Tobermory to Loch Don

After staying in Loch na Droma Buidhe on Wednesday night we awoke very cold and damp (and without a heater) on Thursday morning. Our initial plan was to head into Salen Jetty, get dried out, top up water and restock supplies there. When I phoned in to confirm it was achievable the owners informed me of a Force 7 forecast from the SW which would result in them closing the pontoons. We had a rethink. The options were to anchor up in Loch Sunart somewhere and sit out the forecast blow of head into Tobermory.

Long story, short! We spent a happy, warm, dry two nights on Tobermory pontoons sitting out the storm and restocking. We actually had a good time and it was, as ever, really comfortable in Tobermory with lots to keep us entertained.

Saturday morning after breakfast and showers we headed off with full water tanks into the Sound of Mull. The weather was 15mph SW gusting up to 25mph. We rigged half the forsail and still spent most of the way down to the Sound of Lorne doing 8 knots.

It was amazing how busy the water is with leisure boats and commercials too. We basically never had a minute without something imminently heading in our direction.

We had great views of the relatively newly uncloaked Duart Castle as we whooshed by then it was furling the foresail, prepping the anchor and getting the iPad ready for the entrance into Loch Don.

There is no way I would have attempted it without Antares Charts. The level of detail makes it so much more achievable and even then I was curling my toes as we went in over the sill.

The zig-zag in past the outer pool into the first pool is very tight and a couple of times we were in 1.5m LAT (with 1m tide) in actuality and according to Antares but on the ground according to Navionics.

The good bit about the entranceway is that it is heavily populated by seals waiting for you to make a mess of the entrance so it is very pretty and very photogenic.

Into the middle pool we anchored on the 3.6m depth marker (with a potential 3.7m tide) so put out 35m of chain. The anchor bit right away and was well dug in before we were finished dropping chain.

There are geese, seals and loads of wildlife around.

Camas Tuath to Loch Na Droma Buidhe

We had a great night in the anchorage at Camas Tuath. Dinner was roast chicken with Mac and Cheese and helped to send me to sleep! An early night after a long day saying was well deserved and we went to bed before the kids playing at the Salmon Fishery buildings on their holiday camp had even stopped swimming. I was in bed and asleep before 10pm. I slept through to 06:30 with only a couple of transient loo visits watching the plankton glow.

There was one heavy rain storm during the night but it was mostly dry. The forecast for the day was 12-17 knots of wind, showers and heavily overcast so we dressed in storm suits and battened the hatches before we set off. The other boat which has shared the anchorage with us headed off shortly after 07:30 when I was just getting Linda her tea!

I put the heater on early to warm the place through for Linda getting up and I noticed that it was pulling between 10 and 16 Amps rather than its usual 2-6 Amps. It ran fine and switched off fine. (However when I tried to switch it on at the end of the day it was errored out with Error 3 – Glow Plug Short or Burned Out. No diesel heater of the remainder of the trip. Thank God its summer, and in future I bring the hot-spare with me!

The anchor lifted kindly with no mud, and little weed. Linda took her out of the anchorage under power as I set the foresail for a downwind foresail only run.  We headed initially to Staffa and had a great view into Fingal’s Cave, then lots of little puffins all around us. Following this we stayed on a tingle tack all the way up, round the headland and into the Sound of Mull. 

We crossed the Sound with boats everywhere! Into Loch Sunart there was a dive-boat at the entrance to Loch Na Drma Buidhe but he said we were good to head in. We kept an eye out and spotted the divers bubbles so avoided going directly over him.

In the Loch there were six boats anchored in the first two bays on the South-West. We headed towards the South East where we anchored in March. There was one boat anchored in the North East, it looked like the Van Der Statt that we met in Karrera on Saturday, but they were lifting their anchor as we entered the Loch.

We dropped in 8m (with a 4m rise expected) in the SE corner.

As mentioned above, the heater didn’t fancy working any more this holiday. But we did PTFE the rudder stock and check the wiring before we had showers and then I cooked a Chicken Casserole with apricots and boiled potatoes. It was very tasty, and the red wine, after the day in the cockpit went right to my head.

