Monday 3rd January gave us an unwelcome alarm call when at 06:30 the wind swung to the NW and was howling into the bay through the northern gap. There were two foot waves in amongst the pontoons and while Misha wasn’t the worst affected, it was certainly uncomfortable for her. I had previously roped her in a cat’s cradle to protect her from the southerly gales and that softened the blow well but she was still being thrown around some by 08:30 when we finally got out of the Bay.
Our original plan had been to set sail for Loch Aline and anchor up in the top of the Loch over until Monday and then surf down early in the morning to Oban or Loch Spelve. But as we went flying past Loch Aline, hours before the tide turned, we decided to push on and get as close to home as we could.
I had thought of heading into Oban Bay, anchoring up in the south of Karerra, Loch Spelve, or even Easdale as overnight options but we just kept on heading towards Croabh at a good pace on just that headsail which we reefed and unreefed as the wind increased and decreased. We arrived in Easdale Bay around 1pm knowing that we couldn’t get through Cuan Sound until around 4pm and sunset so we set an anchor in the NW corner of the bay and had coffee and afternoon snacks.
It was only when I was setting the anchor that I really paid attention to the strength of the gusts. Some of them were in excess of 40mph. Of course just such a gust happened just as we were setting the anchor and it pulled off the narrow ledge at 6m into the deeper 11m base. I put out 50m of chain and she set solid all through the afternoon; didn’t move an inch although I kept the Anchor Watch on just in case as some of those gusts were pretty vicious!
It was weird that the wind was so violent when otherwise it was such a beautiful afternoon. Although the sun was already starting to drop quickly by 2pm there was still this brilliant milky blue winters sky with interesting ‘wave’ clouds and a fascinating cross-chop.
The next bit was interesting! We had been sitting on 50m of chain for two hours with winds never less than 20mph and peaking at 48mph and hadn’t moved an inch. I was of course certain my Bruce Anchor would now be well bedded into the heavy slate scree base of the bay. I wanted to get through Cuan as early as possible to get as much light as I could through the sound so, thinking it may take a while to get the anchor off the bottom we weighed anchor at 15:15. The logic behind this was that it may take as much as 30 mins for me to free the anchor if I had to do the cross-reverse approach of getting it to lift (the tripping line was well under as I had planned on a 6m and ended up in 11m plus 2m of tide!).
In the end it took 3 minutes to get the rode and the anchor in and by 15:18 we were motoring gently away from Easdale. The windlass did stop when the chain went vertical but Lunda just pushed it forwards once and out Bruce popped and up she came!
We motored East slowly knowing we still had a fair bit of the Spring Tide against us. However it was well achievable through the Sound and we popped out into Loch Shuna with enough light to still spot fishing buoys. The crossing of Loch Shuna in ever decreasing twilight was mostly spent sorting everything out and then getting the berthing kit ready.
By 6pm we were on shore power, perfectly parked in Craobh Haven. Actually I went in nose first and then turned her round on the ropes as it was a bitty blowy to reverse her in against the NW wind. But she was all double roped and dinner on before thew hour struck.
Sadly that is the end of our 2021 season as Misha is now due out for some winter care and attention and the forecast for the coming days isn’t looking too good then work calls us back to her cold embrace. Over 3K nautical miles, some night, some single handed and 14 visitors out sailing still made for a good season although the winds all year had generally been light and I used more diesel than ever before (in fact more than I used on honey Badger in the three years 2016-2019)!
We did there right thing as the next morning (Wednesday 5th Jan 2022) was bitterly cold with driving blizzards then blue skies, then driving blizzards every ten minutes. Misha was all ‘warm and comfy’; “wumfy” on her berth and ready for James and his team’s attentions. We carried everything up to the car between the snow showers and with a beautiful view of the now on the hills of Mull.