WLT to Craobh

We had a very long lie! Linda eventually awoke around 09:30 and we had a breakfast of mueslis and yoghurt then sat around for a good while reading, doing some boat jobs and general R&R. At the back of 1pm we kitted up and headed out to weigh the anchor. It came up nice and easy but with plenty of mud still attached and thinly spread over the bow and me.

It was blowing over 25mph and white capping in the Inner Loch. It was also low tide but there was still some current running outbound. The passage is quite narrow at low tide and a bit narrow when there is significant side wind. We made it out easily and followed the track out of the loch with just half the foresail. We were making 8knots with a hanky flying!

Sunset in the Inner Loch WLT

As we were leaving the Loch we could see one solitary yacht heading north a fair bit out from the Loch and a fair bit north of us. We headed out, still on half a foresail only and never dropped below 6.5knots!

We fired up the west side of Jura with a pile of wind powering us north. The whole way I was worried that it was too strong and upsetting Linda. Actually, she was worried that I appeared stressed! With just half the foresail we were firing up faster than I planned and I was also worrying that we would be too early at the Corryvreckan.

As we approached I couldn’t see any standing wave so we sneaked in through the gap between the island and Bay of Pigs. The wind was 20+ and we were doing in excess of seven knots.

The yacht that we had seen as we left West Loch Tarbert we had overtaken as we powered north and we guessed they were now about thirty minutes behind us as we went into Corry. We were at least 45 mins early and I could see the outbound stream in the middle flowing out to sea.

We sneaked in from SW, passed Bay of Pigs and were about 10m off the northern headland when the current really hit us. With 25 knots of wind on a reach we were making 8.5 knots through the water but only 2 knots over ground! The chart plotter was suggesting we would hit the south of Scarba although we were facing East. Making only 2kn course made good we moved north across the stream and were 50m off the south of Scarba’s SE corner. We were making better progress and managed to catch the eastbound eddy which punched us out into the inner sound.

It was flat water, stiff breeze from the SE of 20 knots plus, and we were making 7 knots plus towards Craobh. We made tea, tidied up and got ready to enter the marina. It was actually a lovely sail, in brilliant sunshine; best weather of the day.

Of course as we were going into the Marina the gusts picked up (that was enough to make us decide to berth nose in) and there was a big catamaran fishing boat on the diesel berth. Every time I came out from the lea of it, the wind caught us and swing out stern round.  A few chaps from neighbouring boats came to catch lines and we made a good berth.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get a table for dinner, so decided to just head home.

35 miles in 4 hours; Saillog Entry.

Four days, five nights, 200 miles, 27 hours sailing and a really good time.

Loch Sween to West Loch Tarbert, Jura

We slept well throughout the night and I awoke at 7am when my 2nd anchor alarm went off. We hadn’t moved I had just set it with the scope too narrow deliberately as we were close to the shore on the West side at full stretch and I wanted it to alert me if the wind went eastern and risked us getting close to the shoal. We were about 3m off it with the anchor chain taught so I went back to bed for an hour. 

I run a different scenario where, instead of going to Carsaig or Crinan on Friday and the Lagoon on Saturday, we would sail out through the Sound of Islay to West Loch Tarbert Friday and to Craobh Haven (which so failing, the lagoon) on Saturday. When Linda did wake up she was happy with this plan. It gives us ore sailing although we are ‘retracing our steps’ to some extent.

Linda didn’t fancy getting up so I offered to take us out the Bay and let her rest but by the time I had the anchor retrieved she was up and dressed and by the time we left the Bay she was up in the cockpit with me.

The breeze seemed to have calmed again but we rigged up and were making about 5kn southbound past Tayvallich. The first 18mph gust made me think about a reef so I immediately took in one reef on the main as we approached the northern most rock in the loch.

We made a great sail all the way down the loch but just before the McCormaig islands and the reefs at the bottom of the Loch the wind became unreliable, disappearing and gusting at right angles so we stuck the motor on and motored south of the McCormaig Islands.

