A trip to Oban (to avoid West Highland Yachting Week).

Linda and I arrived at Misha on Thursday evening quite early-ish. The cake and things we had left on board a couple of weeks ago looked remarkably intact but went straight in the bin and we set up our bed then went over to Lord of the Isles for dinner. Funnily enough, I ordered the Crayfish Mac’n’Cheese which has become my firm favourite. We bumped into Barry and enjoyed the pleasure of his company before we ate. The main plan for this weekend’s sailing was to avoid West Highland Yachting Week wherever possible.

Although I am not drinking much at the moment I enjoyed a glass of Gavi with my meal and washed it down with some Diet Coke. The evening had a spectacular sunset not long after an outrageous but short-lived downpour. Good Scottish Weather, ‘if you don’t like it, wait 15 mins and it will change.

We went back to the boat feeling tired and satiated and slept very well. Overnight there were a couple of rain storms that passed over and we enjoyed that lovely feeling of being warm and dry, while outside it is horrible.

Friday was a working day for both of us, so after some tea and coffee we both went on separate Teams calls for most of the morning. At Lunchtime I popped through to Lucy’s in Ardfern. There I picked up some of their awesome sausage rolls. We prefer the scones at Ardfern Village Store. So I visited there too and picked up some scones and some fresh raspberries.

For lunch Linda and I split a sausage roll and crisps. Not the healthiest of options but it was yummy and kept us going. I then had another call from 13:00 that was scheduled for a couple of hours. It finished early allowing me to make up the guest cabins before our pals arrived later in the evening.

I ended up having to take another call about some WiFi challenges being faced by one of my favourite clients. Amusingly, they are actually my client’s, client’s client. But all the same a 45 minute call and some notes seemed to keep the wolf from their door and get them smiling again.

Somewhere around 7pm Gavin, Lucy and Angus popped by, bringing with them a lovely bottle of white wine. I had a lesser quality bottle pre-chilled and had I realised how good the one they had brought us was, I would have been embarrassed to serve them what I did. Gavin and his family are heading out on Merganser to keep one stop ahead of WHYW (West Highland Yachting Week). Our sail was also planned, as much as possible, to avoid the fleet. We all had a lovely natter and they headed off to watch the last edition of Neighbours.

At just the same time as Gavin’s family departed Misha, our guests for the weekend arrived. Andrea was in the Port Aft Cabin and James and Kasia were in the Starboard Aft Cabin. We got everyone settled and I served a supper of cold meats, cheeses and biscuits while briefing everyone on the boat and the plan for the weekend.

Now, I have been body swerving booze much of the time, and did so on Friday night. I drink non alcoholic Gin and Tonics or Non Alcoholic Rum and Coke. However, Linda and our guests enjoyed a glass or two of wine with the snacks and before long it was 1am and I was falling asleep at the table. It was an enjoyable catch up with our friends but by the end of the night I could barely find my way to the cabin I was so tired.

I awoke around 6am (half an hour later than I usually awake) quite refreshed. The rain was hammering down outside and XC Weather was telling me it wasn’t going to clear till nearly lunchtime. I had given everyone a breakfast time of 9am with a ‘ropes off’ of 10am. So, I lay in bed listening to a novel on my earphones until around 8am when I got up and started prepping breakfast. We had toast and bacon inside and filled up the water before we headed off, in full wet weather gear, at 10am.

We departed the marina and headed south passing to the east of Shuna and Luing down towards Port an Tiobairt. As we were approaching, Barry was bringing Jenny Wren into the Bay with a tour group to see the seal colony.

I anchored (badly) in the middle of the bay, and when the current died down and the wind picked up, I was only a couple of feet away from the west reef that sticks some way out into the wider Bay. I had to lift and reset further to the East and felt a right numpty in front of my guests but also in front of Barry and his group making a rookie mistake.

We stayed for about 45 minutes watching the seals, had tea and biscuits and enjoyed a rest before we lifted anchor (again) and headed north for the Gulf of the Corryvreckan. Barry and Jenny Wren had already departed when we hauled the hook and we hugged the Jura coast into the Corry before setting a bit more northbound. The weather was certainly improving, drying up and brightening up too.

