrived Sanda at 19:30, anchored in 4 metres between pier and boathouse. Two other boats at anchor, sheltered from direct wind by Sheep Island, but had some rolling.
5 July: Sanda to Troon [35.5 NM]
8:50 engine on and lifted anchor after a rolly night at anchor. Motored out into the channel, against the wind and tide. Tried sailing with staysail and reefed main, but had to keep engine on to make any headway. Tacked East towards Ailsa Craig, the North towards Arran. Wind decreasing and veering SE. Turned East near Sliddery, passing Pladda at 14:30 with almost zero wind. Oil alarm beeping at 16:30, topped up oil, also diesel tank from spare canister.
Total distance for voyage 1: 143.6 NM
Voyage 2: to Tarbert Boat Festival and over to Northern Ireland
11 July: Troon to Brodick [16.3 NM]
Left Troon Cruising Club at 17:15, a bit late but good to get away. An uneventful crossing, arriving at Brodick 21:30. Free moorings!
Next morning I visited Brodick Heritage Centre, with a wide range of exhibits on Arran history, farming, wartime, boats and others.
12 July: Brodick to Kames, Kyles of Bute [19.9 NM]
14:20 Left mooring under sail with light W wind, but had to put engine on for a while when becalmed in lee of headland past Brodick Castle. Passed through Inchmarnock sound at 18:30, arrived at Kames 20:15. Moorings free for hotel patrons. Arrived just too late for dinner so just had an excellent pint of Jarl and ate on board.
13 July: Kames to Tarbert, Loch Fyne [12.0 NM]
Left Kames 12:45. Light SW wind while tacking down west Kyle. Wind died and engine on at 15:50, and round Port an Ghobhlain at 16:15. Passed nice small traditional fishing boat “Rosebank”, which headed of towards Tarbert, then saw seaplane overhead. Sailed most of the way up Loch Fyne, but put engine on at 18:00, 3NM out. Wind picked up entering Tarbert harbour, arrived at long east pontoon 18:50.
14-16 July: Stayed at Tarbert for Boat Festival
The Tarbert Traditional Boat Festival was somewhat dampened by the weather, but there was a good turn-out of boats, and we wouldn’t have been sailing anyway in this weather. Mostly old fishing boats, many converted for accommodation. Music provided in the marquee on Friday and Saturday evening.
Crew in the form of Catriona arrived by bus from Glasgow on Saturday 15th July. We had a lovely meal at Anchorage restaurant beside Islay Frigate.
Bought fuel from fishing pier (brought over in canister by car with help from a festival organiser Phil) £24.44 for 25 litres.
Tarbert harbour fees discounted for boat festival entrants, £59.50 for 4 nights – normally £21.25/night. Free electricity showers and weak Wi-Fi. Shower block upgrade promised later this year.
17 July: Tarbert to Campbeltown [31.3 NM]
Left Tarbert at 11.10, heading South with not much wind to start with, but on the nose. We saw several porpoises in Kilbrannan Sound. The wind died for a bit, then picked up from SW near Campbeltown. Motored up Campbeltown Loch, and saw a yacht getting a tow from a fishing boat. Arrived at Campbeltown harbour at 18:25, and had a good meal at nearby Royal Hotel.
Harbour fees £20/night, including showers and electricity.
18 July: Campbeltown to Ballycastle [34.3 NM]
Left Campbeltown harbour at 06:30 to catch tide round the Mull. Light wind to start, but after Sanda wind was SE, F3-4. Increased sail (large jib, staysail and full main). Weather fair and making good speed, averaging over 7 knots with west running tide. Wind increased off Fair Head, with sea choppy near shore. Probably due to tide race with tide changing direction early close to shore. Wind S/SE, force 5, so slow going for last 3 NM to Ballycastle. Arrived Ballycastle Marina 13:30, with some difficulty manoeuvring in the harbour due to the wind, but no damage done.
Marina fees: £20.50/night, including showers, electricity and Wi-Fi. Free laundry washing machine, and £1 for drier.
19-21 July: Stayed at Ballycastle
Visited Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills distillery by bus. Went to a couple of music pubs with traditional music sessions. Two tall ships came in, Thalassey (Dutch) and Atlantic (British).
Bought fuel at Ballycastle harbour: £21.15 for 24.6 litres.
22 July: Ballycastle to Rathlin Island [5.4 NM]
11:00 engine on and left Ballycastle marina at slack tide. Wind light from N, sea slight with some eddies during the short crossing. Arrived Rathlin 12:30 with very few visiting boats on 3 good pontoons inside the breakwater.
Harbour fees: £21.50/night, free showers and electricity, but no Wi-Fi.