Once they were behind us we quenched the engine and sailed, mostly a tight reach across the Sound. It was very pleasant. The sky was dark and pretty and the breeze was a solid 12 knots and gusting up to 18 knots. It was a very pleasant crossing and we must have averaged over 6 knots in the crossing.

As we approached the base of the Sound, I made us a brunch of team and coffee and bacon sandwiches. Just as I brought out the sandwiches, a little seabird on our port side caught my attention for a moment. I urged Linda to look and we sat watching as a puffin spotted us watching him, got shy and took off towards Gigha. It was quite excellent munching bacon sandwiches washed down with hot drinks as we cruised past Brosdale Island and Black Rocks up into the Sound.

By the time we were past Black Rock Buoy we were sailing at over 9 knots with the wind behind us and we went from seaboard run, to goose winged, to port run. Passing Port Asking we were doing 11-12 knots and we didn’t drop below 8 knots all the way round into West Loch Tarbert.

The wind increased again as we came out of the Sound and I brought a double reef in on the RR Genny and we were still doing 8 knots, clipping eastwards into West Loch Tarbert. The Loch was pretty choppy with white horses although we were only 100m off the lee shore.

We dropped sail about a quarter mile off and motored into Glenbatrick Bay West anchoring in 3m and putting 15m chain out. It held fast and we settled ourselves inside but not before we watched an otter on Sgier Ageanne running along the ridge and down towards the water. We could hear occasional squeals from the rocks and I imagined the Otters warning us of the horrific gusts that can roll through the hills. 

Of course, no soon we were settled I felt something strange and noted to Linda I thought she was dragging. Minutes later the anchor alarm rang and we popped out to find 30 mph wind and big white horses with Misha pointing east and obviously dragging quickly. 

We recovered the anchor to find the biggest single piece of Kelp I have ever seen; boulder and all. It was so big I couldn’t lift it out the anchor and had to spend ten minutes pulling bits off to get rid of it.

We decided to motor into the inner loch where we knew it would be much calmer and passed at least six seals sitting on rocks looking at us. Every one of them thinking to themselves, ‘could have told them they would have been better in the Inner Loch’.

We turned right into the Inner Loch and anchored in the first southern anchorage (where I spent my Birthday last year); Cairidh Mhor.  Misha was very happy about tis and said it was were she wanted to be all along!

All tidied up, we settled indoors again and I have to admit, Misha is right, it Is far more comfortable here. But of course, no reception so Linda doesn’t get a Masterchef fix tonight!

Tonight’s dinner is left over chicken casserole and brussel sprouts which was all very tasty. We had some crappy television downloaded on the iPad and watched a couple of hours before our eyelids got too heavy and demanded horizontalness.

Both of us slept very well and I awoke about 7am rested and comfortable all except my right shoulder which is whinging again after the incident with the kelp in the anchor. I let Linda sleep (it wasn’t truly my decision). However by 09:30 loneliness got the better of me, I slipped out of bed and made tea before returning with the hot beverage. It still didn’t wake her, so I actually raised the courage to deliberately wake her up. 

Breakfast was toast, muesli and yoghurt. I ran the engine for the toaster and the hoover to tidy up the saloon from the crumbs and drain the bilge etc. Then we sat around rejig until it was time to set off around 13:30.

44 miles in 6 hours; Saillog Entry.

Gigha to the Fairy Isles, Loch Sween

The sky was heavy. There was a small blue fishing boat lifting lobster pots about 100m outside the bay and I awoke to his winch rattling around 7am. There wasn’t a whole load of wind in the bay and there was no wash so it had been a very comfortable night and the only movement we noted was the odd boat passing through the sound sending wake into our bay.

Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver

We rigged up and headed north. After our encounter with Finlaggan yesterday when I saw Hebredean Isles would be crossing our path I radioed him to confirm we would pass by his stern. That was the only item of note as we sailed all the way up to the McCormaig Isles. 

