Tobermory and back to Craobh

Well, I would love to tell loads about Tobermory but in the interest of protecting the innocent I think its best to be brief.

I awoke early on the Wednesday morning and went shopping. Noticing the Distillery was open, I popped in and asked about getting Martin and myself to a tasting. The only option was a 10:30 tasting and it was now 10am.

Back at the boat I woke up ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and he complained his ribs were sore but was up for the tasting and off we went. It was a good tasting and we both ended up choosing for the last 4 bottles of the 26yr old with Manzilla finish. At the cash desk my guest insisted on paying and it was very much appreciated.

We went for lunch at McGochans, met some other folks, went for a tour of Tobermory, as we do, and ended up back in McGochans in the evening. We had a great time.

We ended up staying two night rather than one and Martin’s ribs were even more sore the next morning with some bruising too. We decided to head back to Craobh.

We motored down the sound and even got to stretch the sails as we cross Lorne and into Cuan. While we were very early for the tide, we managed in and we tied up safely.

Martin phoned NHS Direct and was told to self care. Weeks later he is still in pain!

In LOTI we had dinner and drinks and found out the Queen had died. We still had a good night and got Martin to his train the next day without further incident.

Sunset at Craobh

Skye to Tobermory

Martin and I had a great evening in Loch Bay with the music and voices from the pub drifting across to Misha on anchor and a sunset of biblical proportions filling the world with a myriad of vibrant hues. We slept well and awoke refreshed to a generally damp day. We certainly weren’t going to need sunscreen today and we weren’t going to need to reef either.

The St Kilda fast rib which works out the Bay left before us on the 60 mile (2 hour) trip out to the archipelago and went by us as we were weighing anchor. We motored out the Bay a lot slower then they did and headed west across to the south of Isla Island.

We motored through the narrows in very damp conditions and very little wind and rounded Dunvegan Head. There we got a little breeze so up went the full sails and we did make an hour or so under sail before it died again.

Rounding Dunvegan Head Martin spotted some Jetsam on the shore which appeared very interesting but we didn’t have time to go and explore and had to push on.

Rounding Nest Point was the most Westerly of our trip. We were originally planning on another night on Skye or Canna for Tuesday evening but we found out during the day that no one had any Camping Gas available and we were starting to run low and that Cafe Canna was closed on a Tuesday.

We made the decision to push all the way to Tobermory knowing it would be late by the time we got there. McGochans said they would feed us as long as we were seated by 08:30. It was going to be close but achievable.

Throughout the trip we had multiple dolphin pods zooming and jumping around us but not hanging on to play. After Canna we had a super-pod, perhaps the congregation of the pods we had noticed previously. At one point there were dolphins from the edge of vision one way to the other. They were all leaping and zooming at high speed. We were amongst them for about an hour.

South of Canna, we were able to get the sails up again but it was a mixture of sailing at around 4 kn and motor sailing at 6. With a hard stop for dinner in Tobermory we had to make a decent amount of progress or we would miss it.

As the sun dropped we observed multiple cumulous nimbus clouds and could watch them dumping their load in spectacular fashion on the horizon then, as we approached Ardamurchan one decided to get us. For about an hour it was torrential and we could barely make out land as we entered the Sound and motored to Tobermory having lost all out wind as we approached the lighthouse.

Storm Clouds by Mull

In the Sound it was very wet and murky and we could see some spectacular lights ahead. It ended up being one of the huge cruise liners anchored up. She was too big to get in Tobermory Bay and was actually anchored in the Sound.

We berthed perfectly in Tobermory and Martin ran up to grab our table while I finished berthing Misha and sorting everything out. We had dinner, beers, some whisky, rum and coke and then went on a pub crawl to the Tobermory Hotel and the Misha as well.

As we were walking back there was music in the Aros Hall. It was ‘Ally Bain and Friends’ I managed to talk us in for the encore and we were able to hear two songs then wandered back to McGochans Bar and absolute Carnage!

76 miles, 14 hours

Loch Bay, Skye

Overnight the wind got up and because of the easterly angle it was banging Misha against the pontoon. I think it was because it was wind over tide plus the angles but it appeared quite violent. I jumped up from bed, popped out and realised that if I put an extra spring on it would likely remove the problem. If that didn’t work it was going to mean having to move her off the pontoon to a mooring or an anchorage. The good news was that it worked and Misha sat still the rest of the night. Except! It’s a busy marine thoroughfare and about hourly a boat would pass through. Their wake would disturbed Misha and in turn disturb Martin and I. Every hour throughout the night I was up for at least half an hour!

The alarm went off at 05:30 but dawn didn’t actually break till close to 06:15. At that time we motored off the pontoon and set foresail to run out in the easterly under the Skye Bridge.

Martin passing under the Skye Bridge

Out in the Sound of Rassay the wind steadily increased amid the rain bucket tied down torrentially. It was like standing under a cold shower. The easterly was up over 25kn and we were powering up the sound. I needed to gibe to head out towards the channel between Raasay and Rona, my gyre went wrong and we were in irons and lost our bottom main button! Live and learn!

Within 15 mins, the weather cleared, the wind died to nothing and we spent the rest of the day under motor.