Chicken Casserole with apricots and boiled potatoes.

One other boat came in and anchored to the SW of us, far enough away Im not worried. The rain is coming down outside, we are wumfied up in 20C (warm enough) and I don’t see it being long before bed!

39 miles in 6.5 hours.

Ardminish to Camas Tuath

After a great night’s sleep I awoke feeling refresh and alert after not at all feeling like myself yesterday. I was up at 7am and watched some of the yachts slip their moorings and depart with the tide. I popped the outboard onto the rack, then loaded, deflated and packed the dinghy. After that I made Sherpa Tea and awoke Linda.

By 08:30 we were motoring out of the bay south towards Cara. We split the channel between Cara and Gigha and headed for the Sound of Islay. We had a solid breeze of between 10 and 15 kn and made great time all the way to the base of the Sound. There were a few other yachts around and all the ay through the Sound we were making more than eight knots.

At the north end we headed out towards the north of Colonsay with a plan that we could anchor in the north of the island if needs be or head on towards Iona. The crossing was excellent and we only started to lose speed and drop below 6 knots when we were north of Scalasaig. Blue Clipper was moored at the village and we had a good view of her as we sailed past.

At Balnahard Bay we could have anchored there nicely and have been well protected overnight but we had already decided to push on. As we went round the top of island we caught the Atlantic swell; all 4 metres of it! The wind picked up to a close hauled true 15 knots, We were doing 8 knots and flying over pretty high swell but making good progress north-west towards the Sound of Iona.

I plotted a course that would bring us into the path between the skerries on the SE of the Sound of Iona and we had checked we would have tide with us through the Sound all the way to 7pm. We pushed hard and kept sailing tight for an hour before we were able to lesson off, turn more northerly opening the angles and getting a lot more comfortable sailing across and with the swell. We passed a yacht going the other way in the high swell but they didn’t even return our greeting.

Passing a yacht north of Colonsay

We hit the south of the Sound of Iona and still had 2m swell with us but it reduced as we went north through the Sound. By the time we turned right and headed across towards Camus Tuath it was less than a metre and our sails were stowed as we motored into the anchorage charging up the batteries.

There was a yacht already in Camus Tuath so we anchored tight in the top in 4m LAT (8m actual) and laid out 35m chain to the waterline. It bit perfectly first time and we settles ourselves to a delicious dinner of roast chicken breast, Mac & Cheese, and sweetcorn followed by jelly and fruit.

The boat router wasn’t picking up any signal on Vodafone to I fired up EE and was able to get us some internet. I guess an early night is coming up now.

66 miles in 9.5 hours

Ardlussa to Ardminish

All the great ideas of odysseys went out the window!

We had a good night’s sleep after chicken pie and potatoes for dinner. I slept like a log from 10:30 to 07:30 although I did wake at 04:30 to the red light of dawn for ten minutes.

When we did get up we had tea and coffee and decided Gigha was as far as we were going today. The wind was from the West (mostly) and was up and down but circa 15kn.

The anchor came up easily enough but it had a huge kelp forest on it! Roots and all! We motored out of the bay and left the engine charging the battery, raised sail and cutting into the wind went for Gigha.

It was a good sail but I wasn’t feeling 100%. Every time I did something, even just cleaning the kelp off the anchor, I was left exhausted and wanting to sit for a while. I also couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. On top of that, while sailing along happily as she has been for months, the wheel pilot blew its gearbox and was left useless.

As we entered Ardminish Bay a couple of boats had recently departed and I was hopeful that there might be room on the pontoon but there wasn’t. We debated anchoring but in the end took a mooring and went ashore.

The Post Office were able to supply fresh milk and bread, gin and (mostly importantly) Ice Crème. Linda had G&T ice crème and I had Mango. It was very yummy. With the Boathouse closed on Mondays and Tuesdays we headed back to Misha with our supplies and the plan for Lasagne and fresh baked bread tonight.

22 miles in 4.5 hours.

Karrera to Ardlussa via Duart


We left Kerrera Marina after a heavy brunch and a quick catch up with Peter. Coming off the pontoon we went north and enjoyed a close pass by Blue Clipper before skirting the north of the island and heading out into the Lynn of Lorne.

