June at last...is it June weather??
05 June 2011
We stayed four days in Mallaig, and the weather improved on Monday. We had some sunshine, and began to feel a bit warmer on board. We stocked up with supplies at the coop and a fish merchant, and headed back to the boat to prepare for a sail on Tuesday.
Tuesday dawned and the forecast was for gale 8 later, ie after 6pm, so we decided to go for it as our proposed journey to either Totaig anchorage in Loch Duich or Plockton harbour would not take all that long, we should be well tucked up before it got dusty! We left Mallaig just before the 10.15 departure of the Loch Nevis, off to the Small Isles as usual. Once out of the harbour we raised sail, switched off the engine, and headed northwards at about 3 knots with a gentle south westerly rarely exceeding 8 knots. We planned this, as the tide at Kylerea narrows was scheduled to turn in our favour from 1pm. Going through against the tide would not be possible, as our engine wouldn't have been strong enough to fight the very strong tidal flow. So we pootled north, keeping a careful eye on the sky, as the sunshine we were basking inb was threatened by grey clouds which were massing over the Sleat peninsula. We could see one yacht ahead of us, and another appeared in our wake. Past Isle Oronsay our luck with the rain ran out, and we donned oilies and weathered our way through the squally conditions. We rolled away the genoa and put on the engine a couple of miles from Kylerea, and swooshed through at over 9 knots, observing the strange sight of lots of Atlantic grey seals in the waters round us. It must have been a good spot for them to catch fish, or perhaps they were just enjoying the fast-moving water!
Out into the loch beyond, and our decision was to go to Plockton. It was barely 2.30 and the sun was shining again, although the wind had freshened, and as we approached Kyleakin and the Skye Bridge it was gusting up to 20 plus knots. Out through the bridge - always a buzz, going under there - we were able to turn north and sail again. As we turned into Loch Carron both sails were too much so we rolled away the genoa and had a very pleasant sail in sunshine towards Plockton. By the time we were lining up to pick up a mooring the wind was freshening in earnest, and our pickup, although a first-time catch, was anything but elegant. But we were safely on a mooring loaded to 15 tons - we weigh half that, so we settled in, had dinner, and waited for the coming gale to arrive.
We observed another yacht, not so lucky, foul its prop on the mooring pickup line it was trying to capture. It dangled by its stern into the increasing wind for some time, eventually managing to free itself sufficiently to lie normally to wind. It is a nightmare all yachties dread, the rope round the prop, as it immobilises the boat's engine. Mostly it takes a diver going down with a knife to cut it free again.
Tuesday night was very noisy, with the wind howling in the rigging and the boat yawing and shearing on the mooring. But we knew we were safe enough.
Wednesday was an incredibly windy, wet day, blowing force 7 gusting 8 all day. Only two yachts arrived during the whole day, and nobody left.
Thursday was nice enough to get the dinghy overboard at last, and we went into Plockton and bought some groceries. Friends from our yacht club invited us over for drinks in the evening, and then to dinner, so we had a very pleasant evening with them.
Friday 3rd June was finally a warm sunny day. Off with the thermals, on with the t-shirts and sunglasses. At last!
On the 4th we set sail again, this time in really nice weather, and headed for Portree. The wind freshened as we rounded the south end of Raasay, and we had an exciting ride up to Portree harbour, where we settled in for the night. On the way into the harbour Ju spotted a Sea Eagle! Yessss!