We had to motor through the passage but we were able to sail again as soon as we turned more northerly and were making a very comfortable 5kn over most of the journey. Misha passed to the East of the Garvellachs then passed west of Insch Island and Kerrerra. There were loads of boats out on the water from sailing dingy, through pleasure sloops and other configurations all the way up to big fish farm vessels and the ferries. It was a busy day in the Sound of Lorne.

Our plan had us anchoring in Camas Nathais which is north of Oban, west of the airport, and south Eriska. Its a pleasant horseshoe bay protected from all but southerlies. The forecast was to be westerly backing northerly but there was still a tad of southerly swell entering the Bay and I did wonder how comfortable it was going to be. But anchored up we could see the swell reducing and by the time dinner was served on deck it was barely noticeable.

We sat in late afternoon sunlight on deck and enjoyed Lucys sausage rolls, boiled potatoes and ‘insalata caprese’. This time served with some lovely Moet James and Kasia had brought along everyone was more abstemious this evening. We had seals all around us, swimming and fishing, and popping by to check what we were up to. There were no sea eagles as there had been my previous time in the Bay but it was a very pleasant evening anchor and we listened to music for a good while outside before retiring inside and playing cards for a while. We ate some lovely snacks that Andrea had brought along but we never dipped into the pink gin; that will have to remain for her next visit.

Everyone seemed tired after a day sailing and in the sunshine. Although no one appeared as tired as me! And I called ‘Bed’ first around 10pm. I slept really well overnight. Awaking only once at 3am when a large ship sent a goodly wash into the bay.

The morning was blue and bright and already pleasantly warm for breakfast at 07:15 on deck. I cooked some bacon for sandwiches, but also there was muesli, yoghurt and berries and lashings of OJ, tea and coffee. We had a strict 0800 anchor up to ensure passage through Cuan so it was a quick breakfast, then up with he hook and southbound we went.

James was on the helm most of the day and we entered Oban Bay planning on skirting the island and popping across to the Kerrera side and tracking in. As there was a yacht coming towards us we crossed behind diagonally in the absence of any other traffic. The light winds and requirement to have engine running meant we motor sailed to Heather Island then bay on the flappy white things all the way down past East End and out towards Pullobraihn.

We travelled across from Kerrera to Insch Island in bright sunshine making 5kn under sail all the way but turning east, south of Easdale, the wind died away to nothing and we had to rely on the Iron Sails to get us into Sound of Cuan. It spat us through rather efficiently and we popped out the other end just in time to unfurl the Genoa and sail into Loch Shuna under foresail alone.

The loch was full of jostling racing yachts and we did our best to keep out of their way. Andrea was on the helm. We travelled east along the top of the loch as though we were going to Melford then only turning south for Craobh outside their course, and when there was a gap in the flow of racers.

It was beautifully warm with blue skies and it was a pleasant motor into the marina to tie up. Once berthed Linda provided a lunch and I started the cleaning. We had a cracking weekend!

67 Miles over two days. Getting home was rather less fun. Linda and I got stuck behind an accident at Taynuilt that ended up with a road closure and us having to backtrack to Connell, head to Ballahullish and then drive through Glen Coe on the way home. It was a beautiful road trip but the extra 90 mins meant we were both exhausted.

Saillogger Entries:

James and Denise Weekend

Linda and I arrived up to Misha on Thursday evening and worked from the boat throughout Friday. Marie-Ann and Richard from Gabriella asked us to join them for drinks on Friday evening following which they joined us for dinner in Lord of the Isles. James and Denise made good time coming up the road and joined us in time to order before last orders for food.

I had previously installed a ‘black box boat monitor’ into Gabriella for Richard meaning he can monitor the boat’s health when he is away from her.

Black Box Boat Monitor

Dinner was great fun and the lady who had spent the day looking for her missing cat popped in to let everyone know the cat was back safe. The whole thing was just very relaxed and pleasant. The food was good, the company was great and we really enjoyed our evening. We adjourned to Misha and enjoyed one more night-cap before we all retired for the evening.

While James has been on Misha before, Denise has not and she was initially quite nervous of the boat and sailing in general. The forecast was for ultra light winds to it was the ideal weekend for her to pop her sailing cherry!

We had a breakfast of muesli and yoghurt, toast and jam before we prepped Misha and headed out. The weather wasn’t as bright as forecast but there was a slight westerly breeze which allowed us to sail (slowly) from Craobh Haven to Ardlussa Bay past the Corryvreckan.