23-24 July: Stayed at Rathlin Island
Visited bird observatory at west lighthouse, via Puffin bus from Church bay. Saw lots of gulls, fulmars, terns, kittiwakes, razorbills and puffins!
We had a couple of nice meals at McCuaig’s bar (dressed Rathlin crab and fish & chips), and lunch once (seafood chowder) at the posh Manor House. Visited small museum with exhibition, and got provisions from friendly community shop. Walked out to east lighthouse, not open to visitors but great views to Mull of Kintyre and along Rathlin coast.
25 July: Rathlin to Campbeltown [34.5 NM]
Engine on at 06:20 and left Rathlin harbour. Reached speed over 10 knots passing Rue point, with little wind from the west. Topped up diesel tank half way across, about 12 litres. Saw some puffins on the water mid channel, and several porpoises. Tide still with us as we passed Sanda. Arrived Campbeltown marina at 12:05 – average speed 6.0 knots! Had shower and observed traditions on arrival in Scotland.
Fees £20/night (honesty box) with free electricity, showers and Wi-Fi.
26-28 July: Stayed at Campbeltown
“Storm bound” for several days with strong SE winds (force 6 and more) and heavy rain.
Met up with John and Cathy Lewis (Beeswing) also from TCC. We did a “walking tour” of Campbeltown, had lovely meal at new restaurant “Food for Thought”. Visited heritage centre, then got bus to Machrihanish to visit seabird observatory. Saw ringed plover and chick, also common gull and larger chick, curlew, gannet, razorbill, cormorants and seals. Visited old museum and tour of Springbank distillery.
29 July: Campbeltown to Kingscross, Isle of Arran [23.0 NM]
Engine on at 11:50 and left Campbeltown marina. Wind S, F4-6 so just used staysail and kept engine on. Waves from south caused rolling when trying to heads east, so zig-zagged to Pladda. Saw two porpoises south of Arran. Then heavy rain set in and the size of waves made it difficult to head much other than downwind, so diverted to Kingscross in Lamlash bay. Anchored in 5m depth (high tide) in calm water.
30 July: Kingscross to Ardrossan [12.5 NM]
Engine on, raised anchor and left Kingscross. Wind still southerly, around force 5, and waves still making heading east difficult. Headed slightly downwind and reached Ardrossan comfortably. Tried heading SE but motion very bumpy and speed knocked down, so went in to Clyde marina, Ardrossan.
Our kind friend Sooh Sweeney drove up to Ardrossan to take us home.
Marina fee £23.80/night, free electricity, showers and Wi-Fi.
31 July: Ardrossan to Troon [8.2 NM]
Drove to Ardrossan after work. Left Clyde marina at 19:30 with reefed main and staysail. Wind now SW around force 4, so had a pleasant single handed evening sail back to Troon. Arrived at 21:30 (sunset).
Total distance for voyage 2: 197.5 NM
(Distances measured using Google Maps as minimum navigation distance, not including extra tacking distance)
Outer Hebrides and back
Excerpts from Oberon’s log – 9th May – 13th June 2017
We were delighted to win the Narrative trophy this year. The bad weather and umpteen storms gave us the opportunity to explore the islands.
Tuesday 9th May 2017 Troon – Gigha
Alarm at 4.30am. Cold. In cabin 7oC. Dry with few clouds. 1027.5mb.
Dover LW 0608 HW 1120; Troon LW 0530
0000 MGMK V bc W/SW later 2/3 inc 4 at times.
Next 24 hrs: V m W/NW at first 2/3 inc 4 at times
0600 MKArd V bc NW later 3/4.
Next 24 hrs: NW becoming V 2/3 occ 4 at first
Good to go! Just over 11 hours journey – 70 miles J. Sunny, chilly & calm. 2 seals, 1 porpoise, lots of gannets and guillemots. Fixed Ebersbacher. Tin curry; raspberries and yoghurt. Watched 1st episode of Breaking Bad.
Wed 10th May
Spent the day on Gigha. Fire in the shower block last month – no washing facilities yet. Spoke to Stuart McNeil regarding pontoon berth for next week – advised to use last 3 pontoons.
Walked to South Pier, sprouting cave, South Cairn and back. Ice-cream at the boathouse. Midges out. Calm, cloudy, bit of sun later. Geese, Oystercatchers and seals.
1200 MGMK and MKArd V3/4 occ 2 at first. Fair.
Next 24 hrs: V3/4 becoming E/NE 4/5. Fair at first then showers
Thurs 11th May Gigha to Port Ellen (Islay)
SE wind forecasted – F3/4. Very little wind though – motored all the way to Port Ellen, eventually identified Otter Rock cardinal buoy, plenty of visitor berths in the marina. Very sunny and warm.