Castle Sween
Castle Sween

We cut through them and north further into Loch Sween, passing by the castle and getting some good photos as we went. Hebridean Princess was heading out the Loch and we passed about half way up, just about the top reef. 

At that point Linda noticed a yacht turn out of Tayvallach northbound and guessed they were going for the Fairy Isles, our destination. I offered Linda a trip into Tayvallach, specifically as she had scoured the boat for wine and found narry a bottle on board but she assured me she just wanted to get to the anchorage.

As we turned into the Fairy Isles, sure enough the yacht; Wind Lass, was anchored right in the middle of the entrance. But there was also a small fishing boat anchored in the southern bay and a rubber dinghy motoring about with a fisherman in it. 

We headed for the Northern bay and surveyed it a bit. There was a seal sitting on a rock with his head and his flippers up, just as I remember a young one doing the last time we were here about twenty years ago. The Navinics charts show a spit crossing right across east to west of the northern anchorage as a drying spit. However there we no sign of that on the Antares charts or in the water. We dropped in 5m and tested a good hold then made tea. The fisherman wandered about us, the little fishing boat lifted their anchor almost as we finished dropping ours, and I made the decision to move just as the fisherman ran his dinghy up into the northern inlet.

We pulled in the chain and when the anchor was on the bottom with the chain vertical we could feel the bow of the boat dip but the anchor wouldn’t lift at all. It has been years since I had this previously and I was at the point of thinking I might stop using the tripping line. But of course as soon as I tugged the tripping line up, the anchor tripped and started ascending perfectly. Just to show why I always use a tripping line despite the grief of it.

We motored well around the yacht anchored and I noted he was right in the middle of the entrance. We travelled to the South Bay, and did a survey around the 4m contour. Then dropped in 4m right in the middle of the bay. We did a full anchor check, got the ball up, the anchor alarm set and Linda went below to make tea while I sat on deck looking at the shoreline, the geese and the seal.

After ten minutes I was certain that Wind Lass had moved position and I called Linda up to look but she was certain the yacht was where it had been previously. Another ten minutes passed and she as sitting ‘wrongly’. I couldn’t describe it, just ‘wrongly’. Then I noticed that while we  were moving back and forth in the breeze she was only sitting with her port bow into the wind. At that moment, we saw the fisherman in the rubber dingy rive back and jump on board. We radioed him to offer help but he didn’t answer. He very quickly lifted his hook; there wasn’t much chain out at all, and revved her hard. She bounced off the rock she was on and headed our of the Bay. She looked none the worse for her adventure. I hope he and his yacht are ok.

We double checked our anchor, set an extra anchor alarm and settled inside. I made chicken casserole and G&Ts and we had a lovely night. Linda got to watch Masterchef, I read planned tomorrow and then we watch crappy TV till out 9pm Bedtime.

20 miles in 4 hours; Saillog Entry.

Oronsay to Gigha

After a good long-lie we sat on deck in warm spring sunshine eating bacon sarnies and sipping orange juice. There was a White Throated Diver (Great Northern Diver) fishing in the bay with us and we had occasional fly-bys from geese, cormorants and oyster catchers. One particular cormorant stood out; standing drying his wings on his rock.

We set full sail as we motored out of the Bay. Linda took her by Compass across to the Sound of Islay and did it brilliantly. We passed Glen Shiell going in the opposite direction towards Oronsay about a third of the way towards Islay..

The tide was still set against us and as we got to Bunnahabain we had 3kn against us but we were still making 4kn southbound however approaching Coal Isla the wind had died back and we weren’t making headway against the current so we dropped sail and set the hook right in fromt of the Distillery and watched the chaps working redecorating the ‘New Shed’ which is actually the older of the two buildings on the front. We could see the stills through the big windows but more impressively we could smell the distillation and were definitely enjoying our cut of the Angels Share.

