Cruising on Diomedea

Diomedea is a Van de Stadt Tasman 48. The name is the species name of the Wandering Albatross of the Southern Ocean.

31 August 2016 | Isle of Rum, Scotland
31 August 2016 | North and South Uist, Outer Hebrides
31 August 2016 | Skye, Scotland
31 August 2016 | Sinzig, Germany
31 August 2016 | Plockton, Scotland
31 August 2016 | Outer Hebrides
03 August 2016 | Loch Fionsbaigh, South Harris
30 July 2016 | North Uist island, Scotland
30 July 2016 | Isle of Rum, Scotland
30 July 2016 | Isle of Mull, Scotland
30 July 2016 | Jura Island, Scotland
30 July 2016 | Belfast, Northern Ireland
30 July 2016 | Bangor, northern ireland
21 July 2016 | 55 57.75'N:05 54.55'W
15 July 2016
15 July 2016 | Holyhead, Angelsey
15 July 2016 | Helford River, Cornwall
10 July 2016 | Falmouth, UK
07 July 2016 | Falmouth UK
04 July 2016 | Camaret, Brittany

Heading South for the Winter

31 August 2016 | Isle of Rum, Scotland
David and Andrea
The weather looked set for steady southerlies so we decided to get ahead of the game and leave the Outer Hebrides. We motored and sailed back across the Minch to the beautiful island of Canna and its excellent harbour. Amazingly we saw an Australian crewed boat, albeit UK registered, and enjoyed a lovely evening on “Red Roo”, a nice interlude after a short hill walk.
With sunny weather predicted for another day it was the short hop over to our favourite, Rum, to finally do the climb up one of its impressive peaks, Hallival, at 720m. Much of it trackless, and a few scrambles, we fought for space on the summit with wild deer and mountain goats. The views were forever. Back at the anchorage it was quite a change from a month ago when there were a dozen yachts - now just us.

Bog FActor 4

31 August 2016 | North and South Uist, Outer Hebrides
David and Andrea
After the Cuillins of the Isle of Skye (Old norse for “cloud island” - with good reason) we went in yet another fruitless search for the mythical basking sharks said to be found in the area of Neist Point before heading into Loch Dunvegan for a visit to the much advertised castle. Our experience of this was something akin to widely promoted premiere movies - the greater the hype, the less compelling the show.
We were abused by a local seal tour boat operator for getting too close to “his” seals in the anchorage. We then went by dinghy to the rusty dock at the castle with the intention of doing the castle tour, only to be told that there would be a 10 pound fee to tie the dinghy to the dock, in addition to the 24 pounds for the castle tour. Interestingly the car park is free, as we discovered after driving the dinghy about one km into town and then walking back along the roads to do the tour. The castle itself is remarkably unattractive and little of it is open to the public. There is really very little sense of the claimed 800 years of continuous habitation by the Macleods and in fact it appeared uninhabited, with no lights on at night. However, the gardens were excellent. I would not bother going out of my way to visit this site if doing a tour of Scotland.
Having not yet learned the above lesson about advertising hype in tourist brochures, we motored around to the the nearby Loch Bay with the “oldest inn on Skye” at Steinn. Not a protected anchorage in SW flow we nonetheless went ashore to be greeted by a monosyllabic and surly barmaid who managed to create the most tasteless and appalling hot chocolates we have had. That was the wind up signal and we took the favourable wind for a fast ride out to Loch Maddy. For this, our second visit, the weather remained excellent.
Squelch, slop, slither, splash, mud, gloop, and water in the boot. The Scottish bog experience. This walk was to the highest peak on the Uist islands, the exquisitely named Beinn Mor, or Big Mountain. (Similarly there are many Eilean Mor and Eilean Beags to be found - that is Big Island and Little Island.) Still it was an attractive peak of 620m, but unfortunately surrounded by low lying boggy land, through which your intrepid authors were required to pass. Hint: avoid the bits where the Bog Cotton plant grows. The summit provided stunning views of the Outer Hebrides and really was the highlight of the week, especially given the sunny days.
Despite quite sore legs, we followed this up with a walk out to Bronze age structures in the machair of the west coast of South Uist. Like many parts of these islands, there was habitation from about 6500 BC or so. Mummies had been unearthed during excavations.
The following day was a lap of North Uist by car, visiting more ancient piles of rocks, stopping at the Hebridean Smokehouse for coffee and local foods, getting remarkably good views of St Kilda island (100km away), and doing a quite nice coastal ramble through a wilderness nature reserve which was populated by domestic animals. The final fun of the tour was the stepping stone approach to the the old fortress of Dun an Sticer, one of the ancient bastions built on islands in either fresh or salt water lochs. Time for a nice meal at Hamersay house - what will I have - Haddock or Hake?

