June 2012

Friday 1st

Arisaig

We are currently anchored in Arisaig Harbour and will be here for a few days whilst we spend time with three of our children, my mother, brother and his partner.  Plan to be on the move again on Thursday 7 June.

Monday 4th

Arisaig

My son, Sam, expressed and interest to climb Ben Nevis whilst he was up here.  As a result he, his twin sister Heather and I set off to Fort William about 0930 this morning.  The weather was clear and sunny with very little wind.  Having bought lunch we parked in the Glen Nevis visitor car park and set off about 1045.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many people on any hill or mountain anywhere or anytime in the UK!  I chatted to one guy who had set off from the West Midlands at 3 o’clock this morning to do the Ben with his 16 year old son!  Many people were carrying Union flags on their back packs as this weekend Britain has been celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  We made the summit about 1330 and had lunch along with about 200 other people up there!  The views were spectacular and we could South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.  Here is the obligatory hero photo…

As it was pretty cool on top we didn’t tarry after lunch and set off down the mountain at quite a pace.  By 1530 we were back at the car having taken slightly less than five hours on the round trip. Whilst I was on Ben Nevis Sheryl and our eldest daughter, Rachel spent the day somewhat differently.  Now you’d probably expect the next picture to have been taken in somewhere much more exotic than Fort William…

Wednesday 13th

Flowerdale, Loch Gairloch

At last I seemed to have solved the mysteries of internet at sea!  I am writing at anchor in Flowerdale at the eastern end of Loch Gairloch where we have been for the last 36 hours.  We left Arisaig last Thursday, as planned, and had our daughter Rachel with us for the night.  There has been no appreciable rain in the West of Scotland since we got here and so it continues.  Unfortunately there isn’t much wind or its from the north and east.  As a result we left Arisaig under power and motored to Malliag to pick up fresh supplies.  The Mallaig port authority seem to be in the process of trying to recover the cost of their new pontoons in as short a time as possible and charged us £12 for a short stay! We left having filled with water and headed off for Inverie and the most remote pub on the British mainland, The Old Forge.  When we walked in a few hours later we were glad to have booked a table.  It might be remote but it isn’t difficult to get to!  The place was full of visiting boat crews, sea kayakers and lots of walkers.   They served a pretty good pint of real ale but that ran out half way through the evening.  Rachel had the seafood platter which is a vast selection of local fish and shellfish.  Sheryl and I had more modest portions! On Friday we sailed back down Loch Nevis, dropped Rachel in Mallaig and set off north again.  On the way up the Sound of Sleat we saw the paddle steamer Waverley heading south…

We anchored at Sandaig on the east side of the Sound of Sleat and on Saturday continued north through Kyle Rhea and had lunch at anchor off Eilan Donnan castle…

In the afternoon we called into the Kyle of Lochalsh for milk and after that it was up the Sound of Raasay anchoring overnight in Loch Toscaig and then into Loch Torridon.  The weather has remained dry but somewhat overcast.  Torridon is magnificent but somewhat stark and we prefer the smaller scale and gentler feel of Loch Gairloch.  Yesterday, Tuesday 12th, was spent doing running repairs (another couple of dozen deck plugs) and sorting the Wifi antenna.  On the supplier’s advice I have removed the antenna from the mizzen and have it temporarily tie wrapped to the guard rail, where it seems much happier!  Hopefully I can now make more regular updates. We are on the go gain today and will end up in Loch Ewe or Ullapool.  Currently there is little wind so a shorter trip may be on the cards.

