Loch Crinan & Duntrune Castle

Despite everything that is happening at the moment we managed to get three days away. I was scheduled to be working up north but it was cancelled at the last moment and I had already cleared everything to make way for it so we had the perfect opportunity for a winter weekend away.

We arrived at the marina at 12 noon and were ropes off at 13:00. Linda hadn’t yet seen the cooker that Cairns had fitted for us a few weeks ago and was delighted with it. She was even more delighted with how quickly it boils a kettle to make tea.

Leaving Craobh it looked like there would be little or no wind (despite a 5-7 forecast) so we decided to raise full sails as we passed the marker buoy heading south. Other than one fish farm boat we were the only vessel out and it was chilly but beautiful with regular rainbows and blue sky streaked with ribbons of clouds. But then….

The wind started to increase and soon enough we were skipping along between 7.5 and 8 knots. I put Linda on the helm and I reefed the foresail with a double reef for was to the south west over Jura I could see a spectacular squall sneaking up on us.

Moments after I had the reef in, tidied up and was back on the helm we were having a 25kn gust, driving hail stones and making over 8kn southbound. We were going to be in Loch Crinan early! I contemplated a change of plan and shooting for Craighouse but I have learned to my cost to sail the plan unless there is a damn good reason otherwise.

We had the sole of the cockpit filling up with hailstones, a beautiful rainbow behind us, and 7.8kn speed over ground. You cannot knock that for a Friday afternoon in December!

The Doris Mor opened up to us with a solid 25kn on the beam and we skidded in through the narrows at over 9kn speed over ground. There were no seals in the Jacuzzi but it was beautiful none the less. Crinan Hotel looked lovely in the distance and we used that as the point to steer into the Loch until we were approaching Dunture Castle on our port bow.

I had already set up the ground tackle and I gave Linda the wind forecast, the Antares Chart for the area, and the tidal curve and asked her where we should anchor. Now I know there are lots of folks who would say the south of Crinan Bay behind the island or even ‘grab a mooring’ but with the wind currently from the W or WNW and dropping and backing SW, S, then picking up from the SE in the morning the bay just NE of the castle is an ideal spot with loads of swinging room and excellent holding. Linda bagged it straight away.

To the derision of two cormorants whose favourite fishing spot we nabbed, we dropped in 5m (mid tide 0.8m range) and put it 30m. It was gusting 22kn as we anchored and she grabbed the bottom (heavy mud with a little weed) firmly and wasn’t for letting go. I had sneakily popped on the diesel heater when I had switched on the windlass so it wasn’t long for Misha to start to warm up. With the heater on, Linda made coffee and tea (along with a Tunnocks Teacake) and we settled comfortably on the couch listening to the wind howling through the rigging before 15:00.

The plan is to R&R before an early dinner and probably an early night too. It’s so beautifully comfortable on board with the gentle movement at anchor, a howl of the wind, and the occasional splash as a wavelet hits the hull. We brought some home made but frozen down dinners from home so tonight is beef olives and baby potatoes with an onion gravy around 17:30.

With the sun setting at 15:46, the anchor light is already on as I type at 15:30 and I’m looking forward to reading my book before its time to cook.

Misha did great today and all the monitoring and tracking kit; including the Maiana AIS unit appear to have done a great job and are getting a rest too now that we are safely on the hook.

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