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Sublime, ridiculous, the Fish Effect and More

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Once again, I am having difficulty in publishing my blog.  The last one was completely lost, but, fortunately, I captured the screen in bits!!  You will need to re-load until you eventually see “The End”.

Monday was sublime. No wind all day, so we were able to motorsail and get close to Rum, the Eigg and finally Muck.  Such beautiful unspoilt islands.  (first upload!!)

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Leaving Rum in a flat calm (perfect conditions – who needs wind?!)

Then made our way to Oban marina with just the occasional sail, having rung ahead to ensure that fuel was available. (Second upload)

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A calm evening with a view of Oban from the Marina

 

Tuesday dawned with big winds — and rain.  Yuk.  Fuelled up in the rain (unpleasant) and had an exciting sail to Port Ellen on Islay, on a reach and with the tide (big), touching 13 knots over the ground on occasion.  Lots of eddies whcih twisted the boat about quite significantly.  With gusts exceeding 20 knots, the waves got bigger as we gradually lost the protection of Kintyre.  With freshening winds, we were pleased to be secure at Islay.

Forecast not good.  So, we have sat out Wednesday and intend to do so tomorrow when 35 knot gusts are forecast (although backing to the North)

The Fish Effect? Oh yes. We have not moved today because high winds were forecast.  However, it is now gone 21:00 and there has been no more than about 5kts for at least two hours.  Grrr (4th update)

Thursday:  Woke at about 05:00 to a continuing very light winds, but now from the north. Reasoned that the easterly swell would have died (proved correct), that the northerly swell would not yet have established itself (proved correct), that the timing for the tides was pretty good (proved correct), that the forecast gusts of over 30 knots might not occur (proved incorrect) and that the rain might not be too bad (proved incorrect), so sneaked away from Port Ellen at about 05:15 and headed for the North Channel.

Started off very pleasantly, but gradually became less so.  Arrived at Bangor having covered the 62 nam in about 10 hours with not a lot of sail up!!  Entered the harbour (downwind) and berthed in about 28 knots!! Nervy!  Helpfully, three chaps from the marina took our warps in a berth which faced the wind and was close to the end and simple to approach.  It was still raining continuously.  Had a short kip.  Unfortunately, the rain meant that, for most of the trip, visibility was poor and sightseeing restricted.

It is now howling and, unsurprisingly, we have eaten well and are snug on E3.  Tomorrow, we intend to visit Belfast as these high winds are in for another day.  (6th update)

The End (My, that was an effort)

 

 

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Orft we go again

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But not too far!

Delayed start because of need to top up the hire car’s tank and the garage didn’t open until 09:00!! Eventually left at 09:45 and headed  for Eileen Donan castle.

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Eileen Donan castle (1/2 mile away)

Got close enough to ‘tick the box’ and then turned and ebbed our way to and through Kyle Rhea at up to 11 knots.

Cut the journey short at Mallaig to get fuel. What a joke! It’s actually for the fishing fleet which takes priority. 100 litres, sir??? Oh, you’ll have to use cans. What? On a Sunday? Good heavens no! Earliest  will be 09:00 on Monday! Thank you for nothing! Good showers though (although cubicle designed by an emaciated person of challenging height!!

Calm day tomorrow, but heavy easterly the day after

Sitting out a gale the easy way

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After an excellent breakfast at The Rose B&B, we headed off north by way of Drumbeg and Scourie eventually picking up the A838 for Durness and the north coast.  Miles and miles of single track with many passing places, but it’s the main road with coaches etc etc.  But probably the most memorable was the number of cyclists (pedal) struggling along this open road against such strong winds and, at times, pouring rain.This is also very much motorcycle country.

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G, in half a gale, looking for the ideal shot

Just beyond Durness, we came across Smoo Cave.  ????  Never heard of it, but an obvious ‘must see’ for coaches, motorcyclists, et al.  So, we stopped to discover the most extraordinary sea and fresh water cave.  Vast entrance from a cove into a cave with a waterfall!!  And there was no entrance charge.  Amazing place Scotland.

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G entering Smoo Cave.  The waterfall is over the bridge to the right

Then on along this spectacular road until, eventually, John O’Groats great views of the overfalls in Pentland Firth – Glad we weren’t there!!

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G at J O’G looking a bit windswept

Finally, the long drive back to Kyle of Lochalsh via Wick & Helmsdale, stopping at the latter at about 18:00 for a quick snack and a look at the harbour where we might have stopped on our way north.  What became apparent was that, although the winds were strong wherever we went, the weather was much brighter on the east coast with lots of sun.  But, as we progressed west, we gradually returned to a grey rainy day.  Nonetheless, by the time we got back to the boat, it was clear that the winds were no longer as strong and that the gale had passed.

It is now morning, I am up early, the weather is good and we will be away, hopefully by about 09:30.  We have to fill the tank of the hire car up first and the garage doesn’t open until 09:00.  So ends two great days of car travel during which we have covered all of the north-west coast roads which I have wanted to cover for so long.  They are as spectacular as I had imagined they would be.  G did all of the driving whilst I navigated; an arrangement which we prefer because I am the better map reader whilst G is the better ….. lets not go there.  Oh, but she had so much fun with the gearbox!! There were six gears written on the gear lever, but heaven knows where they’d put them!! Arf arf

Back to basics

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G not at all pleased at spending the night exposed to 35 kt winds, albeit without big waves and tied to a pontoon.