After 45 mins the tide had turned so we left the bay and headed round towards Port Askaig. We were under sail but in light breezes were only making 3.5kn when Finlaggan headed up the Sound towards us. I didn’t realise she was heading into Port Askaig so stayed to the right of her, exactly where she was wanting to go. Finlaggan raised us on the radio and asked if I would mind heading out towards Jura to allow him into his slip which we did and then sailed south. We got all the way to Black Rocks before being calmed again and all the way to Gigha was on and off the engine as the wind came up and died away. 

We arrived in the NW bay of Gigha; Bagh na Doirlinne and anchored up in 4m in the centre-south of the Bay with views across to the Paps and up the Sound of Jura. The white sand under us grabbed the anchor well and the light breeze from the south is holding us in good shape on the hook. 

Dinner was Chicken Pie with Scalloped Potatoes and Mange Tout. The heater is on, our faces are glowing, Linda is watching Masterchef and its just relaxing.

Oronsay to Gigha

We totalled 35miles in 7 hours; Saillog Entry.

CH to Oronsay

We arrived at the Marina yesterday and did quite a bit of sorting her out; filling water tanks, cleaning things, and sorting things out. Despite having a full larder we opted to eat at Lord of the Isles. Linda had the Mackerel Pate and I had the Haggis Nuggets to start. I have to say it was very tasty, served with a portion of honey and a side salad. For main we both had Crayfish Mac & Cheese. It had a Depp cheer taste with the seafood shining through and a lovely thick, sticky, texture that I really enjoyed. While quite expensive for what it was, it was a very good meal and we enjoyed it. We would certainly recommend it to others. We happily bumped into Barry of Jennie Wren Boat Charters and enjoyed catching up with Barry who is one of our favourite folks in the local area.

We were in bed at 9pm and I slept well but was awake for chunks of the night with my shoulder complaining about the day it had. I awoke bright before seven am. The sky was blue with fleeting clouds but there was a stiff breeze and substantial gusts. Linda needed some extra sleep and the gusts were getting stronger all the time. I had the boat all ready to leave at 908:30 but then found the gusts were up over 25kn and I pulled it at that point; just too gusty. We popped up to the marina office as we had told them to expect us on the fuel jetty. It was good to chat with Alastair, Sue and Julie.

Linda took some rest, I dealt with a few emails and phone calls then prepped the boat again and around 10:30 we moved over to the fuel jetty. The wind had dropped down to practically nothing and it was easy to tie to the jetty and fill ups with diesel. The good news was that I had been able to estimate our use nearly perfectly based upon the 1.5l/h on motor and 0.7l/h on heater. We had used 31l total.

With the boat all ready for our trip we motored out of the marina and set full sail. We headed out through the Corry and onwards directly for Oronsay. The day was alternately sailing then becalmed and motoring then rigging sail gain. It was fun and we had a good time. Linda made soup for lunch, I had a carrot cake muffin. The last few miles seemed to drag a tad and its always longer round the reef and into the bay than I think it will be. We anchored in the NE bay just inside the reef in 6m right in the middle.

Linda had a wash and cooked fish cakes, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffed peppers. It was tasty and we washed it down with a non alcoholic gin and tonic and watched Killing Eve. It rained heavily outside but we were very snug in our anchorage and it was lovely and comfortable inside Misha with the heating keeping us warm. By 9pm we are both falling asleep and heading to bed with our books!

CH to Oronsay

We totalled 26 miles in 5.6 hours Saillog Entry.

Weekend trip to Gigha

Craobh to Keills

With a weekend free, we slipped the ropes and sailed south down the Sound of Jura. The weather was beautiful blue sky with good breeze from the NW Force 3, gusts of 6. Full sail set and Misha made good speed south towards the Corryvreckan heading south.

We had initially planned to head out the Corry and over to Oronsay but on approach to the Corry, we realised that the wind over tide we were fearful of in the Sound of Jura was unlikely to present any problems as the conditions were so placid. We made the decision to press south down he Sound of Jura and made 6kn past the Corry. We altered course to track towards Keills.

