Bellamanda Blog
This is the blog of Philippa (Phil), Tom (Martin to many), our son Stan and a boat called Bellamanda.
 
Scalpay to Skye
Phil
20/07/2011, Skye

Image above shows Carley (hydrovane) helming "goose winged" and "by the lee". When we can set her up well she's much better at it than us.

Poor Tom barely slept a wink the night we were at anchor off Scalpay. With the wind gusting up to 30 knots the stern seemed to edge ever closer to the shallows and the pier in the darkness. We realised that despite being initially happy with our position that if the anchor had have dragged in the night we wouldn't have had time or room to do much about it. Hooray for our lovely big anchor and 80 meters of heavy chain.

On weighing anchor the next day we discovered a large piece of netting caught round the chain and in it several large crabs. Tom spent a 'happy' 10 minutes chasing them round the deck and off the side of the boat!

Net of crabs around the anchor chain
Net of crabs around the anchor chain

After our initial concerns about the weather the morning forecast made no mention of the 7's or 8's it had done the previous day so we decided to go for it. It would be a long day but with the wind and tide behind us we had a cracking sail across the Minch into Loch Harport. The "moderate or rough" sea conditions predicted by the forecast did not show. I could see Tom flagging late afternoon so sent him to bed for a nap with Stan. For approximately 20 minutes I wasn't mummy or wife I was just a sailor alone on the deck of our boat flying at 8 knots through the water as we rounded Niest point - fabulous.

Mum was over at their neighbour's house - Pat & Jeremy - waving a sheet at us and jumping around like a looney to welcome us back to Skye as we came into the bay. We were all shattered after such a long day so decided to stay onboard and wait for the morning to go ashore with the weeks washing!

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Post Update
Tom
20/07/2011, Skye

The previous post has been updated with images.

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Position Update - Scalpay
Tom
18/07/2011

To go or not to go.

Originally we planned to leave on Sunday but added an extra day in Stornoway. Sunday evening came and the weather forecast was Force 5s and 6s from the North West - ideal for our sail back down past Lewis to Harris. Monday came and there was little wind but a lot of very low cloud making the visibility poor and everything wet. Other yachts had left already. Others had chosen to stay another day because the new weather forecast mentioned force 8s (gale force). However the gale force winds were predicted for the Hebrides shipping area - a huge area covering the open sea extending far out west of the islands. The inshore forecast for the Minch was still the same as last night 5s and 6s.

Rafted up in Stornoway
Rafted up in Stornoway

So, with the help of about 6 other people with a vested interest, we plied ourselves out of our 9 boat raft. It then took us an hour to locate the water supply in the harbour and top up the tanks having just started using the second tank (we last filled them up in Oban). Phil had to top Stan up a few times too.

We pulled the main up in the rain in the outer harbour and ventured out. The wind stopped. We motored sailed for a couple of hours before it started to fill in.


The Scalpay Bridge
The Scalpay Bridge - Charted height = 20m, I calculated we are about 18m.

As we entered the Sound of Scalpay and under the Scalpay Bridge the wind started to pick up even more. We just got the anchor down in the tiny North Harbour before it really started. At the moment the wind is gusting up to 30 knots outside. The force 8 has arrived but we are tucked away in a sheltered bolthole. The anchor chain is creaking and clanging. Small waves are slapping hard on the hull. The wind is whistling through our rigging and over to the fishing pier which is just 0.03 nautical miles away according to the chart plotter - about 50 meters. (we are 12 meters long). It looks much closer.

North Harbour fishing pier at Scalpay
North Harbour fishing pier at Scalpay in driving rain

For the latest Met Office inshore weather for the Minch the weather man has looked out of the window and just updated it to a force 8. I think I've come to rely on the inshore forecast a little too much.

--- Position: 57 52'28.75 N, 006 42'03.64 W Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Sat phone post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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19/07/2011 | Lin and Kerry
Glad you are safely tucked up out of the gales. Your time on Stornaway sounded lovely and the photos of you all are great, Stan is still "scrummy" and the scenery stunning. I look daily for your latest updates, so keep them rolling in. Take care and continue having fun. Lin xx
Stornoway on Lewis
Phil
17/07/2011, Stornoway

We've spent a very happy few days here in Stornoway. With so much going on this weekend the town is bustling and there seems to be pipers piping, bands marching or dancers dancing on every street corner.