A Short Walk in the Cuillins

31 August 2016 | Skye, Scotland
David and Andrea
Whilst the word “fair” was no longer in the forecast (weatherman codespeak for sunny) we felt that the day was auspicious so it was time for a tour on foot of the rugged mountainous interior of the Isle of Skye.
Diomedea had had a glorious sail in blue skies and northerly breeze for 45 miles or so up from Ardnamurchan point, around the outside of Rum, to Loch Harport on Skye the day before. We had had dress circle views of the ranges from the sea, had seen a Minke whale, and cruised past the famous Tallisker distillery to the anchorage, conveniently only 200 metres further on.
A short motor vehicle trip later, we walked out of the sea level outpost of Sligachan, southbound for the Black Cuillins and the Munro peak of Am Basteir. Weeks of relative inactivity soon revealed their toll as we scrambled up slippery scree slopes to the col at 900m. The view over the next valley to Loch Scavaig was stunning but the clouds rolled in, as did the midges which attacked in battalion strength. The final scramble to the summit, only 30 vertical metres higher looked very exposed with any slip having fatal consequences. The decision to abort was easy. We stumbled back down the crag for an excellent dram at the pub, and watched the last 8km of the men’s marathon at Rio. I think the runners were a bit fitter than us.

A Short Trip To Europe

31 August 2016 | Sinzig, Germany
David and Andrea
Well, they have voted to leave haven’t they. We had planned to attend the 90th birthday of Andrea’s mother, Gisela, in Bonn so Diomedea was berthed at the remarkably average Oban marina opposite the town. The marina is for sale and the owners really have lost their mojo in regards its ongoing management. Nevertheless it served the purpose for what turned out to be quite hard travelling over two days from Oban to Bonn by ferry, bus, taxi, foot, tram, airplane, and rental car in often diabolical weather. By luck, we had a night in Edinburgh and attended one event (out of the many hundreds available) of the Fringe Festival. The theatre event was based on the true story of the Lonely Hearts Club killers in the USA in the 50’s. The show was called “Hummingbird” which was the nickname for the electric chair in New York, based on the sound it made during the active phase of its duty cycle. We enjoyed the performance for its synthesis of acting and physical theatre but do not recommend it as a “first date” night out. Unfortunately with the festival, most accomodation was booked out and we stayed in the very underwhelming Northumberland hotel.
The birthday itself went off extremely well with an excellent lunch at a ritzy golf club in the picturesque Ahrtal in outstandingly sunny conditions. It was good to catch up with various members of Andrea’s family as well as our son Angus. Gisela was in good form and basically partied all day and on into the next week.
Our stay was brief so we bid farewell for the long trip back to Glasgow to inspect some marinas for our winter haul out. The weather was good for our return to Oban and we finally obtained views of the mountainous interior of Scotland. Then reprovisioning for our next few weeks and we headed up the Sound of Mull via Loch Aline to the gorgeous Loch Drom Buie. Here we had a stunning sunset in crystal clear skies, closely followed by the full moon rising. We had dinner in the cockpit and stayed out until dark. See, there is a god.