Linda passing the Sound of Luing Lighthouse

As we passed the entrance marker we hoisted the main with a double reef in it and then the foresail with a balanced double reef. We were approaching close hauled across to the Lady’s Rock lighthouse and into the Sound of Mull. As we entered the Sound the wind finally read the weather forecast and veered west close on to the nose. We tightened everything and were ultra close-hauled; 30 degrees off the apparent.

The other boats coming across with us were giving up and going onto motor. We kept going a while then we called it and decided to shoot south and go for the Sound of Jura instead.

Waverley in Sound of Luing

As soon as we tacked, it was a lot more comfortable and we passed out past Castle Duart and back into the Sound of Lorne. It was so easy going I was able to grab the GoPros and start trying locations for mounts. The footage I captured wasn’t awesome but it is a start. I can practice more for the rest of the trip.

We sailed past Thelassa and passed west of Insch Island then down the Sound of Luing. There we met the Waverley and slid through easy, the swell reduced and we passed Scarba and the Corry then down the Sound of Jura. Once we were past Barnhill the tide and the wind were setting up a ‘wind over tide’ lumpyness so we headed into Ardlussa Bay and anchored up there for the night . We anchored in the centre of the Bay in 5m (1m swing) and put out 20m chain. As ever here, good holding.

Still from GoPro footage

Dinner was chicken pie, potatoes, and asparagus with a little Gavi to help it over. All very pleasant.

Some footage from the trip

39 miles, 5.6 hours.

First day of Holiday Cruise

From Craobh Haven to Karrera Marina in a blow!

We got to the boat last night late on. Just enough time to get everything packed away, beds made and get to bed. We knew in advance that the weather for Friday and Saturday looked spectacularly rough. High winds, low pressure and big SW seas all combining to make really uncomfortable conditions.

Awaking early Friday morning and looking outside it looked quite nice, blowy but blue skies and the seas hadn’t picked up yet. We made the decision to head out and point the bow for Kerrera Marina.

Once out of Craobh Haven we made the decision just to rig the foresail and that reefed to 30% of the standard Genoa. It was basically a hanky we were flying and we still make 6 knots across Loch Shuna and up into Cuan.

Approaching the western end of Cuan Sound

The water at the western end of Cuan had about a 3-4m swell coming in from the South West and the waves were crashing onto the rocks at Easdale Head. We came up the east side if Insch Island and were clocking speeds over ground of between 7 and 9 knots all the way up into the Sound of Kerrera and this was with blue skies, the wind behind us and a hanky hanging from the forestay.

Fore-reaching up the inside of Insch Island

We navigated into Kerrera Marina and found an empty berth on Pontoon B. I had planned on coming in stern first but as we approached the pontoon, the wind caught the bow. Rather than fight it, I decided just to got with it and did a stylish pirouette and berthed perfectly, bow in to the pontoon. Marian was there to help with ropes. Thanks Marian!!

The ‘East End’ and the south channel buoy in the Sound of Karrera

Safely tied up for two nights, we have dinner booked for the four of us and a fine weekend planned enjoying the protection and comfort of the marina and lashings of electricity!

20 miles, 2.5 hours, great fun!

Boys weekend to Oban

Linda stayed home while Martin was joined by Martin Kean and Steven Walker for a boys weekend away. The Friday was howling winds so a shore day was spent with a trip to the Kilmichael Glen standing stones and Dunadh Fort then dinner in Lord of the Isles.

Saturday had an early departure originally planned for Jura, then Colonsay/ Oronsay, but eventually became outbound through the Corryvreckan, up past the west of Karerra to Camas Nathais north of Oban, west of the airport. A lovely anchorage with seals and a white tailed eagle soaring. Dinner was pie and potatoes and the boys watched the football with good signal.

Sunday saw a sail from Camas Nathais to Oban Transit Marina and Martin and Steven being tourists in Oban for a while before sailing down through Cuan to Airds Bay (which we found already in use) before anchoring in Loch Beag.

Finally, early on Monday morning we motored round into Craobh Haven, dieseled up, and the chaps headed home.

75 miles over three days.