Mir
Russian tall ship Mir

We went on the Tall Ship Mir - were quite entertained by all the sailors on their laptops whilst we tourists wandered round their home. They really are magnificent vessels.

Tolstra Beach
Tolstra Beach

Stan had his first ride on a bus when we took a trip north to a beautiful beach at Tolsta. This corner of Lewis is much more habited that we had imagined. Like most islands we have visited the locals are also super friendly and helpful. The bus driver drove us all the way down to the beach. The walk back up the hill to the bus stop gave us a good cardio work out.

Tom and Stan
Tom and Stan on Tolsta Beach

Phil and Stan
Phil and Stan on Tolsta Beach

We managed to get tickets for the final night of the Heb Celt Festival which was lots of fun. Initially we had been a bit worried about taking Stan along but it really was a family affair with folks of all ages enjoying the music in 2 different tents. We fashioned some ear defenders for him out of cotton pads and socks that seemed to work well for a while. The headline act was KT Tunstall which we managed to watch half of before Stan decided that he really had had enough. The great thing was that as we were moored so close to the festival we could carry on listening to the music from home.


Sailing
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Skye to Stornoway
Phil
16/07/2011, Stornoway

Being at Mum's showed us just how quickly we could get very comfortable living ashore so we decided to make a move before we started to take root! We had fantastic farewell fish and chip supper at the Old Inn in Carbost before getting back onboard on the evening of Monday 11th July. We set off in glorious morning sunshine the following day and motored out of Loch Harport.

Harvest Anne
Harvest Anne

We radioed Kenny McKinnon (one of Mum's neighbours) on Harvest Anne as we went. He had kindly lent us the required charts for the Outer Hebrides. (Lesson learned here - don't bother ordering anything from Imray if you need it in a hurry!) The winds were so light that we motored for the first few hours. This gave us the chance to have a great look at Macleod's Maidens as we passed. After so many years of visiting Skye it was fantastic to see the island from a different angle. (Tim would argue that I have seen most of Skye from underneath my eyelids as I have tended to sleep in the back of the car whilst being driven around from place to place over the years - today however I was very much awake!)

Macleod's Maidens from the East
Macleod's Maidens from the East

Macleod's Maidens
Macleod's Maidens from the South

Niest Point
Niest Point

As we passed Niest point the wind picked up and we had a great sail across the Minch to Loch Maddy on North Uist. We picked up one of the visitors mooring buoys just off the pier. We had our usual discussion which goes something like this...
Tom - "Shall we anchor or pick up a buoy?"
Phil - " Buoy!"
Tom-"Really? Shouldn't we be anchoring? I don't feel like we anchor enough? Shouldn't we anchor for the practice?"
Phil - "Nah let's pick up a buoy - less bother altogether"
4 hours later on a mooring buoy after the wind has picked up and there is barely any room to swing a cat let alone for a 40ft yacht to swing round an anchor.
Tom - "Glad we picked up the buoy"
Phil - "uhuh" (Smiles quietly)

Loch Maddy
Loch Maddy - Bellamanda is on the left

The following day we waited until midday and the tides to be running north in our favour before heading up the east coast of the Outer Hebrides. This really was some beautiful sailing and scenery not that I felt like I got to see much of it as Stan wasn't in the mood for sitting on deck today. We had 2 options for the day - either to end up on Scalpay or Stornoway depending on how we were feeling. In the end however we decided to anchor over night in Loch Grimshader, 3 miles south of Stornoway harbour entrance. The pictures just don't do this place justice. The Loch is 1.4 miles long but just half a cable wide at its narrowest point. We both breathed in as we motored along toward the anchorage which was completely deserted apart from the odd duck! It was so quiet and peaceful - until Stan decided that sleeping was totally overrated as a means of spending the night and proceeded to spend the evening shouting his head off. By 11pm he had broken both of us and for the first time since he was born we all finally passed out in our bed. Pre-Stan we had always said this would be one of our ground rules - No babies sleeping in our bed at night. Ah best laid plans etc.etc.

The following morning we were all pretty jaded, however with just a short hop up to Stonoway and the idea of being in a marina on shore power for the first time in weeks kept me going. Right up until we radioed Stornoway Harbour Master requesting a berth only to be told there was no room at the inn due to the imminent arrival of 22 tall ships and 8 other visiting boats that were booked in. I am not proud of this but I promptly burst in to tears. (Not on the radio fortunately) I had called ahead on Monday to check that we would be able to get alongside and had been told that it was a first come first served basis and that whilst they would be busy they were sure we'd get in and that they absolutely didn't take advanced bookings. Cue Mummy melt down. These moments happen fairly rarely fortunately but right at that moment I had had enough.