Storm Force 10

31 August 2016 | Plockton, Scotland
David and Andrea
A deep low in the Atlantic was heading toward Scotland so it was time to find a place to ride it out. Diomedea had a wonderful downwind sail (finally!) south across the Minch to the very small rocky island of Rona with a magnificent enclosed anchorage. The next morning we once more resumed the upwind thing to Plockton, just northeast of the Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye. We began to hear a lot of gale warnings and later storm warnings for our area.(Winds averaging 48-55kts, gusting into the 60’s, with Very High seas which means 9-14 metres!) We were able to hook up to a strong mooring in the relatively sheltered harbour so that when the 46 knots of air came through, our confidence was high. Vicious rain and wind squalls smacked us around but no drama. Finally the weather eased after 2 very wild nights and we cast off for the exciting passage under the bridge (29m clearance) in big current and wind. Then at pace down the kyles to spend a lovely evening at Ornsay island savouring the magnificent mountain grandeur of the region. A 55 nm day of outstanding sailing delivered us to yet another stunning anchorage, Loch Aline, south of Tobermory where we met up with Aussie sailing friends, Paula and Jim and their newly acquired Malo 46 “Freydis”. We had last met them in Ouvea, the French Loyalty islands near New Caledonia in 2008. The evening meal was sensational with locally sourced venison, then later chocolate cake. Yum.

Still Going North

31 August 2016 | Outer Hebrides
David and Andea
Steve and his sister’s family joined us for a great sail up the coast to Tarbert. We observed a large group of harbour seals at close quarters as well as lots of gannets fishing. After a very pleasant sunset and night Diomedea made a course for the Shiant Islands in the middle of the Minch. This stunning group is formed of basalt columns in parts similar to Staffa, only much bigger. More importantly tens of thousands of puffins call this home before embarking on their annual migration. These colourfully beaked birds are clumsy fliers but are great to look at. The anchorage was quite rolly and not all that sheltered. We chose not to stop for long and moved further up the coast to Loch Shell. The fishing village seemed almost derelict and abandoned apart from one boat that went out to tend the cray pots. Stornoway (steering bay in old Norse) provided a good venue to re-provision and do a day tour by car of all the historic sites of Lewis. Human habitation dates back a very long time in the outer Hebrides. Once the great ice sheets of the last Ice Age retreated, vegetation began, and animals and humans followed, probably around 8000 BCE. Because sea levels have risen significantly since then, just about all coastal settlements have vanished beneath the waves leaving little trace. A storm in 2005 unearthed an iron age village long buried in dunes on the western side of Lewis. Today one lovingly recreated dwelling can be visited. The smell of peat smoke from the centrally placed hearth pervades everything in the gloomy semi-subterranean interior so one can really get a sense of place from long ago.
The standing stones of Callanish were very impressive of course. No, we did not dance naked around them in pagan ceremony. It was cold and rainy and luckily the summer solstice was over.
A dun, or fortified tower house, remained in reasonable condition on a hillside. Often these were built on small islands in lakes with a causeway for access and the Western Isles are littered with ruins of same. The blackhouses of Arnol were in use up until the 1960’s. Double skin stone walls and roofs of peat and thatch, the accomodation at one end was for humans and at the other for the livestock. Again the central peat fire gave everything that smokey smell, but it probably suppressed all the other odours as well as the midges. The final leg of the trip was to the aptly named Butt of Lewis, the northernmost tip of the island, famous for its inhospitable coastline deficient of harbours and beset by tide rips. Our sole Christian experience was a visit to the well preserved 14th century church of St Moluag which is still in use today. It was first built in the 6th century as part of St Columba’s work. The church was famous for miracle healing of sores and wounds. However, often the illness itself prevented the victim from travelling the arduous and long journey to this remote place. The church then rather ingeniously introduced the first iteration of tele-medicine. It was quite acceptable for a likeness of the sore or wound to be reproduced, say on an artificial wooden limb and then sent to the church for the requisite prayers to commence the healing process for the distant person. A nice little earner? This process continues in the modern era. A notice board within the church contained hand-written appeals for divine intervention for living souls.
Vessel Name: Diomedea
Vessel Make/Model: Van de Stadt Tasman 48 See Pix here
Hailing Port: Sydney
Diomedea's Photos - To Port Cygnet
Photos 1 to 9 of 9 | Main
Missionary Bay, Bruny island
Missionary Bay Bruny island
Classic yacht in Copper alley bay
Sailing in Port Cygnet
Copper Alley Bay
Copper Alley bay homesteads
Patagonian skyscapes