We tied up next to Tsambika – a beautiful 31ft, 9 ton, wooden Bermudan sloop owned by Philip Marsden – travel writer. Philip is researching myths and folklore around the western shores around the UK – last year sailed around West coast of Ireland and this summer his plan is to sail around West coast of Scotland. However, due to some mechanical problems and bad weather coming, he could be here some time, same as us.
Shower at local B&B/camping place. Donation. Towels included J especially as I forgot mine! Paid £20 per night at local shop next to the Islay Hotel. Electricity included.
Picturesque walk around Port Ellen. Drink in hotel and free WiFi. Very friendly people here.
Fri 12th May – walk to Kildalton High Cross
Rain through the night – first rain for a few weeks. 993.0mb.
Caught local bus to Ardbeg £2. Walked from Ardbeg to Kildalton Cross and then walked all the way back to Port Ellen – estimated over 12 miles. Saw 4 deer, lots of seals and three peacocks. Lovely walk and scenery. Good track between Port Ellen and Ardbeg. Cake and hot drinks at Ardbeg distillery. Great day. Fish’n’chips in hotel – good food. Rain during the night.
1800 MKArd V3 or less, mainly SE later 4/5. Rain/showers.
Next 24 hrs: SE 4/5 veering S/SW 5/6 Rain/showers/thunder
Sat 13th May – Trip to Bowmore
Rain and Windy! Took bus to Bowmore (£5 return) to buy a fan heater (£36). Cake and hot drinks in café – lovely. Got wet! Visited round church. Fixed toilet (leak from in-pipe). Charged batteries over night. Chicken Thai curry; Melon and Yoghurt.
1800 MKArd SE then S/SW 4/5, occ 6 at first.
Next 24 hrs: SW then SE 4/5, inc 6 to gale 8 later.
Sun 14th May – walk to Dunvalen Castle
Walked to Dunvalen Castle and other sites on the distillery walk. Lots of seals. Gammon and pineapple; apricots.
Mon 15th May – Stormy Day
Rough !!! Lots of rain. Gale 8. Bacon and Egg brunch. Played canasta – Sooh won! Sausages, potatoes, cabbage and carrots; Melon and yoghurt.
Tue 16th May … still on Islay.
Caught bus to Finlaggan – got dropped off at road end. Lovely day at the “Lord of the Isles”. Rained at times. Filled with water and shopped at COOP. Sausage, tomato and pepper pasta; Kiwi.
1800 MKArd W/SW becoming S 4/5 occ 6 in N, dec 2 at times in S. Fair then showers
Next 24 hrs: Var, mainly SW3/4 dec 2 at times. Fair/showers.
HW Dover for N going tide is at around 4pm on Wed.
Wed 17th May Port Ellen to Craighouse (21nm)
1800 MKArd S/SW becoming 4/5 bc V 3/4 at times.
Next 24 hrs: Var, mainly S3/4 inc 5 at times bc SE 5/6 showers, thundery.
XCWeather have more benign forecast 2/3 maybe 4 until Sunday. We will have to wait and see. Left around 1.15pm. Good passage to Craighouse. Squall hit us near lighthouse on Islay (not far from entrance to Sound of Islay). Tsambika left Craighouse around the same time and was seen heading through the Sound of Islay on her way to West Loch Tarbet to visit the King’s caves – looking forward to reading his book when it comes out. After squall the wind died and we motored to Craighouse. Arrived around 6.30pm. Some buoys had pickups. Three other boats. Calm night – the Craighouse rock (or slap) took place occasionally – but as it was neaps, not too bad!
Thurs 18th May Craighouse to Ardminish Bay (14nm)
Overslept – phone had run out of charge so no alarm at 8.05am for forecast. Little phone signal so no Internet. All boats have left. Have to wait for 10.10am Stornoway Coastguard. Wind SE 4 in the bay. No 10.10 nor 11.10 forecasts due to separate incidents that the Coastguards were dealing with! Arrived Gigha around 1pm. Fab sail – F4 and in the sun. Picked up mooring buoy.
Fri 19th May
Moved the boat on to the Pontoon. Awaiting the arrival of friends and the birthday boy – John Haston. Drinks onboard. Get together with Hastons, Duffins, Lees and many more at the South Lodge. Fabulous food and company.
Sat 20th May
John out for a kayak around the coast. Walked around Achamore Gardens – stunning views. Dani and Paul arrived on last ferry. Party time! Great fun and wonderful food at the Gigha Hotel. Wind and rain started up.