After the Rona passage we saw a minke off the coast of Skye, and later after we had turned southbound down the NW corned and Martin had got as far north as he has been we saw a white tailed eagle flying from North Uist to Skye.

We eventually anchored in Loch Bay in 10m (about as deep as Misha can anchor) and put out all 50m of chain.

Dinner was Chicken Pakora, Onion Bhaji and scalloped potato chips.All afternoon the sun has been roasting us and now the wind has turned from the NE, the anchorage is very calm and we are well fed, well anchored and well knackered!

68 miles, 10.5 hours.

Eileen Donan

We lifted the hook at 8am and headed north through Kylereah. I hadn’t told Martin our destination preferring to give him a pleasant surprise when we got to Eileen Donan Castle!

As we approached the Kyle, a large cargo ship started to overtake us so we gave him a quick call on 16 to make sure he was aware of us. It stayed mostly dry which was good as I had a sucker of a hangover from last night’s rums.

We anchored just off the Castle in the firth of River Dornie and I cooked Pasta Bolognaise while Martin got his work finished and we got some cracking photos of the castle when the sky brightened up after lunch.

We then sailed up to the Kyle Pontoons and Martin checked us in. We were parked next to an identical Bavaria 37 but it had the smaller in-mast furling rig. Wandering Angeus was in too and we gave them a wave when they departed.

Kyle Pontoons have deteriorated badly since I was last here. There is no pontoon manager, the place was dirty and unkept. There was no power on the pontoons although there was water available. At £30 without power I felt I was ‘done’. But we needed some shopping and it was good to get a restful afternoon on the pontoon and a wee walk ashore. We stocked up with some fresh foods and topped up the drinks cabinet then 

We BBQed burgers for dinner and stuffed our faces before going for a shower. On the pontoons it was really hot in the afternoon sunshine and I was glad fog a shower to freshen up at the end of the day.

The sunset wears brilliant with the hills of Skye and the bridge standing out in the setting sun.

I wrote up my log while Martin watched the F1 on deck while watching the sun set in the west.

Over the day we did 25 miles in five hours but about half of that was under power in the morning. 

To Sandaig Isles anchorage.

Overnight the gusts didn’t arrive but the rain did. Around 1am the heavens opened and it was as if a waterfall had materialised over the top of the boat. There was this torrential downpour. I don’t know how long it went on for. After it woke me up, I fell back to sleep again and didn’t awake until the morning when it had dried up somewhat.

The hook came up easy and we motored out of the bay around 7am, northbound past Tobermory and round Ardnamurchan. The motor up to the Lighthouse was good in light winds and no gust at all. We had a pod of dolphins come to see us. They didn’t stay and play but just swam around us and headed off. Obviously on a mission.

Not long after that and just sound of Ardnamurchan head at the top of the Sound of Mull, I saw what I thought was seaweed but on closer inspection was a juvenile basking shark. It was less than a meter long and was feeding at the surface. I didn’t get a chance to get a photo of the basking. But I certainly didn’t imagine it as Martin saw it too!

Once we passed the Lighthouse the wind started picking up so we rigged the sails and quenched the engine. Very quickly it was getting ‘sporty’ and the gusts kept increasing. I stuck a single reef in the main. Then a double in the foresail and when she weather cocked for a second time and it was gusting 35 mph we put the second in the main and brought in half the foresail.

I did think about putting into Mallaig instead of pushing for the Sandaig Isles but it was worth it when we got there. We set the hook and had a bottle of Pinot with MacnCheese, baked pepper and cheesy chips. Mr Kean then led me astray with multiple Rum and Cokes resulting in a sore head Sunday morning.

The Saindaig Isles as previously provided a brilliant anchorage so peaceful and tranquil. It was a really good day!

64 miles in 8.5 hours

Setting off on holiday

The plan had been to head towards Dublin and hopefully enjoy a few days in the City. The weather obviously didn’t get the memo and conspired against us. As the trip approached the weather did improve. But the forecasts were suggesting gales and near-gales from the east or south east continuously for days on end. The day before it really looked as though we wouldn’t get out at all at the weekend and would have to wait until the worst of the weather passed on Monday.

However on the Friday the 2nd, the forecast improved remarkably and the 45mph gusts reduced under 30 mph and I decided to go for it. But instead of heading south, with days of easterly or south easterlies forecast, I decided up the West Coast would be a far more sensible idea.

I picked Martin Kean up from work in St Enoch Centre in Glasgow and we made good speed up to Craobh Haven arriving at the marina for 14:30. Misha was just about ready to go, and we just needed top top up the water and head out. We were ropes off at 15:15 and out through Cuban Sound at 16:15.

It was a cracking evening with those light easterlies driving us up the Sound of Lorne and into the Sound of Mull. We saw a few seals and at the back of 8pm we dropped anchor in Fishnish Bay just before Salen. 

We had covered 29 miles in 5 hours and had sailed all the way. The strong gusts never materialised and it was a really nice, gentle sail into the evening.

Fishnish Bay was a great anchorage protected from the south and the east and we tucked in under a growth of trees in case the gales came, it would have given us some additional protection.

29 miles in 5 hours.