The weather swept in from the Firth of Lorn and over Scarba with one snow storm and then a hail storm before a little rain, more sunshine and then a final snow shower. It was the definition of Scottish Spring Sailing!

We spotted a white-tailed eagle (Sea Eagle) soaring high overhead but it was otherwise an uneventful voyage and around 6pm we approached the south of Keills Bay, engaged the engine and motored up into the very north corner of the Bay anchoring in 6m just SE of the moorings and the Jetty.

White Tailed Eagle soaring.

By 18:30 we were safely anchored in very think mud. I had been preparing and cooking a chicken and vegetable pasta bake while we were sailing so as soon as we were settled we served dinner and fired up the heater. The temperature had started to drop about 17:00 and now it was positively chilly so the heater was well required. We did note that it seemed to take a long time to heat up but it (and cooking) got the saloon nice and comfortable and we enjoyed a tasty dinner and then watched some crappy telly on the iPad before an early night.

Keills to Ardminish

It was an excellently protected anchorage with fantastic 4G on EE & O2 and we had a very comfortable night. The only noise which we noted overnight was the passing of geese overhead. The morning was fine weather but hardly any breeze and what there was (all 2-4mph of it) was on the nose as we headed south.

Keills Bay looking south at sunset
Keills Bay looking south at sunset

We motored south out of the Bay and through the McCormaig Islands after a breakfast of bacon sandwiches. Again it was a peaceful and easy journey. Visibility remained clear and it was warmer than the sail down to Keills although there remained not a puff of wind for the duration.

As we approached Gigha we spotted MV Finlaggan rounding the top of the island coming in from Port Ellen to Kennacraig. As we rounded the top of the island ourselves it was clear that the fish farm in the NE of the island had grown somewhat since we were last there and we had to do more avoidance than we used to.

Approaching Ardminish I was convinced that the pontoons would be in at Ardminish, so I rigged the mooring ropes and the fenders but as we turned into the Bay we could see the pontoons moored to the visitor moorings on the south side of the Bay. The good news was that we were certain the Boathouse was opened. So after anchoring in the southern anchor spot in 2m we blew up our new dingy and headed in.


Lattes on the deck and we were smiling already in the arming sunshine. Just then I stopped a well ken’t face. James, who used to run the Boathouse until 2019 with his wife Sharon, was walking in. The last time we had met was at Jura Music Festival in Sep 2019. It was great to see him and meet his mates.

Linda and I went to a stroll up to the Post Office for cake. We bought a Jam Rolly Polly! We headed out towards the Gardens via the craft shop where Linda found some bangles and I bought some tablet. On the way out towards the Gardens we spotted a Raptor being mobbed by crows before we bumped into the local Chickens who were intent on making sure we visited the book shop.

The Gardens were still in ‘spring’ mode but there were some beautiful flowers and all the new paths look great. We decided to bring the bikes back and explore them thoroughly.

Returning to the Boathouse via Vie’s Beach and the new paths we ordered up Gin and Tonics and sat reading our books all afternoon before dinner in the Boathouse which was as good as ever.

Gigha to Craobh

Linda happed up for the cold.

We had a peaceful night at anchor in the Bay. One other boat had come in and initially anchored by us before moving to the moorings as the evening progressed. Our lobster dinners were out of this world, as always, and its good to see that despite changes in management over the last couple of years the Boathouse have managed to keep up the standard of service and food as much as they have. It is well recommended for a visit.

We had a good long-lie in the morning as there was no reason to leave early and in fact a departure around 9am was perfect and we ran the tide all the way home. The other yacht trailed out behind us as we departed and was tracking our progress as we went north throughout the day.

Over the weekend we did a total of 74 nm and 13 hours of travelling. There was a fair chunk of motoring and a lot of heater diesel used.