So, today, after mending the hookup cable, we set off in the hire car visiting Lochcarron, Shieldaig, Gairloch, Ullapool and Lochinver, all places which we have been to, but not by car.

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Unclassified road to Lochinver (classic)

Found a B&B in Lochinver (The Rose) and had a great meal at The Lochinver Larder. Now back at B&B, blowing old boots outside, but room not moving about at all. G very happy indeed. Trip further north tomorrow as serious gale due.

Amazing coincidence! In Lochinver by chance because would have stopped wherever we found ourselves at about 18:00 and in restaurant by chance when who should walk in but friend from Allerton with two friends who are stuck here in a yacht due to gale forecast. Had a great evening.

incidentally, the first place we tried, a hotel, wanted £240 a night B&B!!!!  It reminds me why I bought the campervan!!

Aside: I was so bored last night, in the wind & rain that I waited for this

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Yes, I know – pathetic

What’s going on then? Any news?

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This will be a long blog, so read on until I write “The End”.  I will have to publish and then keep updating, or I will probably lose the lot!!

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Nice to see that I have been honoured in Stromness

On Monday, neither of us having ever been to the Outer Hebrides, we hired a car (a bit late in the day) for some sight-seeing.  The islands are a lot bigger than you imagine and, so, we didn’t actually explore beyond Lewis.  It was a bit cold, but dry.

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The Norse Mill and Kiln near Shabost
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Standing Stones at Callanish

So much to see and all so unspoilt once you leave the area around Stornaway.  We especially enjoyed the neglected and deteriourating harbour at Port Ness (aka Port Nis) and, of course, the Butt of Lewis.  There were a good few brave cyclists doing the south to north cycle route.

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A very smooth, sightseeing, cruise from Stornoway to North Uist

On Tuesday, after filling up with diesel, we motored out onto a millpond all the way to Loch Maddy in/on North Uist.  What scenery.  Dropped anchor in a quiet corner and enjoyed one of G’s splendid meals.

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Scallops, prawns (large) and asparagus, all fresh from Stornoway

The forecasts were looking grim and, so, regrettably, it was time head for the mainland and shelter The wind was favourable for Loch Shieldaig, no more than 15 knots, so off we set.

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The northern tip of Skye from about 3 miles. Winds gusted up to 30 knots.

Up to 30 knot winds, with waves to match, resulted in a fast passage, but with more spray over the deck than ever before.

Arrived at Shieldiag to find that there are no moorings (two were described) and that we had to anchor. The wind dropped and we had a comfortable meal.

However, we were not at all happy about the prospect of sitting out a 48 hour gale at anchor. So.

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21:00 and bye bye Shieldaig in the lull before ….

5 hours later, in the dark, we made fast to a pontoon at Kyle of Lochalsh, but not before some excitement. First, there were nighttime submarine exercises in Inner Loch until about 06:00 in the morning.  The Control Station called us up on the radio (they could see us on AIS), but we ignored him and crept down the coastline within about 1/4 mile of the edge.  Indeed, very close to the Station itself.  Given the short window of opportunity, there was no way I was either turning back, or taking a big detour, reasoning that submarine don’t operate in 10m of water!!  Second, the Almanac suggests that there is good shelter for yachts in Kyleakin.  So, in the dark, in a narrow dredged changed, we went in.  What a joke.  Absolutely chock-a-block with small fishing boats.  We had to reverse out, in the dark, because there was no room to turn!!  G was not amused.

At this moment, we are on Tiftie, with a gale freshening and it is raining.  For tomorrow, we have reserved a car which we have hired to two days.

One huge benefit?  There are no midges in these conditions  Incidentally, when we were getting near to Loch Maddy, although still about a mile offshore, the absence of wind meant that we were suddenly visited by a swarm of midges!!! Luckily, I had bought some cream whilst in Fort Augustus and it worked.

THE END of this blog

 

 

No stitch in time cost nine

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Actually, the stitching probably failed from age & UV. Whatever, the repair in Stromness has already been tested and passed. Thank heavens.

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If you look carefully, you’ll see about 150 stitches

And, for your interest, it was all done with one of these

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On my Xmas list

Borne away to Stornaway

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Spent Saturday reading the paper after a walk to have a look ‘around’  Lochinver which doesn’t take too long. Which is just as well because it was soon raining again!!

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Looking down Loch Inver in strong wind and rain

Sunday dawned with less wind, but still from the south-west, so decided to make a break for Stornaway. Forecast 14 kt was actually 20, with waves to match across The Minch (great name). Close-hauled with engine running all the way to drive through waves and we made good progress. Arrived at Stornaway to be greeted by two very helpful harbour guys who took our warps, as we had been given a difficult berth. All shops closed, so G took the opportunity to use the vacant laundrette.  It’s now 07:00 and raining, but cool. Sounds grotty, but, by me anyway, preferred to the 30 degrees being suffered down south.

Forgot to say that the crossing was our wettest sail yet, with lots of heavy spray into the cockpit. G not at all happy that it was salt water. Anyway, the rain is washing the salt away. Every cloud etc etc