Sun 21st May
1800 MKArd S/SE 5/6, occ 7 for a time, SW 4/5 later
Next 24 hrs: SW 4/5 showers at first occ rain/fog patches later.
Rough day – very windy. Some friends braved the weather and the bouncing pontoon to visit us. Dani and Paul caught ferry back to the mainland. Meal with John and Catriona at hotel – Fish’n’chips. Weather deteriorated further – it was so rough we booked a room at the Gigha Hotel for the night – abandoning the boat!!
Mon 22nd May
Restful night except dog barking at 4am. Lovely breakfast. The Lees were surprised to see us at breakfast! Still very windy and rain off/on during the day. Moved boat around 3.30pm to mooring buoy. Calm evening. Lovely sunshine after the heavy rain. Tomato pasta; pineapple. Made passage plans.
Tue 23rd May Gigha to Ardfern (33nm)
S/SW 3/4 occ 5. Rain. Sailed most of the way – wind behind us. Left around 9am and arrived 3.45pm. Fuelled. Wet through!! Sausages, potatoes, leeks, carrots and onions. Strawberries and yoghurt. Mooring buoy A9.
Wed 24th May Ardfern to Loch Aline (33.5nm)
1022.5mb. Left at 8.15am Fog most of the way – damp mist. Sailed after Luing and part of Sound of Mull. Good through Luing – left 15 mins after Ardfern guide. Anchored at 2.45pm. Italian meats for starter, tomato and sausage pasta. Sneezing L Bryan won at Canasta L.
Thur 25th May Loch Aline to Tobermory (14nm)
Sunny – frying out waterproofs! Had a go at repairing Port Bow fairlead. 11.45am stream going West down Sound of Mull. Good sail. Shopping in Tobermory and Bryan had a pint in the Mishnish. Mega washing done! Thai Chicken curry.
Fri 26th May
Day on the boat. Very hot and windy. Planning for trip to Outer Hebrides. Leave Tobermory tomorrow at 11am if wind 3/4. Spring tides.
Sat 27th May Tobermory to Canna (35nm)
0600 Minch V3/4 becoming N/NW 4/5 inc 6 at times.
Next 24 hrs: N/NW 4/5 becoming V3/4 then NE 4/5 later.
Forecast OK, shopping done. Left Tobermory around 11am for Canna. Motored all the way. F3 on the nose. Cold wind at times. Saw puffins J porpoises, seals and flocks of Manx Shearwater. Spaghetti meatballs then strawberries. Rough night with strong winds. Planning for trip to Uists – wind N/NW, so go during southerly tide which start around 11.30am – aim to leave 9.30/10am.
Sun 28th May Canna to Loch Boisdale (27nm)
Dramatic rise in pressure during the night – 1015mb. Bit rough near Canna but got calmer the nearer we got to S Uist. Saw a couple of puffins and some porpoises. Very few boats around except for large cruise-ship and freight carrier. Two boats left Loch Boisdale Mainly motored due to wind direction on the nose and then the wind died down. Excellent facilities at Loch Boisdale £24 and includes showers, electrics and water.
Drinks on board Silver Spindthrift (Moody 35 – Steven and Sarah). DVD player broken L.
Mon 29th May
Took the bus to Kildonan Museum in the afternoon. Excellent museum.
Tue 30th May
Bacon and eggs for lunch. Walked up the hill overlooking Loch Boisdale. Afternoon tea in the Pink Café. Washings done. Sunny, but very windy! 43 knots. Steven and Sarah on board Oberon for drinks.
Wed 31st May
Hired a car J- £35 per day – Corsa – delivered to the marina. Drove to Berneray via S Uist, Benbecula and N Uist. Saw St Kilda in the distance through spyglass. Walked on white sands on West beach, Berneray. Lunch at the Lobster Pot, Berneray. Old Templeah (Sommerled related) church/education centre.
Lapwings :). Drove to Loch Maddy for afternoon tea and later saw the Lady of the Isles statue. Arrived back at the boat to F6/7 SE/S winds howling. Lots of boats seeking shelter. Met Office say “upto 6” – yeah right!! Beautiful day today, very warm most of the day. Lamb chops followed by strawberries.
1800 Minch S/SE 4/5 occ 3 at first then inc 6 at times. Fair then rain, then showers.
Next 24 hrs: S4/5 then SW3/4 bc V2 at times.
Met Office have got it wrong – 36 knots at 9pm! Rough night – very windy and rain at times.
Thur 1st June
Second day of car hire – visited Eriskay – lovely lunch at Am Politicean – wonderful walk in Eriskay and Loch Eport (S Uist).
