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.

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
02 July 2016 | Camaret-Sur-Mer
02 July 2016 | A Caruna, Spain
01 July 2016 | Camarets-Sur-Mer
29 June 2016 | 46 24.20'N:06 28.016'W
25 June 2016 | A Caruna, Galicia, Spain
23 June 2016 | Ria de Muros, Galicia

A Visit to South Harris

03 August 2016 | Loch Fionsbaigh, South Harris
David and Andrea
After Berneray it was a short hop up to Fionsbaigh, a gorgeous loch in the wilds of South Harris Our plan had to meet up with Steve from SV Almacantar, whom, with his beautiful partner Claire, we had spent time with in Asia during our cruise there. And so it came to pass that we were hailed from the shore and in short order Steve was aboard for a celebratory dram. A marvellous rendezvous. The next treat in store was a visit and stay at the wonderful Borve lodge on the western side of Harris, owned by Steve’s sister and brother-in-law. The lodge dates back to 1868 but has been recently renovated and is absolutely outstanding. Whilst in the area we were able to visit the remote ruined house/chapel/broch of Rubh’ an Teampull as well as the well-preserved St Clement’s church in Rodel. Built originally by Alasdair Crotach Macleod in the early 16th century it was restored on several occasions over the centuries so today it is the only Medieval building intact on the Western Isles. We also observed peat cutting with the turves being loaded into trailers drawn by the lovingly restored 1948 vintage Massey Ferguson tractors which are all the rage here.

Across the Minch to the Outer Hebrides

30 July 2016 | North Uist island, Scotland
David and Andrea
This arc of ancient islands is splayed across the ocean, possibly cast by God as a seawall to Scotland, or more likely as a votive offering to the beauty of nature. Many have found God and beauty in equal quantities here. What would we find?
Diomedea pushed her way through the usual mess of overfalls after leaving Rum and headed NW keeping well off the extraordinarily rugged coast of the Isle of Skye, bound for North Uist (pronounced “you ist”).Gradually the remote hills drew into view as we flew along our course with nice current in our favour. The prominent light of Neist Point came abeam and soon we were into the Minch for our crossing to the fabled isles. Whilst the weather was stable, we were still very concerned about the possible appearance of the Blue Men of the Minch, aka Storm Kelpies. These mythical blue, human-like creatures, with the power to create storms, sleep or swim on the surface and will approach vessels in the Minch, in groups. The chief of the Blue Men group will speak two lines of poetry to the master of a vessel and then challenge him to complete the verse. If the master fails, then the kelpies will attempt to overturn and sink the boat, thus drowning the sailors. How are your poetry skills?
McKenzie records one exchange thus:
Blue Chief: Man of the black cap what do you say
As your proud ship cleaves the brine?
Skipper: My speedy ship takes the shortest way
And I'll follow you line by line
Blue Chief: My men are eager, my men are ready
To drag you below the waves
Skipper: My ship is speedy, my ship is steady
If it sank, it would wreck your caves.
Fortunately we made it across this stretch of water without confrontation or poetry and made for Loch Maddy. If you look at a map of North Uist, it is more water than land, and the land that is to be found seems to be mainly bog. A chaotic array of fresh water lochs meet the sea lochs leaving scant areas on which one may walk. Our only walk took us over a condemned bridge to a vantage point and a stone camera obscura before we returned to have a fine dinner at the Hamersay House restaurant. Highly recommended in you find yourself there. We had planned to cycle around the area but persistent rain and strong winds cooled our enthusiasm, so ultimately we did not visit the archaeological sites. We did meet some UK sailors cruising the area and shared the anchorage later at Berneray Island with them.

Rum in front of us, Eigg on the side, and Muck behind.

30 July 2016 | Isle of Rum, Scotland
David and Andrea
These are part of the Small Isles archipelago in the inner Hebrides and all have their own attractions. Our destination was Rum the largest and most mountainous. It has a good harbour in Loch Scresort with the Victorian folly, Kinloch Castle at its head. The “castle” is steel framed with stone veneer and was supposed to be an upmarket hunting lodge for the well-to-do. The original owner of the island and castle (who had inherited it from his father) died and his widow, apparently something of a glamour-puss, sold it to Scottish Natural heritage. The furnishings from around circa 1900 remain more or less intact but have not been maintained.
We had a pleasant walk up a stream to a col below some 700 metre peaks. Sadly the weather had slagged out and thus we abandoned the summit attempts. The area reminded us strongly of the South island of NZ. A purpose-built otter hide promised us views of these shy creatures so we walked through the greenest forest you have ever seen to then sit in the hide waiting in vain for an otter to appear. We saw one seal, a heron, and lots of midges.