We anchored for snacks in Port an Talbart on the NE corner of Jura north of Banhill and watched a family of seals. We were intent on them when Linda and I spotted a minke whale just about 20m away from us however she only breached once and we didn’t see her again.

We sailed from Port an Talbart down the coast of Jura to Ardlussa but needed the motor more than once. Pulling into the Bay there were more seals and we sat there at anchor and enjoyed a late lunch

After lunch we decided we should head for our planned overnight anchorage so started north again for Airds Bay. When we arrived there was already a yacht in our usual anchor spot but given how calm it was and was forecast to be, we anchored on the inside of Black Rocks.

The plan was for BBQ but with the overcast sk it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped so ate inside, enjoying hot dogs, corn on the cob, along with salads followed by Gin & Tonic Ice Creme and berries. After dinner we socialised and even played poker for a while enjoying music and a wee drinkie.

The night was calm and we all slept exceptionally well.

The morning had a breakfast of grilled bacon and boiled egg with bread and butter. We were able to sit out on deck enjoying the morning light.

Lowlandman’s Bay to Craobh Marina

My plan had been to wake up at 7am and head north but I was wide awake at 05:00 and having breakfast on deck by 05:30 watching the sunrise. It was a colourful sunrise with shimmering shades of red, orange, yellow progressing to blue.

The Bay was still flat water and you could see the odd bird and occasional seal breaking the morning surface. The sky was alive though. The stars disappeared the colours churned and the lightest of breezes started from the north west.

I passed wide of Minke and the other boat that had come in later in the day and motored out turning round the Dun at the entrance to the Bay. I raised full sail and headed north initially motor sailing and then quenching the engine. I did get a sail but the wind was up and down all morning and swinging by 180 degrees at times. 

When the wind was there, I sailed, when it wasn’t I motored. Probably 50/50 all the way up to the Corry where it does completely and the motor went into its own with the sails stowed, boat cleaned and the preparation for berthing completed way too early as usual.

I parked her perfectly and Richard came to grab lines. Richard and Marie-Ann are planning on leaving soon and were stripping Gabriella for the winter. I missed Peter and Marian who were out winning the Round Shuna Race and headed home after a successful weekend.

Link to Sailloger Log.

Lagavulin Bay to Lowlandman’s Bay

The morning in Lagavulin was stunning. There was the gentle mechanical noises from the distillery but otherwise peace and tranquility. I had breakfast on deck of boiled egg on toast with coffee and grape juice. It set me up for the day.

I was nervous about leaving the Bay in the absence of the Green Perch. So I had Antares on the binnacle and was taking it very slowly rock dodging my way out under the castle. I captured a few photos on the way out. It was a ‘Kodak morning’!

There was a very light breeze from the west caressing the water as I motored out towards Iomallach, so I raised the sails and quenched the engine, letting the breeze drive me and the peace return to a post diesel contrast. Iomallach was her classic self, dressed in cormorants. 

Sailing northbound along the Ardmore Islands was simply bliss. It wasn’t fast, I never topped over 4 knots until I got to the Sound of Islay. But once I was passing the lighthouse I saw the first of two minke of the day. She was heading south-east and appeared to have come down the Sound of Islay. The second one, about an hour later and at the top of the mouth of the Sound was heading south and appeared to have come down the Sound of Jura. The second one I managed to get a (bad) photo from a distance and out of focus but at least I can ‘prove’ the sighting.

Minke whale

All the way across  the Sound of Islay there was a good breeze and, with full sail up, I was getting in excess of 6 knots. It started to die back as I approached Craighouse but the sun came out cleanly there from the speckled sky of the early morning. A small yacht cut across my bows heading for Craighouse and about halfway up the Bay of the Small ISles, the breeze died away to nothing at all and the diesel had to return. 

Stowing the sails I noticed the staypack’s loops which connect to the lazy jacks were very badly worn and about to go. A small running repair kept it going for this weekend but I will need to do a more permanent repair real soon.

Turning into Lowlandman’s Bay I noticed the lighthouse keeper’s house was gone and replaced by a big green shed. The plant machinery was still there along with a substantial heap of debris from the demolition. The Bay itself was as lovely as ever and the clouds had cleared from the Paps giving crystal views of the island.