Sunday 17th

Loch Inver

We arrived here on Thursday afternoon and decided to have a few days alongside.  The decision was not influenced at all by a charming local bar that serves an excellent pint of Deuchars.  We are also benefiting from a good TV.  Whilst the south of England has been suffering from gales and floods the weather up here continues to be generally dry although it actually rained in the early hours this morning!  Lack of wind will be the problem for the next few days and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as we will be going around Cape Wrath during that time. Since being here I have managed, at last, to get the wind generator hooked up.  That is probably why there isn’t a breath this morning!  I’ve also done an overdue engine oil change.   One of the more unusually shaped hills in Sutherland is Suilvan which, from some viewpoints, seems to dominate Loch Inver.  We had this view of it as we left and headed up to Kinlochbervie…

Today’s highlight was, without doubt, being joined by a small pod of dolphins as we motored north…..

Most sailors will be very familiar with the way these marvellous creatures play around a boat.  Its almost as if there is a game of chicken going on, seeing which one can get closest to the boat.

Tuesday 19th

Round Cape Wrath

We rounded Cape Wrath today in glorious summer sunshine and virtually no wind…

After that it was into Loch Eribol and a secure anchorage for the night.

Thursday 21st

Stromness, Orkney Mainland

We arrived here yesterday afternoon having motored all the way from Loch Eribol setting off at 0400 to take advantage of the tide.

Saturday 23rd

Stromness

Believe it or not we have actually had wind and rain for the last 36 hours!  Still it could be a lot worse, we might be at the Isle of Wight festival.  On Thursday we went ashore and had a wander around Stromness.  It is a delightful little town with many of the cottages and houses built of a local stone very reminiscent of that found in the Cotswolds.  The architectural style is more Cornish-Scottish though and the houses crowd together across narrow alleyways that lead to private quaysides and delightful patios overlooking the water.

The main objectives ashore were to buy sailing directions for both Orkneys and Shetlands and stock up with some fresh food.  In my experience half day holidays for shops are generally taken in the afternoon.  Not is Stromness, apparently.  When we arrived at about 1030 the local chandler was having a half day holiday in the morning, opening at 1400.  Never-mind, there is bound to be a chandlers in Kirkwall, actually there isn’t but it took half an hour on a bus and a search of the town to establish that odd fact.  We didn’t think much of Kirkwall and left after a rather poor baked potato in a local cafe.

Back in Stromness The Rope Locker was open and we quickly spent >£100 on charts, a tidal atlas and the excellent Clyde Cruising Club sailing directions for both the Orkneys and Shetlands.  With bags full of provisions we were back on board in time for tea and local shortbread.

Friday was spent at anchor in Stromness harbour listening to the wind howling.  My bread making is improving (no pun intended) and I managed to make a large plaited loaf today.  I learned how to put slideshows on this site – check out the new menu item “Slideshows” and in the late afternoon and evening we watched a couple of films.

Today its off across Scapa Flow and anchor at Longhope.

Tuesday 26th

St Mary’s Bay, Orkney Mainland

What a lovely morning!  A cloudless blue sky and just a whisper of a breeze.

Previously:  A wet and windy weekend was spent at a mooring buoy in Longhope Sound…..

Monday late morning we had a very pleasant sail up Scapa Flow and tied up to the visitor’s mooring in St Mary’s Bay.  This is an inlet between Lamb Holm and Mainland.  At one time you could pass through and access the east coast of the Orkeneys. However, during WW2 the defences to Scapa Flow were improved and the Churchill barriers built……

These followed the sinking of HMS ROYAL OAK shortly after the outbreak of war, with the loss of 833 lives.  Churchill ordered the building of the barriers which now form causeways linking islands to the south of Mainland.  They were built from 1940-44 by the contractor Balfour Beatty with the aid of hundreds of Italian POWs.  Some of these prisoners were incarcerated on the island of Lamb Holm and it was here that they built themselves a chapel…It is made up of two nissan huts connected lengthwise.  Not quite complete at the end of the war one of the inmates stayed on to finish it!  Since the end of the war the chapel has been preserved by the Orcadians and its condition today is a considerable testament to their commitment to the building and the memory of the Italian inmates of the camp.  Inside are some wonderful paintings…

Thursday 28th

Kirkwall

Currently in a very wet and somewhat windy Kirkwall marina.

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