Linda and I managed a couple of days off around New Year and Mum & Dad were stable with their care so we sprinted up to the boat. We had a grand plan to get out sailing Thursday 30th and be in Mallaig for the ‘Bells’. That didn’t work!
We awoke on Thursday morning and the two of us were so tired and worn-done we couldn’t face rigging up and setting off in F6 and Rain. We decided to have a duvet day and went as far as Ardfern to pick up supplies. The rest of the day was spent with cake, tea, cola, books and movies and we were in bed at the back of 21:00.
Friday morning we awoke bright and early. There was some initial discussion about a second duvet day but on a weather update and the realisation it was ‘now or not at all’ we rigged her up and (via the diesel jetty) headed out. James’ comment when I asked for Diesel was telling; “Hang on and I’ll grab my head torch!” it was still darkish when we motored out the marina at 08:20.
Across Loch Shuna was practically windless with heavy mist (aka rain) all around. It was very dramatic, very atmospheric; “Don’t go out on the Moors!” came to mind
We motored across and up into Seil Sound and onwards into Cuan Sound. We were expecting the Sound to be pumping at mid-tide but there was little flow on the east end and only when we got to Rattling Island did we see whirlpools and a river in the stream.
There was a chap who waved at the caravan park and the ferry was plying his way through the flow. The western end was more energetic and we topped ten knots as it spat us out into Easdale Bay. We could just make out the northern marker buoy but the lighthouse was still hidden deep in the mist. Still there was little to no wind and we were showing 2mph true as we motored past Easdale Head where the breakers from the Atlantic roll were crashing hard against the slate.
We sailed west of Insh Island and motored north surrounded by a large pod of common dolphin. They were leaping and breaching all around us. Guessing about sixteen or so of them travelled with us for about half an hour before they pealed off and headed south leaving us solitary for our northbound leg to Duart.
We did see a couple of other boats; Isle of Lewis passed us and a workboat was motoring southbound as we approached Duart. We could barely make out the castle as we passed and were greeted by the watershed and an instant increase in the breeze. Linda went below to make tea ad I raised full sail. In no time we were tracking north-west up the Sound at 8 knots. The rocks had a few cormorants on them but there were none of the seals we usually see there and no more dolphins.
The wind and weather were up and down and all over the place as we sailed up the Sound and we passed Lachaline at 8knotts under full sail. Clansman overtook us and a workboat passed by us and an hour off Aros Channel the wind died away just as Isle of Lewis tried to sneak past us. After she passed, we fired up the engine and dropped and stowed the sails.
Hogmanay in Tobermory
It was past half tide on the rise and we had 3m of tide approaching Aros Channel so decided to take the shortcut in towards Tobermory. It was pretty and uneventful with little current pushing us into the Bay. We routed in the new fairway and there was one other boat on the pontoons. The chap was setting her berthing lines as we approached and offered to catch our lines for us. It was an easy berthing in light winds and we doubled up as tomorrow’s winds are expected to be quite strong.
The afternoon highlight was a visit to the Distillery where I picked up a 17 year old with a Madeira finish, Linda got a new bobble-hat and we grabbed a couple of slices of cake from the deli. We had hot showers then returned to the boat stowing our distillery booty and finally cooking a two-bird roast, baked potatoes and left over veg from last night. Dinner was very yummy, but we are barely staying awake now, and its only 18:00. It is unlikely we will see in the New Year awake!