Last Tuesday Little Else finally moved off her mooring for a week of mostly motoring, in perfect sunny warm weather, which only lacked a gentle breeze to make it good sailing weather. Crew was Rose, who has been doing lots of sailing courses and is keen to perfect her sailing skills in cruising boats. Our first destination was Loch Spelve on Mull, where we anchored for the night, before heading up the Sound of Mull on Wednesday to Lochaline, where again we anchored. In the morning on Thursday we finally had a bit of a breeze, and sailed most of the way from there to Tobermory, where we stayed on the pontoon for two nights. While on the pontoon we saw Fair Winds, which used to belong to our old pals Tony and Joyce, before they sold it to buy Reeve. Also Margaret, who has a house in our row, stopped by to say hello.
The sunny weather persisted, and we had a good walk to the lighthouse on Friday. A great meal at Cafe Fish followed, that evening, and on Saturday we headed back out and motored back south towards Puilladobhrain, the fairly poorly kept secret anchorage on the Firth of Lorn. We were amazed to see in the water in front of us, as we negotiated the narrow entrance, a deer swimming across from the mainland to the island on our right! It stepped elegantly ashore, shook itself, and went off to graze the island. Meantime we had to tear ourselves away from watching it and concentrate on anchoring. There were not that many yachts there, and we spoke to a young man in a plywood kayak which he told us he had made himself. Rose was worried by his lack of safety features on the kayak, but is was a beautiful piece of work, and he told us it breaks up into three pieces and can be packed inside his car!
On Sunday morning we raised anchor and motored down Fladda, hung a left at the bottom, and headed for Loch Melfort. A breeze helped us for a lot of the way, and we picked up a mooring off Melfort village.
Imagine my amazement when I saw a very familiar boat approaching. Pictured above, this yacht belonged to friends of ours in Lagos, Portugal. It had since been brought back to Falmouth, and had been sold last year. And here it was picking up the mooring next to us! Small world? I know it!
Back to Ardfern on Monday in less good weather, in a bit of a breeze. Two casualties of the trip were the outboard engine, which refused to start, as well it might, as it has not been properly serviced in some time, and also the on-board domestic (car) radio, which kept resetting. I will sort these both out before the trip to Ireland later this month.
She went back into the water last Wednesday, and I asked the yard to put her on the pontoon so I could prepare for the weekend and the Loch Spelve muster.
Everything was go for the weekend, except the weather forecast. It was unutterably bad, south westerly force 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8, and not much better on Sunday. So sadly I decided not to go for it. The first sail of the season is going to be a bit of a shakedown cruise, sorting out the things that inevitably go wrong because they always do, and I wasn't prepared to do the trip in heavy weather. So I didn't go.
Just as well I didn't, because as I was unloading the fresh food for the weekend out of the fridge, I noticed it wasn't cold. As luck wo9uld have it I spotted Ronnie, the guy who installed the fridge, and he came by and sorted it out in no time!
I had a problem earlier as my burgees, which I hoisted yesterday, came apart and one was stuck in the crosstrees, the other was dangling deep under the boat! I had an interesting time recovering the overhead one, with the help of loads of string, the wind and a boathook! I was successful in the end!
Plan B for the weekend then!
After a busy week with the grandchildren, time to turn the attention to that other member of the family, the boat! She came out of the water on Wednesday last week, and I spent Thursday washing and polishing her. Friday was busy also as I did most of the antifouling, including the propeller. Time ran out, however, as did energy, so I left the rest of the work until Saturday morning, when mercifully it was sunny.
I took Sunday off, but on Monday morning in strong winds and threatening rain I managed to remove the old hull anode and replace it with a brand new one which I've been carrying in a locker for a couple of years. Fact is, Little Else doesn't cause the zinc anode much corrosion in a year, so it has actually lasted for ages!
The big job was installing the new Raymarine Speed log, to replace the old one which doesn't work any more. FInding a solution for where to put it and how to mount it took most of the day. I found out that the bracket Raymarine sell for it costs around £45 so I opted for the cheaper but more labour-intensive option to make a mount out of plywood myself. That took most of the day, but it looks good and will serve the purpose well. I intend to mount it beside the VHF on an overhead mount.
I wired it up latterly to the autopilot, and tested the log. It lighted, it played, and with me birling the impeller with my finger it showed a positive knots reading. Awesome! All I need now is for the yard to install the impeller in the thru-hull fitting, and we'll be sorted!
I can;t wait to get her sailing again. This is going to be a good season, I just feel it!