Fri 2nd June Loch Boisdale to Canna (27nm)
0600 Minch SW3/4 becoming S/SE 4/5.
Next 24 hrs: SE becoming SW4/5, occ 6 at first, dec 3 at times..
Cracking sail to Canna! – swell and F4-6. Reached 8.3 knts. Two reefs in main and foresail. Sunny and calm in Canna. Bryan saw either a minky whale or Dolphin; I saw a pod of dolphins. Went ashore and paid £10 for 27th May and today. WiFi in shop. Sweet potato and tomato curry.
Sat 3rd June Canna to Tobermory (35nm)
SE 3/4 forecasted with showers and moderate seas. However, heavy rain, swell and wind on the nose most of the way. The darkest of darkening happened after Ardnamuchan Point – Squall – 48 knots!! Reefed quickly. Lost our Windex in the squall L. Safely arrived in Tobermory. Spag bol and pineapple and a stiff drink!
Sun 4th June Tobermory to Loch Aline (14nm)
Bacon egg and pineapple for brunch then a good sail down to Loch Aline, even though Bryan had hurt his back lifting the dingy up. Anchored. Steven and Sarah arrived in Loch Aline. Invited them over for a hot drink and compared notes on yesterday’s squall exploits. Mince and tatties.
Mon 5th June Loch Aline to Ardfern (33.5nm)
Left at 9.30am. Light breeze from NW. Sailed from the lighthouses in Sound of Mull until near island off S Luing. Goosewinged – lovely. Saw seals and porpoises. Motored gently down Luing and through Dorus Mor. Sunshine for last 6 miles. Dinner outside – lamb curry. No internet at Ardfern L. Still evening.
1800 MKArd N3/4 becoming NW 5/6 inc 7 at times later, rain/showers.
Next 24 hrs: NW 5/7 dec 3/4 later, showers at first.
Tue 6th June
Forecast from last night was upgraded to occasional Gale 8 with rain! Looked at option of taking bus back home. Had enough of being storm bound. L
Wed 7th June
Looks like there might be a break in the weather in next 24 hrs to make it to Gigha and then to Troon. Decided to wait in Ardfern.
Thur 8th June Ardfern to Gigha (33nm)
0000 MGMK S/SE 3/4 becoming cyc then SW 4/5 later.
Next 24 hrs: W/SW 4/5 then S 3/4 later.
0000 MKArd E/SE 4/5 becming V3/4 later.
Next 24 hrs: V becoming SE 3/4 later.
Arrived at Ardminish Bay around 12.30pm – however F5 NE wind – too bouncy to tie up properly. Picked up buoy and then threw over chain. Around 5pm had a go at threading mooring chain through shackle. Did it – finally. Now we can relax and have some dinner. Irish stew and sugar snap peas. Waiting for 13mm of rain scheduled between 7-10pm! Weather is due to improve from S/SE 4/5, occ 6 at first to V3/4 overnight. Fingers crossed!
Fri 9th June Gigha to Troon (Hopefully) … ended up at Crinan (37nm)
Alarm was set for 2.15am – ready to leave at 3am to catch the tide. Things did not go according to plan. Left at 4am. Weather was stronger. After 4 miles we turned back to Ardminish and then carried on to the Crinan Canal. Arrived in time to enter the canal. Moored up at Dunadry. Lovely walk along the canal – sunshine J.
Sat 10th June Dunadry to Lochgilphead (Miller’s Bridge) (6nm)
The forecast for the next few days is grim. Strong winds forecasted. Decided to stay within the canal until Tuesday. Arranged assisted passage with Yachtspot. At times it was F5 – difficult to manoeuvre slowly due to windage. Left at mid-day when it was pleasant and warm. Meal at the Stag Hotel, Lochgilphead.
Sun 11th June
Shopping and then cuppa at Smithy Bistro. Collected Bryan’s lost hat from the Stag Hotel. Wet/windy all day. Crosswords and canasta. Tomato Pasta and Melon.
Mon 12th June
Damp and windy day again. Added fuel. Afternoon tea and scones and Smiddy Bistro. Planning done for sail to Troon. Midgies out in full force later in the day. Lamb followed by raspberries and yoghurt.
Tues 13th June Lochgilphead to Troon (40 nm)
7am alarm. Through the canal with no problems. Two new people doing the assistance. Through by 10.30am. On the nose most of the way to Troon. Challenging and very bouncy in places. Squall (again) near Troon. Saw a boat being rescued between Troon and Irvine by Troon lifeboat. Arrived by 6.30pm – Relieved to be back in Troon. Home by 8.30pm – exhausted!!
Bryan and Sooh Sweeney – Oberon