I am currently reading Two in a Boat by Gwyneth Lewis - when she first moved aboard she cried every day for 3 months. I can genuinely say that 95% of the time I love living aboard but at that moment I wanted to live in a house. I wanted to be back in Cowes taking Stan for a walk along the sea front having a natter to Lara and Skye. I wanted to be able to get off the boat without it being a total mission. With the beauty of hindsight all I really needed was some sleep!

We were advised to go to anchor in Glumaig harbour. This is the quarantine anchorage and the anchorage we had decided not to go to the previous evening because according to the almanac the bottom is foul with scrap. With the windlass still playing silly buggers we didn't really relish the prospect of getting the anchor fouled too but we didn't have much choice. Tom is great when I get like this. He just quietly gets practical and gets on with it, gives me a hug and tells me not to worry. We anchored up and got settled. We even managed to get the TV working which is a hideous thing to admit but sometimes a mindless half hour in front of the box (or laptop in our case) works wonders. Shortly after 3 we were radioed by the harbour authority and told that there was a berth available alongside Elenca, a local ex Challenge boat. Woo hoo! No shore power (because there is no shore power available in Stornoway at all) but at least we were along side.

Stornoway
Alongside in Stornoway

So here we are in Stornoway for what appears to be the busiest weekend of the year. The Tall Ships are visiting, The Heb Celt Music festival and the highland games are on and the sun is shining.

Storoway from the Castle side
Stornoway from the Castle side

Sailing
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Position Update
Tom
15/07/2011

Stornoway Inner Harbour safe and sound for the next few says. Phil's full update soon.

--- Position: 58 12'34.01 N, 006 23'22.69 W Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Sat phone post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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Position Update
Tom
14/07/2011

Arrived Loch Grimshader last night. Anchored. Stan doesn't want to sleep anymore.

--- Position: 58 08'22.11 N, 006 24'51.11 W Click on the blog's Current Position chart.

Sat phone post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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14/07/2011 | Nessa
Ah, Grimshader. I'm enjoying following your trip so far :-)
As for Stan? Can't say I blame him with that much daylight and such lovely places to explore... xxx
Chart Position Update
Tom
13/07/2011

Loch Grimshader. Click chart on left to see position. Late arrival here. Full blog update soon.

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Position Update
Tom
12/07/2011

Bore away on the headwind and ended up safely in Lock Maddy on Noth Uist this evening. Beautiful sail across the Minch on a glorious day. --- Position: 57 35'44.13 N, 007 09'30.78 W

Click on the Current Position map to follow our track.

Remote post from Bellamanda to www.bellamanda.com

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13/07/2011 | Nessa
Ah, Lochmaddy is lovely! Check out the arts & crafts centre there (the name of which I can pronounce but not spell!) If you can make it round to near Bayhead on North Uist there's a rather wonderful place called the Hebridean Smokehouse. They do fabulous smoked fish, with tasters to try :-)
The Western Isles - I really do love it out there! xx
What Schedule!
Tom
10/07/2011, Skye

We left Cowes with a schedule - two weeks to get to Skye, two weeks there and two weeks to get back. That would give us two weeks to see family and friends and prepare for our next trip starting mid August. After spending and enjoyable 5 nights in Salcombe, our very first stop, due to bad weather our schedule was under pressure. By the time we reached Holyhead it was out of the window. But when the schedule was gone and we began to day sail we started to really enjoy what we are doing.

It took us three weeks to get here and it seems a shame to rush away without doing some sailing around the islands first. I have always wanted to go to the Outer Hebrides and we are going to go. It's is just one day sail to reach them and two days to get to Stornaway on Lewis. We were planning to head out West and further North today (Sunday). However the chart we need did not arrive so we will be enjoying a couple more days here with Mollie and Tim.

Our future plans are still in place. We have checked and it can still be done a little later in the season. In some ways it fits in better with everything else going on too.

Family
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11/07/2011 | Nessa
All the Western Isles are worth visiting, though I've only done it by ferry rather than sailing boat! Barra in particular is lovely.
Time it right and enjoy the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway this coming weekend :-) http://www.hebceltfest.com/
Lots of love, Ness xxx

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