After a couple of hours Andrew Prince arrived in Minke and we sat in Misha’s cockpit with a drink, chatting and enjoying the afternoon. I cooked frankfurters with pasta and pesto and a garlic bread. We ate on deck and it was a great afternoon. It threatened to drizzle at one point but came to nothing and I was able to sit on deck till mid evening when it was time for bed. 

Link to Saillogger Log.

Ardlussa Bay to Lagavulin Bay

It was a lovely peaceful night in Ardlussa Bay. I awoke twice during the night and each time was gently rocked back to sleep by the tiny swell leaking into he bay.

The morning was heavily overcast and very damp. After a breakfast of coffee and muesli with yoghurt I kitted up in the storm suit and went on deck. The rain was easing but it was very humid and damp. The swans that had been there the previous evening had scarpered and there wasn’t any movement at all.

The anchor lifted easy with only the smallest bit of weed and Misha naturally set herself pointing eastward out the Bay. I raised the sails although there wasn’t a whole lot f breeze and set southbound. Having not used the fridge of the heater, the battery was full in less than 30 minutes and I quenched the engine. It wasn’t a fast sail initially; I was making 4.5 knots at a 45-60 to apparent close hauled.

The breeze increased once I passed Tarbert Bay and I reefed early sticking one, then two reefs in the main and the foresail balanced slightly over the second reefing mark. I was still making 6.5 kn southbound but I was into 20-25 mph wind 30-45 degrees off it. The tide was with me; so wind over tide, but thankfully there wasn’t a lot of tide. It was a sporty sail all the way south.

I passed slightly east of Na Cuiltean rock and lighthouse and got good views but no seals.

Turning by Iomallach and westward towards the Bay was a lot calmer and I stowed the sails easily under power. I was aware in advance that the starboard perch (or pinnacle) had been lost in the winter storms but it was a lot more complicated than I expected. Even with the Antares Charts on board, not having that big green post to navigate by was hellish. I got through but then I drifted off the leading line and was damn close to touching the bottom on the 1.7m reef on the inside of the narrows. The depth alarm was squealing and showing 1.8m when I hauled her left hard and back towards the safe path.

The south mooring was taken by a little motor-sailor (I didn’t see anyone on it the whole time I was there). so I took the north mooring closest to the Pier. I was able to grab is painter which had been lying in the water and use it to hold while I tailed my mooring strop through. The excitement of getting into the Bay had me seating and I took a moment and a glass of Diet Coke to calm down.

I spoke to the Distillery but they had no tours available. There was a tour group on the Pier to whom I waved and I got some good photos of the Distillery.

Dinner was the second helping of Sausage Roll and Mac & Cheese and I was able to sit outside as it had dried up.

Link to Saillogger Log.

Single Handed Weekend

Because of a ‘Covid Cancellation’ (a company cancelled their workshops last minute due to Covid) I have a Thu-Sun weekend all by myself to go sailing.

I arrived at the marina early Thursday afternoon and did a bit of maintenance plus topping up the water. I wanted to do a couple of things to make single-handing smoother so got them finished and headed out about 14:30.

The breeze was from the SW and was generally light as I sailed close hauled down the east of Shuna and towards Jura. My plan had been to go through the Corryvreckan and out to Oronsay. However, as I approached the Corry a significant squeal came in on the front of a CB. Unsure of how long it would last and how hard it would blow (it had got up to 20mph on the nose, I took two reefs on the foresail and one on the main and headed South along the east coast of Jura.

I realised I was hungry and tired, the tide would shortly be against me, and although it was only 16:30 I was looking forward to a rest. Making a positive decision to just take it easy, I sailed into Ardlussa Bay and anchored there in 3.5m with 20m chain to the waterline. It was lovely and calm in the Bay and there were a few seals checking me out as I dropped the hook and settled Misha for the night.

The weather improved, the gusts dropped, and I was able to sit out on deck watching the critters, getting a visit from the local swans and generally spacing out reading a novel.

Dinner was Mac&Cheese with Greggs sausage roll followed by berries. I was more tired than I thought and was tucked up by 21:30. It was a very comfortable night with just the gentle rocking motion bar a couple of big craft passing and I slept well.

Link to Saillogger Log.