Mull

30 July 2016 | Isle of Mull, Scotland
David and Andrea
Mull is a stunningly beautiful island with a complex coastline and rugged mountain interior. One could easily spend weeks exploring this place. Our time was a bit more limited but we did manage a walk and tour of the northern section. The walk up Speinn Mor (447m) had a bog rating of 2 (out of 5) so we wished we had had our gaiters to keep the mud out. The views from the rounded summit were excellent. Mull has a Munro peak (more than 3000 feet), Ben Mor, but its head was shrouded in cloud most of the time. With the aid of a hire car we toured the western coast down to Ulva and visited the strangely isolated mausoleum of Major General Lachlan Macquarie. He was born on Ulva but the mausoleum is actually on Mull. All you historians will of course recognise him as one of the most significant figures in the birth of the colony of New South Wales. I think he did have a bit of an ego, naming just about everything after himself - Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie, Macquarie Street, Macquarie harbour, and so on, but why wouldn’t you? Like Arthur Phillip, history sort of bypassed him, or at least the British system did, and he never really got the recognition he deserved. His tomb, which is owned by the National Trust of NSW, reflects this.
Tobermory is a pretty, charming Scottish village with a lovely harbour and has a distillery! We dined at the Fish Cafe which has good food but the ambience is somewhat lacking because of loud music. There is a good supermarket and many shops. Moorings available for up to 50 tonnes as well as a nice marina for up to 60 footers.

Finally Scotland

30 July 2016 | Jura Island, Scotland
David and Andrea
Diomedea reached nicely out of Bangor in lovely sunshine on the north going tide bound for Gigha island north of the Mull of Kintyre. The wind failed but we had great day on this last longish passage. Ardminish bay on the eastern side of Gigha was a gem and even better was the Boathouse restaurant just up from the new pontoon (Michelin recommended!). We had true fusion cuisine of haggis spring rolls with pesto and caramelised onion jam as an entree, followed by scallops and haddock. Yum. From Gigha we had a hair-raising ride through the Sound of Islay, a narrow 10 nm long channel which separates the isles of Islay and Jura. The tide fairly roars through here and Diomedea’s best speed over ground was 12.2 knots to windward. We were spat out the other end into dense fog, the timing being rather unfortunate as we had to negotiate a shallow rock strewn path only slightly wider than the boat. Still, we managed the entry to the truly wonderful Loch Tarbert, which penetrates Jura to her heart. The loch provides outstanding protection, is very silent, and has no phone coverage. The only sign of civilisation is a long abandoned stone house on the shore. We loved it.
Back out the next morning for a good sail around the historic island of Iona to Bunessan on the Ross of Mull. Iona was the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. St Columba came to Iona from Bangor in the 6th century and established a monastery. Bunessan harbour provides good shelter and holding but the town is utterly charmless. Onwards to the spectacular island of Staffa, home of legendary warrior Fingal’s cave. The cave is a zawn into the columnar basalt cliff line. Diomedea passaged in no wind and foul tide north past Gometra and Ulva islands before arriving at the pretty Tobermory harbour on Mull. Ulva is significant for Australia, but more on this later.

A Day visiting Recent History in Belfast

30 July 2016 | Belfast, Northern Ireland
David and Andrea
There was a subtle but nonetheless newly palpable tension in the cab. We had just driven through the gate in the so-called “peace wall” from the Falls Road to the Shankill Road. Our driver/guide for this Troubles Tour was a Republican/Catholic. We had stopped outside the many memorials to those slain, including some time outside the offices of Sinn Fein. Our (excellent) guide had consistently referred to those on the other side of the wall as “them”. So now we were in “their” territory (Unionists/Protestants). And obvious it was. I will not bore you with a history of the terrible war in the Emerald Isle but I will say that it has not completely gone away. The wall exists physically and spiritually today. Our guide was strongly of the opinion that its temporal presence was still quite necessary to prevent bloodshed. The gate is closed at 6pm. Much was made of the slaughter and violence visited upon the Catholics by the various military and paramilitary groups, and we were moved by the stories of oppression. Depressingly, however, no mention was made of the ghastly bombing campaigns costing many lives that were waged against Britain. All those people who perished for really very little. We are informed nowadays that most sensible folk have the philosophy of live and let live.
After our tour was concluded (highly recommended by the way, and very popular) we were deposited, fittingly, at the Crumlin Road gaol in which most major politicial figures of recent times have been inmates. The gaol was decommissioned in 1996 after 150 years of use from the mid 19th century. Children of 12 were imprisoned here and some flogged. Recidivist adults were “hanged by the neck until dead” (17 in total) before being buried in unmarked graves within the prison walls. The last in the early 1960’s (like Australia). We examined the execution and corporal punishment chambers in detail. IRA and Loyalist combatants shared the same prison walls. Today these same ex-prisoners pay to do the tour that we were on apparently.
At the end of this fairly confronting morning the only conclusion for us was that there is no philosophy/creed/ideology/political stance that is worth dying for, particularly when someone else tells you it is.
We decided to wind down with a visit to the Titanic Quarter but found much of it rather too touristy for our tastes. The massive Samson and Goliath cranes of Harland and Wolf, each capable of lifting 4,000 tonnes, dominate of course. The shipyard remains active today more in maintenance and repair than building but is a far cry from the 40’s when it employed 35,000 workers.
Belfast is growing and appears vibrant but its future remains as unclear as ever. Newly reinforced calls for unification of N.I. with the Republic have followed the Brexit vote (Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, 54% vs 46%) but this seems an unlikely outcome at the moment. Loss of EU funding will hit this area quite hard we think. The only thing that is certain is change.
Vessel Name: Diomedea
Vessel Make/Model: Van de Stadt Tasman 48 See Pix here http://www.sailblogs.com/member/diomedea/index.php?show=gallery&aid=7118&p=1
Hailing Port: Sydney
Diomedea's Photos - Port Vila
Photos 1 to 3 of 3 | Main
1
 
1